I should start this review off by writing that I’ve never been terribly fond of Beth as a character. Like most of the female characters not named Sasha, Carol, or Maggie, the writers have never really given her much to do or be other than the doe-eyed innocent. What little characterization she has been given happened last year during her sojourn in the wilderness with Daryl, an odd pairing that I did enjoy watching.
But I could not come to care about her predicament in this episode.
Beth remains the doe-eyed innocent, buffeted by the actions of others around her. The events of “Slabtown” don’t really have any marked change to her character. The rest of the new characters introduced made the episode quite fascinating to watch, though. The residents of the hospital have the most backassward system I’ve encountered yet on this show. From my guess, it’s been at least a year and a half (perhaps just shy) since the outbreak and the fall of society. How this system of jobs and favors and secrets has not erupted into violence is surprising to me. I put the fact that it barely functions to the fact that human beings intrinsically want safety and security and we’re willing to swallow massive amounts of shit to have those two things.
Dawn is barely-contained rage hidden behind a façade of caring. We’ve seen something similar before in the Governor but Dawn does not possess the madness that overtook the late Governor. Instead, she is the absentee warden of a madhouse. The character of Gorman is a nightmare on two legs, entitled due to the illusion of power. Someone like this probably exerted such travesties before the apocalypse but only on the down-low. Polite society will only look aside so many times. In this hellish world, someone like Gorman is given free rein to act out their twisted little fantasies of control.
Doctor Edwards strikes me as someone who has made a deal with the devil but never read the fine print. By developing the system of favors owed for services rendered, he helped to create a group of indentured servants (of which he is also one). The worst part is he makes perfect sense during the rooftop scene with Beth. The monumentally fucked-up system the hospital developed is nothing to cheer about but it does certainly beat constantly looking over your shoulder to avoid being a Walker’s chew toy. It’s a constant shell game, only there’s no red ball underneath any of the shells. His manipulation of Beth shows that he is as much a part of what’s wrong with the system as Dawn is.
Noah recognizes the con in the hospital’s system and recognizes in Beth someone who may be able to help facilitate escape. I’m torn between whether I think Noah used Beth or whether he simply forgot to keep track of her.
The final shot of Carol being brought into the hospital on a gurney brightened my spirits quite a bit. If anyone can tear this crooked system down, it’s Carol. I’m looking forward to next week’s episode.