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‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5 Episode 4 Recap: “Slabtown”

After a period dealing with cannibals, people in The Walking Dead‘s apocalypse are constantly being reminded that the real threat actually comes from humans.

In “Slabtown,” we finally get to see where Beth (Emily Kinney) has been for the past couple of episodes, and at first glance, it’s not too shabby. She wakes up in a hospital bed, with a view overlooking the Atlanta landscape. It’s quite reminiscent of Rick from Season 1, actually.

We’re quickly introduced to new characters Dr. Steven Edwards (Erik Jensen) and Officer Dawn (Christine Woods). Alongside a slew of other cops, the two of them help manage the Grady Memorial Hospital, which has stayed up since the onset of the apocalypse. While the Doctor is likeable and warm, Dawn is rigid, stern, and unwavering in her discipline and mindset of authority. She will hasten to put people in their place.

As Beth situates herself in the hospital she learns that it’s not so great of a place — it’s actually quite depraved. After saving a survivor, the officers expect them to work off this debt. One of the officers has managed to concentrate all of his authority into his dick and sees rape as a great way to manipulate those who appear subservient to him. There’s an extremely uncomfortable scene where he sucks on a lollipop in front of Beth and proceeds to force it inside her mouth. Beth gets the better of him thankfully, but we’ll get to that later. Dawn has violent tendencies when things don’t pan out her way. Dr. Edwards has Beth “accidentally” kill one of the survivors who happens to be a doctor, so that he can maintain his place as a doctor of the Grady community, and remain a valuable asset to the officers.

Thankfully, Beth gains an unlikely friend in Noah (Tyler James Williams), a welcoming boy her age, and they immediately grow fond of each other (I ship it). Keisha Castle-Hughes guest stars in this episode as Joan, an abused woman who tried to cut her hand off and was “rescued” by the hospital authorities. She befriends Beth and shares some cryptic dialogue with her as she recovers from a hasty surgery, though we later infer that she’s referring to being sexually abused by the “lollipop officer”.

Dawn, Dr. Edwards, and the other authorities seem to turn a blind eye to this behavior, and when Beth confronts the issue, Dawn remarks that “every sacrifice we make needs to be for the greater good”. If sacrificing the comfort of the young women in the hospital is what it takes to rely on the officers for protection, it’s apparently worth it.

The only seemingly competent person in the hospital is Noah. He knows who he really is (not a menial servant to Dawn), and he can see Beth for who she truly is as well. Together they hatch an escape plan. Beth sneaks into the police officer’s office to grab some keys, when she runs into a dead Joan, and shortly after Gorman (the rapist-police officer, played by Ricky Wayne). There is a struggle between him and Beth, but she ultimately gets the upper hand, and feeds him to a now-turned Joan.

Noah and Beth make it out of the hospital, but she gets trapped by Dawn and her officers. Noah manages to escape. We think that perhaps all is lost for Beth, but she smiles at the end watching Noah run through the gates. The battle’s not over yet!

As the episode comes to a close, Beth is monitored back into the hallway of a hospital when a new survivor comes in. She looks onto the stretcher and is surprised by the result: It’s Carol!

Here are my top moments of this week’s episode:

  • Slabtown Prison: When are we ever gonna run into some normal humans that aren’t a part of the normal gang?! When it comes to authority, these officers have such depraved minds. Little does Dawn know that when she is schooling Beth on the greater good and that some people just aren’t fit for this type of world, she’s actually just describing herself. While the episode itself was a little bit of a drag in revealing Beth’s circumstances, the hospital is a good change of pace and dynamic from the forest. I’m excited to see Beth again, since Maggie clearly isn’t.
  • Noah: I’m excited about Noah. The fact that he was able to escape the hospital indicates that he’ll definitely be showing up again. I like his morale and enthusiasm, and –coughcough- potential romance with Beth? Only time will tell.
  • Carol’s appearance: Ok so we all freaked out when we saw Carol because holy shit, if she’s not able to adhere to the police commands without a fight (which she won’t), then she won’t be having a pleasant time at the hospital. Needless to say Carol’s smart enough of a character (let’s not forget the massacre at Terminus thanks to her), so I’d love to believe that her presence is all planned out, and that Daryl is somewhere behind the scenes too. My only issue is that this scenario, which could very well be solved in an episode, will probably pan over one more (and maybe one more) episode. We sure do like to drag things out in the apocalypse.