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THE WALKING DEAD Expands Its Universe Through Eugene
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This post contains spoilers for The Walking Dead Season 10, Episode 6.

This week’s The Walking Dead was all over the place with Caryl’s dummy mission, Siddiq’s continued struggles, Negan’s Whisperer tryouts, and Rosita’s unnecessary sickness. But what should really have fans’ attention is Eugene aka the President of the Hilltop A/V Club (someone put that on a shirt immediately) and his radio conversation with a woman from another community. The pair cautiously open up about their pre-apocalypse life and connect over her hometown of Strasburg, PA—a real place known as “Train Town USA.”

According to its website, the Strasburg Rail Road was founded in 1832 and became a staple in Central PA for freight and passenger transport. Today, it’s a major landmark with a list of special events and experiences that attract the attention of people from all over the USA.

In fact, Eugene’s revelation about his attendance at a 1995 Train Fan event at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania checks out, too. The Pennsylvania Heritage features a Fall 1995 article about the museum and says it opened a new exhibit space with 90 thousand square feet of train stock on display. Like any person from a small town, the mysterious woman was thrilled that someone actually knew where she was from.

They also chat about the local Inside Scoop ice cream shop and its yummy cones. The town has Strasburg Creamery, which makes ice cream and waffle cones in-house. So this is likely where Eugene went during his visit and it might lead to an influx of Walking Dead fans coming in for some tasty ice cream.

via GIPHY

Eugene and this woman’s conversation is a slice of happiness and fond memories of pre-apocalypse times. And it’s a nice shout out to a real place with a rich history. But there are a lot of questions and speculation that can be gathered from their brief chat. The woman never reveals her name but there’s a possibility that we were introduced to another comic character.

In the comics, Stephanie was a Commonwealth radio operator who connected with Eugene. They talked daily, built a level of trust, and their communities later built a relationship. Stephanie and Eugene became a romantic item and worked on a train system together before she later died from unknown circumstances.

It would make sense for the TV show to use this same method to introduce the massive Ohio based community. It’s also not a stretch for Stephanie to have left Strasburg and made her way to the neighboring state of Ohio to join the Commonwealth. This means the show can keep the Commonwealth’s location the same and give more depth to Stephanie’s TV counterpart.

Of course, there is a chance that this woman isn’t Stephanie at all. She may not even be from the Commonwealth. Perhaps this is a tie-in to those alleged Rick movies that we still know nothing about a year later. The only clue we have is the tiny teaser trailer from SDCC of an airplane flying into a city.

Many fans and websites believe the skyline shown is Philadelphia, which is interesting considering this whole conversation about Strasburg. The two places are a little over an hour’s drive from each other, so perhaps this person left their smaller hometown to head closer towards Philly.

Either way, the introduction of this new character means The Walking Dead’s world will expand in a major way. The past few seasons have been centered in Alexandria, the Hilltop, and Kingdom with some time at the Sanctuary, downtown D.C., and Oceanside. There hasn’t been an exploration outside of VA and D.C. since season five, so it is time to expand this world. The link with the Commonwealth was a pivotal point in the comics that started the path towards truly reconnecting with others and rebuilding a new world.

Or, if this is the community with Rick, it is the beginning of bringing him back into The Walking Dead universe and perhaps reuniting him with his loved ones one day. This expansion is the type of fresh air and new perspectives needed on this show right now.

Eugene and Mystery Woman are going to continue their conversations so we will see where their story goes this season and beyond.

Image Credit: Jace Downs/AMC