Review of “The Walking Dead” 504 – “Slabtown” By RC Murphy – It seems like we’ve hit the mid-season slow-down a little early in season five. Understandable, considering everything that went on in episode three…
It seems like we’ve hit the mid-season slow-down a little early in season five. Understandable, considering everything that went on in episode three—losing Bob, terminating the Terminus threat, and an unknown outcome from Daryl and Carol’s pursuit of the mysterious car last seen abducting Beth. After all this time, we finally break away from the main group to answer that one nagging question, “What the heck happened to Beth?”
Warning! There are spoilers down here, guys. No. Seriously. This is not a game.
She was kidnapped, we saw that part. Then a few teasers hinted that she’s still alive and kicking. Now we find out she’s been holed up in a hospital this whole time, getting treatment from possibly the only doctor with access to medical supplies in Atlanta, GA. That’s the good news. The bad news, she’s now trapped in some Hotel California scheme to pay off the “debt” she incurred during treatment. Essentially, Beth became slave labor for the hospital and the cops who run it. No matter how much she works, she’ll still have debt hanging over her head for food, clothing, a bed to sleep in at night, bandages . . . the list is endless. She’s not alone. We meet two other “patients” in the hospital. One who tried to run, Joan, and Noah, who seems to have been there the longest.
We don’t see a lot of other people, though from the way Officer Lerner—the woman in charge—speaks, there are numerous others living in the hospital, just not on the floor Beth does all her work on. The problem with jumping away from the main cast to show a side story like this is, there’s not enough time to develop the plot. Because there were so few people present in the episode, the idea that Officer Lerner can look away while her male officers abuse and harass the women in the hospital is ludicrous. We see two, maybe three male officers throughout the episode, and many more women. Armed women. At what point did they all sit down and think, “It’s okay if they assault these women, and if it’s not, we’ll make it okay by not getting in their way.” The threat from Gorman and his cohorts is ridiculous. It isn’t a compromise, as Lerner tries to convince viewers. There’s plenty of other ways the writers could’ve ramped up the tension in the hospital without dragging sexual abuse into it. They wanted a bad guy and for some reason the default is to send them after the pretty young thing in some perverse manner. I expected more from this show.
This episode didn’t feel like “The Walking Dead” until the last fifteen minutes or so, when Beth had taken more than her fair amount of bull excrement and decided to take care of things herself. She uses Joan’s suicide to her advantage, gets rid of the Gorman problem, and helps Noah escape. That’s way more progress than Lerner made during her stint as the officer in charge. Unfortunately, Beth is captured in the process of seeing Noah to safety. This turn of attitude could be beneficial to Rick and his group now that they’re a man down. Before she’d been a burden when it came to fighting on the run. After her time with Daryl, she’s toughened up a little.
But can this new, tougher Beth deal with the curveball life threw her way at the end of the episode when Carol’s unconscious body was wheeled into the hospital? I sure hope so. Carol is one character who cannot and should not be trapped in an environment where abuse from men isn’t just tolerated, but encouraged. She was freed from that life. Going back would ruin her.
Hopefully next week isn’t as slow. From the preview, it didn’t appear to be. We will have to see how the two story lines weave into each other from here on out.