Review: The Walking Dead Ep. 4, "Slabtown"

Review: The Walking Dead Ep. 4, "Slabtown"

Walking_Dead_Season_5_PosterThe Walking Dead

Season 5, Episode 4


Rating: A-
We finally find out what became of Beth.  For those that don’t remember, as it has been quite a while since we last saw her, Beth was kidnapped toward the end of the fourth season and taken to parts unknown and away from the safety of Daryl. I’m not sure where we are in the timeline of the show right now, but I would guess that Beth has been gone for at least a few months.

The Walking Dead has wasted enough time teasing us with the answer to the question “Where is Beth?” and thankfully they are done teasing us, and in the opening shots of the episode we get the obligatory eye closeup and Beth wakes up. She’s hooked into an IV and in a hospital bed. Looking outside, she sees the Atlanta skyline, dilapidated though it is. Quickly, she goes about finding a weapon, ripping the needle out of her arm and brandishing like a knife as the door to her hospital room begins to open and a uniformed police officer and a doctor in full scrubs walk in.

It’s always weird to see these blatant breaks from apocalyptic routine. Officer Dawn Lerner and Dr. Stephen Edwards. Officer Dawn tells Beth that her other officers, which she apparently has, found Beth surrounded by Rotters and brought her to the hospital. She finishes describing this act of heroism with a pointed “You owe us.” and you instantly know where things are headed in this seemingly idyllic survivor colony.

So we learn the same lesson again and again and again, and our group learns it again and again. Nowhere is safe, no one is friendly, there is no haven in a world gone this far to hell. There are a few moments, as Beth learns of her surroundings and has a friendly encounter over a plate of guinea pig with Dr. Edwards that you think this might be it, that maybe there will be one other group of survivors not completely devoid of humanity. Then, Officer Dawn slaps Beth as hard as she can after arguing with Dr. Edwards. In that moment, any hope that this place is safe fades.

If that small clue wasn’t enough, we quickly get confirmation as Officer Dawn’s subordinates drag in a nurse that tried to run from the hospital and was bit. The girl kicks and screams and resists any attempt they make to hold her down and amputate her arm. Though they are successful in the end, the determination she shows to die and turn speaks to there being an awful lot of awful going on behind the scenes.

Noah the orderly is the highlight of this Beth-centric episode, played wonderfully by Everybody Hates Chris’ Tyler James Williams. In his few scenes, he brings an air of humanity that is devoid in many of the other survivors. I’d like to say we’ll see him again, but sadly, nice is the quickest road to death in the world of The Walking Dead.

Officer Dawn’s motivations for her medieval system is almost understandable, to save as many as she can so that they’ll have enough people to rebuild things when they are finally rescued. Sadly, they show us a woman who has been protected inside a fortified building for far too long. Officer Dawn doesn’t seem to grasp, or is perhaps unwilling to grasp, the extent of the damage that this plague has wreaked on the world. Though we haven’t seen anything outside of Atlanta and the surrounding area, we can assume that things are just as bad everywhere, lessons learned from the CDC way back in season 1 make it pretty safe to assume that things are awful all over. It makes Officer Dawn an almost tragic figure in her blind determination to save everyone at any cost, even their freedom. Her methods have created a powder keg, and it’s just about ready to blow. The men and women in her command don’t seem to care for her, and rebellion seems to be coming ever closer.

As Dr. Edwards tells Beth the origin story of the hospital surviors. It has all the hallmarks of a typical story in this world. Struggles with food, bad calls that lead to deaths, rescuing people in need, and learning how hard it is to survive in this world. “You call this living?” Beth asks him. “We’re still alive…” he responds. Beth’s question feels a little weird. Did she call what our group of survivors were doing at the prison living? I know it bore some semblence to it, but at this point I don’t think there’s anyone in the world who is ‘living’. There is no more living, not in that sense. There is only survival.

Dr. Edwards was almost a great character, but his manipulations of Beth to insure his position as the hospital’s only doctor makes him lose any points he may of gained through guinea pigs and kindness. He tells Beth to give a patient, who is another doctor, clonazapine instead of clonazepam, leading to a seizure and death. Beth rightfully feels responsible for this, and it’s a betrayal that the viewer feels as well, as Dr. Edwards’ kindness lasted just long enough to make you trust him, albeit warily. Let down again, at least we have Noah the orderly, who I know is genuine.

As with any episode devoted to one character, I missed the other survivors. I’m dying to find out who was standing behind Daryl in the woods last week, I want to know what the first leg of the Washington Crew’s journey is going to be. After spending so long apart at the end of season four, I was so excited to see everyone back together again. Alas, it was destined to be a short lived reunion, and it seems like our crew is meant to be fractured for at least a little while longer.

Slabtown was, in itself, quite good. It’s not often that they are able to separate so wholly from our main group and make an intriguing episode of television, but The Walking Dead has managed it before and did it once again Sunday night. Though Beth has never been my favorite character, that’s mostly because we haven’t got to spend as much time with her as with many of the other survivors. Our outings with Beth and Daryl last season helped endear her to me, and she is very much coming into her own. I’m excited to see everything come to a head though, and I wish it could happen just a little bit sooner.

Stuff And Things

– It is so weird to see a uniformed police officer at this point in the apocalypse

– Everybody Hates Chris the orderly!

– “I used to feel like I was drowning in research… Now the oceans are dry and i’m dying of boredom.” “You’re lucky. If you’re safe enough to be bored, you’re lucky.”

– Rotters, Biters, Geeks, Walkers, Lurkers… Pretty much every descriptor but Zombie. Did these people not have a horror genre in their video stores?

– Dr. Edward’s excuse for staying is a little silly. You’re in a hospital, presumably filled with sharp metal tools. Why don’t you just spend an afternoon down at the gate shoving said tools into rotter brains?

– Officer Dawn’s determination has made her brain crack, and it’s very sad to see, but I commend Christine Woods on that performance, you can see the cracks begin to show in her eyes.

– Noah’s escape attempt goes a lot better than Beth’s, and I hope this means we see him in the future.

– My reigning theory that it’s Morgan who is standing behind Daryl in the woods may now be replaced by a hopeful theory that it’s Noah, who met Daryl and Carol following his escape attempt but before Carol was taken to the hospital, and told them what the deal was.

– Now we’ve got two cliffhangers for next week to make good on. “Who is in the woods?” and “What happened to Carol!?”

Categories: Entertainment