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The Ending Of Kingdom Season 2 Explained

South Korea has transformed into the king of zombie media. Not only has the country produced critically acclaimed zombie movies such as Train to Busan and #Alive, but audiences can also thank the nation for a reasonable share of quality zombie TV shows, notably Kingdom. Not to be confused with The Last Kingdom, Kingdom is the story of Korea during the Joseon dynasty, around the 1600s. While political intrigue ravages the nobles thanks to a fight for the throne between Queen Consort Cho (Kim Hye-Jun) and Crown Prince Lee Chang (Ju Ji-hoon), a zombie plague ravages everyone else.

Season 1 of Kingdom featured numerous plot twists. It ended with Lee Chang ready to go into battle against an army of zombies led by Queen Consort Chos' father. The second season likewise furthered the story and intrigue the first season set up. However, you might be a little confused regarding the themes and symbolism behind certain characters and their actions.

Don't worry, we've got you covered.

Let them eat cake, or in this case, people

In Season 1 of Kingdom, the zombie plague started because Queen Consort Cho and her father wanted to resurrect the King and sire a son/grandson who could ascend to the throne instead of Crown Prince Lee Chang. What resulted was literal class warfare between uninfected nobles and zombified peasantry. Surely, Cho eventually realizes the error of her ways, right? Not a chance.

Throughout Season 2, Cho doubles down on her villainy and kidnaps pregnant women so she can claim one of their children as her son. To make matters worse, Cho lures Lee Chang into a trap involving the zombified King: Either kill the King and be labeled a traitor (since few people know zombies exist) or let the King bite and infect him. And, to make sure she isn't caught, Cho is willing to kill her own father. And she does.

But in the end, Cho reaps what she sows. The zombies chow down on her, and the child she stole becomes the new king, free of her influence. However, Cho has the last laugh because the boy was bitten in the struggle, and the worms that cause the plague squirm towards his brain in the season's closing minutes. Cho's evil left a permanent stain on the kingdom, represented by the worms crawling through the young king's body.

What it takes to be a true leader

Kingdom takes great pains to demonstrate how Queen Consort Cho is the exact opposite of Crown Prince Lee Chang. While Cho sits back comfortably and lets zombies ravage the land, Lee Chang leads a small army to fight them back and discover how to solve the plague once and for all. Season 2 furthers that and shows how Lee Chang has the true qualities of a leader, whereas Cho does not.

Much like in Season 1, Lee Chang leads by example in Season 2. He puts his life on the line and learns that the nobles cannot live without the lower class. More importantly, Lee Chang demonstrates that he is willing to sacrifice himself for his people, unlike Cho who forces her people to sacrifice themselves for her. This comes to a head at the end of Season 2, when Lee Chang is forced to choose between taking the throne while the country thinks the now-dead Cho has an heir, or letting Cho's not-son serve as king.

Since claiming the throne would result in a civil war, Lee Chang decides to pretend he is dead and leave the boy's claim to the crown unattested. The kid's lineage might be a lie, but it's a lie that serves the people, and Lee Chang has learned that is a true king's ultimate duty.

Conspiracies within conspiracies

Season 2 of Kingdom revealed many secrets about the series' zombie plague. Unlike other undead outbreaks, this one is caused by worms that live in a special plant, and the worms are extremely hydrophobic. Submerging a body infested by a zombie or bitten by one drives the worms out, which kills the zombie and prevents zombification, respectively. But where did the plant come from? That question is answered, albeit only partially, in the final episode.

In Season 2's finale, Crown Prince Lee Chang learns that the plant originated from China, and that it traveled to Korea by way of a traveler. The man who brought the plant tried to sell it as a death panacea, but nobody bought it because, well, who would believe such a snake oil claim? But, that only answers the where and when; Lee Chang still has to discover the who, what, and why.

Kingdom's final episode provides several implications, but no true answers. Did the person who sold the plant to the traveler just pass it off in a desperate bid to sell it, or did they know it caused zombies? And if so, did they sell the flower in a deliberate attempt to weaken the country from within, possibly as a prelude to an invasion? But, the season's biggest mystery is the woman with the boxed zombies. Who is she, and why is she playing the role of undead postmaster general?

We probably won't learn the answers until Kingdom Season 3, assuming the show receives one.