Monday, November 3, 2014

Good & Bad: 'The Walking Dead' (11/2/14)
Season Five, Episode Four: “Slabtown”

Plot: Short answer is, we found Beth and she’s alive. Long answer? Eesh.
So, while Beth may be alive, she’s in a bit of a pickle, pickle in this sense meaning a hospital full of rapists, murderers, and people pretending not to notice any of the above. All of said people are dressed like cops and doctors. Some of the cops found Beth fending off zombies after she got separated from Daryl; they picked her up (in that mysterious car with the white cross on the back) and bought her to the hospital. Apparently, as we find out later, things used to be pretty cool at the hospital but then the old leader made some mistakes and bad stuff happened. As a result, new leader Lady Cop has put a system in place based on taking and give back. They saved Beth’s life so she has to become an orderly in the hospital and tend to the other patients. Not so bad, except occasionally, you have to pay off what you owe in other, rape-ier ways.
Beth befriends the hospital’s only doctor, named Doctor or something, who she’s assigned to assist. She also befriends the kid from “Everybody Hates Chris,” who works in the laundry. Doctor handles backstory duties and fills her in on the hospital culture; “Everybody Hates Chris” fills her in on his plan to escape because things there suck.
Then an overwhelming amount of things happen. Most importantly, I think, a guy comes in that Doctor claims is a lost cause. Lady Cop insists he save the man. Doctor does so and then orders Beth to give him some meds. The guy has a seizure and dies and the Doc tells Beth she gave him the wrong drug.
Beth gets slapped around by Lady Cop for this, so she decides to join up with “Everybody Hates Chris” and escape. After narrowly avoiding getting raped by A-Hole Cop by feeding him to a nearby walker, Beth meets up with “Everybody Hates Chris” and they lower themselves down an elevator shaft using an honest to god rope made from tied-together towels. Just when they seem to be home-free, walkers attack them in the parking lot, a group of cops descends on the scene, “Everybody Hates Chris” escapes, leaving Beth behind.
After all this, Beth confronts Doctor and says he intentionally told her the wrong drug to give to the guy. She says he did this because the other guy was also a doctor which could have made Doctor expendable. Doctor agrees to all this and basically says “Gotta do, what’cha gotta do.”
Right before Beth can kill him, Carol rolls in on a stretcher and everyone is all DAMN!


Bad: This episode, all by its lonesome, had enough story in it to fuel the “Walking Dead” spinoff for like six seasons. Look at that fricking plot summary. I didn’t even get to the part where the girl from “Whale Rider” shows up as a rape victim and gets her arm cut off or how Beth is once again told at length she’s not fit for this world or how her attempted suicide from three seasons ago is referenced or the way the cops chuck recently dead bodies into the lobby full of walkers to keep them happy – and everyone else trapped inside.  

Bad: Too much backstory too. Usually this show is aces when it comes to backstory. Here, it is an overwhelming, jumbled mess. Everybody just kept casually, vaguely monologing about the way things used to be like I was there to see it. I pieced together the backstory, but most of what I got is from assuming that the hospital is a riff on Terminus: Things were good, a leader made a mistake, things went bad and in the effort to rebuild a utopia, a healthy dose of dystopia snuck in.

Bad: There are way too many new characters in this episode. All these new characters whose names I already didn’t remember kept referencing other characters by name like I was supposed to know those names too.

Bad: That was exhausting.

Good: This overall episode. It was ridiculously ambitious and it kept tripping over itself trying to do way too much, but it was a nice episode.

Good: Love the parallels between the Hospital and Terminus. Both groups’ attempts to rebuild society started in the same place (“We’re going to build a utopia!”), but then the world took a dump on that idea and they each reached the same conclusion: There’s no place for good people in the world right now. Maybe one day, but right now, good people suffer. So they each adopted a code they thought would save them. In Terminus it was “You’re either the butcher or the cattle” and they embraced cannibalism. In the hospital it was “Take and give back” and they all got used to turning a blind eye towards the ugliness that could and did bring. The failure of these efforts to rise above the level of, say, Crazy Joe’s biker gang (a sort of animalistic, proto-society of claimers) seems to spell bad things for the Grimes’ crew and their efforts to be decent people in an indecent world. Quoting Two-Face.

Bad: Before the Doctor’s grand plan to kill the dude was revealed, I had to wonder, just why on Earth anyone would trust the guy’s life to Beth, who’s basically a total stranger with no real medical background (save for her vet father, but these people don’t know that). But then we find out he intended for her to kill him, tricked her and that Beth is actually an expert medicine-giver/listener.

Bad: I can’t take a rope made out of blankets or towels or bed sheets seriously. I just can’t.

Good: That shootout in the basement, lit by muzzle flashes. Bad ass.

Good: I’m a big fan of “Everybody Hates Chris” skunking out on Beth. I mean, dude at least looked a little guilty about it while he was leaving her behind. This was also better than the other two options: He dies helping Beth escape, confirming every other character’s theory that Beth is just a super-cute, blonde death sentence for those around her. The other option was he survives and we immediately cut back to the church where Fr. Gabe has a sudden, massive coronary because rules are rules.

Good: Beth’s little smile watching him escape. Is she happy because he got away? Or, is she smiling because for once someone used her and her skills as a stepping stone, proving that she does have value in walker world? I like to think a little of both.

Bad: Oh my god, despite all the story, I’ve still got questions. Why was Lady Cop so dead set on Doctor saving that guy? She seemed mostly cold and calculating throughout, but she really wanted that dude to live even though he was pretty well f’d. Did she know him? Did she know he was a doctor too? If she did, why didn’t it come up?

Bad: Beth had a rough go of it this week, which doesn’t sit well with me. There was the attempted rape by A-Hole Cop, who looked suspiciously like Seth McFarland, Lady Cop pretty much slugged her every time she say here, “Everybody Hates Chris” bailed on her. Poor adorable Beth.

Bad: What happened to that dog, by the way?

Bad: How the hell did Beth know the other guy was a doctor? Did she just piece that together from … what? Thin air, hopes, dreams and fairy dust? Goddamn, I have a feeling “The Walking Dead” is lucky Beth is cute. If this had been a Carl episode, I would still be screaming obscenities at my TV screen.

Good: Carol showing up at the end all passed out and so forth. She might be unconscious now, but if recent history has told us anything, she’ll be up and about disguising herself as a cop by wearing his or her skin like a Halloween costume in like five minutes. Book it.          

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