The Walking Dead puts its bonus episodes to good use with an intriguing experiment

Lázaro resists the usual lazy actorly tics employed by performers trying to emphasize a character’s descent into mental fragility or paranoia (twitching, mumbling, over-the-top uses of gestus), instead letting her clear-eyed fears and suspicions convey precisely the opposite: Namely, that she believes she’s thinking as clearly as ever, even after it’s revealed that she’s hallucinated Ezekiel and is actually talking to herself this whole time.

It’s a strong, magnetic performance anchoring an intense character study that could’ve collapsed with a weaker actor; instead, Lázaro makes the case for keeping Princess front and center on this series.

This was a powerful, affecting monologue, nicely shaped by credited episode writers Julia Ruchman and Vivan Tse, but unfortunately dragged down a bit by the overblown and portentous sound cues.

First, Princess finds a painfully obvious way out of her makeshift prison (suggesting that either this was a hallucination or her captors just wanted to see what she’d do, given a chance to escape) and chats with Eugene, who advises her to trust this process and wait it out in her train car, please and thank you.

But the payoff for Princess’ narrative is clearly meant to be the big reveal that Ezekiel, who drops down into her car and encourages her to start kicking ass now and asking questions later, is a figment of her overactive brain, her fight-or-flight instinct made manifest in human form.

That twist helps add some additional layers to Princess’ showdown with the guard she “captures.” Since it’s subsequently revealed that he was basically a Trojan horse, sent in only to get past her defenses and get her talking, there’s some nice ambiguity that gets added in by making it clear he actually might have gotten in over his head with someone who’s not entirely right in theirs.

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