The Walking Dead S5E4: Slabtown
Original Airdate: November 2, 2014
Recap by Sarabeth Pollock
I believe the official hashtag for tonight’s episode is #WhereIsBeth? And tonight we find out the answer to that question.
Beth opens her eyes. The clock is ticking. She’s in a hospital gown, in a hospital room. The view from the grimy window suggests that she’s in Atlanta. And Atlanta is absolutely desolate. She bangs on the door and pulls the IV from her wrist. The door opens, and a doctor and police officer walk in. The doctor says everything is okay. He introduces himself as Dr. Stephen Edwards, and the cop is Dawn Learner, and she’s at Grady Memorial in Atlanta. Learner found Beth on the side of the road surrounded by Walkers. Beth knows her name but can’t remember being left on the side of the road. Her wrist was supposedly broken and her face has a big cut on it. Beth asks if Daryl is with her. He’s not. Learner says that she was alone, and that they saved her. “So you owe us,” she finishes.
Oh, great. You get hurt in the apocalypse and the insurance companies still come after you.
Edwards takes Beth into another room with a man who is severely injured. He had been out on a supply run and was hurt. He pulls the plug and lets him die, since he’s unresponsive. The doctor puts a knife through his temple. Beth helps him wheel the body out into the hallway, and while he talks to the police, she wanders down and sees another girl in a room. The girl closes her door. Edwards says that only a few people live in the hospital, just enough to sustain them. Everyone has a job. He prepares to dump the body. Since they don’t venture outside much, they dump them in the elevator shafts, so that the Walkers (they call them Runners) who make their way into the basement smell the fresh meat and stay down there instead of venturing upstairs.
Beth goes into the cafeteria. There are a few other patients, and two police officers. One of the officers comes up and smiles at Beth, telling her that she’s looking better. He explains that he and his partner had been on a run trying to find some weapons they’d heard about, and that’s when they found her. He says his name is Gorman. She doesn’t remember being on the road. He says that when someone does you a favor, you should help them in return. He says she should show some appreciation or else he’ll write down the food she’s taking. Everything has a price. She stares at him and walks away.
Down the hall, a woman tells one of the patients that they’ll find John. Apparently the patients are working for the officers. Beth takes the food to Edwards, who is lounging at his desk listening to music. He complains about being bored, and Beth says he’s lucky to be able to feel bored. Music is something that is a perk since he’s the only doctor in the place. He asks where her food is, and she says she didn’t take anything because she’ll end up owing more. He tells her to sit down, that Dawn doesn’t have to know. They’re going to enjoy guinea pig together. She sits and he cuts off a piece and offers it to her. “It’s good enough for Peru,” he laughs. He points to a Caravaggio painting that he found in the trash. There’s no place for it anymore. He wants to think people can rise above being animals.
They are interrupted when Learner and Gorman wheel in a man they found who fell from a building. Edwards says that he isn’t worth the resources, and it’s clear that this is a bigger conversation. Learner and Gorman have a whispered conversation, and then she tells Edwards to save the man in spite of whatever she said before. He figures that there is blood in the man’s lungs and takes care of that, but he explains that he doesn’t have the tools to deal with the internal bleeding. She turns and slaps Beth, ripping her stitches. She tells Edwards to think about Beth next time. He stares at Learner while Beth holds her injured cheek. Something bad is happening in this place.
Edwards fixes Beth’s cheek and says that Learner is only like that on her bad days. He says that Beth should change into a new shirt because Learner likes things neat. It looks like Learner is in charge. Beth reaches for the new shirt when he leaves the room. There’s a lollipop inside. She smiles.
Gorman and Learner bring a struggling patient into a room while Edwards waits for Beth. Gorman says he’s needed. The patient apparently allowed a Walker to bite her arm. Now they need to amputate it. The patient doesn’t want to live, but Learner insists that she’s not going to die. Edwards is prepping the anesthesia but the patient doesn’t want it, and Learner says to amputate without it. They order Beth to hold her down, and Beth panics, thinking of her father. But they insist, so Beth does it. It’s agonizing.
Later, Beth enters the laundry room and sees the patient who had been taking care of Learner’s uniforms. His name is Noah. He asks if she’s okay. He’d given her the lollipop because he figured she would need it. Noah reveals that he has been there for a year. He says their system doesn’t allow people to come and go, which is why the lady tried to kill herself while escaping. When they found him, he was pretty torn up. He had been with his father and they said they could only save one person. At first he believed them, but now he knows that his father was bigger and stronger looking, so they didn’t want someone who could resist. But they’re wrong about him. And about Beth. They need to wait until the right time to escape.
Beth is mixing cleaner under police supervision when Learner comes in. Learner gives her a tray of food and explains to her that she’s giving her food and shelter, and when has that ever been free? Learner sees her position as being a caretaker. She’s working to keep everyone alive until help arrives. If Beth wants to leave, she needs to be strong and work until it’s time. That means she has to eat.
It’s Beth’s job to clean the blood from the floor of Joan’s room. Joan’s arm is freshly amputated but she’s awake. She says it’s nice that she’s cleaning the room. Beth wants to get Dr. Edwards, but Joan says to wait. Joan says that Learner can’t control everyone, but she’s a coward and it’s easier to act that way then to be nice. Beth wants to know what they did to her. Joan doesn’t want to say, but she does say that it’s easier to make a deal with the devil when you’re the one paying the price.
When Beth is back in her room, she goes to the mattress to find her lollipop. Gorman walks in with her lollipop in hand. He opens it and puts it in her mouth, then he wants her to put it in her mouth. Thankfully Edwards comes in and stops him. Gorman feels that Beth should have been his, as was Joan. Edwards says that he’d better not get hurt. Learner walks past and tells Gorman to stop, but he isn’t quite finished. He tells the doctor that there will be a time when there is someone else in charge, and another doctor to go along with it. When they’re gone, Beth asks Edwards why he doesn’t leave.
He takes her down to the ground floor. There’s no way out. Not really. There are scores of walkers in the basement. This is why he stays. He comes down and looks at them when he’s thinking about leaving. He wants to tell her a story, so they go to the roof. When the outbreak began, Learner worked for a guy named Hanson who ordered the hospital to be cleared out to another hospital. Bombs were going off. Before they could leave, they realized that they were on their own. They stayed there until they ran out of food, and then they started going on runs. One day he was on a run when they found a boy with napalm burns. Learner said that they couldn’t spare the resources, so they struck a deal. He’d save who he could, but they had to work off their end of the bargain in return. One day Hanson cracked and people died, so Learner took over and kept them safe. Beth doesn’t understand his version of safe. This isn’t living. This is like being a prisoner. Edwards knows that none of them could survive out there on their own. He tells Beth to check in on the patient they worked together to save, and then she can call it a day and start fresh the next day. It’s hard to tell what his intentions are with her, and clearly she doesn’t completely trust him, either.
Beth mixes the drugs for the patient and administers them perfectly. Noah stops in to say hi, but then the man goes into a seizure and dies. Learner drives a pair of scissors through his temple and then demands to know what happened. Noah makes up an excuse and so she drags him out while Edwards watches. Edwards privately asks Beth what happened, but he says she administered the wrong drug. She hears Noah being beaten in Learner’s office and tries to go to him, but Edwards stops her.
Learner goes into Beth’s room and says that she knows that Noah made up the story to protect her. He is her best orderly and she’s upset that she had to beat him, but it’s for the greater good. Beth is not the greater good and so far she isn’t doing anything to help the cause. Orderlies should keep the officers happy, and she’s not doing that. Learner is doing the best she can to protect them all until they are rescued, and then they will be part of the rebuilding efforts. Beth says it’s all bull shit, and that she is strong, but Learner points to the scar on her wrist and says that some people aren’t cut out for all of this.
Noah says his face isn’t as bad as it looks. He’s on painkillers. He says that they’re all trapped here, even Learner. Beth wants to go with him. He says she keeps a key to the elevators in her office, so he will distract her so Beth can find them. While Learner is occupied with another patient, Beth goes to the office and finds a wallet with a St. Ignatius ID card in it. Joan is also dead on the floor of the office, but Beth moves swiftly. She jimmies open the filing cabinet when Gorman walks in. The man is so damn creepy. He says he hopes he isn’t interrupting. Beth says that she was looking for Dawn’s key. He says he was just with Dawn and that she didn’t need her key, but maybe she doesn’t need to know. Beth knows that Joan is going to wake up soon, so she plays along, allowing Gorman to almost get to second base with her. When Joan’s fingers start moving, Beth smashes a jar of lollipops against his head and steals his gun. Joan takes over and bites his neck open.
Learner and her guards walk down the hall with Noah. He says he needs to grab a battery. Beth tells Learner that Joan was looking for her and that she and Gorman were heading toward her office. While the people in the ward scream, she and Noah head to the elevator shaft and tie a rope made of sheets to a pipe. Beth goes down first, but as Noah descends he is attacked by a Walker on a lower floor and he falls through to the bottom. They fall into a pit of bodies but they’re ok. The basement is dark and full of noises, but they’re all right. When a group of Walkers attacks, Beth takes them out with precision. They get outside and Beth fights off a herd of Walkers on her own while Noah escapes and she’s taken down by two guards. Beth is handcuffed while Noah escapes.
Learned demands to know who Beth thinks she is. Beth says that no one is coming for them, but Learner thinks differently. She knocks Beth out.
Later, Edwards checks on Beth’s new injuries and says that she is doing better. He’s about to leave when Beth asks why he told her to kill their patient. She knows that it’s because he was a doctor as well, and had he lived he would have been competition. Edwards makes a reference to the Caravaggio painting and says that Judas would have been killed had he not cooperated. He knew the man was a doctor and that’s why he ordered him killed. Edwards leaves, but he left the scissors on the table. She takes them and heads down the hall to where Edwards is awaiting a new patient. Beth grips the scissors until she sees the patient. It’s Carol. Oh, shit.
Does anyone else get a Sansa Stark vibe coming from this episode? Beth is in a royally screwed up situation. It was almost painful to watch the horror in Beth’s face as she realizes where she is and what she’s dealing with. But what will happen now that Carol is at Grady as well? And if Carol is at Grady, who is with Daryl?
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