‘The Walking Dead’ Season 5, Episode 4 Review: “Slabtown”

By November 3, 2014

It’s the 5th season of “AMC’s The Walking Dead” and 4 episodes in, the story provided a drastic detour as we were finally given some insight as to Beth Greene’s whereabouts since her disappearance last season. And while I’m all for new directions and new characters, I’m sad to say that last night’s episode of “The Walking Dead” was in a word: boring. For those of you not caught up, turn back now – SPOILERS BELOW!

There have been a few occasions in the show’s history where we were led down a different path with the intention of giving a backstory or two to some featured characters. Those two episodes about The Governor come to mind. And while it definitely is where last night’s episode, titled “Slabtown”, headed – it did so with too much build up and not enough of a climax to really feel like that hour of TV was worth a damn. That’s not to say that “Slabtown” was completely lacking in any interesting tidbits, so I’ll just do my best to focus on those.

While this felt like a typical bottleneck episode at the beginning, the ending gave us a reveal that shows there will definitely be a continuation to this hospital story next week. And with that reveal, here’s hoping Carol will bring some of her no-nonsense fire to this environment so we can get the much needed action and drama this episode so desperately needed.

Some familiar faces showed up in “Slabtown” including Christine Woods (“Hello Ladies”) as Dawn, Tyler James (“Everybody Hates Chris”) as Noah and Whale Rider’s Keisha Castle as Joan. The fact that these secondary characters were being portrayed by recognizable actors made the thought pass through my mind a few times that this may be where the eventual spinoff will be taking place. The main gist here is that Dawn is a cop on the verge of losing her mind or patience (or something) and she leads a team of survivors in Atlanta’s rundown Saint Ignatious Hospital. This is where Beth finds herself after awakening from an apparent near death experience. It’s quickly apparent that this hospital staff isn’t upholding anything resembling the hippocratic oath.

Poor fragile little Beth, who has proven herself to be more than meets the eye (G.I. Joe!?) in previous episodes quickly realizes she has ended up in the mix of a messed up hierarchy where Dawn easily turns a blind eye to the abuse her officers hand out as long as the greater good of survival is adhered to. She quickly finds a friend in Noah and amidst the lackluster story, they concoct a plan to escape the prison…uh I mean hospital.

Of course, within the walls of this hell…I mean hospital….is a rapey cop who continually pursues Beth in the most creepy lollipoppy (?) ways. In her attempt to find the key in Dawn’s office, rape-cop finds her and almost achieves his goal if it weren’t for recently turned zombie Joan hiding behind the desk. While this moment delivered some sort of zombie action, it felt way too convenient serving only one purpose: to move the story forward.

The escape goes forward as planned after Beth inadvertently kills Doctor Edwards’ rival, who was wheeled in earlier after jumping from a building. It’s this moment where we learn what an upstanding gentleman Noah is as he covers for Beth and receives a beating in the process. But Dawn isn’t stupid and confronts Beth later on continuing a motif of face slaps that she delivers the young blonde over and over throughout the episode.

After Rape Cop is killed by the walker, Beth and Noah make a run for it and pull a John McClane of sorts in making their way down the abandoned elevator shaft to the pile of smashed cadavers below. A few turns and they make it out into the light, which is where we are met with a horde of walkers and some fancy audio and video tricks. There’s slow motion running and chaotic cinematography that helps drive home how disorienting this whole situation is. And unlike any old “Star Trek” episode, the black guy gets away. Go Noah! While the police tackle our fragile young Beth to take her back into Saint Ignatious.

This was the moment where I let out a long sigh as it felt up until this point, not much was accomplished throughout the entirety of “Slabtown”. But that sigh was stifled as Beth witnesses the orderlies wheel a new patient into the recovery room. All I gotta say is…Carol, you better bring the pain next week!

I have to give AMC credit for taking a different unexpected direction in last night’s episode of “The Walking Dead”. Not only was it a refreshing change of pace but we were introduced to new surroundings and characters. Unfortunately, though, these characters seemed to deliver one even tone which leant to a more boring episode. Here’s hoping the inclusion of Carol into the mix will liven things up in the upcoming episode.

What were your thoughts on last night’s episode of “AMC’s The Walking Dead”? Am I wrong in my stance? Resuscitate me with your logic in the comments below!

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Aside from throwing words onto your screen here, he has written for the likes of FEARnet, Examiner, Dread Central and MTV Movies Blog. And yes, he was Percy on VR Troopers.