After the debut of Negan last week, I was hoping for a more cheery episode of the walking dead ( if that’s possible ). But in a world that is as bleak as TWD would this be a possibility? ….. Join Film and TV Nerd to find out!
The seventh season premiere of The Walking Dead was hard to watch. No matter how you actually felt about it, it was a slog. Downbeat, emotional and violent, … it was every complaint every critic has ever had about the show, put into the same episode at essentially the same time.
This isn’t a world with a lot of humour or colour, especially not these days, but when The Walking Dead pauses long enough to allow the viewer to take the world in and crack a smile, it’s very effective.
Witness Carol’s introduction to The Kingdom. Watching Morgan try to prepare her for what she’s about to face is amusing enough, but when Carol gets rolled into an audience with King Ezekiel and his pet tiger Shiva, it’s hilarious. She’s trying her best to put on the Carol face, all smiles and humbleness, sweet as pie, but her eyes say otherwise, and the moment they roll out of the hearing of Ezekiel, she lets Morgan know what she really thinks.
Just watching Carol, the least hopeful character on the show, interact with a guy who fancies himself King was actually fun at times.
After all wouldn’t you be a little confounded by a crazy man with a tiger who everyone treats like an actual king? However, when Ezekiel finds Carol near the end of the episode and the two sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk, the secret of Ezekiel’s madness makes a whole lot more sense.
It’s a brilliantly written scene which makes the transformation from King Ezekiel to Ezekiel the zookeeper work brilliantly. The way he slips into and out of the voice is effortless.
The fact that Ezekiel is able to keep the Kingdom running and happy is one thing, but as he shows himself to the outsiders—revealing the arrangements to provide fresh pork to the Saviors to Morgan and revealing that he’s putting on an act to Carol—not everything is great.
There are flaws there, and while he’s clearly made things functional, mostly due to his ability to read people and give them what they want, he has bigger concerns, and he needs people on the inside he knows he can trust. Carol and Morgan are hardened survivors, which is what he needs at his side to replace the core of people he’s already lost.
He knows there’s a real threat out there, and it’s a threat that can’t be defeated just by putting on a good show and rallying the people around a strong symbol like, say, a tiger on a chain..
After last week, there needed to be some relief. Another down episode would have probably been too much and a little levity with Carol struggling not to laugh at Ezekiel was a nice change of pace.
When he drops the act and the two characters connect on a real level, and when Ezekiel shows up at Carol’s house with a pomegranate, it leads to a slightly silly, but fun ending with a tiger and a piece of tropical fruit.
Carol needs understanding, Morgan needs a purpose, and The Walking Dead needed to take a few minutes to make the world smile. The Kingdom works because it’s so overboard good that it counteracts the bad out in the world. Where there’s life, there’s life, as Ezekiel so eloquently states, and given that his character is set up to be Opposite Negan, it makes sense that The Kingdom will be as sweet and light as The Saviors are dark and crude.
When the various forces start working together—Alexandria has guns, Hilltop has a forge to make bladed weapons, and The Kingdom has literal knights in hockey pads—The Saviors might need a little saving of their own.
The fact is, good things are happening to Carol for the first time in a long time, and while she can’t quite accept it right now, she seems like she’s coming around to it by the end of the episode.
Whether it’s a faux king bullshitting a bullshitter or Jerry making every pun he can, the fact that smiling and laughing with an episode of The Walking Dead is possible. The misery will be back next week, but for now, exhale and enjoy.
What did you think of this episode?
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