The Walking Dead: Slabtown   Show Only 
November 2, 2014 7:40 PM - Season 5, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Beth wakes up in a hospital.

♫ Everybody hates Beth ♫
posted by Sys Rq (78 comments total)
 
TWD was doing so well with pacing this season. And then the momentum stopped to give us an hour of Beth getting menaced by Paul Blart, Rape Cop in a set piece from Resident Evil. And the cliffhanger from last week seriously is on track to be resolved two weeks from now. Come on, show. This whole hour could have been the first act of an episode. I was really hoping that the decompression was a thing of the past, but it looks like it's sticking it out indefinitely by which I mean to say let's take the long way around and really make sure we like soak up the nuance of a thing that you know just because we could finish it quick doesn't mean
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:47 PM on November 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


My low expectations weren't low enough. So many questions, none of which the writers intend for us to ask. We are what, 2.5 years post-apocalypse? How the eff does this hospital still have generator power? They are sitting around with lamps on like it's not INSANE to have electricity. Also, I thought that Terminus/the prison were like... not super close to Atlanta? How freaking far are these hospital people driving out to look for people? Isn't that a waste of gas for them to drive out to rural Georgia to find weakling survivors to force into indentured servitude of... ironing? What the hell.
posted by gatorae at 8:38 PM on November 2, 2014 [15 favorites]


So many things about The Walking Dead make more sense if you mentally assign levels to the characters, as if they were D&D characters. Why does our group fare so much better against ordinary zombies than they used to back in season 1? Well, because at this point they're just all really high level. Why is the Governor in charge of Woodbury instead of anybody else? Well, because he's the highest-level person in the town, duh. Why is Rick so wildly inconsistent about who he lets join the gang and who he sends on their way? Oh sure, you can claim he's judging by "survival skills" or whatever but let's face facts: he knows a high-level character (Michonne, Tyreese, Abraham) is an asset and a low-level character (like those kids he and Carol met when they were out scavenging) is a liability. Lately some of the characters have even occasionally displayed glimpses of that kind of attitude you get when high-level PCs run into like, bandits or kobolds or angry shopkeepers, and even the characters know they're higher level than this threat. (Terminus was more or less a classic Tucker's Kobolds scenario until Carol caught them by surprise. The surviving "kobolds" leveled up a little but without their trap-filled dungeon were still no match for the PCs.)

Anyways, once I saw the level-based-RPG nature of TWD's world I couldn't unsee it. So pretty much as soon as the episode started I was like, "Ah, so, Beth gets a solo adventure so she can level up a bit, she was awfully underleveled compared to the rest of the party." And man, that whole shooting-their-way-out-of-the-basement bit? Don't even try and tell me that's not a Beth-gains-a-level montage.

Anyways this is how I have to make sense of TWD sometimes. From a storytelling perspective does it make any sense? Nah, not really. But running a solo adventure for the underleveled PC? Sure, makes perfect sense to this old gamer.
posted by mstokes650 at 9:13 PM on November 2, 2014 [37 favorites]


I feel pretty conflicted about this episode, except for the escape through the basement, which I thought was really well done. The illuminated gunshots and exploding zombie heads was great.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:19 PM on November 2, 2014


Yeah, first rubbish episode of the season. It's not that the hospital scenario couldn't have been interesting, but they didn't do enough groundwork, like the first scene is all "you owe us" but then they never really explicitly say that Beth is imprisoned there and not allowed to leave, and they make some sort of references to how she needs to pay for food and then leave it vague and don't explain how much it's supposed to cost or what they use for money.

Also the electricity thing is beyond ridiculous and they could have handwaved it away by just showing some solar panels on the roof scene or something, but they neglected to. And if they have electricity, surely they could have scavenged a shortwave radio and determined whether anyone actually was out there or not.

Finally, the one doctor's motivation to kill the other doctor was ridiculous. "Oh, we got a new doctor! Time to kill the old one, because having two people with immensely valuable and rare training would just be too much doctor."
posted by whir at 10:26 PM on November 2, 2014 [5 favorites]


Plus, despite the one-armed lady's screaming that "you can't control them" there only seem to be two police officers the whole place, plus a few uniformed extras. And we never get a demonstration of what exactly these cops are useful for to begin with, so much so that the commander is willing to turn a blind eye to them raping the populace of the hospital. Overall I thought the writing was just really bad in this one, completely void of that "show don't tell" idea.
posted by whir at 10:30 PM on November 2, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was wondering if I was alone in being bored by General Zombie Hospital. And I wasn't!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 11:12 PM on November 2, 2014 [2 favorites]


I kinda liked this episode, but I like Beth and I like the kid Noah. Speaking of which --

And the cliffhanger from last week seriously is on track to be resolved two weeks from now.

