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Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Khary Payton as Ezekiel - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Khary Payton as Ezekiel - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 16 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead

Daryl and Ezekiel’s talk felt like a stiff handshake from a girl’s boyfriend

Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

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Ezekiel pulling Daryl aside to talk Carol was The Walking Dead equivalent of getting a stiff handshake from a girl’s boyfriend.

The Walking Dead’s season 9 finale saw Ezekiel engaging in a icy man-to-man talk with Daryl about his then Queen/fiancee Carol. One that boiled down to ‘Step away from her friend,’ or in Ezekiel’s words, “I don’t want to be the bad guy here.” It was universal, every guy has been on both sides of the equation at one time or another. Usually, it happens on a night out at a bar when a guy converses with a girl at length, and her boyfriend’s eyes dart to his opponent with a fierce unspoken gaze.

There Ezekiel was still reeling from the death of his adopted son, when he spots an unexpected, potential challenger to the Queen’s heart from the corner of his eye. The same individual he inadvertently blames for failing Henry, his faith in him at an all-time low. At first, he makes nothing of the conversation between old friends but Daryl’s mere presence gets to the King.

As Ezekiel senses the Queen’s feelings for him are slowly evaporating, he decides to secretly negotiate an exit with her possible old flame. An ember that never truly stopped fully burning and can reignite at any second. Ezekiel calls forth a seemingly friendly audience with Daryl so they can discuss matters in private.

Dropping pleasantries, Ezekiel tells Daryl, he should probably leave them be when they arrive at Hilltop. No Carol around, no need to pretend, ‘We’re all best of friends here!’ However, the young lion does not accept, roaring back, “Is that what Carol wants?” The elder lion sensing the matter not closed, responds, ‘It’s what we both want!’ with a flash of teeth. Daryl understands the message, there’s nothing more that needs to be said.

However, Queen Carol notices something is amiss during the man-to-man dialogue. Her feelings dwindling further, spiraling into romantic abyss with every extra second of the private conversation. Her fiancee Ezekiel’s charged body language toward her ‘friend’ has a reverse effect. Instead, Carol’s feelings grow even stronger for Daryl subconsciously. Unfinished business, the one who got away, lingering emotions that never saw closure swim up to the surface.

By the conclusion of The Walking Dead’s season 9 finale, Ezekiel’s attempt at a ‘stiff handshake’ with Daryl has backfired tremendously. The move combined with the loss of their son, sends Carol to join Daryl back in Alexandria, miles away physically from the King. Practically another state in these new times. No longer is the situation just emotionally distant for the distraught King.

Queen Carol returns the ring that promised a forever union to the palm of the King’s hand. Now at rock bottom, Ezekiel realizes his last minute attempt to rescue the relationship was wholly unsuccessful. By the time Ezekiel understood the building blocks of marriage were crumbling, it was already too late.

Enjoyed Negan’s redemption story on The Walking Dead’s season 9 finale? Check out The Walking Dead’s take on Prison Reform: Can Negan change? for the pros and cons of letting Negan out of his Alexandria cell permanently!

Nir Regev is the founder of The Natural Aristocrat. You can directly contact him at nir.regev@thenaturalaristocrat.com for coverage consideration, interview opportunties, or general comments.

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The Walking Dead

Dante is another good Walking Dead character gone for no great reason

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Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes, Juan Javier Cardenas as Dante - The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 7 - Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC
Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

Losing Juan Javier Cardenas (Dante) from The Walking Dead’s cast did not enhance the series or provide any kind of spirited epiphany, not even a good Deus Ex Machina. It was just a waste of potential of one of Season’s 10’s most charismatic bright spots.

This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead’s mid-Season 10 finale.

For as much as The Walking Dead bathes in the term ‘delayed gratification’ and takes almost a schadenfreude-like approach to stretching plot lines to the brink… They simultaneously eliminate their most intriguing characters like Dante on a whim or lock them away from screen time in narrative jail ala Negan. What purpose did Dante’s death serve during TWD Season 10 midseason finale? For Gabriel to revive a relationship side plot with Rosita that most fans realistically forgot about by now?

All it did was snuff out the candle of this season’s most charismatic new on-screen addition for two seconds of shock value. What could have been the closest thing to a Merle-like character is in the ground, six feet under, to progress yet another convoluted romance storyline. Let’s face it, Ole’ Gabey isn’t Rosita’s first boyfriend and he certainly won’t be the last. She’s been ‘getting over’ Abraham for quite a while now. Every other episode, Rosita looks like she’s in love with a different member of her reverse harem. Might as well spin a wheel to figure out who’s the next sucker.

Lost Future

Juan Javier Cardenas as Dante – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 7 – Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

Meanwhile, Dante had an endless well of potential as his disposal. From if he really had a son or not, military background, to his Whisperer attraction. Most importantly, actor Juan Javier Cardenas knew how to sell a scene. How to make Dante standout and steal the moment. Him being a doctor added to the question of possible no-choice necessity similar to Pete Anderson. There were so many different directions to take his character to, he could have been more than the traitor who took out Siddiq. One of the few times The Walking Dead should have held back, they go full force. Reminiscent of the loss of Jessie Anderson [Alexandra Breckenridge] in Season 6 of the show.

