Talking Out The Dead: “Slabtown”

By Kelen Conley, Thomas Crawford & Anthony Sellers

Thomas Crawford: We finally find out that Beth is alive and well.  Well, alive at least.  Anyone else get a sinking suspicion she was in some deep trouble when Officer Lerner came in, said they had saved Beth, and she owed them?  My memory must be pretty hazy because I don’t remember seeing Beth saved so much as kidnapped.  There may be something wrong with this whole scenario.

On a serious note, the whole place is pretty creepy, but hospitals usually are in my mind.  They have a guy who seems nice, Dr. Edwards, who isn’t what he seems to be.  There is this creepy Officer Gorman, that expects Beth to give sexual favors for food.  There is also a genuinely nice orderly type named Noah.  With the track record this show has with dealing with its black characters not named Tyreese, Michonne, or Sasha, I wonder if we will get a chance to know him (Sidenote: Morgan is still out there, though he is more like a ghost that appears once a season than anything else)?

I have to admit, I think Lerner is a little more than off her rocker.  She is a female officer in charge of a bunch of male officers.  To keep them in line, she allows them certain liberties with the females that the group, “saves”.  This seems to be working fine.  Look at how well the character Joan adjusted.  She’d rather be bitten and turn into a walker than live with thid group.  News flash, something may be wrong if people would rather die than stay there.

Lerner also seems off her rocker with the belief that the group will be saved.  She thinks she is maintaining order and protecting people until the cavalry comes charging in.  Another news flash, how long has the group been waiting with this hope?

The truly sad part is overall, the place seems to be very stable.  They have made the roof into a garden.  They go out and get supplies I’m assuming (last I checked, you can’t grow suckers out of the ground).  They even get some fine dining with guinea pigs.  They have a trained physician and access to medical supplies.  They have strong walls and don’t seem to worry about breaches.  Thinking back, the place seems more secure than the prison or Woodbury even.  If anyone can remember the Governor talking way back in season three, they had gone a full couple months without a walker getting in.  The prison was constantly on the brink of being overrun, and had been once when there were too many walkers on the fences.

It is just interesting how both the prison and Woodbury, while different, has etched out an existence where the people worked together without threats of bodily harm and sexual favors to keep order.  The hospital, while maybe without the resources of woodland for meat, has stronger walls and seems more stable.  However, they have resorted to something resembling a society built on barbarism, fear, intimidation, and indentured servitude.  According to Dr. Edwards, it is better than the outside.  Ask Joan, Noah, and Beth if they truly believe that good sir.

I will say overall the episode was good because I’ve been wanting to know what happened to Beth for awhile now.  I am sort of glad she wasn’t taken in by some crazy religious cult.  What is with the giant white crosses on all of their vehicles?  It was good to see her sort of come into her own though.

I think this was what the episode was really about.  As Beth realized she didn’t want to be there, she struck out with Noah to make a break for it.  She did so after fighting off Gorman and feeding him to a Joan the walker.  Can’t say I think the guy deserved much better.

Beth did not get out however.  She ended up getting caught and watching Noah get out of the gates while she got tackled and taken back inside.  The small smile was a nice touch, as she was satisfied that the guy who had been her only friend inside had gotten to safety.  Wow, how bad was this place that being in a city overrun with walkers is safer than being inside a fortified, closed down hospital?

So, is this a coming of age story?  I mean the last dealings with Beth included her telling Daryl that she shouldn’t be alive, that she couldn’t survive on her own.  Is this sort of an episode where she realizes she may have that grit to do so?  For the majority of the show Beth has relied on others, and even been in her own world.  Perhaps this is just a reality check that she needs to rely on herself if she wants to stay alive.  I’m going to kick it over to someone else though, so any thoughts?  Was the show good, or was it not all you hoped?

Anthony Sellers: I’m with you, Thomas. I really liked the episode as well. The writers did a good job in my opinion on leaving the door open to really build on Beth’s character now instead of making her expendable. Talking about the whole grit piece, I think her being with the group at the prison gave her the survival mentality without her truly realizing it I think. Now that she’s on her own, she does realize it, even if she wasn’t successful in her attempt to break out. We also caught a glimpse of it when she was last with Daryl, as she was able to break free from all the walkers that were forced upon them at the golf course.

I have to agree with you as well about the hospital, it’s stable but it isn’t. They made it a point to show a different leadership style, but did it so you noticed only the flaws of that style. You guys agree? The style for the hospital is basically forced slavery. That’s the only thing that kept popping into my head the whole episode. They’re like, “ohhhh you gonna eat that lollipop, that’s three months debt you gotta pay off.”  That just makes me want the group to go down quick. Quicker than Gorman did in this episode.

Lerner doesn’t belong as their leader in my mind. She was forced into a role that’s not suitable for the kind of person she is. I could be wrong on this, but from this episode alone, I’m hard-pressed to believe anything different. But, at least she has a system that seems to be keeping them alive at least.

