Evan Slead ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
This week’s episode “Slabtown” brought the return of Beth (Emily Kinney) and the uncommon setting of a hospital. In season one, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) woke up in his hospital bed to discover the newly formed world of walkers. Fast forward to season five, it has been that long since an episode has featured a place of healing and sanctuary. Unfortunately for Beth, the comforts of this hospital are non-existent and instead house dark mysteries.
The last time Beth was seen was toward the end of last season when she and Daryl (Norman Reedus) were fighting off a group of walkers. A car marked with a large white cross came and took Beth before Daryl had a chance to react. The drivers of the car are revealed to be police officers that have survived and created a “sanctuary” for survivors within the walls of a hospital. However, when Beth speaks with the leader of the hospital, Officer Dawn (Christine Woods) it becomes clear that her safety comes at a price. The interesting aspect to “Slabtown” is in the way it parallels the Terminus camp.
There have been many sub camps shown throughout the series, and even a whole town like Woodbury, that have all been run in different manners. The most depraved went to Terminus for their cannibalistic and murdering ways. This hospital group has an eerie similarity in the sense that all of the “officials” in charge have let their delusions take them over. Officer Dawn seems to truly believe that help will come to save them and its her job to keep everyone alive until then. However, her means of keeping others alive revolve around inflicting pain and paranoia into those she has saved. Her main officer, Gorman (Ricky Wayne), is clearly taking advantage of the women that come through the hospital, but Dawn says that letting him do so is necessary for peace to stay afloat.
In Terminus, the inhabitants gave a similar excuse that murdering and eating their victims was a release and a necessity. It seems that the theme that has run rampant across the world is that to survive, difficult choices have to be made. Viewers have seen that just in the Rick group, however, they typically revolve around the moral choices winning over. It’s intriguing to see how much the world has changed in the way they approach morality. Last week teased a worse group, the one that attacked Terminus and made them become cannibalistic, so seeing this hospital team be just as bad is chilling. The writers seem to be slowly prepping the audience for something much worse down the road.
Beth also meets a young man named Noah (Tyler James Williams) that has been trying to escape from the hospital for a year. He understands and explains to Beth the peril that awaits them if they stay too long. Dawn tells both Beth and Noah that they are weak and can not last in the outside world. It was nice to see Beth as a character grow and accept the need to fight back. She has a walker kill Gorman, steals the ID card and key to leave the hospital, and helps Noah escape. Sadly, only Noah gets away, but Beth shows her compassion and morality by seeing Noah’s escape as the ultimate goal. Beth has had many character arcs over the run of the show, most notably her time attempting suicide, and this one was a welcomed and needed addition to her story.
When Carol (Melissa McBride) is wheeled into the hospital, it poses many questions about what was shown last week, and what will happen as the season progresses. Daryl had returned with someone but its still unknown who they are exactly. Now with seeing Carol in the custody of the hospital, does this mean that both Beth and Carol will be saved? Or will only one of them make it out? This season is continually getting stronger and may be the best the show has had since season one.
The Walking Dead airs at 9/8c on AMC.
Overall Episode Grade: A