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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Walking Dead 5x04: Slabtown


Alright then, apparently in the world of The Walking Dead you can't form any group without a megalomaniac being in charge. Well, unless the person is charge is named Rick. Even that could be debatable, I suppose.

We had one society in which you either eat people or get eaten by people. Another group decided that the only rule necessary for a functional society is the ability to call dibs on things…including young boys. This episode showed us people living in a hospital under control of an OCD police officer who oversees a society of indentured servants (who must keep the officers happy by doing whatever they say) and only brings in people she perceives weaker than herself.

You know The Walking Dead is a bleak show when you realize that living in Woodbury may not have been all that bad, relatively speaking. Sure The Governor went crazy in the end but at the beginning he was just your run-of-the-mill dictator who lied for personal gain. At least there if you kept your head down and just did your job you were relatively safe.

I'll be honest, I was confused for the majority of this episode. I shouldn't have been. It was actually a relatively straightforward episode. What we saw is what we got except I just didn't believe what we were seeing. One issue was that it was tough for me to wrap my head around the idea that there could still be a relatively functional hospital in this world. But the other problem was that I was 100% sure that when Beth was taken from Daryl she was kidnapped by a sexual predator who was going to lock her up in a basement and do unspeakable things to her. I guess it's an example of just how bleak this show is that I couldn't conceive of other options.

So, when you combine the functioning hospital with the fact that I was sure she was kidnapped by a sex pervert and I first thought she was dreaming. Or maybe creating a fantasy world to mentally escape the truly terrible situation she was in. When I decided the hospital was real I then wondered what happened between the time she was kidnapped and the time she was rescued.

Yes, I actually didn't realize, at first, that Officer Dawn Lerner and Officer Gorman were the ones who took her from Daryl. When she said, “What happened to the man I was with.” I thought she meant the man who kidnapped her and whom she was, presumably, escaping from. Of course I realized eventually that she was referring to Daryl. (There is the question of if they purposely left Daryl because he seemed too strong and may have upset the power balance of the hospital.)

Don't worry, I may be stupid but I'm not a moron. Eventually I sorted everything out and realized that while Beth was in a bad spot, she wasn't in as bad as a spot as I thought she might be. Well, except for Officer Gorman, but she took care of that.

So, after I got it all straight in my head I realized I probably should come up with some analysis for this episode. But I'm not sure what there is to say except what I said at the beginning. In The Walking Dead people can come together and try to play nice for a while but, eventually, “tough choices” will have to be made. That means someone will have to take charge and rule with an iron fist. Apparently, no society in The Walking Dead can function without a dark, seedy, secretive underbelly that exists “for the greater good.” There is no alternative…unless the leader of your group is named Rick Grimes.

Other Thoughts:
The opening seemed to be a homage to the first episode The Walking Dead. To what end I do not know.

It goes without saying but I was creeped out by Officer Gorman from the start. Of course, Officer Lerner didn't give me good vibes either.

I'm not sure I've seen many things more uncomfortable to watch in this series than when Officer Gorman was sticking a lollipop in Beth's mouth.

To make matters worse, they were probably those sugar free lollipops. YUCK!

I rewound to verify that Doctor Edwards did indeed tell Beth the wrong medication.

This was, obviously, before it was confirmed later in the episode that he did set Beth up. Because obviously it wouldn't be at all useful to Officer Lerner to have TWO doctors.

I guess Officer Lerner is to doctors as the first three seasons of The Walking Dead was to black people.

This is another episode where they refer to “bombings” in Atlanta. I feel like this is the first season they've brought this up but perhaps I'm wrong.

Did Joan purposely killer herself in Officer Lerner's office in order to turn into a zombie and eat her?

I'm confused why the police officers seem to have easy access to the outside world while for Beth and Noah the only way out was through the elevator shaft. How are the officers getting out of the hospital?

I can usually suspend my disbelief as far as the protagonists' proficiency at headshots go but Beth's literal shots in the dark were ridiculous.

Not to mention the seemingly infinite bullets she had in the gun.

Noah running off and ditching Beth seemed to me like a dick move but Beth seemed cool with it.

I'm fairly sure Beth was planning on killing Doctor Edwards but then she saw Carol and realized she might need him to keep Carol alive.

Of course I'm interested how Carol ended up being taken in. But the whole timeline of everything doesn't seem to make sense. Keep in mind, Daryl has only been gone for around a day and Daryl did come back with somebody. That seems to suggest a lot to happen in just one day but I guess we'll see whether it all syncs up in later episodes.

5 comments:

  1. This episode was just...boring. Usually this watchable in a fun, so-bad-it's-good kind of way. But not this episode. Maybe the arrival of Rambo Carol while spice things up next episode.

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  2. I got behind on my WALKING DEAD after the premiere, and suddenly realized I didn't miss watching it at all -- so I've decided to stop. Who knows, someday I may change my mind and go back to watch the season, but for now I'm giving it up. It's just become too relentlessly bleak and hopeless for me.

    I'll continue to read your reviews, Dr. Bitz, because I find them funny and they let me know what I'm (not) missing -- but I may not have much to say about them.

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  3. I'm getting kind of sick of how every post-apocalypse non-Rick led group on this series has to include some kind of rapist. Like, I dunno, maybe that's realistic but I don't really care. It's just such a tired and lazy way to immediately inject menace or heighten the tension of an otherwise tense situation. I've just had enough of it.

