Due to misunderstandings about The Walking Dead’s bonus episodes, the Princess episode has faced some serious backlash from long-time fans.
The Walking Dead season 10, episode 20 has faced a backlash from fans who felt the Princess-centric episode wasn’t quite up to par with the series’ usual apocalyptic energy, but that misunderstands the bonus episodes. The episode, “Splinter,” is part of the six extra episodes filmed as an epilogue to season 10 during the height of the Coronavirus pandemic. The installment is primarily focused on Princess after she, Yumiko, Eugene, and Ezekiel were surrounded by a group of mysterious people in military-grade armor who look like The Walking Dead‘s version of Stormtroopers. Spending most of the episode held captive in a train car, Princess fights an internal battle between self-preservation and saving her new friends. Fans were given a look into Princess’s history and when it’s revealed that her interactions with Yumiko, Eugene, and Ezekiel were hallucinations, audiences were given insight into Princess’s current mental state.
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A portion of The Walking Dead‘s fanbase has protested the slower epilogue episodes, claiming they do nothing to push the story further as the final season approaches, and that was most exemplified by the Princess installment. The Walking Dead season 10, episode 20 currently stands as the lowest-rated episode of the series on IMDb. Frequent complaints claim the episode does nothing to progress the story forward and adds nothing of value to the show; others disapprove of the fact that there wasn’t a single death in the episode – a first in the show’s history. The episode also ends in another cliffhanger, further contributing to The Walking Dead‘s ongoing cliffhanger problem, which has been evident since Glenn’s arc in season 6 included multiple frustrating teases.
However, The Walking Dead season 10’s bonus episodes were not intended to be story-focused; they’re being referred to as “extra” episodes by the showrunners for a reason. While they might give audiences very little (or no) additional information about the Commonwealth or the Reapers, they do provide additional insight into the characters and the current state of the world around them, and are stories that might not have been told had the bonus episodes not been added in. They’re designed to bridge the gap between seasons 10 and 11 – and possibly to set the groundwork for the The Walking Dead‘s upcoming spinoff shows (especially in the case of Carol and Daryl, who have a confirmed series in the works).
The setbacks of these bonus episodes have come mainly from the serious filming restrictions production faced in 2020. As these six episodes were filmed during the peak of the pandemic, production was not operating as usual. The series made the executive decision not to fly in any of their European-based actors because of the Coronavirus, meaning certain characters – like Yumiko – were not available for filming. The number of cast and crew on set at once was restricted (meaning no closely-packed walker hordes), filming locations were limited, and editing takes longer, all for the sake of keeping cast and crew safe while still producing new material. To make the best of filming under these restrictions, The Walking Dead’s showrunners were required to be creative – like keeping Yumiko’s presence in season 10, episode 20 limited to her voice and obscured shots.
The backlash from fans against the bonus episodes is likely coming from a misunderstanding of both the intent of these episodes and just how difficult filming during 2020 was. To fill the void between seasons, the series got creative and took the time to explore some beloved characters in a more in-depth way that they may not have had the privilege to during a regular season, where there is heavy pressure to move the series forward in every episode. Because The Walking Dead heavily prioritized the safety of their cast and crew, fans now have the chance to enjoy these six unique bonus episodes.
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