For those who have read The Walking Dead comic book, you likely saw a decent portion of this season coming a mile away. There was the last stand against a walker horde in Alexandria, Carl sporting an eyepatch, and the introduction of the most charismatic, evil bastard this side of Terminus – Negan. But there’s also another treat that came in last night’s season finale that went unnoticed by some, but which made comic book fans’ ears perk up.
Spoilers Ahead: If you didn’t watch the season finale and/or don’t want to know about comic book happenings, turn back.
By the end of the episode, Morgan had tracked down Carol and saved her from both her own death wish and a Savior on a mission to grant it. Instead of carrying her on horseback all the way back to Alexandria, they were offered a helping hand by two spear-wielding men who seemingly came out of nowhere. One of them was actually the same one Morgan and Rick ran across at a farm earlier while he was looking for his horse – which Morgan later found.
The moment I first saw someone walking around in body armor and looking for a horse, I instantly yelled, “The Kingdom is coming!” If you know what that means, you probably did the same. If you don’t know what that means, here’s a quick tutorial.
The Alexandrians recently found out that, not only are there other sustainable communities in the area, but there’s a network of them. So when Rick saw some guy using the same spear as the people at the Hilltop, it was kind of naive of him to assume he was a Savior as if that’s the only other option. Instead, all signs point to him being a part of another community altogether known as The Kingdom.
The Kingdom is made up of a group of people who mainly travel on horseback, speak in antiquated English and wear body armor from head to toe. They’re pretty much modern day knights who traded in clunky metal armor for sports gear. But, more importantly, they’re led by a man who likes to be referred to as King Ezekiel.
Now, Ezekiel’s just about as charismatic as Negan, but he doesn’t have a barbed-wire covered bat named Lucille. But do you know what he does have? A kind heart — an extremely rare commodity in the leaders of this new world — and a sense of nobility that rivals only the great rulers of a time long passed. But there’s one other notable thing that he has: a motherf*ckin’ tiger.
Ezekiel is a king who sits on a throne with a pet tiger named Shiva sitting at his side at all times. To be fair, his castle is actually an elementary school and his throne room is just an auditorium. But you’ve got to give him credit for the theatrics of it all. And did I mention the tiger? Another thing that Ezekiel brings to the table? A bunch of loyal people who are fed up of being shaken down by the Saviors and are looking for an opportunity to fight back. So far, all the makings of a standoff between Rick and Negan are there. Ezekiel’s potential involvement – and that of his people – will play a huge role in how things play out, should the show follow the comics.
There’s no guarantee as to when or how Ezekiel will be presented in the show and how long it will take to get Morgan and Carol back to The Kingdom (assuming, of course, that is where they are going). One thing is for certain, though, the debut of The Knights and their role in rescuing Carol indicates that she might still find renewed purpose after her crisis of faith, and it’s a clear indication that the show is going to devote itself to more than just Negan’s vicious antics and both the Alexandria and Hilltop settlements’ ability to survive and pushback against him. Which is a good thing because while Jeffrey Dean Morgan was fantastic in his debut during the divisive finale, too much of a good thing (especially loud and brash villain) can be as much a problem as too little.