A valuable lesson learned, after Bob’s unfortunate demise – but not before infecting the short-lived Terminus survivors with his “tainted” meat – was that reading too much into episodes of The Walking Dead leads to a lot of disdainful discussion and it is going to be hard to not minutely dissect Beth in the hospital and not being served up on a plate somewhere as barbecue. Before even thinking about looking in depth at the episode, two things immediately strike the viewer when watching Slabtown. One, Beth has managed to be introduced to a place just as evil as Terminus and the sub-plot of the show feels sneakily similar to the Brit “zombie” horror film 28 Days Later by Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle.
The Readers Digest version of Mr. Boyle’s cult favorite, is that a bike delivery man gets hit by a car; wakes up in hospital to find London deserted – along with the medical facility and goes out into the streets, which are full of zombie-like creatures who may or may not be dead, where he meets other people and they decide to follow a radio signal to Manchester and promise of safe haven. Once there, the little group learn that the local Army commander has guaranteed his surviving soldiers women for sex, in order to keep them at a mansion which they’ve fortified.
While the commander, played brilliantly by Brit actor Christopher Eccleston, was despicable. His character’s motivations were understandable, he needed to keep discipline alive in a group of men who felt they had no reason to stay in an area surrounded by living dead zombie hordes. In The Walking Dead, Officer Dawn, has the same goal and when Beth kills a patient, after being set up by the doctor, the youngest Green sister learns that she is to be served up to the male officers in the group, not on a plate, per se, but as a treat to keep them happy. As Dawn says, “for the greater good.” The cowardly leader also tells Beth that outside the hospital she is nothing, perhaps her biggest mistake thus far, apart from her misjudging both Hershel’s daughter and Noah (Tyler James Williams).
Officer Dawn Lerner, played by Christine Woods, who believes that her actions are necessary for her group’s survival, is even more reprehensible than Eccleston’s Major Henry West in 28 Days Later. West is disgusted by the pact he made with his men to turn captured women into sexual playthings for his men. Lerner, a woman, has not one issue with turning her female charges over to the male officers to keep them happy. In her mind the woman are performing a necessary function and as such are paying back their debt for being “saved” in the first place.
The similarity of the two zombie plots with their use of women as subservient sex slaves to the male population is apparent enough that it springs instantly to mind when the disgusting Officer Gorman claims that Beth was meant to be his, obviously as a replacement for the now dead and turned Joan who was his personal “whore.” By the end of the episode the misjudged Noah has escaped. Beth learns that the entire hospital is full of the cowardly who will not fight for themselves and just as she goes to hand out a little scissor retribution, she sees Carol being brought in on a gurney.
In this week’s The Walking Dead, viewers learn that Beth is in hospital and not on a plate as a bit of “Bethecue.” Looking at previews of the next episode, it looks like Beth will remain in the medical prison at least a while longer and now she can hook up with Carol. Between these two women, the whole place will be rubble under their departing feet before too long with Officer Dawn’s cowardly, bullying head on a pole. The end scene of Slabtown makes the end of last weeks’ episode a bit clearer in terms of just whom Daryl is telling to “come out now.” It will not be either woman. It seems a dead certainty that it will be Noah who may lead the gang back to the city to exact a bit of Rick retribution, if Carol and Beth have not already done so.
By Michael Smith