The Walking Dead Season 11: Khary Payton Goes "Darth Ezekiel"

With production underway on the 11th and final season of AMC's The Walking Dead (and continuing through March 2022), we had a chance to check in with Michael James Shaw (Blood & Treasure) aka Commonwealth military man via Instagram as he let the TWD universe know he was reporting for on-set duty. This time around, we're checking in with Khary Payton aka Ezekiel as he offers us another look from the set- and from the hashtag "#maskup," we're going with it being another example of how the set is staying COVID safe. But we would be remiss if we didn't point out and appreciate the ultimate coolness that is Khary Payton. With a vibe that screams Darth Vader crossed with Daft Punk with a sprinkle of Looking Glass from HBO's Watchmen, Payton is rocking a nearly face-shaped mirrored mask with a reflection that we believe could have a bizarrely hypnotic effect if you stare at it too long.

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The Walking Dead – Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

Here's a look at Payton's introduction to "Darth Ezekiel" via Instagram, followed by some additional intel on what's to come for The Walking Dead:

Here's a look at some of the highlights from showrunner and executive producer Angela Kang's recent conversation with EW:

When Season 11 Starts, The Focus Will Be On a Number of Storylines- Including Connie: "We'll be dealing with the new group that our foursome of Eugene, Ezekiel, Princess, and Yumiko ran across and that starts to open up their world in bigger and unexpected ways," Kang revealed "Then of course we've got to see that Connie is still alive at the end of episode 16, so we still got that thread out there to deal with. We've got some great stories at Alexandria, as they're dealing with the aftermath of this Whisperer war and things start to amp up even further. Then it all keeps rolling from there."

Viewers Will Be Seeing Daryl in a New Light: "We've got some really intriguing stuff for Daryl. We'll be putting him in a very different context than he's been in before," Kang said- but will that include Leah (Lynn Collins). Our prediction? Daryl (Norman Reedus) meets back up with Lynn- with a little one in her arms.

Oh Yes, Maggie and Negan Will Be Addressed: "There's a big, important story that has to do with Maggie and Negan, and I think it should be fascinating. Those two are really, really great across from each other," Kang teased. But after the events of "Here's Negan," this isn't the same Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) that Maggie (Lauen Cohan) remembers. "He got to the point where he remembered that she wanted him to fight, and she understood the importance of being with other people. That's one of the things that she says to him: 'We can't make it on our own. It's never going to happen.'" Kang explained. "And Negan, he's really thinking about the legacy of his wife and what she hoped for the two of them and what she hoped for him and has decided, 'You know what? I've earned my place here and I'm going to prove that I have a place here. And if that means I've got to face Maggie, even though that's something that is uncomfortable for me to face, and I don't want to, and it scares me in some ways, that's what I have to do.'"

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The Walking Dead – Image: AMC

Now here's a look back at the full "Questions" teaser released on Sunday, making those scenes of an ominous interrogation room, ice cream and cake displays, posters of missing people on boards, a bench at a subway stop with a pointed message to God, and what a courtroom with a gavel on the table a bit easier to understand- with a look at a Commonwealth red security uniform. And then there's the interrogation…

In a conversation with Insider from last month, Kang offered some additional insight into the first full teaser for the final season and how a classic moment from the comics will also be getting a "remix" over the course of the final 24 episodes. With regards to the scenes with the bakery and the "missing persons" board that were reminding comics fans of Michonne's storyline with her long-lost daughter Elodie? You were right on target except with Danai Gurira's Michonne gone from the series, viewers should expect that storyline to shift elsewhere- but to who? "I think for comic-book fans that [those scenes] definitely means something specific," Kang explained. "We're planning to do some version of that, but, since we don't have Michonne, we'll see what form that takes."

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The Walking Dead – Image: Screencap

Kang also revealed recently that "When we start [Season 11], we're rockin' and rollin.' We're back to being big and scope-y. There's going to be a feeling that things are just ripping along for the first block. Then, we're going for some different tonal things than we're used to on the show, which hopefully will be fun for the audience." And Kang means running the gamut of tonal from out-and-out horror and action to romance to even the occasional moment to smile every now and then. "I think it's just that mix," Kang explained. "As we meet more than one kind of new community, every story will have its own vibe. So some of them may go into types of genres that haven't been really explored on the show before." For Kang, it's about giving the viewers a chance to see that a series that's been running for 11 seasons still has a surprise or two up its sleeve. "My hope is that it will feel like we're still finding things that are new, even in the final season," she says."But also that we're just moving right along."

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About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.
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