The Walking Dead paid tribute to the fallen Shiva, the pet tiger once belonging to King Ezekiel (Khary Payton).
When Carol (Melissa McBride) and Nabila (Nadine Marissa) walk through the fairgrounds, the camera pans to a tiger statue erected in Shiva’s honor. Shiva has long been used as the Kingdom’s coat of arms, seen most recently on the Kingdom’s banner as a survivor unfurls another representing Alexandria.
The jungle cat met her end in The Walking Dead 804, ‘Some Guy,’ which saw the Kingdom’s forces mostly obliterated by a surprise attack from the Saviors.
A wounded and disillusioned Ezekiel ordered Carol and loyal number two Jerry (Cooper Andrews) to leave him behind as a pack of radioactive waste-covered walkers closed in. But Shiva pounced and was killed fending off the walker pack.
“It was one of my favorite experiences. And also one of my most bittersweet journeys to take, as far as just telling a journey. I said goodbye to so many people,” Payton previously told THR of the episode and the devastating losses suffered by Ezekiel.
“At the same time, I was given this wonderful episode and character to play. It tore my heart out. Some of the guys we lost ... because we lost pretty much everybody [from the Kingdom]. That’s the thing about The Walking Dead. You get very close to these people, and then you end up having to say goodbye, and not knowing when you’re going to see them again.”
Among the casualties was knight Alvaro (Carlos Navarro), a loss that hit Payton particularly hard.
“Besides Shiva, letting Carlos go was one of the hardest things that I’ve done on this show. It really did feel like all my people got ripped away from me,” Payton said.
“It was more emotional than I was expecting it to be. I’ve already had that feeling when Karl Makinen, who played Richard, and Logan Miller, who played Ben [died on the show]. You think it would get easier, but it doesn’t [laughs].”
Creator Robert Kirkman, who revealed the special bond shared by Ezekiel and Shiva in his comic books, also mourned the loss of the tiger on live aftershow Talking Dead.
“It’s a huge turning point for Ezekiel, losing Shiva, losing his people, this is a big deal for him,” Kirkman said in the November 2017 episode, which honored Shiva during its “in memoriam” segment.
“But Shiva, you know, somebody that has protected him, that he’s protected, they’ve got a great relationship. It’s a big loss. It’s a big loss for him, it’s a big loss for everyone. I’m upset too, man. I like tigers.”
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.
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