Warning: spoilers ahead for the Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead.
The first episode of The Walking Dead Season 7 wasn't exactly a barrel of laughs for anybody not named Negan. The deaths of Abraham and Glenn were sad enough; the breaking of Rick and the near mutilation of Carl just upped the horror ante. Throw in Daryl being carted away by the Saviors for leverage and Maggie's complete breakdown, and it was pretty much a huge bummer of an episode. Showrunner Scott Gimple had this to say about what will be different in the second episode of Season 7:
It features the Kingdom. It is funny. It's actually funny after the episode you just saw. There is a tiger. There is King Ezekiel. And that begins a season where we see all these different worlds, all these different characters. We see these characters that remain trying to put together the pieces.
Unless that tiger wears a top hat and does a dance to welcome people to The Kingdom, I have a hard time imagining how the second episode could possibly be funny. Rick and Co. still need to go back to Alexandria and explain why Glenn, Maggie, Daryl, and Abraham aren't among them. There are a lot of pieces for them to try to put back together. Still, from what we know of The Kingdom, Scott Gimple's assurance on The Talking Dead that it will feel funny after the brutality of the premiere makes sense.
King Ezekiel promises to be larger than life in a much more positive way than the speechifying of Negan, so we shouldn't worry that he'll make his grand debut by lining up a bunch of survivors and siccing his tiger on any of them. In fact, as long as nobody crosses Ezekiel in a big way, we probably don't have to wonder about Shiva eating anybody alive anytime soon. The Kingdom - complete with Ezekiel the king and Shiva the tiger - sounds as close to a paradise as can possibly exist in the zombie apocalypse.
Unfortunately, Rick and the other survivors of Negan's wrath may not get to experience the bounties of The Kingdom just yet. The Season 6 finale revealed that only Carol and Morgan would be taken to The Kingdom, presumably in order for Carol to recuperate from her wounds. Unless they somehow get word of what happened between the Saviors and the Alexandrians, they may be able to enjoy the Kingdom for a while before they even find out about Glenn, Abraham, and Daryl. Hopefully the Kingdom does a good job fixing Carol up; she may want to storm the Saviors' compound all by her lonesome when she finds out that they took Daryl.
The second episode of Season 7 will have the time to be funnier than the first episode. It will be supersized from the usual sixty minutes with commercials to seventy-six minutes with commercials. The extra sixteen minutes could allow the show to ease the tension down from the action of the premiere and shift into some of the lighter elements from The Kingdom.
Tune in to The Walking Dead on Sunday, October 30 at 9 p.m. ET on AMC to get the first look at The Kingdom. Until then, I'm going to think happy thoughts about a dancing tiger in a top hat and monocle to soothe the sting of Glenn's and Abraham's deaths.