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!