    Gorman could have been plenty menacing to Beth without wanting to rape her. Play up the "lack of gratitude" angle, show him to be psychotic about it or something like that, and you've still got the necessary tension and plot elements. But no, let's just go the easy route of having the creepy cop want to rape the cute girl.

    There is the question of if they purposely left Daryl because he seemed too strong and may have upset the power balance of the hospital.

    I was unclear on this. If I recall the episode where Beth was taken correctly, Daryl sent her out of the house the zombies were attacking, then he emerged just in time to see her get taken. So they never presumably saw her with Daryl, unless they were the ones implied to have been watching Beth and Daryl in that episode. In which case, did they just wait until they could get Beth alone?

    Basically, I still have some questions about this hospital groups acquisition methods (also, why are their cards adorned with the creepy cross? Is that just a hospital thing, or did they mark them as such? If so, why?), but I suppose we'll be spending at least one more ep there, so maybe it'll be come clearer.

    There is no alternative…unless the leader of your group is named Rick Grimes.

    Which is disappointing, if for no other reason than for the predictable-ness of it, especially on a show that prides itself for being predictable.

    I guess maybe Hershel's family and the Abraham/Rosa/Eugene triad when Glenn & Tara first met them are the exception? But those weren't really pseudo-societies in the way of Woodbury/Terminus/this hospital or even the gang of roving rapists Daryl fell in with last season.

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  4. The opening seemed to be a homage to the first episode The Walking Dead. To what end I do not know.

    So much so, I even wondered if it was the same hospital at first, then realized that couldn't be for a number of reasons.

    I'm not sure I've seen many things more uncomfortable to watch in this series than when Officer Gorman was sticking a lollipop in Beth's mouth.

    Right? And on this show, that's saying something.

    To make matters worse, they were probably those sugar free lollipops. YUCK!

    Heh. Lingering sugar-free candy is the true horror of the post-apocalyptic world.

    I rewound to verify that Doctor Edwards did indeed tell Beth the wrong medication.

    You're a good reviewer. I couldn't be bothered. :)

    Because obviously it wouldn't be at all useful to Officer Lerner to have TWO doctors.

    True, his position wouldn't be immediately usurped, but I think he was more concerned with losing power - if there's two doctors, he can't have quite as free a hand. Lerner could pit them against each other, give the other doctor more food, etc.

    It wouldn't be a huge loss of power, because two doctors would still be useful enough to want to keep him somewhat placated, but he would lose SOME power, and that was apparently enough for him to act.

    I guess Officer Lerner is to doctors as the first three seasons of The Walking Dead was to black people.

    Ha!

    I feel like this is the first season they've brought this up but perhaps I'm wrong.

    I think it's been mentioned before. Didn't Shane say something about in the first season? That they were heading to Atlanta for sanctuary but saw the bombing as they were heading in, which is how they ended up in the quarry camp at the start of the show? It may have even been a brief flashback at the start of an episode, now that I think about it.

    I'm confused why the police officers seem to have easy access to the outside world while for Beth and Noah the only way out was through the elevator shaft.

    See above, as far as more questions. I assume they have some kind of secure elevator/entry & exit point they use to come and go, and that it was just easier for Beth and Noah to go out via one of the disposal shafts, but until they did so I assumed the key Beth took was to whatever exit the cops used. Apparently not.

    I can usually suspend my disbelief as far as the protagonists' proficiency at headshots go but Beth's literal shots in the dark were ridiculous.

    Yeah, that was clearly the case of the director eschewing realism for the sake of artistry. Moreso than usual.

    I'm fairly sure Beth was planning on killing Doctor Edwards but then she saw Carol and realized she might need him to keep Carol alive.

    That was my read as well. Or, at least, they she couldn't just kill the doctor now and run; she needs to figure out a way to get Carol out too.

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  5. @wwk5d: "But not this episode. Maybe the arrival of Rambo Carol while spice things up next episode."

    First of all, I'd agree that this episode wasn't all that exciting. You may have noticed my struggle to actually analyze the episode?

    Secondly, I do wonder how Carol ended up there. Did she get injured or is the part of a plan? If it's the latter it'll be interesting to see how Daryl and Carol track Beth, ascertain what the hospital is all about and device a rescue plan all in one day.

    @Matt: "I got behind on my WALKING DEAD after the premiere, and suddenly realized I didn't miss watching it at all"

    Well, I'll miss you're responses but I can't really blame you. This season so far hasn't been too bad but nothing that makes me think someone NEEDS to start watching them now.

    @Austin: "lso, why are their cards adorned with the creepy cross? Is that just a hospital thing, or did they mark them as such? If so, why?"

    It is weird. Like, you need to distinguish your vehicles from all those other running vehicles in the zombie apocalypse?

    "Which is disappointing, if for no other reason than for the predictable-ness of it, especially on a show that prides itself for being predictable."

    There are story to tells with a society that at least tries to be benevolent. Just because all the humans are trying to be good people doesn't mean a story is devoid of conflict.

    "True, his position wouldn't be immediately usurped, but I think he was more concerned with losing power"

    I suppose. Still, I think being one of only two doctors is still a pretty safe position.

    "It may have even been a brief flashback at the start of an episode, now that I think about it."

    That does sound vaguely familiar.

    "Yeah, that was clearly the case of the director eschewing realism for the sake of artistry."

    They could've had their cake and ate it too. What if each shot that lit up the tunnel was a headshot, only it was the head of a zombie that was touching Beth. That increases the tension and gives us a plausible reason for her knowing exactly where to shoot. Just a thought...

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