The whereabouts of Beth is finally revealed in her stand alone episode entitled “Slabtown”.
Everything after the break will contain spoilers and a discussion of The Walking Dead Season 5, Episode 4.
She’s Just Gone
One of the strengths of Season Five is that as quickly as the Terminus conflict wrapped up, there are a number of other story lines ready to take center stage. There’s Daryl’s quest to locate Beth and the unseen person he’s looking after in the bush. Then there’s Morgan following the Hunter’s tree markings on a possible intersect course with the Church. Somewhere down the line, all signs point to DC being an important location for the survivors. And since the ending to Season 4’s Episode 13 “Alone”, an ongoing question has been “Where is Beth?”.
Pairing Beth with Daryl in the second half of Season 4 turned out to be a good move by the writers. Not only did Beth become stronger by having Daryl as a teacher but having the series’ fan favorite character accept Beth for who she is made it a little easier for viewers to accept Beth themselves. Not every viewer is going to like Beth but she’s come a long way from being the catatonic girl back in Season 2.
Down The Elevator Shaft
Is Beth now a strong enough of a character to be the centre of an entire episode without any of the regular cast supporting her? Let me indirectly answer that by saying that as much as I’m warming to Beth, she’s not engaging enough to keep me from thinking where are Rick and the rest of the old gang. Some of it has to do with the young actress playing Beth. She’s likeable but hasn’t developed the ability to command the screen the way Andrew Lincoln or Danai Gurira can. That’s not to say “Slabtown” is lacklustre, it had its moments but it won’t go down as one of the strongest episodes of the season.
“Slabtown” started off feeling like an eerie episode of the Twilight Zone. It felt other worldly in the sense that it’s been a long time since the show has taken place in a big city. Having Beth’s eyes open in a hospital room is a call back to Rick in the pilot episode, except that there’s electricity which gave it a “is this all a dream” type feeling. By the way, creator Robert Kirkman has recently assured fans that the events of The Walking Dead are not a coma-induced dream inside Rick’s mind.
You Owe Us
It’s interesting to see how each community we come across functions. Whereas the Terminus lured people with the promise of sanctuary, the Hospital kidnaps those they believe they can easily control. Beth is a bit of a trojan horse in that the Hospital unknowingly brought in a young girl who’s deceptively more resourceful and strong-willed than she appears.
With each new community comes different leadership styles in controlling the flock so to speak. The Governor used a lot of lies and manipulation in pulling the strings in Woodbury. On the surface, Officer Dawn’s “you take and you give back” mentality doesn’t seems all that unreasonable; of course in typical Walking Dead fashion it turns out to be something more twisted, that is … indentured servitude. Between slapping Beth’s stitches and turning a blind eye to what her officers do, Dawn is one messed up lady.
Where “Slabtown” gets a little bogged down is in establishing a new cast of characters at the Hospital when I’m more invested in our regular crew. Carol arriving on a stretcher at the end does open up some more intriguing story possibilities as it’s apparent the writers are not done with this location yet.
Of the new characters, the creepy dude forcing his lollipop into Beth’s mouth got exactly what was coming to him. On the flip side, Noah was the only decent person in the hospital. Even though Beth is recaptured, she smiled as Noah escaped which not only speaks a lot about her character but also how she values freedom above all else, even if it’s not her own.
So Slabtown finally answered the question “Where is Beth?” After many months of anticipation, it would be a difficult task to meet expectations. This episode was decent enough and works well the second time watching it, but it’s not on par with the rest of the season so far.
What do you like or dislike about this episode?