A new group of survivors seem to have it all in their impressive community; however, there is a price.
source : SpoilerTV
That’s how The Walking Dead’s newest castmember Khary Payton describes King Ezekiel’s debut during Sunday’s episode in which Carol (Melissa McBride) and Morgan (Lennie James) learn the inner workings of his community known as The Kingdom.
After opening season seven with more of Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) violent and deadly introduction (RIP, Glenn and Abraham), the second episode of season seven introduced another favorite from Robert Kirkman’s comic book series in Ezekiel, the king of yet another new community, the Kingdom.
Eagle-eyed viewers of the AMC zombie drama first spotted the Kingdom’s so-called knights last season when Carol encountered a soldier clad in armor. But Sunday’s episode offered the group’s formal introduction: The Kingdom is a peaceful community that has taken over the grounds of a former high school. The motto there is if you drink from the well, you replenish the well. Meaning, if you survive in the community, you work to support its future.
Ezekiel, for his part, is a larger-than-life character who speaks in long Shakespearean monologues and sees the Kingdom as his stage. And it’s all very entertaining to Carol: “I don’t know what the hell is going on in the most wonderful way!” she quips upon meeting Ezekiel for the first time.
Ultimately, Carol considers it all too over-the-top and wants to leave. But not before Ezekiel can realize that Carol is faking her innocent and helpless routine that she so easily fooled everyone at Alexandria with. He sees something familiar in Carol and takes an immediate liking to her — so much so that he reveals the truth: He’s really a former zookeeper (which explains his pet tiger, Shiva) and used to act. He uses those skills to fake his way through his leadership in order to provide the community with a sense that everyone is safe. But meanwhile, Ezekiel and the Kingdom have already had their run-in with Negan and must deliver food and supplies to the Saviors on a regular basis.
Since Ezekiel wants to keep Carol close, she winds up moving into an abandoned house that’s not far from the Kingdom where the king (and Shiva) come to visit.
So who is Ezekiel, really, and are there romantic sparks between he and Carol? THR caught up with Payton to break down The Walking Dead’s newest arrival and what’s next.
This is a welcome change from the violence of the season seven premiere. What’s Ezekiel’s message?
That last scene with Carol and Ezekiel is all about hope. After that first episode [with Negan, Glenn and Abraham], you feel like all hope is gone and by the end of this episode, you’re reminded that hope is never gone.
Who is Ezekiel and how did he get to be this “king” of the Kingdom?
Ezekiel is putting on a show of sorts. He’s being a character he built into something. He’s a showman but he’s a man who doesn’t turn away from a responsibility. Even as a zookeeper before he became this King Ezekiel character, he became a zookeeper because he felt it was a calling, not a job. He was about finding those moments that make us all live a little in awe of life. He finds a responsibility in sharing that. So when Ezekiel and Shiva end up being the only two creatures huddled together and people come upon them and see this guy with a tiger … he’s bigger than life and then people start to see him that way. And before he knows it, he falls ass-backwards into this King Ezekiel-ness. But he goes with it because people need something to gravitate to; people feel safer when they feel like somebody knows what they are doing. Even though he doesn’t know what he’s doing, he decides to fake it and figure it out.
What does Ezekiel see in Carol that he wants to keep her at the Kingdom — or at least at the house nearby?
He sees strength in her and he knows the savagery that comes with the Sanctuary and the Saviors. He sees a strength there and a matriarch, in a way, and someone who is faking it and he understands that. On several levels, he feels like, “There’s something more to this woman and I need that kind of strength and my people need that kind of strength.” It’s important enough for him to let down his guard. Carol is at the point where she is not going to trust anybody who doesn’t give something first. That’s why he takes that moment and is confiding in her with his big secret.
Ezekiel (and Shiva) comes knocking at her place at the end of the episode. Was Carol moving to the abandoned house his idea in a bid to keep her close and maybe be a respite and confidant for him?
