THE WALKING DEAD Season 5, Episode 4 'Slabtown'

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Finally! After three episodes with Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Co., we’re finally brought up to speed with what happened to Beth (Emily Kinney). Last seen being taken by a car with a white cross emblem on its back window, the youngest member of the Greene clan has been M.I.A. since then. Not to worry, Beth fans, for this episode is exclusively all about Beth and her newfound surroundings.

Slabtown opens as we find Beth awakening in a hospital bed, with a doctor and police officer straight on the scene. As the cop, Officer Dawn Lerner (Christine Woods), makes Beth aware within seconds that the only reason she is alive right now is down to them, things begin to not feel entirely right. Leaving the room, Dawn quips, “So you owe us…” ­– never a good line to hear. In the walker-ridden world of The Walking Dead, they be some ominous words right there. Even creepier is Lerner’s sidekick, Officer Gorman (Cullen Moss), who’s leering after Beth in a way that’s reminiscent of how one would imagine Gary Glitter would be lurking outside a children’s playground.

Elsewhere in Grady Memorial Hospital, the doctor who Beth sees after waking up, Dr. Steven Edwards (Erik Jensen), seems to be one of the good eggs of this new locale. Thing is, is anybody truly a good egg in a world soured by the outbreak of walkers? Whereas Dr. Edwards at least appears to have some form of humanity and logical handle on the situation he finds himself in, Officer Lerner is quite simply a wrong ‘un; her reaction of choice to any situation seemingly being to merely slap it in the face with the nearest object. We don’t completely see just what is going on at Grady, but enough off-screen action is implied to make the viewer firmly aware that this is no simple safe-haven. And it’s on this matter that we also see Beth make plans with another new face to the show, Noah (Tyler James), to escape the hospital and to take their chances in the outside world and with the problems that it brings with it. Again, Noah is somebody who seems genuine, who seems like one of the few in the Grady facility that looks to do the right thing, but maybe all is not as it seems with the character. And we’re still really waiting for anything concrete to suggest that the show’s Noah is a play on The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct’s Noah Cruz. Chances are, he will be, though.

The Grady location itself could be viewed as idyllic by some – Beth even comments at one point about how things are so safe that Dr. Edwards can allow himself to become bored – and there’s food, clothes and protection all housed up in the hospital. But then, as Gorman teases in Slabtown, “Everything costs something, right?” Why yes, yes it certainly does. All of the new characters introduced here seem to have their own agendas, whether they’re on the good or bad side of the moral compass. How these characters play out over the next few weeks could be very interesting indeed, especially the no-nonsense, regimented and slightly-unhinged Dawn Lerner. Whilst Dawn may be cracking skulls, the character of Beth is now at a place where she is becoming far removed from the innocent farm girl that we were introduced to back in Season 2 of the show. In fact, there’s one particular moment towards the end of Slabtown that even has a certain vibe of an early Sarah Connor Terminator 2 moment. Fear not, for Das Arnold is nowhere to be seen, and Beth is nowhere near as nails as Sarah Connor at this point, but the young Green girl is taking no shit from anyone. Clearly that Moonshine night with Daryl back in Season 4 paid off. In Dawn Lerner, though, Beth’s days are going to be troublesome at best.

A decent episode of The Walking Dead, Slabtown is one of those rare outings that focus almost exclusively on one character and one location. Whilst reacquainting us with Beth, the episode has also dropped in some welcome new faces and left us with another cliff-hanger of sorts that will tie in nicely with what we saw at the end of last week’s Four Walls and a Roof. But Slabtown is definitely a nice change of pace, restricting the walker-smashing to a minimum and instead giving us some human menace in the show once more.

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