Episode Title: Slabtown
Director: Michael E. Satrazemis
With last week’s episode “Four Walls & A Roof” ending with the main group splitting into two, one half heading to Washington and the other half staying in the church to wait for Carol and Daryl (Norman Reedus) to return, we saw Michonne (Danai Gurira) investigate a noise, finding Daryl and an unseen person or persons, with the episode closing before we had a chance to see who was with him. A strong episode which saw Bob’s death, and plenty of other action packed moments, the question was, at the end of it, “who is with Daryl in the bushes”?
This week’s episode, “Slabtown”, opens immediately with Beth (Emily Kinney) waking up in a hospital. She is wearing patient clothing and is hooked up to a drip. Greeted by a woman in police officer’s clothing, and a man in a doctor’s uniform, Beth is told that she is in Atlanta and was saved by the people running the hospital, who apparently found her unconscious at the side of a road. Officer Dawn (Christine Woods) and Dr. Edwards (Erik Jensen) implore Beth to “pay off her debts” she garnered due to being “saved” by the hospital by working for them, cleaning and administering care to sick and injured people bring brought in. When she realises that not everyone is safe to be around, she meets Noah (Tyler James Williams), another “servant”, of sorts, who was saved by the hospital. Trying to find a way out of this strange and politically crooked new so-called “haven”, Noah and Beth make a run for it, attempting to escape, but there are plenty of people standing in their way. Reaching the outside after a risky plan that involved climbing down an elevator shaft into a ward swimming with walkers, Beth and Noah reach the outside, but Beth is captured by more of the guards, dressed as police officers. Officer Dawn attacks Beth due to her behaviour, and as Beth walks down a hallway, a blade in her hand and revenge in her eyes, she suddenly see’s Carol (Melissa McBride) being wheeled up the hallway on a stretcher, as the episode ends, another cliff-hanger in place for us to ponder over as we wait for next week’s episode.
This episode, for me, reminded me of the “Governor” episodes in Season Four, where we took a detour away from the main group storyline to spend time with a single familiar character and meet a bunch of new ones. Meeting back up with Beth was interesting, and a fairly big reveal considering we didn’t know whether she was alive or dead until this episode opened. The new characters here offer a possible new villainous group for our protagonists to eventually come into contact with, and now that Carol is being wheeled into the hospital, the question is… “is this a plan by Carol and Daryl to get inside” and “did Noah find Daryl and Carol and tell them about what was happening”? It’s interesting, and a working hospital offers a fresh new location for our characters to delve into. Kinney did a great job here, the focal point of the episode, she conveyed the emotions you might go through if you found yourself in a strange new place, untrusting of the people around you. Her performance was top notch. I wonder, also, if we might get a new member of the group with Noah, who managed to escape while Beth was being detained by the “officers” after the “break-out” sequence. This episode opens many possible corridors of where the show could go over the remainder of the season, and introducing a bunch of new characters is always an invigorating thing to see in a show like this, offering possible danger, alliances and enemies by doing so.
So far, Season 5 has been an incredibly strong season. So much has happened, and we are only four episodes into things. New characters have been introduced. Old characters have been killed. Old favourites have re-emerged, and we have seen four episodes packed with twists, turns and brilliantly written dialogue, complete with performances of the high quality we have come to expect with this phenomenal show. Now, sure, I’m a fan of The Walking Dead, so I find it hard to pick it apart like some do, but seriously, I just find it to be so well done, and with so many interesting things happening, that I don’t know why I’d want to find negatives here. Many of my favourite shows dwindled in quality as their third or fourth season came around, but this show just seems to get better and more intriguing.
Will we jump back into the hospital with Beth and Carol with episode five, or will we head back to the church? Will we jump onto the road with the group heading to Washington? Those questions will be answered in a few days. Until then, I’ll remain pleased that every episode of this season, so far, have been excellent.