After numerous years of living among the undead, happening upon a new person(s) in The Walking Dead universe is something of a blessing and a curse. After all, if someone has survived this long then they’ve done very well indeed — maybe too well. How exactly have they avoided a nasty walker bite after all this time? Where have they been hiding out? And, as is so importantly asked in 28 Days Later, how many actual living people have they killed to get to this point?
No-one can be trusted on face value, essentially. But if there’s one person in The Walking Dead who will allow their gullibility to take precedence over simply abiding by this dark new world’s rules, it’s poor old Eugene. Like him or loathe him, the verbose doctor has been a fixture on the show for a number of seasons now, and as well as numerous mishaps, unrequited love interests and lashings of naive Southern charm, he was also, let’s not forget, responsible for bringing about the downfall of Negan and the Saviors at the end of season eight.
Who is on the radio to Eugene?
Eugene found himself kick-starting a new season 10 plot line in ‘Bonds’ after managing to make contact with a mysterious new survivor on his pimped-out radio set-up (which he managed to complete using parts from the downed Soviet satellite from the season premiere). Eugene’s establishment of the official Hilltop AV Club leads to him connecting with an unnamed woman, who finally answers his all-channels call after several fruitless attempts. The woman refuses to give away either her name or her location, but Eugene (who does eventually tell her his name and backstory) manages to convince her to share certain facts: they bond, for instance, over a shared familiarity with Strasburg, Pennsylvania because, much to Eugene’s nerdy delight, that’s where the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania was located.
Their sweet interaction plays out throughout the episode, bringing a bit of recognisable human friendliness amidst the bleak dystopia. Despite the friendliness, however, the woman knows that she can’t fully trust Eugene: who’s to say he’s not a threat? Or that she’s a threat to him? And while the woman agrees to Eugene’s request that they keep talking on the radio, it comes with a condition: he can’t let anyone else know about this secret friendship, otherwise she’ll never be able to trust him.
Who is Margot Bingham, the voice of Eugene’s mysterious new friend?
Fans quickly established that the woman’s voice in ‘Bonds’ belongs to Boardwalk Empire actress and singer Margot Bingham, and it’s almost certain that her character will be revealed to be Stephanie. In the Walking Dead comics Stephanie hails from the Commonwealth, a wide community of advanced survivor settlements which may or may not be where Maggie snuck off to at the end of season nine. Its presence in the TV show has yet to be officially recognised, with characters such as Georgie and Jadis only thought to be connected to the settlement at present.
What does Stephanie do in The Walking Dead comics?
Stephanie’s arc in the comics sees her becoming romantically involved with Eugene, and the prelude to such a development in the TV series certainly seems to now be set in motion following their radio date. But we must remember that the Walking Dead TV show doesn’t take the source material of the comics as gospel anymore — meaning that Stephanie’s introduction in the TV series could lead to something else entirely in terms of her role in the show, Eugene’s stumbling on a new community or indeed the introduction of the Commonwealth.
Speaking to EW about Eugene and Stephanie’s interaction this week, showrunner Angela Kang hinted that Eugene’s “not really thinking about getting a new community” at this point.
- Read more: The Walking Dead season 10: release date, trailer, plot, cast and everything else we know
“Emotionally, [Eugene’s] lonely, and there’s something that I really loved in the comic book that he was the one that was calling out, because here’s this character that has made some questionable decisions in the past, but grew to be a trusted person,” Kang said. “But he’s not always connected with people as deeply as everybody craves to connect.”
Asked outright if the woman on the other end of the line was Stephanie, Kang replied: “It certainly seems like that might be the case, right? So I would just say that we also twist things a lot of times, so there may be surprises along the way.”
Elsewhere: Carol and Daryl go on a Whisperers hunt, and Negan bends the knee
‘Bonds’ ramped up the pace of the march towards the inevitable Survivors vs Whisperers war with Carol’s decision to go off looking for Alpha’s horde of the undead. Walking Dead fans will have enjoyed seeing Daryl joining her on her hunt, with the pair’s sweet friendship having endured since the show’s very first season. Daryl, though, is sceptical about Carol’s actual intentions for conducting her hunt, given that she’s being fuelled by revengeful hate for Alpha after she murdered Henry during last season’s Kingdom Fair massacre.
After surviving a close call with a bunch of Whisperer-controlled walkers, Daryl finds that Carol has taken one of the mask-wearing baddies hostage and intends to take him back to Alexandria. Come on, Carol: you know Alpha isn’t going to be best pleased about this new development in Whisperer/Survivor relations.
Speaking of Whisperers, we’re also treated to a flurry of wisecracks from their latest recruit Negan as he goes on the charm offensive in an effort to win over his newfound group of villains. “I am a joiner! Hit me with a application already,” he declares at one point, adding: “You are a survivor-less wet dream.” His constant chattering winds up Beta, though (“How long have you and the boss lady been together?” Negan asks him at one point about Alpha. “Is this like a Beta-with-benefits kind of situation? Do you slip her a bit of Omega on the side?”), and the pair clash throughout the episode. Much to Beta’s annoyance, Alpha is willing to test Negan’s resolve and he’s put to work digging a hole, killing a boar and skinning walkers. Lovely!
Negan v Beta (or Leather Jacket v Leather Duster) is going to be an intriguing contest over the next few episodes, with the latter telling his new frenemy that he’ll never become a Whisperer because “you’re too loud. Too weak… you are waste, and Alpha will see it.” Beta then kills a Whisperer in a horrifying display of power, which alerts nearby walkers to Negan’s presence. Is his number finally up?
Well… the next morning we discover that, yes, of course Negan survived: he walks into camp triumphantly covered in blood and demands a full-body Whisperers-style skin suit to honour his night’s work. “I’m all in,” he tells Alpha after quite literally bending the knee to her (current) superiority. “Whatever you want, whatever I got: it’s all yours.” Savior becomes Whisperer: and just when you thought you’d seen it all on The Walking Dead…