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'The Walking Dead': Melissa McBride on the 'Yin and Yang' of Carol and Ezekiel's Surprise Romance (Exclusive)

We'll be losing one power couple when Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) leaves The Walking Dead this season, but Sunday's premiere introduced us to a new one!

Say hello to EzeCarol! Carekiel? Either way, Carol (Melissa McBride) and Ezekiel (Khary Payton) are an item -- and it seems to have surprised even McBride.

"It’s interesting, you know? It’s been a little time jump so it’s totally feasible, and you know, they’re very different," she told ET's Leanne Aguilera at the show's season nine premiere in Los Angeles last week. "They have the playing the roles in common and those little survival tactics in common, but they’re very different and a nice yin and yang."

"I’m kind of excited to see her open herself up to maybe experience a little romance," she teased.

Although the characters no doubt formed a tight bond as they tried to protect the Kingdom from the Saviors last season, their coupling up seemed to happen out of nowhere. According to showrunner Angela Kang, the Ezekiel/Carol romance was actually in the works for a while, after the show paired up Michonne (Danai Gurira) with Rick.

"Well, the interesting thing is this story has been building for a while over the seasons. Carol, who has been through so much trauma and so much grief, really has been looking for souces of joy in her life, and Ezekiel absolutely embodies that," she told ET. "It’s a little bit based on a storyline from the comics, where Michonne ends up with Ezekiel. So it was part of a natural evolution over time that we’ve been building to."

However, Carol has another man in her life, in the form of her BFF, Daryl (Norman Reedus). "I mean, I think he's kind of corny," Reedus joked of "King" Ezekiel, who made his first appearance in season seven.

"But you know, if she’s happy, I’m happy which I think is a real mature way to be," he continued. "We've watched Daryl become a more mature person... now he's kind of honest, straightforward and he looks you right in the eyes type of guy."

McBride promised plenty more Carol and Daryl scenes in season nine. "I love how they have each other’s back. I love their relationship. Whatever it is, I love their relationship!" she gushed of the platonic pals. "The fans can look forward to more Daryl and Carol scenes – they’ve got some stuff that they need to get through together, so yeah I’m excited about that."

For those fans hoping Carol has a change of heart and decides to explore something romantic with Daryl, McBride said "you never know" -- though Reedus admitted he thinks "a lot of people" are still rooting for the romance.

"I kind of get it everywhere," he confessed. "The whole shipping thing, you get shipped with anybody you’re on camera with. It’s a real thing."
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