The Walking Dead is about to embark on a game-changing road trip. A first look photo from the second half of Season 10 shows Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and King Ezekiel (Khary Payton) on the road and likely en route to the Commonwealth, a so-far unseen network of settlements based in Ohio. This sprawling civilization has been set up with the introduction of Stephanie (Margot Bingham) — Eugene's wary radio contact broadcasting from somewhere outside Virginia — who has been reached by way of Eugene's tinkering with parts collected from a Soviet satellite that crashed to Earth earlier in Season 10.
In The Walking Dead comic books, it's the connection between Eugene and Stephanie that leads to Rick Grimes assembling an expedition team to travel from Virginia to Ohio. Eugene sets out with Michonne, Siddiq, Magna, and Yumiko on a journey that takes the team through an overrun Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in issue #170.
In issue #171, the group encounters Juanita Sanchez — a.k.a. Princess, short for "The Princess of Pittsburgh" — an eccentric and easygoing lone survivor who falls in with the expedition team before they're ambushed by armor-wearing Commonwealth soldiers (in #173).
After the team is detained by the Commonwealth soldiers in issue #175, they're escorted into the community by its deputy governor, Lance, who tells the group the Commonwealth is home to nearly 50,000 survivors. It's there Michonne is tearfully reunited with a long-lost loved one before fully assimilating into the Commonwealth as a dutiful worker of its fully functioning court system, a storyline suspected to be inherited by Yumiko on the television show.
"I think there’s going to be some major consequences just in talking on the radio with this person," McDermitt previously told TV Insider of Eugene's mysterious radio contact. "He’s making some decisions that could severely alter everyone’s way of life, and I don’t know that that’s solely his decision to make. There could be some life and death consequences based on those decisions he’s making. Everyone’s got a different opinion about how to do things, so it’ll be interesting to see how these conversations that he’s going to keep secret as long as he can, how they impact everyone else’s way of life."
Showrunner Angela Kang previously hinted Season 11 would involve the Commonwealth following the end of the Whisperer war, which reached its conclusion in issue #173 of the comic book. The book would end 20 issues later with issue #193.
"I think there’s something freeing knowing that the end of the comic is coming," Kang recently told Deadline. "You know, luckily for this Whisperer story, we still have the comics. For Season 11, we still do have the basis in the Commonwealth story, so we haven’t run it out completely."
Kang continued, "However, I think what’s actually been fun for us is since our array of characters now, especially like in the lead characters department, is so different from what it is in the comic book that it allows us to kind of improvise more in certain ways."
AMC confirmed Juanita would be introduced later this season when Paola Lazaro (Lethal Weapon) was cast in the role, an announcement made during New York Comic Con in October.
Because Ezekiel wasn't part of the expedition team in the comic books — he was among the victims slain by Whisperer leader Alpha issues earlier — it's believed Ezekiel's involvement in this storyline in the show could be the salvation Ezekiel needs following his cancer diagnosis.
TWD Season 10 returns with new episodes Feb. 23 on AMC. For more TWD intel, follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.