The Walking Dead S05E04 Recap: Slabtown

ATL watercolor 2Since the start of Season Five we have been enjoying the reunion of our beloved, and not-so-beloved, cast of characters on the Walking Dead. Sure we have our favorites, but characters like Sasha and Tara still help round out the cast. Maybe we have some sort of childhood-driven complex, but we just like it when everyone’s all together. We feel safer with the group, despite Rick telling Carl in the episode “Strangers” (S05E02): “No matter how many people are around or how clear the area looks, no matter what anyone says, no matter what you think, you are not safe.” The departure of Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita, along with Glenn and Maggie—oh, and Tara, in “Four Walls and Roof” (S05E03) makes us feel a little less secure. Though the return of Daryl at the end of the episode made us feel a lot safer. Not safe like sleeping in the backseat of your parents’ car safe, but still pretty content. We were sure hoping that Daryl was going to have Beth with him, because who doesn’t love it when good things happen to boring people? Actually we came to appreciate Beth in Season Four, and we don’t want her to be left out by the group. It does seem like most of them, including her sister Maggie, seemed to have moved on without her. We thought it might be helpful for Beth to learn “How to Cope When You Feel Left Out.”

Step 1. Be Realistic

Everyone feels left out from time to time. Unless you’ve fallen out with, or upset your loved ones somehow, being left out this time is unlikely to be a regular occurrence. The worst response to this type of situation is to feel sorry for yourself and to sit tight waiting for someone else to solve your sorrow. White knights don’t charge in to mop up self-pity; only you can do that.” –wikiHow

eyesAfter having been missing for an unspecified period of time (Days? Weeks? Months? We aren’t really sure, as time seems to be experienced differently in an apocalyptic world), we open to find Beth in a hospital bed with a decimated Atlanta outside the window. This scene seems meant to parallel Rick’s experience of waking up in the hospital in Season One. We are reminded of the immensity of the destruction the virus has wrought when she looks out the window towards Atlanta. Beth calls for help and then gets her IV needle ready for defense as it arrives. Dr. Steven Edwards and Officer Dawn Learner come in and try to reassure her, or control her, or a little of both.

Dawn: “You were alone. If we hadn’t found you, you’d be one of them right now. So you owe us.”

Dawn is a regular welcome wagon. Also, it seems a little silly to introduce yourself with such titles as Doctor or Officer in this world. Seems a little like playing house, but we suppose there’s nothing like relying on traditional social norms to declare your place in the new world.

As Beth walks around the hospital, she sees what appears to be a semblance of civilization—police officers talking in the hallway, someone sweeping the floor, and other non-walker patients. Beth is asked to help out, and we are terrified about what that might mean. When helping involves assisting Dr. Ed to dispose of dead bodies, Beth sighs a breath of relief. Yes, that is what the world has come to: dumping bodies down an elevator shaft alleviates our fear.

Beth goes to the cafeteria (What? A cafeteria! With food!), and meets an officer named Gorman. We can tell in the first ten seconds that he is crazy creepy bad news, and so can Beth. As she is picking up food he tells her that he was one of the people that rescued her from a walker. When Beth tries to avoid engaging with Creepy Gorman, creepy becomes nasty.

Gorman: “When someone does you a favor, its courtesy to show appreciation. Unless you want me to write down everything you’re taking. Everything costs something, right?

Being realistic, the situation at the hospital does seem questionable, but feeling sorry for yourself right now is not an option, Beth. Don’t wait for someone else to solve your sorrow.

Step 2. Look honestly at the situation.

Analyze it. If you are new to the area and attend an open function, some groups reach a point where they’re not welcoming new members. You may have to attend several times before anyone makes you feel welcome or you may have to find a different activity to meet new friends at. Look around at the people who are there and listen to them. If you aren’t attracted to them and don’t think they’re cool, the feeling is probably mutual. Seek like-minded people.” –wikiHowcaravaggio 2

As the Doctor is relaxing to a Junior Kimbrough record, Beth brings him some food. This must be one of her not-so-horrible jobs. When Dr. Ed asks Beth where her own food is, she says, “The more I take, the more I owe, right?” He offers some of his own food, which he says is Guinea Pig. After eating snake Beth in the episode “Still” (S04E12) Guinea Pig probably doesn’t seem so bad. Dr. Ed has a Caravaggio painting, The Denial of Saint Peter, which he found abandoned in the street, in his office.