This goes back to the decision to take out The Governor. It’s okay not to fully eliminate a character through death and just have them escape for a while, instead of losing another quality actor. Maggie Greene received such a temporary exit when Lauren Cohan moved to another project. Recognize your roster, so you’re not left with storylines your audience isn’t that immersed in at the expense of ones they are into.

Read more of The Natural Aristocrat’s Walking Dead coverage in The Walking Dead category section!

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The Walking Dead

TWD: Lydia’s mistreatment proves Second Chances are Fashion Statements

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Cassady McClincy as Lydia - The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 7 - Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC
Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

Alpha told her daughter the truth after all… The raven-haired Lydia was never going to be accepted in Alexandria on more than a superficial level, the game was rigged before it started.

It’s easy to speak of second chances when times are booming and the flowers are blossoming. What about when they wilt? The rough and tumble when Murphy’s Law hits and everything that could go wrong, does. Is it still soothing to be floating atop the moral high ground then? Alexandria’s promised tolerance of their resident refugee Whisperer led to a secret campaign of undercover bullying. Friendly smiles on the front, knives ready in the back. 

Lydia was never going to be treated like ‘one of them’ no matter how hard she desperately tried to fit in… Just ask Negan. There was only so much a Daryl could do, he can’t escort Lydia as a personal bodyguard everywhere for the rest of her life. Eventually, she would always have to face the dark underbelly of Alexandria. One that blames her unfairly for her own existence. True feelings always have a way of surfacing in the end. Tongues sharpen when civilization erodes. All it took was a tree fall and some walkers. In reality, the broken routine of daily comfort. 

Transactional Relationships

Even Carol Peletier is guilty of just paying lip service, using Lydia as a pawn in her quest for vengeance. An ace in the deck. Fully aware of Lydia’s fragile state but openly disregarding it anyway. It was just half a season ago on The Walking Dead that Lydia was ready to take her own life before Carol stepped in. Owning this knowledge did not impact Carol’s decision to utilize Lydia even marginally. Not the least bit, ‘She’ll get over it, it’s her decision to help,’ Carol thought. No, she won’t, not this time.

The ruse is over, the blindfold is off… Lydia can spot the details she missed on first impression. Back when her head was spinning with possibilities and magic. To Lydia, leaving The Whisperers was a new lease on life, to her new neighbors, she was just fashionable to have around. A walking billboard of the community’s so-called selflessness and imprint as the good guys. Tolerated but never to be loved. A Christmas present waiting to be returned after New Years Day. Lydia took matters into her own hands last TWD episode and grabbed the receipt herself…

Check out more TWD coverage in The Walking Dead category section!

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The Walking Dead

Negan’s Revival like a Kraken rising from Davy Jones’ Locker on “Bonds”

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Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan; single - The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 6 - Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC
Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

Negan was finally allowed to be Negan after being submerged and suffocating in the depths of Davy Jones’ Locker, also known as Alexandria. The Kraken was released upon The Whisperers tonight and Beta can’t seem to steer the Captain’s Wheel back on course.

This scene recap contains spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10 Episode 6.

No more Home Improvement style neighbor Negan dishing advice like TWD’s Wilson for the last season and a half. No tending the garden reminiscent of farmer Rick. The real Negan was unchained on tonight’s episode from the burden of apologizing for his own existence. Like a true Alpha, he accepted the futileness of trying to appease a crew that was never going to accept him as one of their own anyway. As Tyler Durden once said on Fight Club, “It’s only when you’ve lost everything, that you’re free to do anything.” 

Negan wandered onto hostile waters with just a leather jacket on his back and managed to put The Whisperers’ entire hierarchy into question. Beta was truly the perfect serious character for Negan to play off of… Particularly, because Beta poses a physical threat to Negan that Father Gabriel never did.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan, Ryan Hurst as Beta – The Walking Dead _ Season 10, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Jace Downs/AMC

It brought back the visual of him as fearless in the heart of danger, rather than the downtrodden one, shedding tears in his cell. Negan was authentically getting under Beta’s skin by literally being himself: Loud, boisterous, and unapologetic. The way Negan should be. “Do you have a Beta with Benefits thing going on?”

The revival demanded attention both from The Walking Dead’s audience itself and Alpha… Who watched Beta’s bickering with The Whisperer’s newest application in noticeable gratification. Schadenfreude at Beta’s unexpected challenger if you will. Negan has lifted himself up against the tide, ready to pull the steady ship Beta’s running directly back into the ocean. 

One Time ‘Cameo’?

The question is, will the series allow Sanctuary’s former defacto ruler to continue in this manner? Or send him back to the plank to play ‘pretend’ good guy? Last episode’s Brandon appeared to be some kind of subtle shot at Negan fans who want him to be the way he used to be. As if a fan wanting “Classic Negan” was annoying. Brandon’s interpretation more than subtly hinted that with the immediate disappointed stare back in response. It seemed like a breaking the fourth wall move… If you also consider Brandon having no morals as a ‘fanboy’ it felt like a type of statement on Negan’s original fanbase.

Leave predictable hero/advice giver Negan at the door, the Kraken must stay above water. Fighting Giants, Steering Alpha’s Ship, and Beyond!

Be sure to check out The Walking Dead #TBT Negan asks Daryl “Who are you?” and relive a classic Savior moment!

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