-- is there any doubt that it's Noah that Darryl arrives with, rejoining Rick and the others? I will bet everyone here a dollar that it's Noah.

Finally, the one doctor's motivation to kill the other doctor was ridiculous.

Well, it was certainly paranoid. But being the only doctor might make himself not just indispensable but immune to lesser punishments as well.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 2:55 AM on November 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


Joan was kind of a throwaway character for a former Oscar nominee, though.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 3:00 AM on November 3, 2014


I didnt think so, but maybe this episode was too... subtle? It took a little while to get there, but they did everything except come out and say it. Well, in her conversation with Beth, the leader basically DID say that Beth was weak and if she didnt put out to "the officers" then she would have no value. This is a touchy subject and the writers were probably trying to be sensitive about it while telling a gritty story.

It was obvious that the leader hated the doctor and wanted him gone, but couldn't get rid of him or even control him because he was the only doctor. Again, this didn't need to be stated. The doc knew that as soon as he was made redundant he was a goner, so he did what he needed to survive.

I like these slow, psychological, world building episodes when they are done well. This one wasn't perfect. But I thought it was worth it to get a glimpse of a new mini society inside the devastated world. My biggest problem with it is I hate cliff hangers :)

Separating Beth into standalone episodes was the wrong choice. She was never a strong enough character on her own to drive these stories. If it were Michonne or Carol in the hospital instead of Beth, I think everyone would have loved it.

Yes, the timeline is wacky. This story would work better four or six months in. Two years is a little peculiar. But if you have a story to tell, you make it work with what you have I guess.

How far is the main group from Atlanta? We saw a map last week. Did they get closer again when finding Terminus?

My assumption is also that it is Noah with Darryl. The officers were probably chasing him and ran into Carol, taking her instead and hooking him up with Darryl. I hope we dont have to wait two weeks to find out!
posted by 2ht at 4:30 AM on November 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm kind of in the middle of the opinion here on this episode. Some things I hated and some things I thought were really stupid and nonsensical. But I'm in the minority who likes Beth and I think that you sort of have to understand this episode in the context of the last time we saw her, which was her coming into her own -- this was a continuation of that and it works for me. What I like about her is that she's different from other characters -- she's holding onto her essential goodness and (relative) optimism, but is becoming more capable in this world. I liked Bob's optimism, too. I feel like the writers and the audience don't quite understand that misery and life circumstance is pretty relative and it's astonishing how you can look at the most horrible environments you can imagine with people living terrible lives but who are, well, pretty much like people generally are. Some are angry and cynical and hardened, some are weirdly happy and optimistic and open-hearted. People are weird. I like this weirdness. People just do what they do, and they will continue to do and be those things, even after the zombie apocalypse. I think the show needs Beth.

But a lot of the hospital just bothered and/or bored me, and not just because so much of it doesn't make sense. Dawn's (?) monologues about how awful things are made me want Beth to say, hey, you know I've been out there all this time and, really, this is a pretty nice thing you've got going here. You seem comfy. Your speech isn't impressing me. Well, I think that Beth was actually thinking that. But from an audience perspective, it really gets old to keep seeing this scenario of people in these little enclaves being sure that they're the islands of safety and civilization and that maintaining this justifies anything. It may well be that it is realistic -- but it's boring in its repetition in terms of storytelling. I wanted Beth to roll her eyes at Dawn, on the audience's behalf, as well as her own.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:01 AM on November 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


Overall, I liked it. A nice break from the frenetic pace so far. And Beth only seems wide-eyed innocent. She tricked the cop, was going to kill the doctor, shot her way out of a basement, stomped a zombie's head and was truly glad that the kid was able to get away. She couldn't have done any of that fresh from the farm I think.

I fan-wanked an indestructible generator. Only mildly annoying. I was more bothered by the seemingly inexhaustible supply of water (to have freshly laundered clothing, are you nuts?!) and enough medicine to waste on anyone who had less than a 60% shot at survival.

If Darryl's big reveal is Noah, that doesn't seem to bode well for other members of the cast.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 5:31 AM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I am getting tired of all the evil or douchebag people, though. You'd think survival is so damn hard, especially when you're depending on people to have your back, that being evil would just be too much effort.

