The Walking Dead - Season 5, Episode 4: "Slabtown" TV Episode Review
Written by Steve Pattee and Daniel Benson
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by Matthew Negrete and Channing Powell
2014, Rated TV-14
Episode premiered on October 26th, 2014
Emily Kinney as Beth Greene
Christine Woods as Officer Dawn Lerner
Keisha Castle-Hughes as Joan
Tyler James Williams as Noah
Erik Jensen as Dr. Steven Edwards
Cullen Moss as Officer Gorman
Ricky Wayne as Officer O'Donnell
Teri Wyble as Officer Shepherd
Unlike Maggie, some of us have been wondering about Beth and where she’d mysteriously gone off to. Well, wonder no longer as this episode, “Slabtown”, finds the young lady holed up in an Atlanta hospital against her will.
Warning! This recap contains spoilers!
Steve: You mentioned on my Facebook wall that you expected this episode – or, as I will call it, a Bethisode – to be “a boring Beth-fest”. This, without a doubt, one Beth-centric outing, but I want to hear your thoughts first before I dive in with mine. I have a feeling we may be on opposite sides on this one.
Dan: I think we will, mainly because I consider Beth to be a non-character. While I might not be all Team Daryl, I still consider him an important facet to the overall story and the group as a whole. Beth, I could lose instantly and barely bat an eyelid. She’s one of the least interesting characters in the show… bland… just meh. Meh-th if you like.
Steve: I won’t argue any of that. I’d go even further and say that most of the current characters on the show are one-dimensional with the exception of Rick, Carol and Daryl. Yes, even Maggie and Glenn don’t have much to them, unfortunately. The only depth the two have is they are dating. As much as I have showed my disdain for Rick over the years, I will freely admit his character does have depth. You won’t get any argument from me that there is no reason to care for Beth right now because like the majority of the characters on the show, you have no reason to care for her. And I think that’s the reason why I dug this episode, maybe they are making her relevant.
Dan: This episode was way, way too wordy with very little happening in terms of the story (I don’t believe the hospital group is going to figure prominently as the season goes forward). However, it did raise the issue of who Daryl was beckoning out of the bushes at the end of Episode 3 because we know it wasn’t Beth and…well, the end of this episode let us know who else it’s not either. I’m in two minds about who this might be; on the one hand it would be a good point to introduce Morgan after the teaser in the premiere, but on the other – assuming the episodes aren’t running chronologically – it could be Noah after his escape from the hospital, who will then bring the group back to rescue Beth.
Steve: Excellent deduction on Noah. I don’t think they’ll bring in Morgan right away as I can’t see him being relevant to this particular storyline. Noah, on the other hand, will get everyone to the hospital. To further, I think we’ll be seeing Noah for at least a little bit more into the season because he said he had family in Richmond, so it only makes sense that he will jump on the road trip north with the group after all is said and done.
I don’t, however, agree with you on the episode being too wordy. Was it lacking zombies and action? Absolutely. But I don’t want it to be rotters every week. I would rather have “breather” episodes here and there to develop characters. That said, I felt something was off in the script this week. It felt very disjointed, as if there were scenes that were cut but conversations that related to those scenes were left in. Something was definitely off.
Dan: Maybe too unnecessarily wordy is a better description, then. I have no issue with character-centric episodes, but this just seemed to meander from one person to another, all flapping their gums over stuff that was of very little interest. I also raised half an eyebrow at yet another group they come into contact with being ruled by some overzealous, evil lunatic – this time in the shape of Dawn. Are we to believe there is no other group out there that works on a more rational level like the main one?
Steve: I’m with you on that. I will concede they could have covered Beth’s experience in half the time, and perhaps use the second half showing what we’ll no doubt see in the next episode. I also admit to having bias, as I tend to like these types of episodes where they concentrate on a member of a group that I like as opposed to what Rick is up to or what trouble Carl has gotten himself into.
Speaking of this episode’s villains – aside from the fact you are correct about the rationale of the people they run into – how about how Beth handled herself with Rapey McRaperson? Was that not awesome? Not only was that particular scene one of my favorite of the night, but I think it does an excellent job in subtly showing how people have adapted in this world. Beth was scared, sure, but because of how she has been living her life with the potential of death around each corner (literally), she was very aware of her surroundings and used them to her complete advantage. I loved it. My other favorite scene is when Beth and Noah are escaping through the basement of the hospital. Nothing but darkness, then boom! Gunshot! Head explode! Gunshot! Head explode! What a terrific scene.
Dan: I did like that scene where Gorman got what he deserved. When Beth saw the girl on the floor starting to move, it was obvious what she was going to do and it was such a fitting end to the sleazy bastard. The basement scene was good, but felt like it was only there to appease the fans of walker mayhem. Like they said, “Oh hell, this one is full of rambling introspection, let’s put a zombie massacre scene in at the end”. Plus, Beth must have night vision eyes to be able to pop out that many headshots in a pitch-black basement. I didn’t count, but I think she had a magic gun too, with an unlimited supply of bullets.
Dan: I will give the writers credit for the end of Beth and Noah’s busting out of the hospital; I’d fully expected them both to get out, maybe Noah to die saving her, but to see Noah getting through the fence then Beth being dragged to the floor by the officers was quite a surprise.
Steve: Not as surprising as that final reveal, I’ll tell you that. I have to admit, I didn’t see that coming.
Dan: Well I did actually, because I saw a link posted on Facebook or somewhere that was to a video titled “Spoiler: The Death of Carol” and foolishly I followed it. It was that final scene where Beth’s looking over Carol on the gurney, but it looked like it had been filmed off another screen that was showing it. Thankfully we saw that Carol isn’t dead, but how she got there is a mystery. Also puts a potential spanner in the works on my theory about Noah coming out of the bushes with Daryl, but I’m sure there’ll be a story there if it is the case.
I’ve been really impressed so far on how efficient the writers have been in clearing a bunch of story threads quickly, we’ve had the escape from Terminus, the introduction of Gabriel, the journey to DC, despatch of the Terminus survivors and the demise of Bob, all in three episodes. I hope this was an isolated longhand story and we can get back to the darkly violent and quick pace we’ve loved so far.
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