UK TV review: The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 15 (The Tower)
It’s for “Hello”9
Neil Brazier | On 07, Apr 2020Reading time: 7 mins
The Walking Dead takes a short hiatus before the Season 10 finale will air and it couldn’t come at a worse time. The Tower is an obvious set-up episode, teasing us and keeping us waiting for what looks like it could be a breathtaking finale. It doesn’t come packed with the big moments we’ve been blessed with time and time again this season. Instead, it takes the time to introduce us to the character of Princess (Paola Lázaro), someone the likes of whom we have never seen in the series before. In a show full of rotten corpses, Princess is the rose that grows out of the decomposition.
Princess – real name Juanita Sanchez – has been alone a long time and she’s not sure if the survivors she’s met are real or just part of her imagination. The seclusion has, maybe, made her a little crazy, and she comes over at first as a child whose had too much sugar before bed. The travellers are already taking an almighty gamble on their rendezvous to find potential future friends, yet they seem awfully standoffish when presented with Princess – a stranger but someone who is very keen to make friends. This may be because she is carrying an assault rifle, but the dangerous end wasn’t pointing directly at them.
Princess sticks out in the barren wasteland like a sore thumb with her wild hairstyle and fluffy fuchsia jacket; but she hasn’t let it break her spirit. She’s fun, loud and eager, the distrust from Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura) believes that’s the crazy coming out, but the truth is, the survivors haven’t had an opportunity for laughter or anything that wasn’t doom and gloom for so long, they’ve forgotten what it is to be care-free. Princess has had to keep herself entertained, alone, for at least a year. Her only release has come in decorating the city with zombie dioramas, which Ezekiel (Khary Payton) found hilarious before, so on first impression her enthusiasm may come across as crazy.
The series has needed a character like this, having been so dark for so long. There has been comic relief before, be it Eugene (Josh McDermitt) poking behind the bookcase with his intelligent southern drawl or Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his arrogant swagger, but there is just something about Princess that oozes appeal. Much like Ezekiel and his King persona, the Princess has created herself a character as her shield from reality. Later, as rain falls on the group and the layers wash away, the real Princess is revealed and she’s not crazy – just very lonely. And while she may have something in common with Ezekiel and his dual personalities, she also has a lot in common with Eugene.
Away from Princess, The Tower explores the relationship between Lydia (Cassady McClincy), who is trapped in close quarters with the man who killed her mother, and Judith (Cailey Fleming), who once again proves she can steal any scene. She wants to learn how to protect her family so is taken under the wing of Uncle Daryl (Norman Reedus) but struggles to deal with the morality of good and bad as they encounter a Whisperer. If they wanted to be or not, both Daryl and Negan need to become father figures. Negan has always wanted to nurture – we have seen it before with Carl, Judith and now Lydia. The two share more than a relationship with Alpha and it might be this that earns Negan his redemption more than bringing them the head of their enemy.
The episode ends with Beta (Ryan Hurst) leading his horde on a hunt for the rest of the survivors. Since merging his mask with the face of Alpha he’s gone even more nuts than he was before. He’s hearing voices, telling him what to do and where to go. It’s weird; but it’s his grieving process for thee loss of the one person who gave him hope and purpose. It’s a little too convenient that this is how the story is forced to progress, rather than relying on an actual manhunt or finding clues left by the survivors, but as there is only one episode left this season we will believe that Beta is using his own instinct rather than actually hearing Alpha in the way Carol (Melissa McBride) projected her as a vision.
The Tower is a successful character-driven episode with an explosive highlight that puts the pieces into position for the finale. Hopefully the wait won’t have an impact on its reception, but The Walking Dead is in one of the strongest positions it has ever been.
The Walking Dead Season 10 premieres on FOX UK at 9pm on Mondays. Don’t have pay-TV? You can also stream it live and on-demand on NOW TV, for £8.99 a month, with no contract and a 7-day free trial. (An Entertainment Pass auto-renews at £8.99 a month until 1st September 2020, £9.99 thereafter unless cancelled.) Seasons 1 to 9 plus Season 10 Par 1 are available on Sky Box Sets and NOW TV until 6th March 2020.
Innards and entrails (spoilers)
Princess takes the trio on a mission to find a new mode of transport to help them reach their destination – after she scares away the horses trying to be helpful and firing her rifle into a pack of approaching rotters. Yumiko really doesn’t like Princess at first and even less so when they are all led by her into a minefield. After a walker is blown up – in an awesome contender for zombie kill of the series – even Eugene begins to lose his patience with Princess.
It is here, with the rain falling, that Princess reveals her true self. She’s been so lonely and just wanted to make a strong first impression so that the group would want to be friends with her and not leave her behind. It’s tragically sweet in a way and highlights the layers this character has. If King Ezekiel is eventually going to lose his battle with cancer, we now have a Princess who can take his place. There is also a fun jab at Ezekiel when Princess is questioned why she calls herself that. She claims that “Queen” would make her sound old and pretentious, so the King introduces himself only as Ezekiel.
When Princess finally delivers the wheels she promised the trio and has stopped pretending to be something she isn’t, Yumiko agrees that Princess can join their party. The excitement explodes within Princess who asks if they can stop to collect some of her supplies, that includes candy, the treat Eugene had hoped they would find on their meeting with Stephanie, so he is instantly interested. Princess is just a fun character and unlike the fun Negan of old, doesn’t come with a slew of lewd crotch gags.
Beta and the horde walk straight into Alexandria. Not so much as a padlock on the gates. Especially given how Beta last entered Alexandria, we expected something a little more dynamic. Beta finds Alexandria empty, save for Alden (Callan McAuliffe) and Aaron (Ross Marquand) who are hiding atop the windmill. Using his new superpower, Alpha’s face, Beta decides to march on to Oceanside. Along the way, Beta once again shows his fury at being named “Alpha”, despite being the one leading the group. It is a cat who crosses his path that leads Beta to the tower where all the survivors are hiding.
They should be perfectly safe in the tower. Apart from being surrounded, zombies are notoriously incapable of climbing (ignoring those from season one of course). But Beta does have something else, he has managed to capture Aaron and Alden. He hasn’t killed them right away so he must have a purpose for them. But keeping Aaron alive, with that mace on his hand, after Beta killed the love of Aaron’s life, Jesus, could be a very dangerous decision.
Judith is still showing her incapability to kill a living person, after one of Beta’s scouts are wounded then interrogated. When there is no information left to get, Daryl kills the Whisperer and Judith is upset. She compares them with Daryl and how she would hate to know that he was left dead in a ditch, she doesn’t want to lose him like she’s lost the rest of her family. It’s not clear if Judith thinks she can save everybody and turn them to the good side, but she doesn’t like killing them in cold blood. She is all that is left of humanity in this group and he might be the key to building their future once this war is over. It should be noted that Cailey Fleming is absolutely brilliant to watch and has such a range for someone so young. We look forward to more from her.