the walking dead ezekiel shiva

The biggest question coming out of the Season 6 finale of The Walking Dead was undoubtedly related to which of the good guys got a face full of baseball bat courtesy of new bad guy Negan. Still, once we calmed down enough to think about the previous 63 minutes, we had to wonder about the new group that was welcoming Carol and Morgan. Season 7 will introduce the Kingdom, its leader Ezekiel, and a group of survivors unlike any other. Executive producer/director Greg Nicotero had this to say about the Kingdom in Season 7 and what differences we can expect from the community:

It's the biggest community that we've ever come upon. Carol and Morgan show up there and it's thriving, and it's alive, and it's vibrant. And even when I directed the episode, when I was editing it, it was The Walking Dead version of The Wizard of Oz. If the outside is a black and white, dull, dead world, the inside is vibrant and colorful and whimsical and alive, and it's all led by a dude with a scepter and a fucking tiger named Ezekiel. So the script had a very strange tenor to it, because it was very unlike anything that we had done in The Walking Dead, ever.

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Few of us may have ever compared The Walking Dead to The Wizard of Oz unless we're thinking of the time Rick and Co. almost got squashed by debris from a wind storm or wishing that a house would fall on a particularly irritating character. We can bet that Ezekiel won't be using his scepter to rouse the survivors into a chorus of song. Still, Greg Nicotero's tease to EW that there would be an unprecedented vibrancy to the Kingdom is proof that not everything will be bloody and grim in Season 7. Sure, Negan will still have bashed somebody to death with a baseball bat, but at least there's a fucking tiger named Shiva.

It makes sense that the folks of the Kingdom are more whimsical than any of the characters we've come to know and love in the zombie apocalypse so far. According to showrunner Scott Gimple, the people in this settlement have found a way to feed themselves and protect themselves and live actual lives rather than just survive. Rick and Co. have found a few safe havens over the years, but they've always had to try to get by with certain vulnerabilities. They've always been on edge in a way that it sounds like the people in the Kingdom are not.

Ezekiel definitely sounds unlike any other leader who has come before. He is reportedly theatrical and larger than life and affirming in a way that encourages his community to celebrate life. We've seen charismatic leaders and powerful leaders and forceful leaders, but most of them have had ulterior motives. Ezekiel may have found success because of his different tack. It didn't become the second biggest community of The Walking Dead by chance.

Luckily, we don't have much longer to wait until The Walking Dead returns to the airwaves and delivers our first glimpses at the Kingdom. Season 7 kicks off on AMC on Sunday, October 23 at 9 p.m. ET.

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