In a recent interview with Yahoo TV, Scott Gimple discussed Khary Payton’s portrayal of King Ezekiel and how that character brings hope to the show during what’s potentially the darkest season yet.
“You have two people (Negan and King Ezekiel) who have captured the imagination of a great deal of people, but by demonstrating another way. Negan’s way is very authoritarian, but even he…we see a little bit of how he contextualizes it to people he both works with and rules over,” recalls Gimple.
King Ezekiel as a Leader
King Ezekiel shows leadership in a drastic method. “They’re both selling something,” reminds the showrunner. “Both selling an idea of how to live. Ezekiel’s idea is very, for a king, it’s very democratic. It applies to everybody, and everybody is welcome as long as they contribute, and they might even be welcome if they don’t. But he wants everybody to contribute in some way, and that’s all that needs to happen.”
Negan’s views are obvious more complicated than this. Gimple adds, “They both are charismatic people, and they both have an idea of how the world should be, they both are really good salespeople. It’s interesting, there is very much a parallel between the two of them. I think the Kingdom has a much better choir, though. I think the choir at the Sanctuary is probably under duress.”
Negan as a Leader
Specifically, Negan wanted power and he would do anything to take it. King Ezekiel saw an opening where his people needed someone to step up and be the hero. With his acting chops and background, he did that, and continues to build on the myth of himself, especially when it gives his people hope.
Negan rules with Lucille, a man-made object used to project fear. King Ezekiel rules with Shiva, a tiger helped by man, to project fearlessness. If the two were to get into a fist fight, most people would bet on Shiva and King Ezekiel over Negan. But the issue is that Negan generated an army for himself, rather than a group of followers, which is what King Ezekiel has.
Who do you think would win a fist-to-fist battle between Negan and King Ezekiel, and why?
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