That Ezekiel’s idea. You don’t want to lose yourself in this world. He fell ass-backwards into this job of being king but as he starts to live it, he has to put on this extraordinary persona. He starts thinking, “Why is this working?” The reason it’s working is because this is a f—ed up world we’re living in. And in order to combat all the shit you have to go through, you have to go the other direction — and maybe you go a little far and maybe it seems a little weird, but that’s what it takes because there are dead people walking around out there. It becomes a philosophy that was built out of necessity that he would slowly start to see that in order to keep his sanity, he has to go a little crazy in a positive way. That’s going to help Ezekiel hold on to his humanity.
You hadn’t read the comics until you auditioned — but have you read his arc now? How does it compare to what AMC is showing?
I’ve read Ezekiel’s arc but I don’t put a lot of stock in it as far as the show is concerned. I enjoy the comics but I mine them in bits and pieces but not for a big story because we have diverged from the comics as far as the way that Ezekiel’s journey and story is going. I’ll believe it when I read it, otherwise, I am trying to keep an open mind as to all of the possibilities that are out there.
In the comics, Ezekiel has a romantic relationship with Michonne. Could Carol be taking on that relationship given that Michonne (Danai Gurira) is paired romantically with Rick (Andrew Lincoln)? This show loves to remix those storylines.
I totally think that’s possible. But I don’t know if it will or won’t happen. This relationship [with Ezekiel and Carol] is one where there’s enough of an attraction for there to be a relationship down the road but at the same time, there’s also so much more that needs to be done that that’s not necessarily the end game for either one of them. They could just as easily walk this road together and never come into contact together and then there’s a possibly one trips on a rock and falls into the other’s arms. It’s as simple as that kind of happenstance. This relationship is what it is; whether it gets physical or not, I don’t know.
What does Ezekiel see in Morgan (Lennie James)? He likes that he can kill Saviors but seems more impressed that he doesn’t want to kill anyone.
It’s like happening upon someone who has been more thoughtful about what it means to be human than most people do in this world. Everyone is so worried about survival and Ezekiel happens upon this guy who has decided that survival is not the end game in lieu of losing your soul. That’s what Morgan is doing: fighting for his humanity. It’s the same focus that Ezekiel has in his life: he’s going to live his life exuberantly and joyfully, no matter the circumstances. He’s not going to let the fact that the dead are arriving preclude him from his soul and humanity, even when he kills a walker. That’s church for him and giving last rights: he’s setting a soul free. If someone is walking through this world not seeing the beauty in it, then you may as well be a mindless creature. Ezekiel is not going to become that. He sees Morgan as a kindred spirit. Morgan is fighting to make sure he doesn’t lose his humanity and become that. And to Ezekiel, that’s a voice that means something, whose opinion means something.
Ben (Logan Miller) is a young student that Ezekiel pairs with Morgan. Ben reveals to Morgan that his father was killed by walkers while on a run for the Kingdom. It seems like there could be more to that story. What can you say about Ben and Ezekiel’s relationship?
Ezekiel feels the responsibility of this leadership role. This is something he didn’t have to do; he didn’t have to become King Ezekiel and this leader. It’s not something that he was but when it was presented to him, he didn’t back away from it. So when Ben’s father died under his watch, that was a big deal to him. The preciousness of life is important to Ezekiel and he wants to make sure that that doesn’t happen again. Each one of these lives that have been entrusted to him and he wants them live as long as they possibly can. When Ezekiel asks Morgan to train Benjamin, that’s an obvious choice because he’s trying to give Benjamin more perspective from a person like Morgan who sees the humanity and the importance of holding on to it. If Ezekiel can’t teach this kid to use a sword or knife, but he has Morgan — who understands the importance of life in this world — and if somebody is going to teach him, Ezekiel wants it to be Morgan.
Is there more of a story between Ezekiel and Ben’s father? It feels like maybe Negan and the Saviors could have been involved in the death of Ben’s father. Is there something there?
There could be! That’s a great question. You’ll have to watch and find out what happens.
We see in the background of the Kingdom that there are people in that community who are being trained how to fight — beyond Ben — as well as a school. This is a thriving community; is Ezekiel preparing the next generation to face off against the Saviors?
Despite Ezekiel’s exuberance he is a pragmatist. He may not want to go to war but that doesn’t mean you don’t prepare. This is a world that will eat you alive when you take a moment to look off into the distance and forget where you are. You need to make sure someone is watching your back if you want to have that moment. It’s hard to say if Ezekiel is planning anything per se, but what he is planning to be is prepared for any eventuality.