Ed: “It doesn’t have a place anymore. Art isn’t about survival. It’s about transcendence, being more than animals. Rising above.”
Beth: “We can’t do that anymore?
Ed: “I don’t know.”
Beth: “I sing. I still sing.”

Their art discussion is interrupted when Officer Dawn comes into the room to say, “We got a new one.

Step 3. If you already know them and used to fit in, that’s different.

You can make a choice to feel rotten and to berate your friends, or you can make a choice to see this as a blip in your otherwise very steady friendships. If you have had a disagreement with your friends, then it’s time to mend fences rather than to curtail your own enjoyment; staying in a huff will only increase the hurt.” –wikiHow

Save himDr. Ed and Beth arrive to find the new arrival, Gavin Trevitt, unconscious. Dr. Ed doesn’t think he will make it, but Dawn demands that he try. Dr. Ed stabilizes him, but tells Dawn he is a waste of resources. In response, Dawn slaps Beth across the face. Whaaaat? We weren’t expecting that, nor was Beth. Dawn says, “See. Try to grasp the stakes here.” Does Dawn know this man, Trevitt? Why is she so invested in saving him? There is something strange going on here.

Dawn has one powerful slap, because Dr. Ed has to sew back up Beth’s wound. He tells Beth to put on a different shirt. Beth asks what’s wrong with the one she has on (hmmm… besides the blood all over it?).

Ed: “She likes things neat.”
Beth: “She must love your office.”
Ed: “We all have ways of making her pay.”

The security forces bring in Joan, a hospital resident who went AWOL earlier and was being hunted by Dawn’s forces. Dr. Ed and Beth, who are both standing in the hallway, get called over to help. A walker has bit Joan’s arm. As Dawn and Dr. Ed struggle with Joan, Beth tries to leave, but Dawn commands her to stay. Joan is fighting and wants them to leave her alone.

Joan: “Keep your hands off me. I’m not going back to this.
Dawn: “You don’t have to.
Joan: “You can’t control them.”
Dawn: “I will.

They saw off Joan’s arm so she won’t turn into a walker. It’s super gross. We know that many of you who watch The Walking Dead get into these gory scenes, as do the producers who ramp up the carnage due to popular demand, but during such scenes we prefer to look at our lovely computer with its peaceful ocean screensaver, humming softly to ourselves.

Step 4. Smile.

“A smile can remedy many things, from your mood to your attractiveness to others. You may not feel like smiling but doing so will help you to feel much better, even if you’re forcing it. This is as important if you’re left at home as when you’re in a group of people. It’s a way of cheering yourself up and getting yourself engaged in thinking good thoughts rather than sad ones.”wikiHow

NoahBeth brings her bloodied shirt into the laundry room, where she meets Noah, a nice young man who does laundry and dispenses lollipops.

Beth: “You know what happened with Joan? If she’d stayed and worked for a while, couldn’t she have just left?”
Noah: “I haven’t seen it work like that yet.”

Noah has been there for about a year. He was with his father when the security team found him, but they said they could only take one of them. Now he realizes they took only him because they think he is weak and less likely to fight.

Noah: “And Dawn just looked the other way. See, she’s in charge, but just barely, and its getting worse. That’s why I’m outta here when the time is right.

beth smilesNoah is from Richmond, Virginia, and he says they have walls there. Suddenly we are very curious about Richmond. Does it still stand? We really want Noah’s mom to be alive behind the walls.

Noah: “See, they think I’m scrawny; they think I’m weak. They don’t know sh-t about me. About what I am. About what you are.”

We start to hear soft music, and Beth gazes up at Noah and smiles. We like him too.

Step 5. Try not to read too much into being left out of a situation.

