The end of the fourth season left a few questions hanging over our intrepid survivors. The largest question, of course, was what would become of the main group during their time at Terminus? That question was answered quickly, and both Terminus and it’s residents are left in the dust of the Ricktocracy. But another question was nagging at the minds of series fans, and it took until the fourth episode before we even got close to an answer.
What happened to Beth?
After all, we hadn’t seen her since she was taken from Daryl’s protective (albeit moonshiney) care by a mysterious care emblazoned with a cross in the back window. Now we know that she ended up in a hospital, back in the thoroughly destroyed city of Atlanta. But is this hospital what it seems? Of course not. This is The Walking Dead, and things can never be that benevolent.
Aside from bringing Beth’s story back towards the forefront, the fourth episode also provided a bit of a breather from the heavy action of the start of this season. It was more introspective, quiet, and atmospheric than what we’d been subjected to in the initial run-up, which not only provided a nice pacing break, but it also helped showcase how different Beth’s story CAN be from the rest of the group. She was trying to proclaim her status as a survivor to Daryl, but she might actually be earning that title now.
Thankfully, from this column’s perspective, there was no shortage of head-scratching moments, either. Let’s take some time to perform a little surgery inside of “Slabtown”.
Maybe it’s a little harsh to look too much into Noah’s actions, especially given that, clearly, Beth was pulling for him at the end of the episode. Still, maybe Noah could have worked out a better system for finding (and accepting) allies than his quick and dirty candy delivery. Sure, he seemed to be the only one actually doing laundry, so he was kind of able to sneak things through there, but this is a hospital where every piece of kindness comes with a debt, including food. Eventually, someone was bound to notice that suckers were ending up with people who might be sympathetic to Noah’s cause.
4. Dr. Steven Edwards
Sure, Dr. Edwards was the only person other than Noah to actually seem to show any sort of kindness towards Beth in the episode. Yes, he has accepted that survival at this point is probably more important than artistic pursuits. And he was clearly looking out for his own interests (while framing a new “recruit” for his crime) in the death of Trevitt. All that said, Dr. Edwards lands here for deciding to show Beth “why they were fighting”. First off, she’s actually been out in the world since the outbreak, so she’s probably got a pretty decent idea. Secondly, banging loudly to draw the Walkers? Yes, everything was fine (this time), but in a world overrun with walking corpses, and a city that was napalmed not terribly long ago, how confident of welds can you really be?
3. Officer Gorman
Oh, Officer Gorman. Also known as Officer Rapey-McRaperson. And, thankfully, Officer Dead-Because-Beth-WAY-Outsmarted-You. You had your brief time to make sure that everyone knew how creepy you were. You made it clear that you weren’t all that thrilled with being a subordinate in the hospital, and you thought that you had some sort of sick right of possession over the women who came to the hospital as patients. It really isn’t all that surprising that you didn’t check around when you discovered Beth in Lerner’s office. Maybe you should have sensed something was off when this woman who clearly had a fighter’s spirit actually seemed willing to go along with your violation. Or maybe it was just about ethics in zombie journalism.
2. Officer Dawn Lerner
Officer Dawn Lerner is, ostensibly, the person keeping the entire hospital running, and, from the account relayed by Dr. Edwards, actually kept it from crumbling completely during an earlier panic-induced collapse. That said, Officer Lerner falls onto this list pretty much for her continued believe that everything she did, or didn’t, do was for the greater good. Lerner is so convinced that the world will return to normal that she’s completely blinded to the fact that terrible atrocities are being committed right under her nose. Never has it been more obvious that the ends do not justify the means, especially when the ends are so incredibly unlikely to happen. Besides, it’s not highly likely that you’ll be able to inspire loyalty in any new “recruits” (regardless of how they were recruited) when they are forced to a sort of indentured servitude just so they can get some hospital food.
1. Beth Greene
There are actually a lot of things that Beth did very intelligently over the course of “Slabtown”. She was able to gather more information than she probably should have, even before her escape attempt with Noah. She eliminated Gorman from the equation, almost making it seem as though she’d intentionally lured him into a trap just to take him out. And she was able to help get Noah free, despite it meaning her own recapture. That said, Beth’s biggest mistake is that she just kept blindly trusting those who showed her kindness. She’s always been a character who’s wanted to see the good in others first, but you’d think that waking up in a random hospital with no memory exactly how she got there (or how she got separated from the man who helped her get her first drink) would set her on edge, but one little piece of guinea pig and she was suddenly very trusting of Edwards. One lollipop, and she’s ready to hatch an escape plan with Noah. The girl is clearly a little food-focused. I’d hate to think what might have happened if Carl had offered her some of his giant tub of pudding.
That wraps up “Slabtown”. Fingers crossed, and “Self Help” will be appearing later this week.