Bold choices by the writers and that is why this show is successful. It isn't the blood and gore, although I’m sure that's why some people watch it. It's the smart writing, excellent acting and awesome directing, not to mention all the other obvious masters at their work from photography to editing. Who would have thought that a Beth-centric episode would be so engaging?
I wasn't originally that fond of Beth but since her initial breakdown she has held it together better than most. She still has convictions and she still sings even though she is quite sure that the nightmare is not going to end and they are never going to be rescued. Interesting that the people who are still closest to the 'old life' make assumptions about Beth that are totally wrong.
I’ve often complained about the sexism in this show but this episode did seem a bit of an answer. Beth is about as close to a Southern Barbie as you can get yet now she is as tough as nails and in charge of her own self. She joins the pack of the other kick ass women from our group. Lerner is a thought-provoking counter-point to Beth. She is in charge but in a way that obviously comes from her hierarchical police training. She is not a team player, she is a commander and she uses the women around her to control her men. All I could think about were the prostitutes that have been brought onto army bases in the past. That’s what the women on the ‘wards’ were for and I found that despicable. Lerner doesn’t value or respect the women (other than police women) in her care and that will be her eventual downfall. It was an interesting choice to make her a woman. She is obviously just as ‘cracked’ as Hanson was and her actions are no different than a nasty man’s in the same position.
I also thought it was bold to return to Atlanta in a hospital. Of course, hospitals are well-stocked and pretty sturdy but the story for these survivors was also a case of luck. The police were evacuating the hospital and just realized that it was a waste of time. If they had kept going or hadn’t gone to check on the roof, they might not be there. Were there more doctors and nurses before Hanson made his terrible errors? Are there other pockets of people in other buildings? Would it be possible to rebuild something if people could work together. On the other hand, I’m wondering if our little group is going to be responsible for taking out another group of survivors. Bringing in Carol is another tactical error based on assumptions about strength and the ability to survive.
Edwards is also an intriguing example of ‘civilized’ survival. He is a doctor and so he is valued but he is well aware that he can’t survive on his own and is willing to kill someone to protect himself. This is an interesting echo of Eugene, who only feels he can survive if he is useful. Neither is willing to test their capacity for survival while tiny little Beth is out there stomping zombies and smashing rapists over the head with whatever is handy. I’m not sure about this show’s exploration of the ‘cowardly’ male intellectual as I see it as just another face of sexism but perhaps we will get a walker stomping doctor in the future.
This show is exploring the many faces of evil that could spring up in such a disaster and I’m finding the ‘civilized’ versions somewhat harder to deal with. I think that is because they reflect our present reality more vividly. They aren’t so much what we might become but what we already are - cowardly and exploitative but in a ‘nice’ way with lots of rationalizations. If our group acts as a repository for what is still good in the world then I hope they keep staying this side of the line of both the brutal and the civilized forms of viciousness.
Bits and Pieces
For a moment I thought Beth was having a dream. That was a nice twist to have it be an actual hospital. It somewhat echoed Rick’s waking in a hospital room.
The hospital group calls walkers rotters. An appropriate name at this point.
Wouldn’t feeding the “rotters” just keep them around the hospital? Why wouldn’t they establish a perimeter like everyone else?
Guinea pig for dinner. Would that have come from lab animals they are breeding? It’s a good idea and they had a good set-up for growing things.
The High is an art museum in Atlanta. How did he get that painting back to the hospital?
I bet Beth didn’t need their protection at all. Gorman just wanted her. And the crosses were to denote the cars as ambulances rather than as Christian. Nice red herring there.
Edwards trying to compare himself to Peter was nauseating. Was Beth going to kill him or take him hostage?
Nitpicking: Beth’s stitches weren’t very well done and she should have crushed up the pills much finer if she was trying to make a solution for injection.
Things I could live without: the blood spurting out of the punctured lung, cutting off Joan’s arm without anesthetic, Gorman and the lollipop, Gorman getting chomped (although there was some poetic justice there).
One of my favourite bits: Beth smiling as Noah got away.
Lerner: “If we hadn’t found you, you’d be one of them right now. So you owe us.”
Beth: “If you feel safe enough to be bored, you’re lucky.”
Edwards: “It doesn’t have a place anymore. Art isn’t about survival. It’s about transcendence, being more than animals, rising above.”
Beth: “We can’t do that anymore?”
Edwards: “I don’t know.”
Beth: “I sing. I still sing.”
Noah: “I’m Noah of the lollipop Guild.”
Lerner: “I’m giving you food, clothes, protection. When have those ever been free?”
Joan: “I guess it’s easy to make a deal with the devil when you’re not the one paying the price.”
Lerner: “The thing is, you’re not the greater good.” (How wrong she is)
Beth: “No one’s coming. No one’s coming. We’re all going to die and you let this happen for nothing.”