What might Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Ezekiel’s first meeting look like?
Ezekiel will look deeply into Rick’s eyes, and say, “You, sir, are a man of great strength and piercing blue eyes. How about we have a bite to eat?” They’ll embrace and go play Xbox or something! (Laughing.) I can’t say how it’s going to happen but it’s probably going to be pretty epic.
source : THR
And now for something completely different…
Gone was the doom and gloom of Negan and Lucille this week on The Walking Dead, as we were introduced to a far more agreeable newcomer — King Ezekiel! The former community theater actor and zookeeper-turned-leader of the Kingdom burst upon the scene… because that’s what you do when you have a scepter and a pet tiger: You burst.
We spoke to executive producer/director Greg Nicotero to get the behind-the-scenes scoop on the latest episode. How did they bring Shiva the tiger to the screen? What trick did Nicotero pull to make the Kingdom look different from every other community we’ve seen before? And is there a love connection brewing between Ezekiel and Carol? Read on!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start right with the cold open. Carol is having these visions where the zombies that Morgan and the Kingdom dudes are killing — their faces are tuning human in Carol’s eyes. What’s that all about?
GREG NICOTERO: She’s clearly a bit feverish from her gunshot wounds and she’s sort of imagining the world alive and dead at the same time. It’s clear that Carol’s journey has been to try to get away from anybody that she cares about, because she doesn’t want to be forced to have to kill. So, in her fevered state, she keeps flashing back and forth between the world of the living and the world of the dead — clearly part of her internal struggle to determine which world she wants to live in. I mean, at the end of last year she was like, “Just kill me. I’m fine. If I died right now, it’s okay.” So I took that as some of it being her acceptance into the fact that if she were to go right now, it would be okay with her. So, sort of visualizing the world of the living and the world of the dead.
Morgan brings Carol to meet Ezekiel, and we’ll chat about him in a minute, but let’s talk about the tiger. Robert Kirkman, who created the Walking Dead comic, told me that when he first brought Shiva to life in his pages, part of him was like, “Yeah, okay, let’s see how they handle this one on the TV show,” because it seemed a somewhat impossible task. A lot of that task fell to you. Tell us how the sausage was made here, sir.
We’ve done a lot of pretty astounding animatronic animal effects. One of the first big projects that my company ever did was Dances With Wolves back in 1990. So part of the pedigree of a K&B has been our realistic animal replicas. Out of the gate, I had pitched to [showrunner Scott M. Gimple], “Listen, when we’re in medium shots and wide shots, let’s make a couple of awesome, amazing, cool animatronic puppets,” and then when she has to walk around or she has to do anything a little more elaborate, then we ended up going to a company that I had worked with quite a bit called Rhythm & Hues, who did Life of Pi, and they clearly had some pretty astounding digital tiger skills. For us, it’s been a lovely and very exciting marriage of these two techniques.
If they can put a tiger in a boat, I guess they can do pretty much anything. What about the Kingdom itself? Tell us about your vision for what this community is and how you wanted it to look, because clearly it feels different from what we’ve seen before.
It’s not a dreary prison that’s been fortified, even in terms of Alexandria, which doesn’t necessarily feel overly vibrant. The way that we established Alexandria is there are always these walls in the shots and we always still feel slightly claustrophobic — like there’s a beginning and an end to that community. With the Kingdom, there is no end to it. As a matter of fact, one of the things that I did was for every shot in the Kingdom is I increased the saturation of the color just a little bit because I wanted everything to pop. I wanted it to feel so different than the dead world outside. When you’re outside the walls of the Kingdom, it feels a little drab and it feels a little dull and a little lifeless because it is; it’s a dead world.
But then you get inside the Kingdom and you see beautiful flowers and you see a thriving community and you see a teacher teaching children and there’s a choir. I mean, everything about the Kingdom signifies vibrance, it signifies life, and it’s something that we haven’t seen in The Walking Dead, I don’t think, ever. Even Woodbury back in the day still didn’t have it right. So, this is really, in my opinion, the first community that we’ve encountered that really seems to have it dialed in: The people are happy; the people are thriving; there’s food; there’s well-trained people — everything that you could ever want.