“Sometimes people get caught up in all sorts of self-justifying reasons as to why they don’t have the time, energy, or resources to ensure that all of their friends are invited along to an event. If you feel they left you out when you’re around them, the explanation might be that your friends didn’t notice your discomfort, or they thought you were perfectly happy talking with other people in the group. Always look for the simple explanation first. It could very well be the best and truest, and the least bad faith interpretation of your friends’ motives.” wikiHow

Beth is cleaning up in one of the rooms. Dawn comes to make a “peace treaty” with Beth, bringing some food for her to eat, which Beth refuses. Dawn tells Beth that that they are doing good at the hospital.

Dawn: “I’m keeping all of us going here. That is not a small thing. It’s taken a lot to get us here, Beth. And I believe that what we had before all of this isn’t over. And when we’re finally rescued, when this nightmare ends, were going to need to rebuild.
Beth: “You don’t really think someone’s coming for us?
Dawn: “There’s still people like us, Beth—people trying to keep the world alive, to fix it. Until then, we all have to contribute, to compromise. If we take, we give back. It’s only fair. So keep working off what you owe and you’ll be out of here in no time.

dawn bethDawn tells her that she has to eat or she will get weak and be unable to do her job. We are starting to wonder what exactly Beth’s job is. It seems like they just want her to clean up after some dead bodies, deliver some food, mop, and assist with some anesthesia-free amputations, but is it more than that? The implication sure seems to be there, but perhaps Beth shouldn’t read too much into it.

Dawn is using all the classic tactics of exploiting workers—providing the pretense of safety, creating a feeling of obligation in the victim, making it very difficult to leave, and creating an atmosphere where the exploitation seems normal. Perhaps she used to investigate human trafficking cases before the virus.

Dawn says, “I know you didn’t ask for this. I didn’t either,” almost humanizing her for a moment. Beth takes a bite of the food that Dawn had brought her, and Dawn walks off, having won their power struggle. If only Beth had realized she could have avoided Dawn’s monologue if she had just taken some food in the first place, but maybe that’s all part of the racket.

joanLater, Beth is singing to herself as she mops Joan’s room. Joan wakes up and tells Beth that her singing is nice. Beth tells her she is sorry.

Joan: “She can control them. But she doesn’t because it’s easier. Because she’s a coward.”
Beth: “What did he [Creepy Gorman] do to you?”
Joan: “It doesn’t matter. I guess it’s easy to make a deal with the devil when you’re not the one paying the price.

Shortly after this, Beth has a disturbing interaction with Creepy Gorman, but Dr. Ed intervenes. Dr. Ed and Creepy Gorman try to menace each other, with the Doctor asking what Creepy will do if he gets sick and needs help, while Creepy says that he thinks that there will be someone else who isn’t Dr. Ed. From outside the room, Dawn snaps at Gorman and tells him to come with her.

Beth is horrified by all this, and asks Dr. Ed why he doesn’t leave. In response, he takes her to the basement to show her all the walkers.

Ed: “When I start thinking about it too much, I come down here and look at this.

doc beth stlHe then takes her up to a roof to look at the destroyed city. He tells her about the challenges they faced when the city first fell. There were lots of people they couldn’t help, but Dr. Ed finally convinced Dawn to allow him to help people. In return, those saved would give back for the resources used. Dr. Ed also explains that Dawn’s boss at that time, Hanson, apparently cracked. Dawn handled the situation and kept everyone alive. At least that’s what Dr. Ed is telling Beth. This could the truest interpretation of events. Dr. Ed says, “As bad as it gets, it’s still better than down there.” Beth seems to accept the explanation about his motivation to stay at the hospital..

Dr. Ed tells Beth to go and give Trevitt 75mg of Clozapine. She grinds it up and gives the medication to Trevitt, who is still unconscious. Noah comes to the door to make eyes at Beth. Trevitt suddenly seizes and dies. Dawn arrives to question them about it, and Noah covers for her by saying he accidently unplugged the ventilator while mopping. Dawn takes him away. Beth tells Dr. Ed what happens and he asks if she gave him Clonazepam. She tells him he said Clozapine. He denies it. Beth looks as though she may not be accepting his interpretation of events, but she doesn’t say anything. Beth hears the noise of Noah being beaten, and Dr. Ed stops her from going to him, saying she can’t stop it. We never did trust that Dr. Ed and his fancy painting.

angry dawnAs Beth is cleaning up Trevitt’s room, Dawn comes in and calls out Beth for lying about what happened to Trevitt. Beth asks why, if she knew, did she do that to Noah. Dawn says she had to, adding, “A good man’s mistakes almost ended everything for us, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let that happen again.” This Hanson dude left a big impact on the group. Whatever he did, it must have been huge, because they all seem pretty damaged by it.

Dawn: “Every sacrifice we make needs to be for the greater good. The second it isn’t, the second we lose sight of that, it’s all over. The thing is, you’re not the greater good.”

She tells Beth she is part of a system wherein the “wards” keep the officers happy, and the officers keep things going. She adds that it’s not easy, and there have been sacrifices. We bet there have. Then Dawn goes on with her crazy talk about the good they are doing there and the need to hold on so they can build a future after the apocalypse ends. Dawn calls Beth weak. When Beth denies it, Dawn points out the scars on Beth’s wrist from her suicide attempt in Season Two. Dawn tells her, “Some people just aren’t meant for this life, and that’s OK. as long as they don’t take advantage of the ones who are,” and leaves. You can’t really blame Dawn for being so focused on a future that is not filled with fear and horror. She tells herself that the actions she takes today are necessary because they will lead to a better world tomorrow. Dawn was probably a good person before the virus and still needs to interpret her own motives in this light, despite some of the ethically questionable choices she is making, Thus, Dawn has created an alternative narrative of events to help her live with her current choices. That’s right, she’s delusional.

Step 6. Find something to do.

Look for the good in the moment rather than sinking into your feelings. When you feel left out, alone, or abandoned, the best thing to do is to find something to do. This will distract you from turning the left out feelings into something bigger than they need to be and it will ensure that you’re occupied and happy rather than passively moping. Getting involved with other people or activities is a good way to make the most of the occasion and to ensure that you are not left twiddling your thumbs, feeling helpless without your friends.”wikiHow

Beth sees Noah and the manly scars from his beating. They decide its time to leave the hospital and come up with a plan to get out. Noah will distract Dawn while Beth searches for the key to the elevator banks in Dawn’s office. Beth gets into the office and finds some kind of ID that signifies something to her, but we don’t know what it is. Then she finds Joan dead on the floor. She is having trouble finding the key when Creepy Gorman comes in. He acts creepy, but then she smashes a glass on his head and he falls to the floor. Since dead Joan has just turned in to a walker, she then has Creepy for a snack. We almost never see this kind of poetic justice on the Walking Dead.

Beth smilingBeth leaves the office, calmly walking past Dawn as she goes. Noah and Beth make it to the elevator chute. He lowers Beth down first (using tied sheets from his laundry room), then starts to climb down himself. Noah falls and hurts his leg. Beth asks him if he can make it and they continue on their way. Beth shoots tons of walkers inside the building—lucky she didn’t shoot Noah in the pitch dark. Noah and Beth go outside into the light and she shoots more. She uses the last of her bullets and starts kicking and hand fighting the walkers. Noah limps towards the gate as the walkers start to surround Beth. Suddenly the walkers around Beth are being shot, and Dawn’s security force captures Beth. Yet Noah manages to escape. Beth watches him leave and smiles, happy that he at least got away.

Step 7. Talk to your friends about your feelings.

Another very important means for dealing with situations in which you feel left out by your friends is to be direct and to tell them how you feel, as well as asking them about their reasons for leaving you out. Let them know that you felt left out by explaining what the occasion was and why you wished they had asked you along or stayed with you at an event. And it’s also important to ask your friends politely why the situation occurred as it did; don’t assume they are to blame for leaving you out, just ask considerate questions that can lead to a fruitful dialog.” wikiHow

pictureBack inside the hospital, Dawn asks Beth who the hell she thinks she is. Beth tells her that Creepy Gorman attacked her and attacked Joan, and that Dawn let it happen. Delusional Dawn says that all of this is “so that they make it.” Beth tells her that no one is coming to save them.

Beth: “We’re all gonna die and you let this happen for nothin’.”

Dawn appears regretful for a moment as this starts to sink it. Dawn looks down at a picture of what we can only assume is herself and the old ghost Hanson, and then and smacks Beth hard in the head.

Step 8. Listen openly to your friends’ responses.

“They may be surprised that you felt left out. They may tell you that your recent illness/recent break-up/visiting relatives/lack of funds/parental control, whatever, were a reason behind their choice not to include you. Use this as an opportunity to set straight any assumptions they may hold that caused them to mistakenly leave you out.” wikiHow

doc guiltDr. Ed is looking at Beth’s wounds and says she is healing. He tells her she should be able to jump back into it in a few days. Beth asks Dr. Ed how he knew that Trevitt was a doctor, saying:

That’s why you had me give him the wrong meds, right? Why you had me kill him? Cuz if he lived there’d be another doctor, and Dawn wouldn’t need you. She wouldn’t protect you.”

Dr. Ed admits that he knew Trevitt. He says that they would have kicked him out or killed him, that he didn’t have a choice. Beth responds, “Use everything you can use.” Dr. Ed looks at his painting, The Denial of Saint Peter:

When they arrested Christ, Peter denied being one of his disciples. He didn’t have a choice. They would have crucified him too.” What a maytr.

Step 9. Be Proactive.

“Arrange things to do with your friends. Being out of sight can sometimes lead to you being out of mind. They’ll soon let you know if they can’t make the time but most likely your attempt to meet halfway will be appreciated. When you initiate the activities with friends, this provides an excellent opportunity to ferret out any negative agenda that may have been occurring. If they refuse your suggestions several times, then it may have a deeper meaning that your “friendship” isn’t so friendly anymore. On the other hand, you may find that they’re really happy that you’re finally taking the initiative to organize some of the things to do together.”wikiHow

CarolWe see Beth walking purposefully down the hallway, possibly towards Dr. Ed. She has a pair of surgical scissors in her hand. Someone is being wheeled in from the other side of the hallway. As Beth gets closer she sees it is Carol! Now we know that Carol is still alive, and so does Beth. At last Beth won’t be alone.

Step 10. If your friends continue to leave you out, heed the message.

“In the case where you are always left behind or ignored, then it’s time to face up to the reality that you can’t count on these people as “friends”. Purposeful, continued leaving you out, and condescending comments are a sign that they’re using you and deliberately hurting you. In that case, it’s time to find people who respect and care about you. While this may be hard to face initially, it’s a much easier choice than sticking around with people who keep bringing you down and treating you like a doormat. You know you deserve much better than that and real friends don’t bring you down.”–wikiHow

It looks like Beth has finally found someone who respects and cares about her – her old comrade Carol. Is Carol really injured? Or is this part an elaborate ploy by Rick, Daryl, and the gang to rescue Beth? It almost seems too easy, but then again, sometimes the simplest explanation is the right one, as we learned in Step Five. Well, even if no one rescues Beth, it seem like she and Carol might be able to rescue themselves. At least we hope so.

Beth seems harder, more confident or possibly more resigned. She may just make it is this world, but we are still dubious. It seems like there are a few more secrets to unlock at Grady Hospital before we leave it. What type of work is expected of Beth, beyond the mopping and food delivery? Why hasn’t Dawn just killed Beth already? Does outright killing not fit into her self-image? What the hell did Hanson do to make everyone so crazy?

It’s hard to get lots of new characters on a show with so many already existing characters, but it worked fairly well, even though Dr. Ed, Dawn, Noah, and Creepy Gorman each got limited time. We were able to get a good sense of who they were pretty quickly through both the dialogue and the acting.

It looks like we might not find out what happens with Beth and Carol for a while, as we could be taking a Season Four-style diversion and have separate episode stories for a bit. We did like the structure of Season Four, but we are feeling like the joy of almost everyone being together is very short-lived. We can only hope that everyone finds their way together again soon, and no one feels left out, or dead.

2 thoughts on “The Walking Dead S05E04 Recap: Slabtown

  1. Pingback: The Walking Dead S05E07 Recap: Crossed | The Supernatural Fox Sisters

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