Walking Dead's Nicotero Hints At Romance In The Kingdom

SPOILER WARNING: This article contains spoilers for "The Walking Dead" episode, "The Well."

Last night's episode of "The Walking Dead" offered up something completely different from the AMC series' much talked about premiere episode. Instead of following Negan, Rick and the majority of the cast, last night's episode "The Well" focused instead on Carol and Morgan's experience in the newly discovered Kingdom. And that included plenty more from another new addition to the show, the Kingdom's scepter-carrying leader King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) -- and also his tiger Shiva.

Additionally, the episode teased with a touching scene that there may be a new romance on the horizon for Carol (Melissa McBride). While speaking to Entertainment Weekly, executive producer/director Greg Nicotero talked more about the scene between Ezekiel and Carol wherein the "king" lets his guard down and reveals that he's a community theater actor playing at royalty to cope with the apocalypse.

"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.'"

In that scene, Carol actually takes the role played by Michonne in the comics, and Michonne and Ezekiel eventually become a couple in the source material. So considering Carol's new role, one has to wonder if the storyline will progress in a similar fashion for this pairing.

"I think he admires her and respects her and I think she admires and respects him as well," said Nicotero. "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."

Nicotero continued, saying that "the fact that Ezekiel shows up [at Carol's door] 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.'"

Airing Sundays at 9 pm ET/PT on AMC, "The Walking Dead" stars Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Melissa McBride as Carol Peleteir, Lauren Cohan as Maggie Green, Danai Gurira as Michonne and more.

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