Credit: Gene Page/AMC

The season 7 premiere of The Walking Dead was about as dark as they come. If you were hoping for a bit of a tonal pick-me-up after that devastatingly depressing hour, your prayers (if not Maggie’s and Rick’s) have been answered.

Because we are stepping out of the darkness and into the light with the introduction of a brand new community, the Kingdom. And the Kingdom is run by a seemingly kooky character called King Ezekiel. “The tone of it is probably the exact opposite of the first episode,” says Greg Nicotero — who directed both installments — of Sunday night’s episode, which he equates to “shooting a pilot,” because it is a new location with a bunch of new characters.

Of course, not all the characters are new. Carol (Melissa McBride) and Morgan (Lennie James) will be entering the community and we will see it through their eyes. But there will be a lot to see, including people who seem to have a very positive-looking outlook on their current situation… all things zombie apocalypse related considered.

“The Kingdom is a place of light,” says Nicotero. “It’s a place of life, a place where people seem to have figured it out and have been working together to build a thriving and vibrant community very, very different from anything our group has come upon in the past. And they’re led by a guy with a tiger. There’s an aspect of ‘I don’t get this place, but you’re doing it right and how’s that possible?’ But Lennie and Melissa are doing some amazing, amazing stuff coming up in this episode. And Khary Payton, who plays Ezekiel, is a freaking terminator. He showed up with pages and pages of dialogue to do and he never missed a line. He was so, so excited.”

Knowing what we know about the Kingdom, Ezekiel, and his pet tiger Shiva, you should be excited too.

Inside the Shocking Walking Dead Premiere

Check out our new Walking Dead cover of Entertainment Weekly on stands now, or buy it here. And subscribe now to receive a free Walking Dead tote! For more Walking Dead scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

Episode Recaps


The Walking Dead

AMC's zombie thriller, based on the classic comic book serial created by Robert Kirkman.

  • TV Show
  • 10
  • TV-14
  • Frank Darabont
  • AMC
stream service