A new look at The Walking Dead Season 10 hints King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) has reconsidered receiving treatment for his thyroid cancer, a secret that died with Alexandria medic Siddiq (Avi Nash). Ezekiel revealed his condition to Siddiq in Episode 1005, "What It Always Is," when he unwrapped a scarf hiding a sizable lump on his neck. Ezekiel's family history tells him it's thyroid cancer, a condition both his grandmother and father battled and overcame when the disease had a 98% survival rate. In different times, the disease could have been treated through chemotherapy, iodine, radiation therapy, thyroidectomies — treatments unavailable in the zombie apocalypse.
When Siddiq told Ezekiel he could manage the condition through acupuncture or hypnosis, Ezekiel waved him off. Ezekiel continued to keep his illness a secret during a brief encounter with ex-wife Carol (Melissa McBride) at Siddiq's funeral in Episode 1008, "The World Before," and after a near suicide attempt was thwarted by Michonne (Danai Gurira) earlier this season, the depressed king is perhaps more than ever feeling resigned to his fate.
The latest trailer for Season 10 reveals a coming encounter between Ezekiel and Daryl (Norman Reedus), where Ezekiel is seen without his scarf. Because Ezekiel has apparently revealed his condition to Daryl, he may be open to seeking treatment or ways to manage his condition. This change of heart could be result of what appears to be an intimate reunion with Carol, who could urge Ezekiel to undergo treatment.
Following Siddiq's death — he was murdered by Alexandria's assistant medic, Dante (Juan Javier Cardenas), who was exposed as a Whisperer spy — Ezekiel could turn to Alex (Austin Freeman), a little-seen nurse who first appeared in Season 9. Alex relocated from Alexandria to Hilltop after Siddiq's apprentice, Enid (Katelyn Nacon), was murdered by the Whisperers.
Alex was reintroduced in Episode 1004, "Silence the Whisperers," when he was seen treating Hilltop residents injured in a secret attack from the Whisperers, who toppled a tree and flooded the colony with walkers. If treating Ezekiel is beyond Alex's prowess, Ezekiel could be forced to turn to outside help that could come in the form of a new community — one that first made contact with Hilltop in the closing seconds of Season 9, where Ezekiel narrowly missed a radio call from an unidentified female voice.
In the comic books, the person now acting as Eugene's (Josh McDermitt) radio contact introduces the allied communities to a massive network of survivors who enjoy a surplus of modern amenities not regularly afforded in the zombie apocalypse. Should Ezekiel survive until the discovery of this new civilization, they could hold the key for the more advanced treatment needed to combat his thyroid cancer.
When showrunner Angela Kang was asked by EW if Ezekiel's cancer diagnosis meant he would perish before the end of Season 10, she said, "I mean, we'll see. Breaking Bad was a story about a guy with cancer, and he made it for many years, so it could go many directions, is what I'll say."
TWD Season 10 returns with new episodes Feb. 23 on AMC. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.