The Walking Dead has unmasked its mysterious stranger, but didn’t spell out the reason for why Elijah covers his face. In the episode that was originally released as The Walking Dead season 10 finale, the series introduced a masked warrior who saved Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) from a group of Whisperers. The first of six extra season 10 episodes disproved a number of fan theories about his identity by revealing him to be an original character named Elijah.
The Walking Dead season 10, episode 17, titled “Home Sweet Home”, delved into the return of Lauren Cohan’s Maggie. Among the new characters who are now in her company are James Devoti’s Cole and Elijah, played by Cobra Kai season 3’s Okea Eme-Akwari. Both are members of the community that Maggie started with Georgie off-screen. After being forced on the run by a new villain group called the Reapers, Maggie and her people have made the move to Alexandria, which will be their home for the time being. Elijah, who was the subject of a great deal of fan speculation for months, could turn out to be an important addition to the group going forward.
What made Elijah such a big talking point was his mask. The use of it in the Walking Dead season 10 finale led many viewers to suspect that its purpose was to hide a familiar character or a heavily disfigured face, but episode 17 confirmed that scars were not an issue for Elijah. The show has yet to reveal why he wears it, but it’s possible that the real reason has already been hinted at. After he froze, Kelly (Angel Theory) tried to comfort him, and was able to connect with him over their mutual hardship. Both characters are currently dealing with the disappearance of a sibling. Clearly, Elijah is suffering from a great deal of inner turmoil, but with the mask, he’s able to hide it.
It’s possible that Elijah wears the metal mask to keep Maggie and the others from seeing how deeply he’s affected by the events that have transpired in his life. After all, they are living in the zombie apocalypse, a place where survival depends on one’s ability to preserve and stand strong. It makes sense that Elijah wouldn’t want to affect morale by letting the people around him to see that he’s scared. Elijah may also be a person who’s uncomfortable with showing weakness. His emotional issues could also be related to the fact that despite being in two episodes, he hasn’t had a single speaking line.
Elijah’s arc in the remainder of season 10’s extra episodes may revolve around him overcoming his trauma. While the series could allow him to reunite with his missing sister at some point down the line, that may not be part of the plan. Either way, The Walking Dead season 10 has set up Elijah forming a bond with Kelly, and it could be with her help that he will open up and develop as a character.