'The Walking Dead': Melissa McBride on Carol's New Love and Evolution

When Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes leaves The Walking Dead in Season Nine, Melissa McBride's Carol Peletier will become the longest running survivor still on the series. Through the upcoming episodes, though, the character will undergo some considerable changes as life in Alexandria settles down in its post-All Out War era.

While visiting the set of The Walking Dead's upcoming season, ComicBook.com caught up with McBride to talk about how a time jump will have changed her character. Not only will she have opened the door to romance, having taking on a serious relationship with King Ezekiel, but she will also be more hardened and equipped with new weapons to take on whatever threats may be lurking.

"I think what we see of Carol is a whole new rebirth from the woman that she was when we met her, to the woman that she is now, and I don't think there's any going back," McBride said. "Once you experience that voice for yourself, that way of life, it's very difficult to just submit to whatever. I don't see her doing that."

In the zombie apocalypse, characters have had little success in the way of relationships. Rick lost his wife. Carol lost her first husband. Aaron lost his boyfriend. However, like Danai Gurira's Michonne, Carol is embracing an attitude of living "in the moment."

"I mean anything could happen at any moment, and also that's her being in the moment, to allow a relationship to happen," McBride said. "But then again, it's like I can take it, but I can't take the loss. I can be with you, but it's going to be on my terms, and that's important to her, and the King is very complicated."

In fact, that complicated nature of King Ezekiel may be what attracted Carol to him. In a sequence from the Season Nine premiere episode, Carol discusses her romance with long time friend Daryl, and acknowledges he is quite "corny." However, after so many years with an abusive husband and suffering such tragic losses through the post-apocalyptic years, "corny" might be what she needs.

"I think he just has the way about him, and he's very different than anyone she's ever encountered, that most people have encountered," McBride said. "I think just some of the masks that they wear, they have that understanding, 'I know where you're coming from.'"

Relationships or not, the women of The Walking Dead are being credited by several cast members -- especially Norman Reedus -- as the main drivers of the upcoming season.

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"I've seen a couple of [episodes], but that the women are being put into positions of leadership and making really, really hard choices, and not backing down, keeping their people safe and that's exciting to play," McBride said. "I really like Angela [Kang]'s point of view. It's fresh, and new, and different for a myriad of reasons. She herself is a really interesting person who has a very interesting world view, and I just think the time is now, it's nice to know for sure."

Fear the Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC. The Walking Dead returns for its ninth season on Oct. 7, 2018. For more updates and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter!