Fade in on Beth regaining consciousness in a hospital, where she discovers in a scene reminiscent of the first episode of the series, that Atlanta is in ruins. Beth pounds on the locked door to her room and Dr Steven Edwards and Officer Dawn Lerner enter the room and inform her that she was brought after being found alone and being attacked by walkers. They tell her that there was nobody with her, and that she is in Grady Memorial Hospital. She has a fractured wrist and minor lacerations, but that they saved her… and Dawn adds ominously that she OWES them.
Dawn accompanies Dr Edwards to another patient’s room where she is aghast to learn that if patients do not respond, they are rather draconianly disposed of down an elevator shaft to the walkers below for disposal as food.
Dr Edwards gives her a basic rundown of operations in the hospital, and then she goes to the cafeteria, where she meets a creepy officer named Gorman. He tries to intimidate her, insinuating that she “owes” him for saving her on the road, and that she should “show him appreciation” or he will charge her for everything that she eats. She picks up Dr Edwards’s tray and leaves her own, giving him an appropriate disdainful look as she leaves.
In the hallway, she witnesses Dawn imperiously giving another resident of the hospital orders as she passes on her way to Dr Edwards’s office. Dr Edwards jadedly expresses his boredom with the situation, and takes his Dinner. Upon asking where Beth’s tray is, she tells him that “The more I take, the more I owe”.
He offers Beth her first taste of Guinea Pig, which she accepts. As they discuss a painting in his office, Dawn appears in the door announcing a new patient. They go to the ER and find a man who has fallen from a window escaping walkers. His injuries are extensive but Dawn demandingly wants him saved.
When she discovers that recovery is not likely, she belts Beth, ripping her stitches in the process and orders Dr Edwards to “Remember what is at stake”. Dr Edwards tends to Beth and then Leaves so that she can change out of the blood spattered scrubs she is wearing. Beth smiles as she discovers discovers a green lollypop in the pocket. When she emerges from the room, a bitten and bleeding young woman named Joan is being wheeled in on a gurney by Gorman and another officer. Beth is told to hold her down as the bitten arm is sawed off against the woman’s wishes, but saving her life.
After the ordeal, Beth takes her bloody scrubs to the hospital laundry and meets Noah, the young man who Dawn was ordering around earlier. He identifies himself as being “of the Lollypop Guild”.
She thanks him for the consideration. He tells her the straight story on the hospital and how he came to be there. He says that wile Dawn is tentatively in charge, it probably won’t last, and the situation is dire as far as anyone that they capture and bring in (they all wind up in indentured servitude to Dawn and the other officers who are all on a mad power trip), and that he is planning to escape back to Richmond, Virginia where his family has a secure walled compound to live in.
Beth is joined later by Dawn who tries to convince her that she should be grateful and tries to give her a new perspective on the hospital, claiming that she is keeping all of it going until they are “rescued” and that the normal world will resume eventually. She tells Beth that she needs to eat to keep up her strength so that she can “pay back what she owes” them for rescuing her, and that she may leave after that is accomplished.
Later, Beth is quietly humming to herself while mopping up the blood from the earlier amputation of Joan’s arm. Joan expresses her appreciation of Beth’s humming to herself and they talk briefly about the regime that Dawn has created and the fact that Dawn is aware of the abuses, sexual and otherwise, that her officers inflict on the weaker female residents, but that she turns a blind eye to them because it is easier to maintain some semblance of control over them by letting them have their way in that. Joan explains Dawn’s attitude, aptly pointing out that “it’s easier to make a deal with the Devil when you aren’t the one paying the price,” much to Beth’s dismay.
Later back in her room, Beth looks for the lollypop she carefully hid under her mattress for later, and upon not finding it, is surprised by Gorman standing in the doorway behind her, asking if she has lost something. He has the lollypop and rips the cellophane off of it, putting it in his mouth.
Things get creepy as he forces it into her mouth, but the situation is averted by Dr Edwards coming into the room and demanding that Gorman leave her alone. Gorman says that Beth was supposed to be his, and insinuates that he will be getting Joan back as well. Dr Edwards confronts him as Dawn appears in the door, and Gorman insinuates threateningly that both Edwards and Dawn are replaceable, but he leaves, followed down the hallway by a clearly concerned Dawn.
When they are alone, Beth asks Edwards why he stays. He shows her the zeds on the ground floor and tells her the history of the hospital from the initial outbreak on, and that no matter how bad it was inside, it was much worse outside.
After bringing Beth up to current on the history of the hospital, Dr Edwards tells Beth to go and give the new patient, Mr Trevor, 75 milligrams of Clozapine. Beth prepares the injection and administers it as Noah comes in with the floor mop. Before anything can be discussed between them, Trevor starts to seize and dies on the table.
Dawn comes in and jams a pair of scissors into his temple to avoid him turning, and then demands an explanation from Beth and Noah. Noah lies and takes the blame, claiming to have accidentally unplugged the ventilator while mopping. Dawn has him taken to her office where he is badly beaten. Dr Edwards, upon hearing that Trevor started seizing, tries to confirm that Beth gave him CLONAZAPAM, and denies telling her to give him the Clozapine. After the beating of Noah, Dawn confronts Beth in her room and tells her that she knows that Noah lied, but justifies her actions based upon the mistakes of her former commander. She tells Beth that everything has to be sacrificed for the greater good, but that Beth is not worthy.
Beth sees Noah and tells him that she wants to go with him when he escapes. Noah tells her of a spare key to the elevator shaft located in Dawn’s office and Beth goes to get it. While going through the office, she discovers Joan dead in the floor in a pool of blood behind the desk, having committed suicide using a pair of scissors. Beth resumes her search for the key and finds it just as Gorman enters the office, seeing what she has in her hand.
Gorman tries to take advantage of the situation and force himself on Beth, but Beth goes “Lolloypop Guild” on him, grabbing the handy candy jar from the desk and smashing it over his head, causing him to fall right into the waiting arms of the now-turned Joan, whom he wanted back so badly. He gets her in the end, just not in the way he intended, and in a clear case of poetic justice, she has HER way with HIM instead as Beth grabs Gorman’s gun and escapes into the hall.
Beth encounters Dawn in the hallway and she tells her that Gorman and Joan are waiting for her in her office.
She takes the key to Noah and they go down the elevator shaft. in the process, Noah gets grabbed through the partially-open first floor doors and falls the rest of the way. His leg gets banged up, but they escape into the basement and fight their way outside into the loading dock area.
They fight their way across the lot in the blinding sunlight as the walkers get picked off one by one by Beth using Gorman’s gun and also (unbeknownst to Beth) by officers that have been dispatched to stop their escape.
Beth gets briefly cornered by walkers and in the time it takes her to get around them she is taken down by an officer, but she smiles as she sees that Noah made a clean getaway.
Inside, Dawn demands an explanation of the scene in her office.
Beth accuses her of allowing the abuses that her officers commit, all in the name of surviving until an imaginary rescue, and tells her once and for all that it’s not going to happen and that nobody is coming to their rescue. Enraged, Dawn knocks her out. When Beth regains consciousness, Dr Edwards is stitching up a new gash in her forehead.
When he finishes, she confronts him with the fact that she knows the truth. He deliberately told her to give Trevor the wrong medication because he knew what Dawn also knew: Trevor was ALSO a doctor, and if he had lived, it would have made Edwards expendable, so he had Beth kill him off to protect his position as the only doctor.
Disgusted, Beth goes out into the hallway, armed with the same scissors that ended Joan and fully intending to use them to lethal effect… just in time to see a gurney being rolled in with a new patient: CAROL.
Review and Projections for Slabtown:
I gotta say, I LIKE the direction that this is going, and I LOVE that Beth is FINALLY BACK! Far removed from the timid girl of the farm in Season 2, THIS Beth has come into her own and is learning that she has bigger balls than most of the men around her when she needs to accomplish her goals… and she’s damn sure not afraid of Dawn!
I now believe that rather than Morgan (or possibly in addition to him) however, the one behind Daryl in the wood-line is none other than Noah (lately of the Lollypop Guild), and that somehow his path intertwined with Daryl and Carol’s, and that chaos ensued implementing a plan to get Carol inside undercover to rescue Beth. This is by NO means a filler story, as some have claimed, but rather a carefully-calculated and neatly-weaved web that, if I am correct, will have profound implications for the entire group, as evidenced by Abraham’s appearance in the sneak-peek of Episode 5 on Talking Dead. I’m thinking that Abraham has sent Daryl and Noah back to the church to retrieve Rick and the rest so that a proper assault can be mounted against Dawn’s forces to save Beth and Carol and get the WHOLE group moving toward DC, probably dropping by Noah’s “walled” family compound in Richmond, Virginia to rest up, restock and prepare for the final leg of the trip to Wonderland.
I give this episode 4 out of 5 bitten-off (or otherwise creatively-severed) thumbs up!
That’s my take… What’s yours?
Skot “Zombie Guru” Pierson,