The doctor seems like he’s playing a constant chess match with Dawn just to stay alive. I’m not sure what to think of him honestly. I can’t tell if he has it in him to go into some cold blooded Walter White mode (in the medical sense) and just off everyone with medical overdoses or if he’s just wanting to stay an essential piece of the group’s puzzle. Just a random aside that came across.

Kelen Conley: First off, I’ve developed the biggest crush on Emily Kinney since the end of last season. I have no idea why, but ever since her and Daryl’s episodes, I’ve gained the utmost respect for her and Beth Greene.

Hi Emily/Beth.

Anywho, “Slabtown” was a nice change of pace after three straight episodes of action with Rick and the Daryls. I’m glad to discover that they didn’t Sophia the Beth story by having her be discovered as a walker somewhere down the line. Didn’t expect her to be in a hospital of all places either; I was thinking the worst for her. That some random group had picked her up and she was basically being used for errands and her body.

But wait! Grady Memorial Hospital is damn near exactly like that. Dawn has this place running all wrong. So you and a few remaining officers of the law are holed up together with a ragtag doctor. Why in the hell would you feel the need to kidnap people into servitude? I know not everyone was kidnapped but Beth clearly was last we saw her. In fact, who the hell set the trap back in “Alone” at that funeral home for Beth and Daryl anyway? That hasn’t been answered. Sorry, back on track, I get you have a functional hospital and don’t have enough manpower or resources to take in everyone who comes knocking at the door. But there’s more to the story of this place than Dr. Edwards is letting on. I’m not accepting anything we learned in this episode as the truth. In fact, this place creeps me out way more than Woodbury the first time I saw it.

I think Beth realized earlier than the hospital that she was capable of surviving on her own. Being on the road with Daryl, even for a few days, should have gotten her to that point. She’s not the same woman who tried to “opt out” way back in “18 Miles Out” (something Dawn pointed out in this episode by referring to the scars on Beth’s wrists), but she’s not in the “lounge singer/faux-mother” role that she fell into at the prison either. For the first time ever, I never felt like Beth wasn’t in control and that was the coolest thing for me. From the moment she woke up, I guarantee that she was trying to plan her escape. Noah just moved the process along quicker.

And am I the only one who got a bad vibe from Noah? He seems all doe eyed and innocent and victimized, but there’s some things he’s not saying too. And I’m going to go ahead and say it: I wouldn’t be surprised if he was/is Dawn’s sex slave. She can’t sleep with her officers. A woman has needs. Dr. Edwards couldn’t attract a fly. Why wouldn’t she be boning the only person in the hospital who she may be attracted to and also, command to do the deed?

I’m just saying.

I was really hoping he wouldn’t escape and it really looked like more of an abandonment of Beth towards episode’s end than Beth sacrificing herself so he could get away. I just don’t trust him. Have I mentioned that before? And you could tell he has zero experience fighting walkers from the way he acted in the basement. He was crying and Beth was all like blam blam blam walker killing bad ass.

Gorman got what he deserved, no reason to waste more than this sentence on him. Dr. Edwards is a total sissy, killing a fellow doctor for fear of being killed himself or casted out of the hospital. Because Grady Memorial couldn’t possibly benefit from two doctors. Because the world wouldn’t benefit from two alive doctors when the rescue team Dawn has been waiting for shows.

Something is not right about this place.

Dawn feels like a throwaway villain here. Like she’s just here until someone with the testicular fortitude (or uterutarian fortitude!) can put a bullet in her and that’s the end of her story. She might be the most innocent character in the whole hospital though (other than looking the other way on sexual abuse and the fact that she may have her own sex slave). She seems to be treading water more than leading or anything else. Things got bad with that Hanson dude, she may or may not have gotten rid of him, and then she twisted that story into gaining leadership. Or maybe she just outranks the other officers and they want to keep the old world ways. She really should stop hitting Beth too.

It wouldn’t surprise me if her and her officers were the hospital’s cleaning crew who raided a police station after the outbreak though.

Beth was probably about to go crazy on everyone in there with those scissors until Carol showed up on that stretcher. Considering we last saw her and Daryl take off two episodes ago and she was healthy then, I have to say this feels like a ruse so that she and Daryl can get Beth out. The idea of them two murdering everyone in that place and taking their friend back would be amazing. So it probably won’t go down that way.

AS: I’m with you in the fact that I don’t trust Noah at this point. He definitely left her to perish in the hospital knowing that they would rough her up some for trying to escape. However, him escaping may have revealed who was with Daryl in the woods from the previous episode. I mean let’s face it, Noah is semi-savvy in his thinking, but he is in no shape and can not survive completely on his own. I just don’t see that in him.

TC: All really good thoughts, I have to admit.  I hadn’t even thought about Dawn and the “officers” being fake cops.  Though it is also possible that when it all hit the fan, the whole ethics and morals went to the wayside.  Sad to think but in a situation like that, it seems very likely those charged with protection would have the means and resources for control.

