(WARNING: This post contains spoilers for The Walking Dead Season7)
Two episodes into the second half of The Walking Dead's seventh season, Rick Grimes is well on the way to building his #Negan-fighting army. The most recent episode, "New Best Friends," saw Rick strike a deal with Jadis and the mysterious Scavengers, promising them weapons in return for their support in the upcoming fight. Unfortunately, it is still not quite enough.
The Kingdom Must Fight
As mentioned multiple times over the course of the last two episodes, it is essential that The Kingdom, led by King Ezekiel, becomes involved if Rick's uprising is to have any chance of gaining the numbers needed for success.
Ezekiel, unfortunately, refused Rick's offer, clinging to The Kingdom's fragile peace with The Saviors. We know, however, that this peace has to be broken somehow, and when it is, the reason why will likely be heartbreaking.
Plots And Plans
The death of somebody he cares about could prompt King Ezekiel to join Rick's uprising. Richard, one of the heads of The Kingdom's security, attempts to force this scenario with a plan that would have sacrificed Carol, for whom Ezekiel seems to have developed feelings, to the Saviors. Though Daryl shut down his plot for now, Carol may still not be entirely safe. In the previews for next week's episode, we see a Savior, Dwight, approaching what looks to be Carol's cottage. Either this is an unfortunate coincidence, or Richard enacts his plan once more in Daryl's absence.
It seems unlikely, though, that Carol will die before contributing to the war effort, and even if she did, it may not have the effect on Ezekiel that Richard hopes for. While Ezekiel would, of course, be upset, possible attacks are simply a risk Carol takes by living off the grid.
An Innocent Life
It will take a loss far closer to home to bring King Ezekiel into the fray. While his refusal to pledge The Kingdom's people to Rick's fight may frustrate some viewers, it is understandable. The Kingdom's people are similar to the Alexandrians before Rick and the group arrived. For the most part, they are not fighters. They are innocents in need of protecting, and there are none that Ezekiel wants to protect more than young Benjamin, with whom he appears to share a father-son relationship.
While Rick's group places much of the blame on Morgan for not convincing Ezekiel to fight, there may be another reason behind his refusal. Ezekiel seems to be truly considering Rick's proposal, until one key moment: When Benjamin declares his willingness to fight. While Ezekiel encouraged Morgan to teach Benjamin to fight, his intention is to keep him safe from walkers. The thought of Benjamin fighting in a real war (and possibly dying) frightens Ezekiel. This fear is seen again in the most recent episode, where Ezekiel reprimands Benjamin for jumping into the fight too soon on a rather tense supply drop for the Saviors.
If Benjamin is killed by a Savior for whatever reason — Richard's warmongering, or his own eagerness to fight — the pain of his loss could be the final push Ezekiel needs to join Rick's army.
Check out the promo for next week's episode, "Hostiles and Calamities," below: