WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS. Read on only if you've already seen "The Walking Dead" Season 5, Episode 4, titled "Slabtown."
After having an incredibly strong start to the season, we all knew "The Walking Dead" was bound to slow down sooner or later. Sadly, that moment came on tonight’s episode, when the show finally addressed a loose end from last season: where, exactly, is Beth?
Beth’s storyline was first addressed again when Daryl and Carol started chasing after a car with a cross on the window, thinking it was the same one that took Beth. While we didn’t get to see the results of their pursuit, we did find out that Beth was “saved” by another group of survivors, not kidnapped. Turns out policewoman Dawn Lerner and Dr. Steven Edwards supposedly saved Beth from a walker. They then took her back to their sanctuary -- a hospital -- to treat her fractured wrist and other injuries.
When Beth finally woke up, the new group of survivors were quick to introduce her to their motto: everything you take, you owe. Maybe it’s just me, but is anyone else a little annoyed by the fact that every new group we meet has a distinct motto? While the Termites and even our beloved survivors have their own words to live by, I’m finding the whole idea a bit cliché. I actually found myself rolling my eyes when Dawn was explaining her group’s mantra to Beth, which is pretty self-explanatory. According to them, Beth can’t leave the hospital until she repays the group for the resources they used to save her. As if she needed saving in the first place!
The rest of the episode focused on revealing the strange dynamics of the hospital survivors. The standout, by far, was a police officer named Gorman who successfully managed to make me cringe every time he appeared on screen. All his interactions with Beth were deeply uncomfortable, especially the scene with the lollipop. While I was sufficiently disturbed by this unpleasant scene, I have to give props to Emily Kinney, who plays Beth, for managing to express everything I was feeling in that moment: fear, tension, and utter disgust. It wasn’t until later in the episode that we learned why Gorman felt entitled to everything and everyone in the hospital.
Turns out Dawn gives the officers whatever they want -- girls included -- in order to keep them happy. If her officers are happy, that means they’ll continue doing their job to keep the group safe. However, after a girl named Joan committed suicide, it was clear that Dawn’s system was seriously flawed. It's assumed that Gorman and the other officers previously harassed Joan, which is why she killed herself. Plus, her arm was bit by a walker and had to be amputated by Dr. Edwards.
Speaking of Dr. Edwards, he appears to be the only decent authority figure at the hospital, despite the fact that he tricked Beth into killing a patient for him. Luckily, Beth was spared punishment for this act as another survivor, a boy named Noah, took the blame. After witnessing the corruption in the hospital and after Joan’s dead body-turned-walker killed Gorman, Beth decided to escape with her new friend Noah. Unfortunately, after all her efforts to leave, Beth was captured once again as she watched Noah escape.
To be honest, I wasn’t a fan of this episode. While Beth has only been missing for six episodes (yes, I counted!), it felt like an eternity and I didn’t really miss her at all. I actually would have completely forgotten about her if it weren’t for the previews promoting her storyline. Here's why I don't care: for one, the show didn’t suffer without her (you know it’s true!) and two, none of the other characters seemed bothered by her absence. It’s true that Maggie was concerned about her sister immediately after the huge prison showdown, but after everything settled, her only concerns were for Glenn. It’s also interesting to note that during the season premiere when everyone was finally reunited, no one mentioned Beth at all. Poor girl.
While I was curious to see what happened to Beth and get closure on her story, it was a terrible letdown. I was honestly expecting much more drama to her kidnapping, instead of the realization that she was safe in a hospital somewhere. The only thing that’s keeping me somewhat intrigued with this storyline now is that fact that Carol showed up at the hospital at the very end of the episode. Since Carol is such a badass hellraiser I don’t doubt there’s more action on its way. That is, just as long as she wakes up from her unconscious state. For Beth's sake, let’s hope that’s real soon.
- Listening to Dr. Edwards complain about being bored during an apocalypse was a little shocking. Luckily, Beth snapped him back to reality saying: “If you feel safe enough to feel bored, you’re lucky.”
- Did anyone else think Joan’s arm amputation scene had more gore than necessary? I’m usually all for blood and gore, but I did not like that scene at all.
- Noah told Beth that he’s been at the hospital for about a year. The fact that Noah and the group have been safe for that long is incredibly impressive.
- Dawn has some seriously flawed logic. In regards to the weak, she told Beth that “some people aren’t meant for this life and that’s OK,” just as long as they don’t take away from people that are.
- I had forgotten how good of a shot Beth is. But even with all her skill I was amazed that she wasn’t able to escape the hospital, but limping, injured Noah was.
- Even after this episode, the question that’s still on my mind is, who was in the bushes with Daryl?!
“The Walking Dead” airs on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. EST on AMC.