Anthony, you may be right as well.  Lerner may have just been tossed into the situation.  She may have also taken advantage of it and be trying to push her own view of order on a rather chaotic situation.  It does seem that she has a thing about being neat and tidy.  That is something that the show alluded to, perhaps OCD or some other control disorder.  Either way, she is in the wrong spot, and I don’t think she is long for TWD world.

Kelen, man, slamming Noah.  Seriously, I really didn’t get that vibe off of him.  I got the vibe of a scared kid, who is just trying to survive.  He stepped up and took a beating for Beth, and he hardly knows her.  He may not be much when it comes to killing walkers, but then again, how long has he been under the protection of the hospital?  Is it possible that he just hasn’t adjusted to life on the outside?

That being said, the thing between him and Lerner I totally didn’t pick up on either.  You do make a valid point Kelen about her using him for more than just cleaning.  They never did show exactly how he got those bruises either.  My mind really wasn’t working that way when I watched the episode.  However, nice possible catch.

Even if he does have something to hide, who doesn’t anymore?  I’m going to say for the time being that I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt.  I still have this feeling that he is going to be one that ends up on the chopping block, possibly before the second half of the season.  If I’m wrong, how crazy would it be if he were sort of bait, used by Lerner to attract more people to the hospital?  It seems strange that injured, he managed to get away from the several officers, while Beth managed to get tackled.

The truth is that it might not even be all that sinister.  He could have just seen an opportunity, and took it.  Yes, he did leave Beth which was a despicable thing to do.  However, in the type of situation he was in, it seemed sort of when they hit the pavement, it was everyone for themselves.  This is one of those have to wait and see things I think.

Ah Carol, we see you didn’t make it back to the church.  Is this a ruse?  We know that Daryl and Carol took off after the car with the white cross.  Did they figure out Beth was inside?  Is it possible that Carol and the others are just trying to figure out what happened by “letting” Carol get captured?

While it seems possible, it is true she may have just been caught.  She looked out of it.  Either they beat her down or drugged her to get her into that hospital.  My question is, what about Daryl?  We know he made it back to the church.  Did he let Carol go into the hospital?  That doesn’t seem like something he would just let happen.  All in all, the whole thing is something that just set up a lot more questions.  One thing is for sure, we have bad ass Carol inside, we have Beth who has come into her own (seriously, when did she learn to shoot walkers like that?), and we have the group not that far away.  I think we have the makings of a big showdown in the hospital.  Feel free to disagree, but can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

KC: Noah did take a beating for Beth and that was nice of him. But, maybe he did it just so he could further gain her trust so she’d help him escape? I admit though, I’m reaching and it’s hard for me to trust new characters. Especially when their actions lead to bad things for my Beth, er, established characters. And it did seem like he’s been in the hospital for a long time, so that could explain why he was so useless during the escape.

I still don’t trust him but I can tone down my hate a little bit. I kind of hope that he doesn’t end up like you said, a scared kid, who was only introduced so he could be killed in the same season.

And the “bait” idea? Wow. Love it. If the writers go the route of using Noah to attract new “employees” to the hospital, kudos all around. That would be a way less despicable way to do it, but the Terminus comparisons would be there. Instead of signs promising sanctuary, a seemingly hurt kid who is just trying to make it through Atlanta, then WHAM, you’re hurt and working for Grady Memorial. It would make his life a bit difficult once they healed up and were able to possibly get revenge, so I doubt this would work. But again, a cool idea.

Still don’t trust him.

It’s got to be a ruse. Carol has been such a bad ass since… after the prisoners sets the walkers free when she almost died? She hasn’t been in a compromising situation since. Even Daryl had a cliffhanger when Joe and the Claimers found him on the road. Sure, Rick made Carol leave the prison, but did anyone have any doubts that she would be fine? Not me. And she just took down Terminus single handedly like 4 or 5 days ago TWD time.

Her and Daryl scouted the hospital, saw Trevitt wheeled in there, and saw their way in. So Carol is faking so that her and Daryl can go gangbusters in there and head back to the church. But then again, since Carol hasn’t had any real danger come to her (other than dealing with Lizzie), she might have gotten hurt and will soon be a new Grady Memorial employee.

Still no clue who Daryl made it back to St. Sarah’s with but I think Carol’s not with him. I just don’t think the hospital is the reason she didn’t make it back. And now that you mention it, I can’t see Daryl letting Carol go into the hospital by herself, even as a ruse. Crap, crap, crap. That means she is hurt.

It’s episodes like this that make me wish I could watch the whole season at once. Not knowing is killing me!

One last thought: Dr. Edwards purposely told Beth the wrong medicine so that Dr. Trevitt wouldn’t make it. I know he claimed it was for self-preservation but what if he has an agenda that’s totally outside of Dawn’s? It’s very doubtful but what if he’s the big bad of the rest of the season right under our noses? There’s a ton of things he could be getting away with, even with as scared as he makes himself seem of Dawn.

Or maybe I’ve been up since 5 am and I’m being a little crazy.

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