Rejoice, all, for the king has reason yet to smile still: the Commonwealth could cure the ailment affecting King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) on The Walking Dead. In Season 10, Episode 5, Ezekiel reveals a growth on his neck: thyroid cancer. Ezekiel tells Siddiq (Avi Nash) his father and grandmother survived their diagnoses when chemotherapy, iodine, radiation therapy, and thyroidectomies could treat the disease with a 98% survival rate. Post-apocalypse, Ezekiel believes his diagnosis to be terminal. In Season 11, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and "traveling companions" Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), Princess (Paola Lazaro), and Ezekiel have arrived at the Commonwealth — a civilization of 50,000 survivors with access to doctors and medical treatment.
After exhaustive and invasive processing by Commonwealth Auditors in Season 11 Episode 2, "Acheron: Part 2," Ezekiel reveals a medic treated him with herbal cough syrup at an infirmary. In that same episode, Yumiko asks about the long-lost family member she believes is living at the Commonwealth: her brother, a thoracic surgeon.
Season 11 Episode 5, "Out of the Ashes," reunites Yumiko and her brother Tomi (Ian Anthony Dale), a baker who has covered up his past as a successful surgeon. Jobs from before the fall determine assigned work details, and Deputy Governor Lance Hornsby (Josh Hamilton) explains in an orientation video that citizens of the Commonwealth are "specially assigned and curated to the job best suited to their skill set to keep this community thriving."
But Tomi's high-pressure profession is one he wants to leave behind. In Season 11, Episode 7, "Promises Broken," the white-armored soldier cops of the Commonwealth Military take Tomi away after Yumiko asks for advice ahead of an appointment with Governor Pamela Milton (Laila Robins).
Yumiko confronts Hornsby about her brother's unlawful arrest, and she's told Tomi is fine and will be back home tonight. Hornsby needs just enough time to help her friends assigned to walker-clearing duty for violating the Commonwealth criminal code. In exchange, Hornsby might one day want a favor from a friend in high places.
Later, Ezekiel returns with Hornsby. No longer coughing or sickly, he's feeling good as new after receiving treatment: antibiotics, painkillers, IV fluids, and a helping of lollipops for good measure.
The episode suggests Tomi's absence and Ezekiel's treatment are connected, despite Ezekiel requiring an endocrinologist to treat his thyroid cancer. According to Cancer Center, a thoracic surgeon typically operates on organs in the chest, including the heart, lungs, and esophagus.
But the Commonwealth and its resources can treat Ezekiel's cancer, an outlook that seemed unimaginable just last season.
"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," Payton said of Ezekiel during San Diego Comic-Con 2020. "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."
As Ezekiel told Carol once upon a time in Season 7, "Where there's life, there's hope, heroism, grace, and love. Where there's life, there's life."
The Walking Dead Final Season Part 1 finale, "For Blood," is streaming now on AMC+ and premieres October 10 on AMC. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD and stay tuned to ComicBook for coverage all season long.