"Hi. I'm Stephanie," says the woman who introduces herself as Eugene's girlfriend on The Walking Dead. But is the lonely heart getting catfished? "Acheron: Part 2" ends with Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Stephanie (Chelle Ramos) connecting for the first time in person after clicking over the radio in Season 10, where Eugene's long-range radio makes contact with an advanced community called the Commonwealth. General Mercer (Michael James Shaw) grants Eugene and traveling companions Ezekiel (Khary Payton), Yumiko (Eleanor Matsuura), and Princess (Paola Lazaro) asylum and citizenship in the united townships of the Commonwealth, and out steps Stephanie. To Eugene's relief, she's real.
"He was like, 'Oh, thank God. She's real.' I think he was excited," McDermitt said on Talking Dead of Eugene's reaction in "Acheron: Part 2." "That was a really emotional time for him because moments before, he was reunited with his friends, and moments after that he's accepted into the community, and then moments after that he meets Stephanie."
"I think he was just really overwhelmed, and I love that moment where she comes in," the Eugene actor continued. "Everyone in the Commonwealth looks great like they've showered and they're all put together… and Eugene is standing there like a big fat toe, like, 'Hey, I'm the voice!' I just love the juxtaposition of that, it was awesome."
The woman is real. But is Stephanie the real deal?
Spoiler warning ahead.
The mystery woman claiming to be Stephanie might not be who she says she is: Season 11 cast Margot Bingham (television's She's Gotta Have It, New Amsterdam) as Stephanie, and the role was not recast. As Eugene might put it, what we have here is a time-honored honeypot operation with a custom-fit decoy meant to deceive and finagle even the most discerning ingénue with a fool's heart.
"The goal, or one part of it, was to finally meet this person that he feels a connection with on the radio. And he's kind of taking in all his surroundings. It's very surreal," McDermitt told EW about Eugene's episode-ending meeting with the woman claiming to be Stephanie. "They're very well-organized in the Commonwealth, and he sees that. And I think right now his emotions are reinforcing that he's made the right decision to take this journey with the others. So I definitely think that they're hopeful about what's to come for the group. But then also to build upon this relationship with this person from the radio, I think that's really exciting for him. He's always been pining for someone's love, and now he's on the verge of being in love. That's an exciting place for this guy."
Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD. The Walking Dead Season 11 airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.