The Ninjabot

Welcome to “Slabtown” – The Walking Dead Review [SPOILERS]

Posted on November 3, 2014 at 7:00 am by Amanda Andonian

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What The Walking Dead does really well is give us different groups of people and show us the disparate ways they manage to survive. The Governor gathered everyone into a community where they pretended nothing had changed; Terminus lured survivors to their gates in order to swell their ranks and their food stores; and the hospital in this week’s episode, “Slabtown,” goes out in search of people who need help and places them into indentured servitude. Each group has a tactical reason for doing what they do, and the majority of them believe in the necessity of what they’re doing, but those very actions are divorcing them from their humanity.

Currently, Beth is in no danger of losing her humanity, but she’s no longer the innocent anymore. We already knew that for the most part, given the way she handled herself at the prison, especially after her boyfriend died; but this episode really showed us how much Beth has changed. First, the shock of her new circumstances sends Beth back into that shrinking girl she used to be at the farm, and she submits quietly to everything that Dawn asks of her at the beginning. However, she quickly gathers her wits about her once she realizes how dangerous her new surroundings really are. Although Beth’s fear is real at first, it soon becomes a mask that she uses to protect herself.

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I think also the fact that none of them believe she’ll fight back is what gives Beth the strength she needs to do just that. You can see Beth seething when Dawn tells her she’s not strong enough to survive in this world. Little does she know that Beth really is much stronger than she gives her credit for. Emily Kinney plays Beth’s journey from confusion to rebellion so subtly and perfectly that I wasn’t always sure what Beth was thinking or feeling in a scene, aside from the obvious. It wasn’t until Dawn and Beth’s confrontation in her room that I felt like Beth was just biding her time before she could escape. Once she knew that they wouldn’t just let her walk out once her “debt” was paid, there was nothing that would keep Beth in that hospital any longer. Except maybe the surprise appearance of a friend!

Moving on to the other new characters, I don’t really understand why Dawn is in charge. Dr. Steve and Joan keep mentioning that Dawn can control the other officers, but the show doesn’t actually show us that. Dawn is apparently the one who’s holding everything together, but it seems like she’s always on the edge of snapping herself. With Gorman especially, it seems that the officers can just do whatever they want, so it doesn’t really make sense that they would defer to her. It’s possible that she’s the only one of them with the ambition to be in charge, or perhaps whatever it was that happened with their previous leader scared the rest of them straight, but Dawn just seems far too out of control for me to believe that she’s the real authority figure in the hospital, especially given the fact that nearly everyone is rebelling against her in one way or another.

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Speaking of which, Dr. Steve’s role in the hospital is probably the most chilling. Gorman is a rape-y creep, and Dawn is a megalomaniacal dictator, but Dr. Steve is the most morally reprehensible of all of them, in my opinion. It’s by a thin margin, but it’s there. Although he’s relatively weak and acts out of a supremely mercenary sense of self-preservation, he’s also the one who does the most killing around the hospital. Dawn may make the “call” on whether someone gets the plug pulled or not, but Dr. Steve is the one who ends up wielding Death’s scythe. It’s even more disturbing because he’s initially the more likable of the hospital staff. The moment he takes advantage of Beth and uses her to kill his potential competition, however, we see his true stripes.

The last ten minutes of the episode was an incredible roller coaster in terms of Beth’s character and what she’s gone through. She started out as a prisoner, but manages to escape from the hospital, though not for long. Despite being recaptured, we see that Beth’s determination and courage hasn’t diminished at all. In fact, her resolve is even stronger now that she knows she can escape, and that she helped someone else gain their freedom as well. With any luck, that guy will run into Carol and Daryl and they’ll stage a rescue. The reveal that Carol is their newest patient tells me that she probably did let herself get captured in order to save Beth.

What do you think of Beth’s new circumstances? Which one of her captors do you think is the worst? Or are they all essentially prisoners? Let us know in the comments!

“Slabtown” – B+

The Walking Dead, Season 5 Episode 4, “Slabtown,” aired on AMC October 26th, 2014.

You can follow Amanda on Twitter at @reiko516 for more geek news.

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