'The Walking Dead' Season 7: What the comic books reveal about Ezekiel's Kingdom

'The Walking Dead' Season 7: What the comic books reveal about Ezekiel's Kingdom

Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead featured a tiger, men clad in body armor, faux-royal language from a self-proclaimed king and a choir singing Bob Dylan's "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" to a montage of Morgan teaching a young man how to wield a staff at a gazebo. Suffice it to say, this was an unusual episode of AMC's zombie series. 

This was all part of the show's introduction to the Kingdom, a new community as eccentric as its leader, King Ezekiel, and his awesome pet tiger Shiva. But aside from feeling like the farthest thing from Negan's gruesome entrance from the previous episode, what is the Kingdom's purpose on the show? 

As pointed out in the episode, the Kingdom shares an important commonality with Rick's group: They are, technically, under Negan's rule. We see Ezekiel and some members of the Kingdom go through an exchange with Negan's group, the Saviors, providing them with slaughtered pigs as their "payment." (The pigs were fed zombie meat, but apparently that's not going to harm people who eat them or whatever!)

These exchanges, however, are kept secret from most members of the Kingdom by Ezekiel. He does this, in part, to keep the Medieval Times-esque good vibes in an otherwise depressing dystopia. His deals with Negan and the Saviors are notably more amicable than the Hilltop Colony or Rick's. The theory — per actor Khary Payton, who plays Ezekiel — is that Negan never killed anyone from the Kingdom with his barbed wire-covered baseball bat Lucille, because Ezekiel has a goddamn tiger. Tiger trumps bat every time. 

But there's enough from Sunday's episode to indicate that Ezekiel isn't pleased with the arrangement. What this means — if the show does follow the trajectory of the comic books — is that Ezekiel will join forces with Rick and Co. to take down Negan. The Saviors are powerful, and nigh impossible to take on as one small community, but they'd have strength in numbers with the help of the Kingdom. 

In the meantime, however, Rick isn't in the best mental state to tackle Negan — and he hasn't even met Ezekiel yet. It might take a couple of episodes, at least, before this comes to fruition. What Ezekiel could do in the interim is continue to court Carol, whom he seems to have a strong fondness for. 

In the comics, Ezekiel elopes with Michonne, which can't feasibly work in the show since she established a relationship with Rick last season. At the very least, Ezekiel is giving it a shot with Carol. Stopping by Carol's door with his tiger and an apple in his hand is the post-apocalyptic equivalent of a "You up?" text.