Blogging Dead: Slabtown (s5ep4)

Posted: November 3, 2014 in Television, The Walking Dead

b5c54483-1419-81ab-fcf4-979f275f708atwd504gp06100054jpg-b21b6e_960wSlowly waking up to the sound of a ticking clock, Beth finds herself in a hospital room in a ravaged city. Seemingly locked in, her screams attract a doctor and an officer. Stephen Edwards and Dawn Learner introduce themselves and let her know that they found her on the side of the road. They bandaged up her fractured wrist and claim that she owes them since they saved her. She inquires about Daryl, but they claim she was alone (other than the nearby marauders). The doctor starts to escort Beth around the hospital. He shows her a patient that is not going to make it, claiming that Dawn calls the shots. They take the body down the hallway on the stretcher, but she wanders ahead for just a moment, noticing a man mopping the floor ahead of her. Peaking into a room, a woman slams the door on her. She starts to learn more about hospital and the inhabitants, including the disposal system for dead bodies (the elevator shaft).

While getting lunch, one of the officers that grabbed her starts to talk about his business with saving her. He introduces himself as Gorman. She takes her food away down the hall and overhears an argument between other inhabitants. Returning to Edwards, she tells him that he is lucky to feel bored. They discuss the arrangements of taking and owing, which turns into a opportunity for kindness between the two. They get interrupted when another man is brought into the hospital. Edwards initially plans on letting the man go, but he is forced into trying to save him by Officer Learner. He diagnoses the problem and is able to get him stable. Stephen and Dawn start to argue, which leads to her randomly slapping Beth and causing her to start to bleed again. Edwards cleans her up, leaves a new shirt, and tells her that Dawn expects cleanliness.

Suddenly, Dawn brings another patient in who has been bitten. Dawn forces Stephen to cut off her arm and Beth to hold the woman down. Stephen uses a wire to saw off the arms in gruesome fashion. Down the hall, Noah introduces himself and lets Beth know that he dropped off the lollipop. Beth tries to understand the inner workings of the group, learning that Dawn has become a bit of a dictator and controls everything that happens in the hospital.

Later on, Dawn offers Beth some food for her involvement earlier. She starts to claim that she is providing things for Beth that she could not get on her own. Explaining her angle, she believes that she is doing the right thing. She claims that everyone must give back what they take. Beth demands that she will leave when her debt is paid, but Dawn continues to put everything into perspective. Getting back to work, Beth goes back to cleaning up the mess around the amputation. The woman, Joan, wakes up and paints a picture for Beth that the condition of the group is not as together as it seems, but she refuses to go into detail regarding her plight.

827d089d-ec8c-942d-4b70-f599a2fedb92twd504gp06120184jpg-916fcc_960wOff on her own, Beth searches for the lollipop in her room. While missing from under her mattress, Officer Gorman walks in and starts to tease her with the lollipop, licking it and then forcing her to lick it as well. Stephen interrupts and gets into an quarrel with him. Beth questions Stephen’s decision to stay, but he refuses to answer initially. He takes her downstairs to look out the 1st floor window, revealing that the place is surrounded by walkers. He explained that Dawn originally took orders from a man named Hanson. They heard the aircraft flying overhead and realized that the city had been evacuated. They went on runs and tried to save people as much as possible. They found a kid who was burned and in serious condition. Stephen got Dawn to agree to set up the trade system for goods and services. He admits that Dawn kept them safe and alive. Stephen sends Beth down to check on a patient and then call it a day.

She preps the medicine and administers it to the patient. Noah stops by just when the medicine causes a seizure. They are confronted by Stephen and Dawn, but Noah takes the fall and gets beaten. Beth tries to explain the mistake, but Stephen claims that she got it wrong. Back in her room, Dawn confronts Beth and tells her that she is not strong enough to survive but feels compelled to explain her actions for the greater good. Dawn highlights Beth’s suicide attempt scars, trying to make her feel guilty for her actions. Later, Noah and Beth hatch a plan to steal Dawn’s key and make a run for it. In Dawn’s office, she discovers Joan dead on the floor but is also able to find the key. Just after finding it, Gorman walks in and confronts her. Beth tries to tell a story, but Gorman begins to attempt to seduce her molester her. Beth notices the body start to move, slams a glass over his head, and lets Gorman fall into the now-turned Joan on the floor.

Having gotten the key and getting away from the walker, she sends Dawn away toward the danger an makes her way out with Noah toward the elevator. He ties some bedsheets and towels around her and starts to lower her down the shaft. Beth drops the flashlight but makes it down to the landing. Noah throws the makeshift rope down and starts to climb down himself, but he gets grabbed by a walker and falls onto the pile of dead bodies. Beth jumps down and they start to make their way out. They get attacked and Beth is able to shot their way out. In the parking lot, they are surrounded by walkers. Slipping out of the gate, she starts to shoot them down as they run past. Dawn and her officers catch up to and restrain her, but Noah is able to get away.

Dawn starts to interrogate Beth, but Beth fires back with her own accusations of Dawn’s mishandling of their survival. Dawn smacks her hard and knocks her out. Later on, Stephen is checking in on Beth when she confronts her issue with the death of the other doctor. Stephen admits that he was vulnerable if he let the doctor live. He claims Gorman would have killed him. Beth starts to follow Stephen down the hall while another patient is coming in, finding out that it is Carol and she is unconscious.

Reaction: Beth’s story brought forth a new cast of characters. Stephen Edwards and Noah appear to be part of the good part of the world, while Dawn Learner seems to follow more of the semi-warped view that some previous leaders in the series have assumed. While I will get to the new people a little later, the focus of this episode was Beth. She has been missing since season 4, having been snatched up by a black car. While she was taken in a moment of weakness, she has a chance to prove her strength in an unfamiliar place with seemingly organized people. She is vulnerable for much of this story, as Dawn is a definite wild card and Stephen transitions from kind to shifty at the point that the patient dies from the medicine Beth administers. Noah gives her a chance to be brave and try to save them from their sense of a prison. She was almost successful but captured at the last moment. Beth is stronger than Dawn gave her credit for.

edwards-lerner-111286Dawn’s story seems to be similar to the start of the Governor. Having a sense of a plan, she took over for Hanson after his demise and set up a system of give and take, while she maintained the final say and veto power. The group seems to just follow her like ducklings because she gives them even a sense of order and calm. She truly believes that she is justified in her punishments and tough decisions. Whether it is slapping the heck out of the teenagers or forcing people into indentured servitude, Dawn is the dictator of the hospital.

Stephen is a bit of a character. While seemingly kind-hearted and medically knowledgeable, he is also quite insecure. When the other doctor is brought in and Dawn forces Stephen to try to save him, he gets nervous that he could get replaced. He tricks Beth to be responsible for the other doctor’s death and tries to hide his intentions (though everyone seems to know). In some ways, he has a slight feeling of something close to Father Gabriel, except that he is still willing to take actions into his own hands when he feels it necessary to save himself (while Gabriel has become paralyzed by his past decisions).

Noah is a kind young man who feels subject to this group’s pressures, but he actually still desires a chance to get free like Beth. He gave her a chance to be strong in his episode and will likely be vital to the reunion of Beth, Carol, and the rest of the Rick clan.

Carol appearing at the end of the episode and Noah getting away likely means that Daryl found Noah and will lead Rick and company back to Atlanta. Beth and Carol are now prisoners of the hospital and likely are not going to be freed without a certain amount of bloodshed. The story has broken back into a fractured set of experiences, but there is a sense of approximately when and how the group will reunite and head toward Washington DC. They have barely made it out of Atlanta before having to go back, which means that there are more resources they can use for their journey (mainly, cars). Abraham and his group are off having their own adventure right now, but it might lead to their losing their vehicle and needing to wait for Rick to save them. Whether Beth and Carol survive the hospital, only time will tell.

In Memoriam: Beth and Stephen’s first patient, Gorman, Joan, the other doctor

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