'The Walking Dead': Khary Payton on Ezekiel and Carol's Relationship

Relationships on The Walking Dead rarely end well but King Ezekiel and Carol's is hoping to change the tide.

Ezekiel and Carol cemented their relationship as being more than friends in the current ninth season of AMC's zombie series. Carol, a character who started the apocalypse in a toxic abusive relationship, had hardened herself in both the pre-apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic setting. King Ezekiel, however, had different struggles and his experiences lead to an attraction with Carol. After a persistent effort, he managed to woo her into a relationship, which Ezekiel actor Khary Payton says makes the character more vulnerable but also stronger.

"I think that it's both," Payton told ComicBook.com. "I think that it absolutely makes you a stronger person, and it takes a strong person to become more vulnerable. I don't think you can have one without the other."

Payton equates the relationship to a constant fight for what you want. "It's like a boxer that must be strong, but in order to be a boxer, you have to put yourself out there to be able to take the punches," Payton said. "You have to put yourself a situation where you could be vulnerable in order to show what kind of strength you have. I don't think you can have one without the other."

Of course, with the narrative of AMC's The Walking Dead approaching a story point equivalent to that of King Ezekiel's death in Robert Kirkman's comics, his fans have reason to think the vulnerability might get the best of him. Payton, however, is not sweating over such a possibility.

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"Anybody could go at any point, and that's just the nature of the show," Payton said. "It's like, smoke 'em while you got 'em. Enjoy it while it lasts, and try not to live thinking about the future. Just enjoy the present moment, because who knows? I could be hanging around for a couple years, or I could be gone tomorrow. They always end up switching the things up with the comics, so who knows which way it might actually end up."

The Walking Dead TV series returns for the back half of its ninth season on February 10, 2019 at 9 pm ET. Fear the Walking Dead will return for its fifth season in 2019. For complete coverage and insider info all year long, follow @BrandonDavisBD on Twitter and watch ComicBook.com's After The Dead each Sunday night following new episodes.