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While so many of The Walking Dead's lead characters are - at least within the context of the show - on their knees dealing with a mystery victim's death, Morgan and Carol are on the verge of opening up the show's landscape through the introduction of The Kingdom, a location known well by comic fans. According to Scott Gimple, there's something very different about this new Season 7 setting, and it isn't just that there's a school building involved.
I'll say that the Kingdom is a place that works and it's a place that has a very different vibe because it works. They've figured out how to feed themselves. They've figured out how to have a place that in many ways celebrates life. They get to be alive. They want to live. It isn't merely about survival.
I love hearing that. We've been following Rick & Co. around for six years, and disaster has come to just about every area that any of them have used as a temporary shelter, from farms to prisons to train cars. Until Alexandria, there hadn't been anything resembling stability since Hershel's place, and it's not like Alexandria has been the most well-protected community. I mean, it seemed to have been before Rick's group came around, but Pete was there, and Pete sucked. The Kingdom already wins because there's no Pete there, and also because of the food.
In the comics, The Kingdom hasn't always gotten a good amount of the spotlight, so having it in live-action will be a treat, and it sounds like we'll get to see something of a festive atmosphere happening here. (Or as close to festive as it can get at this point in the post-apocalypse.) That is most certainly not a vibe we are used to seeing on The Walking Dead, and it's one that probably won't get to last very long within The Kingdom, given Negan's broadening reign of tyranny. Still, though, any celebratory port in a storm, right? It might not have Spaghetti Tuesday or anything amazing like that, but there's probably booze. (Will Abraham be around to drink all of it, though?)
The Kingdom will also finally introduce us to another leader that doesn't have any secret malicious motivations invested in move he makes. (At least, that's what we think.) Gimple went on to tell EW more about what to expect from King Ezekiel, and this definitely sounds faithful to the source material.
There is a community there and the man in charge is somebody who embraces in some ways some of the more nonsensical parts of life. You know, he walks around with a classical royal air and yet there's something very affirming about that. It's theater. He's a bigger than life character and they're living in a way that is very affirmative of life and it's very different from any of the communities that we've seen before.
Yes, one of the things that makes Ezekiel great is his tiger Shiva, but the character would be a hoot even without the striped protection. As Gimple puts it, this guy is bigger than life and very much tied to the world of theatrics, so his attitude is far more grand than the world-weary cynicism plaguing Rick and his people. I imagine Ezekiel and the still somewhat morally grounded Morgan will get along well. They just need to hurry up and get here.
The Walking Dead will return to AMC for its world-building (and world-destroying) Season 7 on Sunday, October 23, at 9:00 p.m. ET. To see when everything else is coming back to the small screen, check out our fall TV schedule.