The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 4, “Slabtown”
November 2, 2014, 9:00 pm (EST), AMC
This season of The Walking Dead has given us a lot of great character moments, and tonight’s episode proved no different. After her whereabouts being unknown for quite a while, we find out what happened to Beth. We also meet a group of survivors not so different from Rick’s group except in a few creepy ways.
The beginning scene of Beth waking up in a hospital and looking out the window at a destroyed Atlanta was quite jarring. It seemed like a new beginning for Beth, as it was for Rick when he woke up to the nightmare. We got the impression she never ventured far outside her home on the farm so seeing the city must have come as a shock. We’re introduced to Dr. Edwards, the only doctor in the hospital, and Dawn, a police officer who apparently is the leader of the group. Beth is told that since she was saved she needs to work off the debt. Beth also learns firsthand that Dawn is swift the deal out punishment as she slaps Beth for no apparent reason when a “recruit” she brings in will not survive, despite her telling Dr. Edwards to use unnecessary supplies to attempt to save him.
One of the first things that makes this whole thing seem like a dream is that no one in the hospital is dressed like a survivor. Dr. Edwards has his white lab coat and Dawn and the rest of the officers are all dressed in their uniforms. Only the people that have been saved and are working in the hospital are in scrubs. Even though Rick kept his uniform on for a long time, eventually he needed new clothes so it’s interesting that they’re under some delusion that things haven’t changed. Also, the hospital has power, which seems odd. We’ve rarely encountered places that had electricity. It’s never quite explained, but I guess they run on generators or battery-powered items as they seem to run equipment when it’s necessary.
Beth finds out the hard way that even though she has a debt to pay off, even something simple like taking breakfast will cost her more time at the hospital. The whole thing seems very off-putting, especially when one officer, Gorman, takes a keen eye on her. His encounters with Beth are very sexual, which is pretty gross all things considered. He reminds Beth on several occasions that he was there saving her, and he feels he’s owed a debt of gratitude in the form of Beth becoming his sex slave. Remember how I said this is like Rick’s group, but in some creepy ways? Yeah, this is the big one. The only person I could’ve seen taking the role of Gorman was Shane, but even he has his limits.
Dawn’s narcissistic role as the leader has some similarities to Rick, but she takes them to an even more extreme. Rick commanded the respect of his group because he was able to keep them alive and recognized when he was wrong, or at least could listen to reason. Dawn lacks these traits, and instead assaults the “recruits” in the hospital to show them she means business and won’t take their crap. She assumes they should be grateful for what she’s done, as if she could’ve left them to die. While there is some truth to it, she tries to control everything and everyone’s emotions and reactions with little success. People just fear her, which is how the Governor led his people (look how that turned out for them).
Beth is in a nightmare worse than anything she could’ve encountered with Rick’s group. While she finds some solace with Dr. Edward, she establishes a friendship with Noah, a “recruit” who has been there for almost a year. He has no idea if anyone has ever paid off their debt to the group as no one has ever left, and for good reason: the only way out is going down an elevator shaft through a group of zombies. The two of them hatch a plan to escape, but not before Beth is almost raped by Gorman. Fortunately, a “recruit” that died in Dawn’s office turns and kills Gorman. Beth and Noah’s attempted escape is almost successful, but Beth is caught while Noah limps off to safety.
Upon getting beaten by Dawn and realizing that a “recruit” brought in earlier Dr. Edwards had Beth kill unknowingly was another doctor, Beth is ready to exact revenge on Dr. Edwards’ for his cowardice. That is, until another “recruit” is brought in. Beth’s face turns to horror when she realizes the injured person is Carol. This just raises more questions than answers. Apparently Daryl and Carol caught up with the vehicle from last week. The question is, did Daryl get a prisoner of his own, or did something happen between him and Carol that caused them to split up. Who’s in the bushes with Daryl then? It appears we’ll have to wait at least a couple more weeks to find out.
- How far away is Rick’s group really if the officers are bringing people back to Atlanta?
- How did Dr. Edwards get a painting of The Denial of Peter in his office? Seems odd to have it since it has no value in this world.
- Who was the patient Dawn insisted Edward’s waste supplies on? Not that it matters since he became zombie food, but it’s odd she specifically requested it.
- Beth really stepped up in ways I wasn’t expecting. Despite living in the background as a babysitter to Judith and work quietly, her time with Daryl seemed to really pay off.
- Beth hitting Gorman over the head with the jar of lollipops before he’s killed was a sweet (no pun intended) satisfaction for the encounter the two of them had earlier.
While not the sexiest episode to date, we get some answers about Beth and learn that she is a force to be reckoned with. The appearance of Carol only raises more questions to what happened when Daryl and she took off after the car with the cross in the back.