The Walking Dead RECAP: The one where AMC pisses on their viewers (S5:E4)

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This week on The Walking Dead, we catch up with Beth in Slabtown. It’s a place where you earn your keep and that includes the constant threat of rape. There are zombies in this episode, but it would appear that people manage to be the shittier component once again.

It’s a nice aside to our main storyline with Rick, allowing the show to take a breather and prepare for a good run in the rest of the season. A season you might miss out on if you’re a DirecTV customer. That’s because AMC and DirecTV are in a pissing match over who deserves their customers’ love more. Million dollar television companies fighting over money and the people that suffer are you, the consumers.

Bills are high and going higher. Both sides will try to make you believe that any new charges or changes will be passed on to you, but it won’t be. I mean yes, it will, but it was going to anyway. There will be some way to grab at your pockets and shake you down for what money you have because they’re spending money to create niche advertising to combat their pissing match. They could just put it towards making a new deal once their contract is up, but that would probably make too much sense. They’re unreasonable. It’s insane that the world of The Walking Dead makes more sense than real world media politics.

Anyway, sorry for the mild interruption. That’s what happened to me all episode, so you get to live in my shoes. The community known as Slabtown is located at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. So while it seems like we’ve traveled countless miles since season one, we’re really still stuck outside of Atlanta. Peachy. That means DC is never going to make an appearance.

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Beth wakes up in a hospital bed and instantly wonders what is going on. She’s greeted by Dr. Steven Edwards and Officer Dawn Lerner, the hard but “fair” leader of this group. Edwards is the only doctor at the location, earning him a little bit of leeway in how he lives. The rest of the inhabitants are forced into some sort of indentured servitude, the kind you see at a Pakistani brick kiln or in Maureen F. McHugh’s After The Apocalypse. Messed up shit, but well meaning in this situation.

Lerner is the ringmaster behind this mad house and she’s trying to keep control, but can’t seem to hold all of her “dogs” in line. So they rape and they pillage when they feel the need, all so they’ll stay calm and keep the hospital safe from the zombies outside.

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Also at the hospital are Noah, played by Tyler James Williams from Everybody Hates Chris, and Keisha Castle-Hughes as Joan. Both are residents and both have been placed at the mercy of those who “control” the hospital. Joan is introduced after having escaped and been bitten by a walker. She’s the first glimpse into the darker side of Slabtown and also a warning against leaving. Beth gets to experience it all firsthand, including the moment when they amputate Joan’s arm with a piece of wire.

I’ve read in other places that this episode felt claustrophobic. I guess that’s a nice way of putting it, but I felt that it was more a nice view away from the main story. I didn’t feel trapped because the entire series has been a series of traps and fortresses. Trying to keep “them” out is a recurring thing in this series, and Slabtown is no different.

It’s got a fair share of psychos and shady living conditions like Woodbury, the walls and cages like we saw in the prison, and the false hope and brutality of Terminus. It’s got everything we’ve come to expect in this series. Doctors kill newcomers to keep their spot, policemen rape because they “need” it, and everyone is just waiting for their chance to escape.

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The only difference here is Beth. She’s not the same suicidal, innocent girl that she was in earlier seasons. She’s now tough and she knows that this place is full of shit from the get go. The seeds that were planted from her time with Daryl in the woods have now sprouted, and she seems poised to become something more than just another warm body for the zombies to chew on.

She befriends Dr. Edwards throughout the episode, becoming his right hand in a way and using his special privileges to live a little better within the confines of the hospital. He has paintings, plays music, and manages to get away with much more due to his role as the doctor. He’s also well aware of the world that’s out there and saw the aftermath of Atlanta’s fall first hand.

His other role in the episode is to provide Beth with a reason to stay in the hospital. He’s there to provide the background and explain why things are the way they are. Where Lerner is all about persuasive talks and physical violence to get her point across, Edwards attempts to be more personable.

That’s a nice way to tug at the heart strings of the old Beth, but this version wants nothing of it. She plans an escape with Noah, manages to sacrifice the rapey Officer Gorman to an undead Joan (nice knowing you, Whale Rider), and then takes down numerous zombies on her way to the outer gates.

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It’s all for nothing because she’s captured, but Beth manages to buy Noah enough time to limp away from the hospital. He’s most likely the one who finds Daryl and accompanies him back to the church to meet up with Rick’s group and rally the troops. We might have to wait a week or more to find out because next week seems to be going in another direction.

Back in the hospital, Beth figures out why Edwards had the other doctor killed earlier in the episode (conveniently left to look like an accident). It turns out that another doctor would lower Edwards chances of staying and he wasn’t going to have that. This gives Beth the big idea to kill Edwards herself, removing all the doctors from the hospital and forcing Lerner to make a push outside.

The surprise appearance of Carol on a gurney stops her. Something has happened to her and Daryl during their pursuit of the cross car, and she’s now a resident at the hospital too. Beth puts her murderous plans on hold and we’re put on hold until a later episode.

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Next week seems to be following the adventures of Abraham’s party bus on its way to DC. Eugene is talking about bombing zombies, confidential information, and a whole lot of other “cure” business. Don’t believe him. If this show teaches you anything, you should never believe in the words of hope without any hard evidence. When someone says it is going to be alright, you cannot trust that to happen. Take it to the bank.

TV Show: The Walking Dead

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