The Walking Dead: Slabtown Review


By: Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)

Like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead is adapted from previous source material. This review is not meant to compare similarities and differences between the show and comic. It’s meant to be read purely as a take on the episode as it stands.

That being said, SPOILERS AHEAD.

“I know you didn’t ask for this. I didn’t either.”

After last week’s ending, it seemed rather inevitable that Beth get a lot of the attention. And she’s been taken to what just so happens to be an alarmingly normal-looking hospital called Grady Memorial, right down to the janitor mopping the floors. The dynamic of survival is always of paramount importance in The Walking Dead and members of the hospital community all have their roles to play. Officer Dawn Lerner runs the show at the hospital, dictating those roles in a way that maximizes survival in her eyes. She exhibits an almost stubborn insistence on saving people, even if it’s against their will or the doctor on hand doesn’t really recommend it.

There are hints of the Stanford Prison Study in the episode. The individuals who were clearly officers in the past life attempt to maintain that persona in the new world. There are even hints of the authority problems inherent in the study, with one of the guards (Gorman) abusing his position as a means of engaging with Beth. The power has clearly gone to his head and his character plays a great foil to Dr. Steven Edwards. Dr. Edwards is the only doctor on hand, a position he relies on heavily to keep himself alive.

Dawn is similar to Rick in many ways, as both draw upon their previous duties as officers of the law to uphold order and make difficult decisions. Dawn’s decision-making feels a little hurried and brash at times, though, which puts her in direct contrast with Rick. There’s a naivety in her that Rick exhibited early on; a certain blind optimism that things can (and will) improve as long as she maintains as normal a life as possible. It’s a pretty refreshing take as far as characters go, bringing with her a new perspective on the world in order to survive. It doesn’t seem to hit Dawn that she might have been going about it wrong until Beth tells her that no one will come save them.

As the series has progressed, there have been more and more instances of impromptu societies cropping up to fill the void. The one at Grady Memorial Hospital is a little different than what the show has proposed to this point, but showing one where the former law is still the law is pretty interesting. It also puts Beth in a very tough spot, as she’s forced to contend with certain legalities that have been long since forgotten in the world. It’s very much a kill or be killed world in The Walking Dead and even Dr. Edwards resorts to killing another doctor for fear that he’ll be replaced.

Noah is a great example of a “resident” at the hospital who doesn’t exactly agree with how things are being run. Sure, Dawn and the others are helping people, but they’re essentially treating them at the risk of them becoming indentured servants. There’s the possibility of doing enough work to pay off the debt, but Noah and Beth both realize that the debt is deep for a reason. They aspire to escape and Beth taps into some inner marksman, as she manages quite a few successive headshots in a pitch-black setting that’s reminiscent of Hit Girl in Kick-Ass. She doesn’t quite make it out, which proves good, though, as she learns that Carol is the latest patient to be admitted into Grady Memorial.

The fifth season of The Walking Dead has taken a moment to look at how other groups of survivors have grouped themselves together to survive. The members of the hospital are broken into prisoners and guards, a relationship presented under the guise of safety. Beth has grown tremendously as a character throughout the series and it was a little disheartening to see her abduction last season and Daryl’s subsequent concern. This season is splitting into three main storylines: Rick, Abraham, and Dawn, with all three groups crossing paths with one another at one point or another. Beth will likely make it back to Rick and the others with Daryl, but things look a little bleaker for Carol.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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