Real friends are hard to come by on The Walking Dead . In “Splinter,” Princess (Paola Lopez) copes with a lot of emotions after she, Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Ezekiel (Khary Peyton) and Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) are captured by unknown troopers.  

Princess was alone for a long time before joining Eugene on his trip to West Virginia. Being alone too long can be maddening, but Princes found friends and will whatever it takes to keep them. This chapter picks up where The Walking Dead regular regular finale left off. Eugene, Ezekiel, Yumiko and Princess arrived at an abandoned rail station only to be ambushed by people with guns. These people are wearing generic stormtrooper armor and helmets, so you can’t see their faces. And there is no sign of anyone named Stephanie. The Walking Dead extended season 10 continues … 

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SPLINTER
Princess fears for her friends on The Walking Dead

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

The troopers try to separate the group and that sets off a chain of events that leads to Yumiko getting hit with the butt of a gun. Princess is put in a train car by herself and is trying to keep it together by reciting the US capitals. She can hear shuffling as Ezekiel is led away from the train cars. It’s clear the only thing she wants is to get away. 

Princess feels her anxiety rising. She is so eager to get out of the train car that she pulls at a wood board and gets a splinter. Princess counts to herself and recites the US capitals in alphabetical order to keep calm. She hears Yumiko in the next car. Princess is anxious to find a way out, but Yumiko tells her to do what their captors say. Princess needs to talk so she tells Yumiko about her childhood. This is a kid that was picked on at school and beaten at home. Yumiko collapses and the guards come in to take her away. Princess is yelling at them, wondering where they are taking her, but they tell her to shut up. 

The next day, Princess finds a loose board on the other side of the car and pulls it off. The hole is big enough for her to fit through. She climbs out and Eugene can see her in the next car. He tells her to get back in her car and cooperate with the guards. She’s more concerned about finding Yumiko. Eugene says they are being tested to see if they can be trusted and she is messing things up. He assumes the Whisperer War is over and the family back home is in dire need of resources … he’s not wrong. Princess gets back in her car and puts the board back. Moments later, a guard comes in to retrieve her. 

QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS

The guard takes Princess to shower and examines her for bites. She tells them about the splinter, but they don’t do anything about it. After she gets dressed, the head guard comes in to interview her. He doesn’t have a helmet on but she can’t see his face. He asks some basic questions … how old are you? Where are you from? Where were you when the fall happened? Why did you come here? Princess doesn’t answer any of his questions, she only asks about Yumiko. The guard starts asking about the others. He wants to know who they are, why they came and where they are from. Princess wants to see Yumiko, so she won’t answer their questions. She yells at him, so he hits her in the face, knocking her out. 

Princess wakes up in the train car again and checks to see if Yumiko is back. More guards walk by. Princess waits until they are gone and climbs out of the car again to check on Eugene, but he’s gone too. Princess returns to her car and freaks out, thinking everyone is in danger and it’s her fault. She hears someone on the roof of her car and Ezekiel opens the top. He jumps into her car. She’s so happy to see him and hugs him tightly.

Ezekiel says they have to leave. Princess tells him about Yumiko being hurt. She doesn’t think running will help, but Ezekiel is ready to go. They argue a bit, but stop when she starts crying. The head guard hit an old fracture in her face when he hit her. Ezekiel promises that no one will ever hurt her again.

THE GUARD
Princess and Ezekiel try to come up with a plan to save their friends on The Walking Dead

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

Ezekiel is anxious to leave; he even talks about leaving Eugene and Yumiko behind, but Princess won’t leave their friends behind. He reminds her that they are actually his friends, causing them both to pause and calm down. After an apology, Ezekiel sits down. He’s afraid that Eugene may have trusted the wrong people this time. People suck, even family. They just want to do the right thing and need a better plan.

A guard (Cameron Roberts) opens the door and Princess starts rambling not answering any questions. The guard sits a tray of food down and Ezekiel comes out of nowhere and knocks the guard out. He kicks the guns away and handcuffs the guard’s hands. He removes the guard’s helmet, revealing a young man. Ezekiel is aggressive, so Princess says she will ask the questions. 

Princess is most concerned about Yumiko. The young guard says her friend is probably with the medic. He tries to convince her that they can help her and her friends. They have access to resources that are valuable. They only want to help. She’s concerned about what is going to happen to them. The guard says everything she’s going through is standard protocol. The place they live is a good place. It’s their job to keep the many good people that live there safe. They’re careful because they have a lot to lose. 

IS IT REAL?

Princess asks to see Yumiko, but the guard can’t help her. He’s just a grunt and his job was to keep her fed. He says he’s so new that his rifle isn’t even loaded. That surprises both Princess and Ezekiel and they pause long enough for the guard to jump up and hit Princess. Ezekiel jumps on top of the kid and starts choking him. Princess stands to the side, yelling for Ezekiel to stop. Ezekiel starts punching the kid and yells that no one is going to hurt him anymore.

Princess grabs his arm and Ezekiel looks at her and tells her to listen and do what they say. She stops and looks around. It’s actually Princess sitting on top of the guard, punching his face. Ezekiel was never there. Her hands are bruised and bloody. She hears Yumiko tell her to do what they say. Eugene’s voice says Princess will make their situation worse. And Ezekiel says no one is going to hurt her anymore. 

Princess stands up, grabs the gun, and runs out of the car. She runs to a locked gate and tries to climb under it, but the gun is too big. She tells herself to just go, but sees the faces of her new friends and turns around. Ezekiel calls out to her. He stands next to a couple of costumed walkers. Ezekiel tries to convince her to leave. She looks at her splinter. She knows if she leaves, it makes her like her mom. Ezekiel is obviously Princess; a side of her that had to be strong to survive her hard life. That side of Princess wants to run and save herself. She realizes she had people come back for her, so she has to go back for them. 

COOPERATION
Princess negotiates to see her friends on The Walking Dead

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

Princess returns to the train car. She admits she’s a little crazy. Small dark spaces do bad things to her head. She doesn’t want to mess anything up, but she does take the handcuffs off the guard. The splinter in her finger comes out after she does that. The guard says he’s in deep trouble for letting her get away. He asks for the gun, but she doesn’t want to give it up. She wants to make things right for her and her friends. She says she will answer the questions. Princess admits that she doesn’t know anything about them but their names. She only met them a week ago (time moves differently on The Walking Dead.) She is from San Juan originally, but was in Pittsburgh when the fall happened. The guard thanks her and asks for his gun again. This time Princess gives it up.

The guard says all of this didn’t have to be hard, because the rules are simple. They just needed to know if she could play ball with them. He puts his helmet back on. Princess asks when she can see her friends. The guard says now and knocks on the door. He yells that he has her and they can go. When the door opens, Ezekiel, Yumiko, and Eugene are standing on the ground with black hoods on and surrounded by troopers. Princess looks at her guard and yells, “Wait!” as the guard puts a hood over her head.

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Noetta Harjo
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