The Walking Dead 5×04 Review: Slabtown
*Warning: Please note that this review contains brief mention of attempted sexual assault.*
Though the previews for “Slabtown” made it clear that we would finally see where Beth has been all this time, I was surprised that Walking Dead spent the entire episode focusing on her and her alone. The opening shot of her waking up and looking out the window at the Atlanta skyline was a great throwback to the first season, but after that things went downhill fast. Yes, Beth is alive and she appeared to be in a safe place, but from the moment when she tried to leave the room and realized that she was locked in, it was clear that ‘safe’ was, in this case, a relative term.
Beth may have been in danger when these strangers ‘rescued’ her, but she didn’t seem to believe that she’d needed them to do so, even before Dawn explains that Beth now owes them the ‘cost’ of them caring for her.
I’m not certain whether it was a problem with “Slabtown’s” writing or if it was (hopefully) intentionally vague, but for every bit of information they revealed about the way of life in the hospital, many things were still left unanswered. Yes, they try to save people, but they also kill them when they don’t “improve” – yet, what is improvement? It may be obvious why they would need to kill off a person on life support, but then soon after that Dawn insisted that Dr. Edwards attempt to save the man with the punctured lung and internal bleeding. And speaking of Dawn…she’s apparently in charge, yet she essentially lets Gorman, and possibly others, do as they will. I guess we can only hope that they’ll eventually reveal the reasons behind what she does (and what she allows).
One thing that was almost amusing to me was the way they disposed of the newly dead. Perhaps before Terminus I would have cringed at the idea of them basically feeding their basement zombies, but not so now!
However, from the moment Gorman appeared I was wary – even before he reminded Beth that “everything costs something”. Between his creepy vibes and Dawn’s seemingly random abuse, I was definitely preparing myself for the worst – but even I was surprised with how “Slabtown” ended.
Of course, there was a lot more to this episode than its ending – including one hell of an acting job by Emily Kinney. Although Beth has been around since season two, more often than not, she’s been relegated to a background character. I was pleasantly surprised with her character development in the second half of season four, and she really came back with a bang in “Slabtown”. I for one didn’t trust a single person in that hospital – not even laundry boy Noah – and generally, Beth was smart enough to not trust any of them either.
She did, however, throw her lot in with Noah. At first I worried that he was simply making her do all the dangerous work – starting with stealing Dawn’s key. That scene certainly kept me on the edge of my seat – while at first I was frustrated at how long Beth was taking to find the key, once she discovered Joan’s body, I knew that things were about to get a lot worse. Gorman’s interest in Beth, combined with the knowledge that he had assaulted Joan (likely more than once), had my stomach in knots already…and sure enough, he caught Beth trying to steal the key and attempted to force himself on her. Despite knowing that it would probably happen (if not in this episode, then eventually), and despite the fact that zombie Joan came to the “rescue” fairly quickly, this was still a difficult scene to watch.
Dr. Edwards may have told Beth that people like them aren’t “the ones who make it”, but even though Beth gets caught in her escape attempt, I think she’s proven that she’s not as weak as they assumed. And clearly Noah was stronger than they thought as well, because he did escape. (Am I just jaded, or does anyone else think/worry that he may have planned things that way?)
Side note: How about those head shots? I never realized it could be that easy to shoot a moving target, in the head, in the dark!
Beth may still be stuck in the hospital, but she’s got a pair of scissors, and now Carol has been brought in as well. I guess the question is whether this hospital storyline will be wrapped up in a timely manner (a la Terminus), or stretched out in order to keep the group fragmented for as long as possible.
One thing is certain – I’m still itching to find out who the heck is with Daryl. And there’s also the additional question of whether we’ll see Noah again. After all, he planned on heading toward Richmond, Virginia, which is conveniently on the way to D.C…
Author: Tara Lynne
Tara Lynne is a fandom and geek culture expert, public speaker, and character cosplayer who is best known for her Cersei Lannister (Game of Thrones), Starbuck (Battlestar Galactica), and Andrea (The Walking Dead) cosplays. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.
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