WARNING: The following article includes spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 5, "What Is Always Is," which aired Sunday on AMC.
On the previous episode of The Walking Dead, Michonne talked Ezekiel out of committing suicide. Following their discussion, Ezekiel seemed revitalized and recommitted to helping the citizens of Hilltop. Yet, in the latest episode of the series, "What Is Always Is," all is not well with Ezekiel.
When Siddiq arrives at Hilltop with Daryl, Ezekiel enlists his medical expertise for help in the infirmary. He has a noticeable cough, but ignores it.
In the process of getting him situated, Ezekiel admits that the thief who’s been stealing Hilltop’s supplies recently took off with a quarter of their medical equipment. A small metal tiger falls from his pocket and Siddiq picks it up. Ezekiel proudly explains that Henry made it during his apprenticeship. Ezekiel found it with Henry’s things after he died, recognizing it as a present Henry intended to give him.
As he explains the tiger, he’s overtaken by a horrible cough. Siddiq gets him to sit down. Ezekiel tries to pass off the cough as a simple cold, but Siddiq’s concerned it could be from smoke inhalation from the recent fire at Hilltop. Ezekiel knows this isn't the case. He shows Siddiq his neck, which had been wrapped in a scarf. He has a painful growth that he’s known about for a month.
Siddiq tries to reassure Ezekiel that without tests they can’t be sure what it is, but Ezekiel is positive it’s thyroid cancer. Both his grandmother and father had it so he knows the signs. They both survived, but with the world the way it is now, Ezekiel can't rely on medical miracles like surgery and chemo and radiation to help him. So Ezekiel has accepted his fate.
Siddiq confesses that he’s been dealing with a condition of his own -- the PTSD from his time with the Whisperers. He proposes to Ezekiel that even if they can’t get away from their problems, at least they can be there for each other.
Later, Siddiq uses the radio to check in with the other doctor in Alexandria. Siddiq asks him to put Carol on, and Ezekiel comes in. He sits and waits for Carol, but just as he hears her picking up, he switches off the radio. He can't bring himself to tell her what’s going on.
So Ezekiel’s actions in last week’s episode may not have been based purely on his numerous losses. He’s facing down a tough battle. This brings The Walking Dead into unknown territory. Despite all the death on the show, no one’s ever died from something as “normal” as cancer before.
The Walking Dead stars Norman Reedus, Danai Gurira, Melissa McBride, Josh McDermitt, Christian Serratos, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Seth Gilliam, Ross Marquand, Khary Payton, Cooper Andrews, Avi Nash, and Samantha Morton. It airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.