The Walking Dead: Slabtown

Beth: “Use everything you can use.”

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.”


topher darling said...

I was so excited for this episode after last week's ending and preview and it didn't disappoint.

While Beth was staring in disbelief at the 'civilization' of Noah mopping the hallway, the song that was playing was Kiev's "Be Gone Dull Cage" and the hospital was a dull cage, echoing modern civilization's hierarchy, sexism, and blind hope that it will all get better if you just stay the course and do your job.

In a world where there wasn't walkers, Beth most likely wouldn't have been the ass-kicker (and awesome shot) that she is today. With Daryl's tutelage, Beth thrived in the outside and became a survivor. She's more than a nurse and a dirty cop's prize. Putting her back in a world where she is oppressed really emphasized how far she has come and how much better off she is roughing it outside instead of being confined to indoors.

And that's our group. They don't do well inside. They don't follow a structured hierarchy. They go with the flow and hold family above all else. Fuck the man! :)

My favorite part was also Beth's smile at watching Noah escape, despite having been caught. I loved that she handed him the flashlight and she took the gun. She jumped into the awful pit of bodies after he fell in, hurting his leg. She took point and she got to be the hero and save this young man.

And now Carol is inside. She destroyed the cannibals' fortress all on her own. I think she and Beth can handle a few cops.

Thank you drnanamom for getting this up SO quickly!

Jess Lynde said...

You got more out of this one than I did, Doc. For me, this was another one of those episodes where I can appreciate the thematic resonance, but didn’t enjoy sitting through the hour for the most part. Beth has never been one of my favorites, and I spent the bulk of the episode wishing they’d hurry up and get to the Daryl and Carol side of the equation. Alas, we’re going to have to wait a bit longer for that.

I did like when Beth took her stand at the end, against Gorman, Dawn, and Dr. Edwards. And, like you, I really loved her pleased smile when Noah escaped. It was wonderful to see her happy that he had made it. Hopefully, Noah is the person with Daryl at the church, and they are there to get reinforcements to help Beth and Carol. My only question is whether Carol allowed herself to be “saved” as a ruse to get inside with Beth, or whether she was legitimately hurt and separated from Daryl. Either way, I’m thinking she and Beth will make a formidable team.

I totally agree about Dr. Edwards being an echo of Eugene. His brand of survival --- manipulating the situation and perceptions of his usefulness to get others to continue protecting him --- is very similar. Dr. Edwards was willing to commit murder via Beth to maintain his protective shield; it remains to be seen how far Eugene will go. He already let our newly reunited family split up again to maintain his cover, however reluctantly. Where does he draw the line?

Billie Doux said...

I thought it was a decent episode and that it's nice to see Beth so strong and sure of herself. And how about yet another group of dysfunctional survivors, only these guys are dysfunctional in a completely different way? Gorman creeped me out. So rapey with that lollipop.

Geez. Couldn't they have given that woman anesthetic against her will if they were cutting her arm off against her will? Really.

Did you notice that the opening shot of Beth opening her eyes was very Lost? :)

Nonei said...

I got the impression that the doc was moving to give Joan the anesthetic against her will... but that Lerner stopped him ("she made her decision") in order to punish Joan for disobeying by running away and also for causing extra resources to be wasted. Probably more the first than the second.

Heather said...

Beth is a sharp-shooter! Holy hell! I thought the last act redeemed a moderately boring/vague ep. God help everyone at that creepy hospital now that Carol's in the house.

Elfie said...

It's so sad how every season we are introduced to a new band of psychopathic, batshit crazy survivors with a sustainable camp that is destroyed by our little group as soon as they get in contact with them. I always hate the next more than the last one.

Till now we've got crazy, bigoted, delusional Governer who kills his own people when he loses his shit, ridiculous, animalistic cannibals who eat people and babies when they do not cooperate, and now 'civilized' maniacs cooped up in a hospital that includes a female villain who turns out to be even more sexist than her male counterparts.

I love Beth. I know I'm in the minority here, but she's broken past her stereotypical tropes and is now almost as tough as Carol or Maggie (Maybe not Michonne, she's a whole other level of badassness.) and honestly, it's interesting to see a character who nobody thought very highly of at first exceed all expectations. We all saw her as nothing but a 'dead girl', maybe even a liability, but she's become so much more now. When characters evolve like this, that's when you know a show is doing it right. Good job, show! I also liked Noah, and I hope he makes it out alive and hopefully find Daryl or someone. Oh my god Carol! I hope she's okay and as someone mentioned above, this is all a ruse, some elaborate plan to get in and find Beth. Also, THREE CHEERS FOR HER TRIUMPHANT SMILE AT THE END WHEN NOAH ESCAPED.

P.S Please send help. I am becoming immune to disgusting gore and blood.