The Walking Dead: Slabtown (5×04)
Synopsis: An entire episode focusing on Beth and a creepy hospital full of (potential) rapists.
This Beth-centric episode serves as something of a pause to the forward momentum of the season. There wasn’t a good conveyance of time, but it has to have been a few weeks between Daryl and Beth separating and her waking up in Grady Memorial Hospital back in Atlanta, considering all that has happened to the rest of the group with reuniting and Terminus and the Hunters. When she wakes up in a hospital bed, two people come into her room – Officer Dawn Lerner and Dr. Steven Edwards – and explain where she is, how she got there, and how she owes them for saving her life.
Running like a well-oiled machine, Beth starts to pick up on incongruences at the hospital almost immediately. Dr. Edwards shows her a patient that wasn’t showing signs of improvement, shutting off the man’s life support, stabbing him in the head, and dumping his body down an elevator shaft – with the rest of the dead people who didn’t get better. Yeah, it’s that kind of hospital.
While getting food from the cafeteria, Beth meets Gorman – the police officer who ‘saved’ her. All she remembers from the encounter is fighting off a walker and then everything went black. Uh huh, Officer Rapey definitely ‘saved’ Beth… He makes a sly comment about keeping track of everything she’s taking to eat, noting that everything has a price, so she leaves it in a huff. The food she does take goes to Dr. Edwards, who offers to let her try the guinea pig.
Suddenly, they bring in a man who fell from a building and Dawn orders Dr. Edwards to save him even though he thinks it’s a waste of resources. When he asks Beth to hand him a needle, Dawn intervenes and helps instead. The man is stabilized, but he needs more advanced medical care that Dr. Edwards doesn’t have access to, repeating that he cannot save him. Dawn gets frustrated by this and hits Beth in retaliation.
After getting blood on her shirt from her bleeding cheek, Beth finds a new shirt on her bed with a lollipop tucked inside. She also witnesses some officers bringing Joan back against her will, summoning Dr. Edwards and Beth to help them. Joan’s been bit on the arm and has nothing but venom for Officer Rapey, who is sent out of the room by Dawn. Fighting too much to get anesthesia, Dr. Edwards has no choice but to cut her arm off without it while Dawn and Beth hold her down.
Another traumatizing and weird coincidence down, Beth formally meets Noah after seeing him around the hospital a few times. He sets the record straight about how things work at the hospital – it’s not so simple as to work off your debt and leave. He tells her about how he ended up there and how they left his father behind because his dad would’ve made waves. Dawn is barely holding the situation together.
Later, Dawn brings Beth lunch and explains to her that she is getting food, clothing, and protection. Dawn has an almost militant hope, but it’s coupled with such unrealistic expectations and lacking knowledge of what the outside world is really like these days. Just like Gareth told Rick that he hasn’t been truly hungry yet, Dawn hasn’t found true desperation in the situation. She’s waiting for the rescue party still and thinks that people like her and her men will be there to help put things back together when the time comes.
Joan wakes up while Beth is cleaning in her room and gives Beth another peek behind the curtains of the hospital. She tells Beth that Dawn can control them – them being other rapey officers like Gorman – but she doesn’t because it’s easier and she’s a coward. Speak of the devil and he appears later in Beth’s room, with her lollipop that she’d stashed under her mattress. After tasting it, he offers it to Beth by forcibly shoving it into her mouth. He’s interrupted by Dr. Edwards, who tries to stand up against him, but Gorman simply says he might not be needed much longer and Dawn may not be in charge when that happens…
Dr. Edwards takes Beth up to the roof of the hospital and explains that he started this barter system of working off medical debts after finding a kid with napalm burns and Dawn insisted they couldn’t spare the resources. As they lost more people, including Hanson – the first man in charge of the officers – Dawn stepped up and kept everyone alive. He sends Beth downstairs to give the comatose man from earlier some medicine.
She carefully administers the medicine and turns to talk with Noah in the doorway when the man seizes and dies. Noah takes the blame in front of Dawn and he’s dragged off to her office and beaten. Beth tries to tell them what actually happened and Dr. Edwards double checks the medicine he told her to give the man, giving a different medicine this time. Dawn knew that Noah lied, but she had to beat him because ‘a good man’s mistakes almost ended everything’ for them once before and she can’t have that happen again. She went Hot Fuzz ‘for the greater good.’ She gives Beth a pretty good #realtalk about the situation and Beth’s chances out there in the world, which was rough but… also kind of what I want to say to Beth all the time.
Noah’s face is bruised, but it’s not that bad. He tells Beth that Trevitt, the dead man, was needed for something and that’s why the punishment was so harsh. Beth decides she’ll leave with Noah and they devise a plan – he’ll watch Dawn and she can get the spare key from Dawn’s office and then they’ll both escape through the elevator shaft and the basement.
As she roots through Dawn’s office, Beth sees that Joan has killed herself in Dawn’s office, but has yet to come back. Before she can kill Joan, Gorman finds her and tries to make good on his Officer Rapey title. He doesn’t think Beth is a fighter, but she knocks him over with the lollipop jar and a resurrected Joan immediately rips out his throat. Beth takes his gun and when she gets back to Dawn, she tells her that Gorman and Joan were looking for her in her office.
Beth and Noah climb down the elevator shaft and get out of the basement with Beth making repeated headshots – uh huh I believe this about Beth’s skills. Her unlimited ammo and perfect headshots continue, she even stomps a walker head in her Keds, and Noah makes it through two gates to freedom. As walkers close in on her, Beth is ‘saved’ by officers (and re-captured), but she looks happy that Noah got away.
Brought to Dawn, Beth is not playing this game anymore – talking to Dawn about Joan and Gorman and how no one is coming to save them all. In a rage, Dawn hits Beth again. Dr. Edwards patches her up once more and she asks why he had her kill Trevitt, who was another doctor that the hospital could have used. This is the season of the religious allegories and he tells her the story about Christ and Peter, how Peter saved himself. With another doctor around, Dr. Edwards wouldn’t have been protected anymore. He leaves her and she picks up a pair of scissors, preparing to do something just as Carol is wheeled in on a gurney.
And that’s the end of the Beth-centered episode – hopefully all of the Beth-centered episodes – and we’ve got a third storyline to follow through this season, beyond the Rickstatorship and the bus to DC. My guess is that Daryl brought Noah back to the group (and Tyreese’s days are numbered with a new black guy around), but it looks like next week we’ll get a DC bus trip that goes terribly wrong, so we’ll have to wait at least two weeks to find out.