That was one of the main things I talked about with [Melissa McBride] and [Lennie James]. When Melissa is being wheeled through the Kingdom, they have to look at this place — even though she’s 100 percent skeptical about what’s going on and she’s saying to Morgan, “What did you tell these people about us? What’s going on?” — I said, make sure that you still feel the fact that you are looking at a place that you have not seen in years.
Speaking about Melissa, I want to talk about the scene near the end between Ezekiel and Carol where he catches her as she’s sneaking out and he tells her the truth about this whole royalty act and that he was actually a zookeeper and community theater actor. I love the line where he explains his philosophy by saying,“I found a way to deal with the bad by going a little overboard with all the good. I just embraced the contradiction.” It’s fascinating the way this guy made himself into who he is in this world.
For me, that sequence with Carol and Ezekiel — that’s the heart of the episode, because the tone of his voice changes and he’s not The Man That’s On Stage anymore. He even says, “Listen, I do this for the people. They need something to believe in. Yeah, it’s a little ridiculous, but, you know what? When people heard that I had a tiger and I realized I had a role that I could play that could help people, that was my job.” I love the idea of him knowing that there are people out there that are like, “This guy’s got a tiger. If he’s got a tiger, he’s gotta be a badass.”
The iconic imagery and the mythology surrounding him is almost as powerful as Negan and almost as powerful as Rick. So, you figure you have a guy that when they hear his name, that they’re going to react a specific a way. That’s why the whole King Ezekiel gets played over and over again, because everybody around him is playing in this court with him. They do it for him and he does it for everybody else.
It gets to the heart of the matter that really, whatever you were before, it doesn’t matter. The apocalypse put a complete reset on everything. Once the apocalypse happened, he became King Ezekiel. Clearly, he wasn’t walking around as a king before the apocalypse.
Listen, Glenn was a pizza delivery boy before the apocalypse.
Too soon, Greg. Too soon. The other thing about that scene where he confides in Carol is that in the comic, it’s Ezekiel and Michonne — who later in the comic become a couple. There’s definitely some chemistry there between these two and we do see him knocking on that door at the end, so is there a possible love connection in the works here as well?
I think he admires her and respects her and I think she admires and respects him as well. Because he gets her and she understands what he’s trying to do. She thinks it’s a little ridiculous what he’s doing, but there’s respect. She’s like, “Listen, you’ve got a community here of people and they’re clearly not being murdered and not being torn to pieces by the living dead.” So she respects that he’s got something going, but she’s still wounded and she’s still like, “Listen I can’t be here. You have to just understand that.” He’s like, “Well, you know what, I’ll make a deal with you.” And that’s why she ends up at the cottage. Even that scene with Lennie and Melissa, when they get to the cottage and she’s like, “I’m sorry I hit you,” there’s just so many beautiful little sort of realizations.
I mean, it’s a great episode for Morgan, too, because Morgan finally realizes after an entire season that he can’t dictate to her who she is. He finally learns, cause he says to Carol all through season 6, “I’m afraid I can’t let you do that. I need to save you.” He’s on a mission, basically, to save her and she’s like, “It’s not your job. You don’t need to save me. I’m capable of saving myself if that’s what I decide to do. So, you need to leave me be.” So, it’s a great bit for Morgan, too, because he finds himself in a community of likeminded people where he can flourish and survive and he also realizes when he’s sitting there talking to Benjamin that he can’t make Carol be something that she isn’t. He finally decides to stop.
So what are we to make of Ezekiel showing up at Carol’s door at the end?
The fact that Ezekiel shows up at the end, to me, it’s just a sort of a peace offering. She hears the roar of the tiger at the door and opens it and he’s got the pomegranates there. I think it’s Ezekiel’s way of saying, “Listen, you need to choose life because there’s no reason to go on living if you’re not gonna embrace humanity.”
Give us a little tease of what we’ve got coming up next?
I would probably say that we’re gonna get back into our core group a little bit and start to feel some of the fallout from the first episode.
source : EW
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