Over the years, we have seen numerous post-apocalyptic societies rise and fall, with the Tribe as the only constant. Alexandria, Hill Top, Terminus and now the Kingdom all show us the importance of community in rebuilding a sense of normalcy in a time when nothing seems like it will ever be normal again. With places such as Slabtown, where Beth died, we saw a skewed value system that sidelined human empathy in order to flourish as a society, costing a Tribe member her life. Over and over again, Tribe members infiltrate these different communities, only to be disappointed and move away after some really huge, game changing incident. With the Kingdom and also with the Saviours, we see two communities with very distinct value systems working together to survive.
For the Saviours, who have been made out as villains (and rightfully so, they’re all horrible, so far), their needs and wants seem almost irrelevant and only important in how they affect the Tribe. The Kingdom, though is a flourishing and fairly healthy community, regardless of the fact that the group follows a man who calls himself King Ezekiel. And oh yeah, he has a tiger. Still, Ezekiel and his benevolent rule is a welcome change from Negan’s reign of violence and terror, and Morgan seems to buy into the system rather quickly, mostly because he and Carol have nowhere else to go, but also because he is looking for a place where he can settle down without having to use violence. In an interesting twist, Morgan is noticed by the King to have unique fighting skills and when he is asked to train a young member of Ezekiel’s court and, instead of refusing, he decides to pass on his knowledge, a cue that Morgan is indeed growing in complexity as a character.
Carol, who initially tried to leave Alexandria because of her own mental health issues with violence, was hunted down by Saviours, rescued by Morgan and brought to the Kingdom to heal. As we have seen so many times before, she is wary of new people, and quickly turns on her “Cardigan Carol” persona in order to thwart any questions about her past. While this tactic usually works, Ezekiel sees right through Carol and calls her out as she tries to pifer fruit on her way out of the gates. She tells him how silly the Kingdom is for a) following a dude who speaks in Elizabethan English and owns a tiger and b) for pretending that the world outside doesn’t’ exist and won’t catch up with them eventually. We know that the Kingdom is trading tainted meat with the Saviours, but it doesn’t look like most members of the Kingdom Tribe have any idea who the Saviours are or what they are capable of. To Carol, for a community to work, they first have to acknowledge the insanity of post-apocalyptic living, something that she thinks has been ignored in the Kingdom. It is only then, after her honest admission, that Ezekiel too, drops his act and reveals that he is just an ex-zookeeper trying to keep his community together. He cares about the people of the Kingdom, and he believes they needed him as their leader in order to continue to survive.
Carol and Ezekiel come to an understanding and, instead of leaving the Kingdom, Carol settles outside of the perimeter, in a small house, all alone and probably pretty vulnerable (if it was anyone else, I’d be worried, but we all know Carol can take care of herself). While some are extolling the idea of a Carol/Ezekiel romance, it looks more as if they might be able to become partners in leadership, which, to me, is an even more powerful dynamic.
The Walking Dead airs on AMC Sundays at 9pm.