Spoilers below for the latest episode of The Walking Dead, titled "Splinter," so be warned!
With only a handful of episodes left in its extended tenth season, The Walking Dead reconnected audiences with Paola Lázaro's Princess, and while Episode 1020 seemingly also reconnected everyone with Josh McDermitt's Eugene, Khary Payton's Ezekiel and Eleanor Matsuura's Yumiko, we eventually learned that wasn't exactly the truth. With "Splinter," The Walking Dead went all Fight Club on fans and completely changed things up from Robert Kirkman's comic book for both Princess and the introduction of the Commonwealth's soldiers.
Let's take a closer look at how AMC's The Walking Dead and showrunner Angela Kang changed things up from the comics with its latest episode, starting with a deeper look at how post-apocalypse life has affected Princess' mental issues.
How Princess' Story Changed From The Walking Dead Comics
When the credits started up at the end of "Splinter," it wasn't entirely clear how much of what we'd seen during the episode actually happened, with the episode's big twist revealing Princess to be an extremely unreliable narrator, as it were. In the first act, Princess unveiled more of her backstory with "Yumiko," which involved some of the abuses she suffered from her parents. Through that information, the comic and TV characters actually did share a big, if sad, connection, since Princess had quite the brutal past in the source material.
However, Princess' story veered off course from there, as it was shown later in the episode that each one of her interactions with her new friends – from talking to Yumiko and Eugene to having Ezekiel break into her train car – was all a figment of her imagination. And by all means, it was quite a wild shock to witness, with Princess coming full-circle on her realization after beating the piss out of one of the Commonwealth soldiers that set off her PTSD-esque reactions.
The comic book made a point of showing Princess to be initially confused over whether or not Michonne and the other new people in her life were actually just hallucinations. But the TV show obviously took that idea to the next level by actually showing her having full-blown hallucinations. Not even just the conversations she had, either. She completely hallucinated leaving the train car and hiding out from soldiers by hanging onto the side of it. That takes some true disassociation, although the potential for such a mental break was technically hinted at during Princess' introduction in the way she purposefully posed all the walkers in the area.
In any case, The Walking Dead's TV creative team certainly deepened Princess' story by adding unexpected layers to her already twisted psyche. While her comic counterpart certainly had issues with being in large groups, and preferred to be alone, she was never shown to be particularly unhinged in the ways that Princess behaved in "Splinter." It's certainly possible she might have gone over the deep end had she experienced this kind of situation on the page, but who knows? In any case, it'll be interesting to see if and how this (and that ominous-looking lineup) play out through the show's final season.
How The Walking Dead Changed The Commonwealth's Introduction From The Comics
While it's true that TV viewers have yet to actually step metaphorical foot inside the long-awaited comic book "safe" haven known as The Commonwealth, The Walking Dead has already shaken things up from Robert Kirkman's original tale with our first somewhat extended look at the Commonwealth Army. In the comic, the soldiers immediately take the protagonists in for questioning – an element the TV show has already teased for Season 11 – and Eugene is initially the standoffish one about giving up information, since he's so invested in finally meeting Stephanie. It's not the most ideal situation, but it's also a largely non-violent and non-confrontational one.
In the TV show, however, the Commonwealth Army is shown to be quite a bit more violent when the soldiers first come across Princess, Eugene, Ezekiel and Yumiko. At least, assuming what we saw via Princess' flashback moments was authentic. Viewers saw both Yumiko and Princess being handled quite violently, which wasn't the case in the comics. Princess clearly wasn't very dependable with that whole "following the rules" thing, not that it meant she deserved to get roughed up or anything. Of course, beating the crap out of that one soldier definitely didn't put her on anyone's good side, so it certainly isn't a good thing that the episode ended with the protagonists in hoods.
Even though the Commonwealth Army's introduction on the TV show didn't feature any gigantic game-changing twists, it could definitely have major ramifications in the immediate future. If The Walking Dead is reversing course on The Commonwealth's relatively amicable first appearance in the comic, that could make for a very different arc for the TV show to wrap things up with. The narrative was already going to be extremely different in respects to all things Rick Grimes-related, since Andrew Lincoln isn't around to share the same fate as his comic counterpart, and the live-action TV drama also can't properly adapt Michonne's reunion with her daughter from the comics. But I still somewhat expected The Commonwealth's early TV days to be similar in nature, though that might not be the case at all depending on how things play out from here.