Warning: This article contains spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 7
There's no question about it, last week's Season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead was the show's darkest hour ever. Not only did we lose two of the most beloved characters, it was also extremely graphic. And this excessive violence didn't sit too well with many fans, some of whom have threatened to quit the show altogether over its sheer brutality
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However, this week's installment took a noticeably lighter tone as we were all finally introduced to King Ezekiel, his pet tiger Shiva and the Kingdom. After the darkness we experienced during the season premiere, it was nice to be able to take a breath and relax. And this much-needed dose of lightheartedness raises the question: is Ezekiel a necessary source of hope for The Walking Dead, and should the show maintain this tone so they don't alienate any more fans?
Does 'The Walking Dead' Need A Source Of Hope?
After last week's grueling Season 7 premiere, fans of the show were divided. Some praised the series' ability to honor the comics with Negan's choice of victim as well as the violent nature in which that victim met his end. However, some were put off by the sheer brutality of the deaths. And with Negan sticking around, we can expect to see Lucille getting graphic with a lot more unfortunate victims.
So the question is — with the series' darker direction, does The Walking Dead need a source of hope?
And it's a good question. After all, even the smallest glimmer of hope in this zombie-ridden world may be considered a betrayal of the show's very nature by longtime fans, especially if it's only done to maintain the stellar ratings.
The answer, however, is quite simply — yes. With many fans threatening to quit the show based of its bleak season premiere, we needed to be reminded that there is still some good left in this post-apocalyptic world. The sheer contrast between last week's episode and this week's proved that. While we were all cowering behind our chairs afraid to watch during the premiere, the second episode had us both amused and inspired. And our source of hope is none other than King Ezekiel.
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A Light Among The Darkness
Since it began, The Walking Dead has made a name for itself by delivering cutting-edge, gripping and boundary-pushing television. But the series isn't just renowned for its walkers; it's also renowned for its tyrannical leaders who rose to power during the apocalypse. The Governor successfully ran Woodbury until things fell apart and Rick overcame him. And Negan took matters even further as he didn't just have his own following; he has single-handedly managed to conquer all the nearby communities, allowing them to live in peace as long as they meet his demands.
With the dead roaming the streets and these tyrants making humanity seem just as deadly, this fictional post-apocalyptic world often seems hopeless.
However, Ezekiel is nothing like these tyrants. While the others use death to conquer, he uses life. While the others inspire fear, he inspires freedom. The King of the Kingdom has a much more lighthearted approach to life, inspiring hope in those who have none. Heck, he even got Carol to listen to him if only for a moment.
We got to see perhaps the most functional safe haven on the show, and Ezekiel is the one responsible for that. As he told Carol, if there is life, there is hope. And that's exactly what he inspires. It could be argued that Carol was representative of all of the naysayers out there who prefer the darker outlook on the show. Through his inspiring words, he managed to prove his point to not just her, but to all of us. The Walking Dead needs a reason to keep going, and so do its characters.
Furthermore, being this beacon of hope sets Ezekiel apart from Negan and raises the possibility of a future showdown between the two. After all, Ezekiel seems to have somewhat won over some of Negan's saviors who even treat him with respect, something we have never seen them do with anyone else.
With The Walking Dead having descended into even darker territory with Negan's arrival on the scene, this week's episode not only lightened the mood; it managed to remind us that we want to see these characters triumph — not just suffer. And the person responsible for that was Ezekiel. His quick-witted, amusing and down-to-earth approach to running the Kingdom set him apart form all the other leaders on the show.
Furthermore, it showed the fans that there is still hope, and that not every episode will be a bloodbath. Ezekiel's good metaphorically battled Negan's evil, and I have a feeling that this is something we will see come to life as the season progresses.
Did Ezekiel inspire you with hope? Let us know in the comments below!