The Walking Dead Writers Not Trying to Upset Shippers with Character Relationships in Season 10

A kiss between Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Ezekiel (Khary Payton), revealed in the first Walking Dead Season 10 trailer, arrived to mixed reactions from fans: some readily backed “Michzekiel,” a comic book-accurate coupling, while others mourned what appeared to be the definite end of “Carzekiel,” a.k.a. former fairy tale married couple Carol (Melissa McBride) and Ezekiel. Others still celebrated a Michonne-Ezekiel pairing, believing that turn of events opens the door for the long-awaited “Caryl” — a romantic relationship between Carol and Daryl (Norman Reedus). When it comes to navigating these complex dynamics in Season 10, showrunner Angela Kang and her writers’ room first and foremost aim to tell a story steered by the needs of their characters.

“The shippers don’t mess around,” Kang told EW. “I mean, basically anything we do that’s in the romantic realm — even if it’s not the romantic realm, like two people are just together in a scene — there’s going to be people who are angry, or really happy, or kind of happy but angry at the same time.”

Asked to explain how the boss and head writer deals with such passionate feedback, Kang answered, “With all of it, we really are just kind of seeing where it feels the characters lead us and where the story goes, and hopefully we’re entertaining people. But we can’t speculate too much because otherwise we’d just be stuffed in one sort of storytelling, and that wouldn’t make people happy either. So, we’re just trying to keep it moving, keep it interesting.”

As for Ezekiel’s kiss with Michonne, Kang can say little.

“I feel like there’s not much I can say about it without spoiling some major story points,” Kang explained. “I’ll just say that these are emotional times for our characters and things happen and the story will take an interesting turn.”

Following her Season 9 split from Ezekiel, Carol has traded in domestic life for distraction-filled work out at sea. When reunited with longtime best friend Daryl, the pair consider running away together for a life out west — somewhere far away from an existence defined by fighting.

“They have just this special bond,” Kang previously told EW of Carol and Daryl’s friendship, a relationship that gets even more room to grow in Season 10. “They both came from trauma and from nothing. There’s some really deep stuff between them. There’s funny stuff and then there’s stuff that gets pretty hairy. They’re just kind of on this adventure together.”

While it remains to be seen if their friendship will turn romantic — Reedus admitted in a previous interview Carol is “a real pain in [the] butt” this season — Kang enjoys the pairing between Carol and Daryl, the last two remaining characters from TWD’s first season.

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“I love the two of them together. They’re so good together,” Kang said. “There are certain character pairings because we’ve been following them for so long where they’re in a scene and you immediately feel the history between those characters. That’s one of the things that’s been really fun for us on the writing and producing side to see. Anytime you put those two in a scene, you immediately feel all the weight of the things that they’ve both been through as individuals and as a pairing over the years. There’s just some really beautiful stuff between them.”

The Walking Dead Season 10 premieres Sunday, Oct. 6 at 9/8c on AMC. For more TWD Season 10 intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.