Until episode 4, season 8’s “All-Out War” had abandoned the art of the episode entirely; instead choosing to film said war as one long-form, multi-hour movie. It also embraced the weekly check-in structure favored by Game of Thrones, which didn’t really work in its favor given its poor storytelling choices (Morales’ bungled return; Jesus’ confusing insistence on not murdering murderers; a total lack of stakes for any character we care about even a little bit) and total lack of character work.
But the latter, at least, was improved upon in “Some Guy.” The episode focused almost entirely on Ezekiel after last week’s sneak attack on the Kingdom army; with some Carol scenes and a pretty nifty car chase with Rick and Daryl thrown in for good measure. I’m not sure that I needed Ezekiel’s spirit broken to re-learn the lesson that happiness is impossible on The Walking Dead, or (in a more optimistic reading of this episode) that anyone can become a leader post-apocalypse if they’re a cool enough dude, but Khary Payton, Melissa McBride, and Cooper Andrews (Jerry) are all very likable actors, and I was grateful to spend time with characters who were all doing things that made sense.
I was also grateful that King Ezekiel’s subjects had already been massacred — via the recently relocated stash of guns Rick and Daryl spent two episodes searching for — at the top of the hour. Five weeks after the logistically similar real-life massacre in Las Vegas (and one after the church shooting in Texas), no one needed to watch decent human beings get torn apart by semi-automatic gunfire from far-away assailants perched above. Walking Dead has never exactly been feel-good escapist fantasy, but it doesn’t have to be retraumatizing, either.
Anyway, after the Kingdom army saved him by sacrificing themselves as human shields at the end of last week, Ezekiel woke with a gunshot wound in his leg and his people in literal pieces. Bereft, he went from body to body looking for survivors; seemingly forgetting in the midst of his grief that dead people turn into zombies on this show.
One member of Ezekiel’s army emerged from the carnage unscathed to save his king, but he only managed to brain a few walkers before yet another cartoonishly evil Savior — this one looked like Kip from Napoleon Dynamite — shot him. Kip captured Ezekiel, telling him not only that the Saviors were planning to use their hidden arsenal to retake the Sanctuary (and then chain him, Rick, and Maggie to its fence as punishment for their myriad sins), but also that he was phony garbage and totally not even a real king at all.
Lucky for us but mostly for Ezekiel, Jerry showed up just in the nick of time to literally chop Kip in half.
Meanwhile, Carol snuck into the Saviors’ base solo; presumably with the intention of murdering them all and stealing the arsenal. (And lest you doubt that she is capable of this, I urge you to recall “No Sanctuary.”) They surrounded her and shots were fired, but Carol got out of it because Carol’s “I’m just a sweet, helpless middle-aged lady who couldn’t possibly be a threat to you” act works brilliantly on men and, well, all of these particular Saviors were men. (Those awesome lady Saviors in “The Same Boat” would have sussed out Carol’s bullshit pronto.)
Yet another horde of walkers approached thanks to the rampant gunfire, and Carol was promptly put at a crossroads. Should she save Jerry and Ezekiel, who were now mere feet away from her but seconds from being eaten ... or turn around and kill the only two Saviors left alive, before they got the chance to return to the Sanctuary, re-arm Negan, and presumably kill our heroes?
This is probably the point where I should mention that scenes of Ezekiel’s misfortune and Carol’s heist were interspersed with Ezekiel’s final moments of innocence in the hours before battle. Ezekiel and his Kingdom had been far luckier than Rick, Carol, Daryl, and the rest of the gang until then, as — Negan deal aside — very few of them had actually had to deal with real live human monsters. Hence Ezekiel’s sunny demeanor and rare, welcome optimism.
He’d told Carol that he was ready to face the music and choose to become a different man — a fightin’ man— but the events of Day 1 made it more than clear that Ezekiel, zombie apocalypse or nah, had no idea what he was in for.
Still, something he’d said clearly resonated with Carol, as she chose to abandon her season 4 Karen-burning, greater good-ways by saving Jerry and Ezekiel over grabbing the guns. And it’s a good thing too, because she heard Daryl’s motorcycle drive by literally 10 seconds after the Saviors drove away.
Daryl and Rick — who had a vehicle of his own — managed to kill at least one of the Saviors in an impressive, two-minute car chase sequence that found Daryl getting the drop on a Savior sitting in the back of a jeep with an assault rifle, while he was riding his motorcycle; armed with only a handgun. Then Rick pulled up beside the driver, jumped out of his own vehicle and into his, and stabbed him.
No one in The Walking Dead fandom is immune to the charms of Rick and Daryl working together to outskill and/or smart the bad guys; myself included. And the best part is, Ezekiel, Carol, and Jerry then walked back home to safety without incident.
… Just kidding! As if Ezekiel hadn’t been reminded enough that even a king is just “some guy” when it comes to the harsh realities of warfare, Shiva got eaten by walkers after once again jumping out to save his newly-depressed ass last minute. She was brutally torn to pieces, but hopefully she’ll soon join Tabitha the goat in that Rainbow Bridge everybody told me about when my cat died.
Then Ezekiel, Carol, and Jerry walked back home to safety without incident, where Ezekiel got to inform the children and other non-fighters in the colony that virtually all of their loved ones had died. (Except for Dianne, the only other Kingdom-er I know by name besides Jerry, who was fortunate enough to ride with the Jesus/Tara/Morgan group this time. Good for Dianne.)
And that was the end of Ezekiel’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. To those of you who complained in comments and on Twitter that Ezekiel’s been too happy these past few weeks of All-Out War … well, I hope you’re happy.
Read These Stories Next: