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Five Things That Happened: The Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 4 – ‘Slabtown’

Slabtown

The Walking Dead has been firing on all cylinders this season, as the first three episodes kicked all sorts of ass and took all sorts of names. It seemed as if the entire season was going to be a direct response to all the critics, simultaneously shutting them all up by delivering the best 16 episodes yet.

And then, the show’s writers decided to center an entire episode on Beth, right when things were starting to get real interesting with our main characters. An idea that seemed like a bad one right off the bat, it indeed did prove to be a pretty bad one, as last night’s fourth episode was a bore of epic proportions.

But hey. Things still happened. So here are five of those things.

1) BETH WOKE UP IN GENERAL HOSPITAL!

One of the biggest questions Season 4 left us pondering was in regards to Beth, whose fate was left hanging in the balance after she was kidnapped by a mysterious group driving a black vehicle with a white cross on the back. Daryl recently spotted the same vehicle this season, and we were again left wondering about the whereabouts of Hershel’s other daughter.

At the start of ‘Slabtown,’ Beth woke up in a hospital, right in the heart of post-apocalyptic Atlanta (hey, Rick did that too!). With uniformed cops and doctors roaming the halls, the hospital seemed eerily unaffected by the zombie outbreak, and the staff claimed that they had found Beth beaten and battered, and took her in to nurse her back to health.

And hey, they even provide lollipops to the patients. Too good to be true? Well. Yea. It didn’t take long for that alluring packaging to be removed, exposing the dark underbelly of Woodbury Terminus Grady Memorial Hospital.

2) THE HOSPITAL’S DARK SECRET WAS REVEALED…

As it turns out, Grady Memorial is a rape den of sorts, the kind of place ripped straight out of a women in prison film. Ruled over by wicked warden Dawn, as well as rape-happy cop Gorman, the hospital has a ‘we saved you, so you owe us’ policy, as Beth soon finds out. Essentially, they rescue people from the outside world and take them in, turning them into slaves in exchange for their resources.

Other than the suggestion that Gorman loves to rape women and the fact that nobody is allowed out of the hospital, once they’re brought in, Grady Memorial is not all that bad of a place, as everyone is at least kept safe and there are no zombies (aka ‘rotters’) inside. They’ve even got a pretty cool doctor on staff, who likes old music and appreciates fine art. He’s kinda handsome, too. In that bearded dude with glasses sort of way.

Okay, so the implied constant threat of rape makes the place less than ideal, but at least it’s better than Terminus. Then again, that ‘guinea pig’ that they serve up in their daily buffet is a bit suspicious, isn’t it? Yea. It totally is.

3) BETH WAS TRICKED INTO KILLING A PATIENT (AND POSSIBLY EATING A PERSON)!

Though the hospital’s resident doctor, Dr. Edwards, seems to be a decent dude, for the most part, he did show off a bit of a dark side when he purposely instructed Beth to administer the wrong medicine to a critically injured patient. Beth, knowing nothing about medicine and yet somehow mastering the art of crushing pills, diluting them in water and injecting them, became an unwilling murderer, injecting a fatal dose into the patient.

As it turned out, the man was a doctor, and Edwards was afraid that if he survived, the hospital would no longer have any use for him and Dawn would potentially kill him. As he explained to Beth, he was just doing what he needed to do to survive, which you kind of can’t blame him for. Some dude in the Bible did the same thing. Or something.

Meanwhile, a good-hearted hospital orderly by the name of Noah took the fall for the murder, claiming that he had accidentally unplugged the man’s ventilator while cleaning his room. Noah and Beth formed a ‘hey, we’re both good people!’ bond in that very moment, and soon after hatched a plan to escape the hospital.

4) NOAH ESCAPED THE HOSPITAL. BETH DIDN’T.

While rummaging for Dawn’s keys in her office, Beth discovered the body of a patient who had killed herself, unwilling to live another day in the hospital. She was then attacked by Gorman, who essentially told her that he wouldn’t tell Dawn what Beth was up to, if she agreed to be raped by him. Fair enough.

At just the right time, the dead patient went full walker and bit into Gorman’s throat, proving herself to be the most helpful zombie since Day of the Dead‘s Bub. The save gave Beth the chance to escape with the key she needed, and her plan with Noah went into effect.

Rapunzel’ing themselves down an elevator shaft with tied together towels, Noah and Beth made it to the safety of the outside world, which was of course anything but safe. After blasting her way through many a zombie head with Gorman’s gun, Beth cleared a path for Noah to leave the confines of the hospital grounds, though she was caught by a couple of cops.

5) CAROL CHECKED INTO GENERAL HOSPITAL!

At the end of the episode, Beth armed herself with a scalpel and looked like she was ready to kill Dr. Edwards with it, though she was stopped dead in her tracks when a familiar-looking patient was wheeled in on a gurney: Carol, who Beth hadn’t seen in quite some time.

Carol is still alive, it seems, and we’ll soon be finding out what exactly happened when she and Daryl followed the Grady Memorial car. Is she really the worse for wear or simply playing dead to infiltrate the hospital, and rescue Beth? My guess is the latter, and I’m assuming that the person Daryl will be emerging from the woods with is not a person but rather people: Carol, Beth and Noah.

The problem with last night’s episode is that Beth just isn’t the sort of character we’re all that invested in, and so spending an entire hour showcasing her whereabouts just wasn’t very interesting. The whole thing felt like a retread of things we’ve seen in the past, as Beth is going through the same character development motions and the hospital was yet another variation of Terminus/Woodbury.

Can’t help but feel that the smartest thing to do would’ve been to never reveal the whereabouts of Beth, which would’ve forever left us – and the characters (except Maggie, who doesn’t really care) – wondering if she was alive or not. Again, she’s just not the kind of character who deserves the attention of a full episode, and I really don’t see her ever becoming one.

If her story absolutely needed to be told, it should’ve at most been a sub-plot in an episode centered primarily on other things, such as Daryl and Carol’s side journey to find her. And the fact that her story at the hospital wasn’t wrapped up last night worries me about future episodes, though we can be pretty sure Daryl and Carol will soon be decorating that hospital with blood – which I look forward to seeing.

One thing I did like about the episode was that it showed us the true scope of the post-apocalypse, seen when Beth and Dr. Edwards were standing on the roof of the hospital, looking at a ravaged Atlanta. That was a beautiful shot, and I can’t remember ever seeing one like it in the show’s past. Nice to see, though it was a minor highlight from an all around lackluster episode.

Zombie Kill of the Week: Beth gets her Ryan Gosling on and curb-stomps a zombie with her foot, turning its head into undead pudding. Yummy.

Next Week: The church bus crew heads to Washington and Abraham yells a bunch. Like, really yells. He’s totally mad and stuff. Mustache.

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If you don't get enough of me here on Halloween Love, you can also find me on Dread Central, iHorror and Shock Till You Drop. Contact me via john@halloweenlove.com.