X-Geeks

The Walking Dead: S10 E20 ‘Splinter’ – Review

By Ben Wright (@iamzavagno | www.xgeeks.co.uk)

This review contains spoilers.

It’s safe to say that last week’s instalment of The Walking Dead was one of my favourite all-time episodes! It was incredible at every single level. Now, this episode is going to be a tough act to follow! BUT, by going back to ‘storm troopers’ cliff-hanger, that’s a good start! So let’s begin!

We start at the train yard where we left off. The group are surrounded by armoured soldiers and instructed to put their hands up in the air. Well, maybe not for Princess who decides to take a swing at a guard’s weapon before she is finally restrained. Yumiko takes a whack for trying to calm Princess down and the group and separated from each other and put into self-isolation.

Princess starts to relive the moments that came before and it is made clear that isolation and being on her own is not something she can cope with. This has always been hinted at, she is done being alone. Yumiko has been placed in the next train car over so at least she has some human contact to keep her from driving off the sanity cliff. Yumiko does her best to keep her calm and make sense of things so that she does not to do anything stupid. We get some nice backstory of Princess’ upbringing that shines a light on how she is the way she is. She was troubled and broken before the world went down the toilet. But she has had the strength to go it alone after the chaos. Yumiko is taken by the soldiers and Princess manages to escape her cart, thanks to a conveniently placed loose board. Outside of the cart she meets Eugene in his temporary prison, who tries to get Princess to go back and to not cause trouble, as he believes this group is good and this is just a situation they have to get through. He is determined to make his date!

Luckily there is no major stand off or trouble caused, but Princess does end up in an interrogation, with the officer determined to obtain as much information as he can from her about where these outsiders are from and their motives. Things come to a head and the officer smacks Princess across the room. We later find out that this is where she used to get hit when she was at home, so obviously this brings back a lot of personal memories.

Paola Lázaro as Juanita ‘Princess’ Sanchez – The Walking Dead – Season 10, Episode 20 – Photo Credit: Josh Stringer/AMC

Now back in her train cart cell, Princess gets an almighty shock when the roof hatch opens and standing above her is Ezekiel, who tells her to be quiet as they escape their captivity. He gets a big hug for his troubles. Ezekiel and Princess have a powerful and back forth conversation, this was a great scene and truly showcased both of these performer’s’ talent. A guard enters and Ezekiel takes him out and holds him hostage. They interrogate him and the young guard promises that Yumiko is fine and being cared for and that they will all soon be offered help. The guard tries to escape but Ezekiel attacks him, beating him to a bloody mess. Thanks to some camera and editing trickery, we find out that Ezekiel wasn’t even there, this was all Princess! I figured this was the case when Ezekiel screamed “stop hurting me”, this was Princess manifesting and closing off different parts of her mind. There was the violent, unstoppable rage that was being screamed at to stop by the part of her that is a more true reflection of her actual self. It was nicely put together and came across very clearly.

Out of her prison and running, Princess is tries to escape the fence but she comes across fake-Ezekiel again, with his two train Walker friends. We learn that she was abandoned when the Walkers took over, but she decides to not run and to instead stays to face her demons head on and make things right. Back in her cart, she lists off to the, heavily beaten up, guard all the things she struggles with, ADHD, anxiety, depression etc and even gets aggressive again at the end at the guard for judging her, even though he clearly didn’t say anything, this was once again in Princess’ head. I’m glad they haven’t just dropped all her ‘baggage’ just because she had a heart to heart at the fence with fake Ezekiel. It’s ok to show a struggle and the flaws that most of us have, in some form or another. It just humanises the character even more, especially given how outlandish she can be at times. It grounds her and just makes her such a much more well-rounded character because of it. Princess agrees to answer all their questions in exchange she gets to see her friends. The guard agrees and opens the door, only for Princess to see her friends with hoods on, the guard then places on a hood on her as well. The music and final visual sold this as a sinister or ‘gottcha’ moment, but unless they are totally re-writing the comic material, which would be a bold move, I’m not too worried. They are going to be fine. I do think this ending may frustrate some people though, as despite some interactions with this new community, we are no further along, really, than the last cliff-hanger in terms of the overall story.

Overall this was an enjoyable episode for the most part and a truly one-woman show in Paola Lazaro, who was phenomenal throughout! Again, this was an episode were COVID restrictions played a big part in the amount of characters sharing screen time, but that’s ok, because these smaller character episodes have really brought intense drama that have been wonderfully acted out. We’ve got to remember these episodes are the extras, so if they don’t establish and reveal answers for Season 11 right away then that is ok. Let’s not wish the show away. Let us savour every last moment, and when the actors put in this level of performance, I always feel very satisfied with what I have just experienced.

What did make of the latest episode The Walking Dead? Let us know in the comments below.

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