The Walking Dead shows us how decisions early on changed two men forever, and in return gave us King Ezekiel and the leader of the Saviors.
Decisions are everything when it comes to the world of The Walking Dead. King Ezekiel and Negan aren’t that different from one another and could have been friends before the world fell apart, but once civilization fell apart their paths took them on very different journeys to become leaders for their people.
The Walking Dead season 8 has been full of action, to be sure, but there have also been some major moments that have illuminated some of the key characters. In “Some Guy” we saw King Ezekiel’s world come crashing down while in “The Big Scary U” Negan was able to step in before the Sanctuary fell apart in his brief absence. Both men are the leaders of their communities and both men are well respected, but at some point their paths to leadership took separate forks in the road and they ended up doing things much differently.
From the look of things, both communities look up to their leaders. The workers kneel before Negan not because they’re scared but because they know he is there to protect them from the Saviors who were so willing to sacrifice them to protect themselves. It’s clearly not so cutthroat at the Kingdom, but the devotion to King Ezekiel is just as evident. When Ezekiel says that’s he’s just “some guy” Jerry corrects him quickly. He isn’t just a guy, he’s the King.
For a moment, imagine that the roles were reversed. Imagine Ezekiel having to build his community by creating a caste system of workers while keeping the militia in line. Negan could have been at the Kingdom helping to build a society without worrying about keeping people in line.
Negan had to step in because the person in charge of the Sanctuary before him wasn’t able to control it. Negan stepped in and took charge but he couldn’t do it without imposing rules. Ezekiel’s rise to power at the Kingdom seems to have taken place with like minded people who welcomed his guidance.
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There’s always that one moment that is the turning point and though we don’t know those moments for Negan and Ezekiel, it’s clear that at some point the two future leaders made decisions that informed the way they built their communities. Their paths diverged, but now they are running into each other in the worst of ways.