The Walking Dead star Khary Payton is left wondering what's next for King Ezekiel after his grim cancer diagnosis earlier in Season 10. When checked out by doctor Siddiq (Avi Nash) in episode 1005, "What It Always Is," Ezekiel revealed he was secretly battling thyroid cancer, a disease that his grandmother and his father fought off when the sickness had a 98% survival rate. But that was the time before the zombie apocalypse when thyroid cancer could be treated by chemotherapy, iodine, radiation therapy, and thyroidectomies — none of which are presently available to the king, who must first survive being captured by a small army.
"The cool thing about these episodes, they really are capsules," Payton said about the upcoming six bonus episodes during The Walking Dead Extended Season 10 Preview Special. "At the end [of 'A Certain Doom'] you saw the four — Yumiko, Eugene, Ezekiel, and Princess — with their hands up with guns pointed in their faces, you knew it wasn't gonna be good. It's a rough situation to be in. I'm still wondering what in the world is gonna happen."
In "Splinter," set in the rail yard where Eugene (Josh McDermitt) was supposed to rendezvous with Stephanie (Margot Bingham), we'll find out what happens after Ezekiel, Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), and Princess (Paola Lázaro) were captured and separated by armored soldiers in the cliffhanger ending that closed out "A Certain Doom" in October.
"My main question is still about: Ezekiel's still got this thing on his neck, what's going to happen there? I've got a lot of questions," Payton said. "I don't think I gave anything away, but I think that you're gonna be very very pleased with the way these came out. I love this little quartet that we got, and I can't wait to see more of them."
Describing Ezekiel's outlook at San Diego Comic-Con over the summer, Payton said Ezekiel accompanied Eugene on his date with destiny because the king wanted to "dive into the unknown and see what's out there" if time is running out.
"There are definitely aspects of his life that he wants to leave behind. He's got failed relationships, he's got memories of loved ones that have come and gone, he's built a community and seen it all get kind of toppled," Payton said. "I think he is looking for a fresh start, and he's also a guy who's got a clock on him. He's got that tick-tock in his brain that says he's not long for this world. In a world where nobody ever seems to have much time, he feels like he's got even less because he's dealing with this cancer."