Warning: Spoilers Ahead for The Walking Dead comics.
If you’ve watched any of the trailers for the new episode of The Walking Dead, or for season seven in general, you’ve probably been wondering, “What’s up with that tiger?!”
You aren’t alone, if that’s the case.
In this week’s episode, The Walking Dead will introduce a couple of new characters, including the leader of The Kingdom, King Ezekiel. Sitting at the king’s throne, guarding his side, is his loyal tiger Shiva.
It seems absurd to have a tiger roaming around in the zombie apocalypse, but it makes a ton of sense after knowing Ezekiel’s background.
The guy was a zookeeper before the infection hit, and he was working at the zoo where Shiva was born. As she was growing, she got more dangerous, the keepers began to stay away. They were all frightened of Shiva, and didn’t want to be caught in her crosshairs. One day, Shiva fell in her exhibit, and tore her leg open. If no one stepped in, she would bleed out. Ezekiel, despite his fears, came to her aid, and she never showed a tooth to him again. Ezekiel was now in control of the beast.
When the infection hit, Ezekiel quickly lost his family. Having no where else to go, Ezekiel ran back to the zoo. Shiva was one of the only creatures remaining, and the two partnered up to battle the world together.
When people began to see Ezekiel and his tiger walking around, stories started brewing about the kind of man who could tame a tiger. Only a king, or a god, could pull of such a feat.
Having Shiva made Ezekiel more than just a man to most others, and it gave him the ability to begin The Kingdom. Never leaving his side, Shiva ruled alongside Ezekiel during his reign.
Once the war with Negan began, Shiva became an integral part of Ezekiel’s strategy. Her presence intimidates opposing forces. so he would bring her into battle as a scare tactic. When Shiva was finally given a chance to unleash her fury, she tore through Negan’s men like they were nothing. Shiva was clearly a ferocious warrior.
In one of the later battles of the war, Ezekiel’s forces were overrun. The King and his tiger were going to be killed if they didn’t to something, so they took off into the woods. There, they were met by a small horde of walkers. Trapped on each side, and nothing left to fight with, the pair looked to be in trouble.
In this moment, Shiva’s true loyalty was revealed, and she used her final act to show her love for her keeper. With a roar, Shiva leapt at a large group of zombies, and began to fight them all off. It was clear she was going to be killed, but it gave Ezekiel a chance to escape.
In a show all about people loving one another in the face of evil, a tiger’s moment of sacrifice may have been the most human of the entire series.
No one knows if the show will follow the same story, at least on Shiva’s end, so she may last much longer for viewers. Shiva will make her debut in this Sunday’s episode, the well.