The Walking Dead: 5 x 4: “Slabtown” Review

They think I’m weak.  They don’t know shit about me, about what I am.  About what you are.

-Noah (talking to Beth)

The fourth episode of the new season of Walking Dead was different than the first three episodes.  In the first three episodes, we saw action, killing, and overall bad ass Rick and crew showing why you don’t mess with them.  Episode 4 was a “Bethisode”, it was character specific based on what happened to Beth after she got grabbed last season and hauled off in the black car with a cross on the back.  Did we find out who was with Daryl? Nope, we get a back story.

pic2New People, New Problems

As the episode starts we find Beth in a hospital (flashbacks of Rick in the first episode?).  As she is waking to find herself back in Atlanta, two new characters enter.  A police woman named  Dawn Lerner and Dr. Steven Edwards.  They tell Beth they “rescued” her and now she owes them.  Not a great way to introduce yourself in this world.  I felt from the first scene that this was not a caring place for the sick or injured, but something more twisted and dark.  Lerner explains that they rescue people and then ask that the warders to work off the debt.  For Lerner, it is about the greater good.  Utilitarianism is never a good philosophy, and it usually ends in the minority getting used and ignored in the “greater interest” of the group.  And as the episode moves on we begin to see that obvious conclusion.  Beth begins working off her debt as a nurse aide to Edwards and starts noticing that the wards of the hospital are more prisoners than patients.

pic4Officer Too Friendly

Beth is first introduced to Officer Gorman when grabbing some food in the cafeteria room.  He tells her that he noticed her thighs as they were on a run for guns and that he “saved” her from sure death.  The sexual innuendo in the scenes between Gorman and Beth are pretty obvious.  I thought Gorman forcing the lollipop in Beth’s mouth was about as sick a scene as when Carl was being attacked by Joe’s claimers last season.  Gorman thought he picked himself up a new play toy and he wants his payment for saving her.  Beth tries to avoid eating food after that scene and decides that she will try to work off her debt and get out.  This hospital is basically an oasis for the officers that guard it.  The patients become indentured servants, cleaning up, fixing food, and fulfilling the various physical needs of the officers. The reality of life after a ZA is that the humans that survive are more dangerous than the walkers.  Things like rape and murder mean nothing when compared to base survival, it is the death of morality and humanity.

pic6 The Deal with Joan

In a great scene, a ward of the hospital named Joan is wheeled into the room with a walker bite on her arm.  She had tried to escape (probably from Gorman) and was bit.  In an ER inspired scene, they hold her down as Edwards amputates her bitten arm with a wire.    Who is Joan?  Well Beth finds out later that she was Gorman’s last play thing and when she wanted to get away from him, she tried to kill herself and got bit.  She wishes for death over the torture of being in service to Gorman and the other people in Officer Lerner’s community.  I am sure this scene brought back memories for Beth of her dad Herschel losing his leg and I am sure that was the idea behind it.  It was Beth herself that attempted suicide to escape the new reality of the world with walkers.  When Beth asks Joan later what happened, Joan only responds that making a deal with the devil is easier when its not you.  Is she hinting to Lerner’s allowance of her officers to use the wards as they wish for servants and sex slaves?   Joan wants death, but is not allowed to die because she is part of the system Lerner uses to control her officers and keep them happy.

pic9Lerner later tells Beth that to her face.  She tells Beth outside of the hospital she is nothing but a waste.  She is only a burden or a meal for a walker.  She only has value in the hospital as a way to keep her officers happy so that they keep the ward safe.  I like the way this scene reminded me of the Beth and Daryl episode last season.  I’m sure the fact that Beth got to hear someone else say it to her made her relive what she had said to Daryl.  Beth has grown a lot in the 5 seasons of the show.  She has gone from being the little girl that wanted to die at the farm, to the singing babysitter at the prison, and then to Daryl’s buddy after the prison.  She is not as weak as she used to be and I think Lerner confronting her might have flipped the switch for Beth to become a strong female in the show.  You never challenge the people in Rick’s group, because as Rick says, “They are gonna be surprised, they are messing with the wrong people.”  Will she rise to the occasion and prove Lerner wrong?pic3

Meet Noah

Not everyone at the hospital just sees Beth as a weak girl or sex toy.  Beth meets Noah, another ward of the hospital, who has been there for over a year.  He explains that they found him and his dad injured but only rescued him because they thought he was weak.  Noah has a plan though.  He wants to get back to his people in Richmond, Virginia, he tells Beth they have walls there and it is safe.  Foreshadowing to a future place for Rick’s group?  He is planning on escaping.  After seeing what happened to Joan, and knowing that she is next, Beth tells Noah she wants to go with him.  The plan is, as Noah distracts Lerner and the others, Beth sneaks into the office and steals the key to escape.  The plan goes well at first, but as Beth is stealing the key she sees dead Joan lying on the floor.  Joan had apparently cut off the bandages and allowed herself to bleed out and die.  As Beth is carefully avoiding Joan’s corpse to get the key, she is caught leaving by Gorman.  Gorman begins to push Beth for favors to hide that she was stealing the key and Beth noticing that Joan is reanimating into a walker goes along with it.  As Gorman feels up her shirt, she hits him with a jar of lollipops and Walker Joan crawls over and rips out his throat.pic8 Beth grabs Gorman’s gun, quickly leaves the office, gets Noah and they run for it.  I like that she politely directed Lerner to her office before they took off.  I’m sure Beth was hoping that the Joan walker would take a bite out of Lerner as well.  As they escape down the elevator shaft, Noah falls and injures his leg.  Great, now what will they do?

pic5 Bad Ass Beth

Beth has her chance to shine.  With the injured Noah at her side, she begins taking out walkers one by one.  Her aim has gotten good since we saw her last.  Daryl and Rick would be proud.  As Beth is slowed down killing the walkers, Lerner’s officers catch up and take her down to the ground.  She smiles as she sees Noah get away through the fence.  This is a Beth to be proud of.  Lerner then confronts her pointing out the dead bodies of Gorman and Joan.  Beth tells Lerner that her whole community is a lie, that no one is coming to save them.  Lerner hits Beth, knocking her out.  When Beth awakes, it has been a few days and the good doctor Edwards admits that he had Beth give an “accidental” overdose to another patient because he was also a doctor.  Edwards was worried that they would replace him and kick him out or kill him.  Is anyone left in this hospital worth saving?  We get our answer at the end.pic10 Carol?

With the appearance of Carol at the end of the episode, I think the stage is set.  My bet is that Noah ran into Daryl and Carol outside the hospital, and has told them everything.  Carol feints injury to get inside as Daryl and Noah go back to the church to get reinforcements to save Beth.  So the answer to who is with Daryl?  Probably Noah.  Next week it looks like we will be on the DC bus with Abraham, so we might be waiting another week to find out what happens at the hospital.  Stay strong Beth and Carol, help is coming.

Check out the Promo for next weeks episode.

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