WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for this week’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Some Guy,” which premiered Sunday on AMC.
In eight seasons of The Walking Dead, a lot of character have met their ends by a lot of different means, sometimes involving being devoured by walkers but also gunshots, stabbings, decapitations, a mysterious flu and, yes, bashing by Lucille. However, Season 8’s fourth episode “Some Guy” brought tears to diehard fans with one of the AMC drama’s more comic-faithful deaths, and it wasn’t even that of a human.
Ezekiel’s tiger, Shiva, sacrificed herself protecting him from a swarm of walkers, just as writer Robert Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard depicted in 2013 in The Walking Dead #118. But just how similar was Shiva’s TV death to the one from the source material?
Well, in the comics, during the explosive and blood-spattered “All Out War” arc, Ezekiel led the Kingdom, as part of the alliance with Alexandria, on an assault against Negan’s partners the Saviors. As a result, Ezekiel’s crew decided to attack one of the Saviors’ compounds to exact revenge for the lives they took in a shootout at Alexandria. This was the catalyst for the Kingdom also uniting with Maggie’s Hilltop faction, leading to a full-scale rebellion.
However, Ezekiel was as arrogant as ever, especially under the belief this new partnership made them somewhat invincible, and he marched into war underestimating his enemies, only for his men to be quickly overrun. He lost almost all of his posse, including his general Richard, and when the king himself tried to escape, he ended up surrounded in the woods by walkers. But just when he thought he was doomed, Shiva leaped in to save the day. She snapped and tore at the zombies, only to be devoured, allowing Ezekiel to escape. It was an emotional issue that ended with Ezekiel admitting to Michonne that his actions cost him the most important entity in his life, and that he wished he had been the one to make that heroic sacrifice.
This week episode of The Walking Dead follows much in the same vein, with the river Ezekiel became stranded in running red from the tiger’s blood. However, there are some minor changes. Richard isn’t in this scene, as he died earlier the season at the hands of Morgan for trying to incite war with Negan’s men. As for Ezekiel’s company, the television writers switched things up a bit, with Carol and Jerry alongside the king when he faces the walkers. Shiva leaps in, only to end up being mauled herself. As Shiva dies, Ezekiel, Carol and Jerry flee for the Kingdom, battered and broken. The episode ends with Ezekiel, at a loss for words, limping off to his quarters as his townspeople look on, clearly realizing he’s in mourning.
Shiva’s death will resonate this season because of the weight it holds. The likes of Carol and Daryl found the tiger, just like her owner, to be a kindred spirit and a symbol of righteousness. Plus, let’s face it, the outlandish concept of an animal fighting back against the zombie apocalypse is just too much fun to not enjoy. In a series where we’re overrun by humans dying and reanimating, this is a bittersweet killing because as much as it writes off a key player in Rick’s alliance, it does feel like a breath of fresh air. At the end of the day, Shiva is a name usually affiliated with Hindu lore as a god — a destroyer of evil, a protector and a transformer of the universe for the better — and AMC ensured she lived up to this title in a most-fitting finale.
Airing Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on AMC, The Walking Dead stars Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes, Danai Gurira as Michonne, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier, Lennie James as Morgan Jones, Alanna Masterson as Tara Chambler, Josh McDermitt as Eugene Porter, Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa and Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan.
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