‘The Walking Dead’ has already introduced several new characters this season and we are only on episode two. Two new characters stand out, King Ezekiel and his pet tiger Shiva.
Carol was dumb-founded upon meeting King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and Shiva at the beginning of the episode and quickly turned to her “sweet housewife” act.
Ezekiel told Carol in one scene in episode two, titled ‘The Well’, how he came to be the master of a tiger in the apocalypse. Ezekiel stated that before the apocalypse began he was a zoo keeper. One day Shiva fell into the ravine and badly injured her leg. Ezekiel ran into her enclosure and bandaged her wound. The two had a special relationship after that. When the apocalypse began she was one of the few animals left, so he took her.
Fans of the comic series have known since comic #108 that the two would be joining the series, but the big question has been, how? It is not exactly safe to have a tiger on set, but the geniuses behind ‘The Walking Dead’ came up with a solution, CGI combined with the animatronics. Robert Kirkman, ‘The Walking Dead’s’ creator, explained at this year’s San Diego Comic Con:
I was asking Scott [Gimple] ‘How do we plan on doing this thing?’ He pointed out that it’s not particularly humane to have like a live tiger on set and it’s also very dangerous for the actors…But yeah, so I was like, ‘Great! No real tiger, I can still come to set. That sounds awesome because I would not have gone to set if there had been a real tiger anywhere near set. It’s all magic.”
Greg Nicotero who directed the episode, told EW more in an interview:
We started building at the end of February, and I have tremendous advantage, which is experience with animatronic animals started way back in Dances with Wolves. So we created the character and the forms digitally augment with either moving eyes or moving tail, or we have a few shots if the creature has to walk, take several steps forward, or turn around, or roar, going from a neutral expression to a r roaring expression, we’ll do those shots digitally. But it’s been a very collaborative effort between myself and digital effects and [showrunner Scott M. Gimple] to dial in just the right patternings, the right saturation of color, the right movements.”
Shiva looked fantastic in episode two. We look forward to seeing her in action in the episodes to come.