‘The Strolling Useless’: The Princess Psyche Dissolves, Revealing a Traumatic Previous (RECAP) | leisure
[WARNING: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 20, “Splinter.”]
When fans of AMC’s The Walking Dead first met the eccentric Juanita Sanchez, aka “Princess” (Paola Lázaro), the situation was for Eugene (Josh McDermitt) in love and the survivors who joined him on his journey to meet the woman he was accompanying, bad had spoken to on the radio. Eugene, Ezekiel (Khary Payton) and Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) had an extremely narrow window to meet up with the mysterious Stephanie and her people and didn’t need the crazy, whimsical, walker-decorating princess to distract them, nor were they grateful when their antics frightened their horses.
The king to the rescue?
But they are hard to trust when their interrogation methods are terribly brutal. Princess is eventually brought in front of a small group and asks questions about her friends: where they are from, what their name is, what age they are, etc. She refuses to answer, and for her insolence she gets a slap in the jaw … as well her stepfather had done it once. Fortunately, things look better when a familiar face breaks into their car. It’s Ezekiel!
The king encourages princess to run first and later to try to save her friends. “We don’t know these people and we can’t trust what we don’t know,” he says. Princess tries to talk him out of it and they decide they need a better plan. Well, a better plan – literally – comes in holding an apple and a donut. It’s a Commonwealth soldier, and Ezekiel is determined to use the guy to get the information they need. He restrains the man and points his own gun at him. He asks him to tell him where her friends are while Princess protests.
The soldier gives a much needed dump of information about the Commonwealth and drops his mantra, “For the benefit of all and for all who seek solace at our gates,” which means that they have trained doctors as Yumiko is likely to be with them and says The Commonwealth has valuable resources. He says their treatment is a basic protocol for the mission, but he can’t tell you exactly where Yumiko is because he doesn’t know. That’s not good enough for Ezekiel, who starts beating the guy up. Princess tries to pull him back and then …
Surprise! Ezekiel evaporates. The stains of blood on Ezekiel’s forehead that the soldier struck match the princess’s face. She was Ezekiel all along.
Answering the questions
Princess stops beating the soldier and leaves him in the train carriage. She tries to escape, but thinks better about it and turns around. She helps the soldier she injured, who says he will get into big trouble for what happened. Princess claims there must be some way they can help each other and she offers to answer the soldiers’ questions.
Except that she doesn’t know much about her new friends other than their names, which she freely offers, along with their ancestry (Pittsburgh). This works for the soldier who takes his rifle back from her and then leads her out of the wagon … where she sees her friends with black bags over their heads just before one is pushed over her own. Uh-oh!
- This is my favorite Season 10 bonus episode so far. It also gets better when you look again – for example, did you see Zeke and Princess sit in the same way during their conversation about love and family?
- Kudos to Payton for playing Ezekiel in a way where it was evident that something was wrong, but not that something was “part of Prince’s fantasy.” I had chalked his erratic behavior on his family until his cancer diagnosis and heartbreak, but I was relieved that it wasn’t really him!
- I suspect Princess will polarize a character on TV as much as she does in the comics, but I think her character is a breath of fresh air for the show considering how upbeat and upbeat she is despite her mental health problems and trauma.
- I’m also a fan of this random Commonwealth soldier who was just trying to do his job and was worried about getting fired. He seems like an OK guy, which worries me. Please don’t die horribly if this story continues, Commonwealth Soldier by chance!
- I am confused by some promotional photos for this episode that show more Eugene than we do. Some of his scenes must have remained on the cutting room floor.
- Crossing our fingers for the finale, “Here’s Negan”, is also a deep dive that concretizes a character without feeling compelled.
The Walking Dead, Sundays, 9 / 8c, AMC