And, of course, there's nothing to stop everyone doing as Beth did and picking off the abusers one-by-one or ganging up on them. Why didn't they?
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 5:37 AM on November 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


I was hoping that a Beth-centric episode meant they were finally going to start giving her desires, opinions, free will, character development, etc. We saw glimmers of that at the end of season 4. She's so often written as a non-character – just nurturing everyone else and doing a lot of fragile, doe-eyed blinking. (Carl's been on the show barely longer than Beth, and he's gotten a thoughtful character arc and has turned from a boy into a young man. Beth just...keeps doing what everyone else tells her to do.)

So, yeah. Maybe this is the beginning of Beth coming into her own. Too early to say yet. I hope so. She's a wasted character otherwise.

Rape Cop was a cheap and gratuitous way to give Beth conflict to respond to. And Beth's recapture at the end felt like a gimmick to underscore the gravity of an already gratuitously underscored situation.

(It's tricky, though. Sexual assault, sometimes systematic, is a real thing that happens in war and other socially unstable situations. When you have characters who are brutal and amoral in every other way, and who have the opportunity to get away with rape, then the writers can either (a) handwave it away and pretend that rape isn't even a thing that would occur to anyone, which feels dishonest – or (b) go ahead and acknowledge and engage the issue, which is really, really difficult to do well. This episode did not do it well.)

Lastly: I never find it plausible when the show depicts survivors, years into the apocalypse, still faithfully serving the principles and wearing the uniforms of their old jobs. It's the apocalypse. Whether they originally held those jobs because of the respect it earned them from others, or the good work they thought it allowed them to do, or out of abstract allegiance to some institution (e.g., their country), or whatever it was – all of that is gone. I get that Slappy Cop doesn't believe, or won't accept, that it's gone – but she has an entire police force, not only still wearing their uniforms, but maintaining its chain of command? Not plausible.

It's a weirdly essentialist view of people. Like, okay, my city and the world have been taken over by living corpses, almost everyone I've ever known is dead, the power structure I used to report to (and indeed civilization as we know it) have collapsed utterly – so I guess I'll just keep on donning my uniform every morning and being a cop.

The show has done this before with the military. I feel like it's a missed opportunity to examine how those people would really respond in this dire situation. Rick is a much more believable example: he stopped wearing his uniform; it's been ages since anyone has even mentioned that he is/was a cop (what the hell does it matter now?) – but he draws on the experience of who he was before the fall: taking charge, staying in control under pressure, handling a handgun. He's a person, not just A Cop.

But! I really like the theory that Daryl returns with Noah. It makes perfect sense.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 5:46 AM on November 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


Oh, and: gasoline would no longer be good, so gas generators would be useless. And even if gas was still good, the risk involved in getting it would be such that they would ration it: not blaze every light in the building, and run a full-service laundry and a commercial kitchen, and (apparently) buff the floors, and so on.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 5:48 AM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


A big part of TWD is exploring the evil in people. Yeah, it gets a little tiring when it seems that every new group we run into is bad business. But that's only because we easily forget the good since they tend to die quicker, or get absorbed in the group.

Here are some of the good people we've run into since the original group: Morgan, Hershel and his family, Michonne, Tyrese and his sister, Bob, Abraham's crew, and the priest Gabriel. Those are only the ones who stuck around, there were others who died quickly (some of the prison crew) or that we never got close to (hitchhiker, the couple Carol and Rick ran into).

So I think it only feels that everyone out there is evil since those people turn into recurring antagonists. The past few seasons have really gone heavy into "what makes a person good or evil?" and "what is evil anyway?" The Terminites were evil "only" because people were evil to them. The motorcycle gang that Darryl picked up with were not evil within the confines of their own new world rules, much like this hospital that Beth is at.

Gabriel felt that he had done evil and sinned by simply turning away his parish and fending for himself. We have seen Rick's group do that several times and it was "survival" rather than "sinning."
posted by 2ht at 6:01 AM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


I never find it plausible when the show depicts survivors, years into the apocalypse, still faithfully serving the principles and wearing the uniforms of their old jobs.

I thought that might be one of the most plausible parts of this whole episode. In an apocalypse, I think a large amount of people will do exactly that: try to maintain whatever shred of normality they can, as well as existing (if now non-functional) protective social structures. The idea that in the apocalypse everyone will start behaving like it's black friday and the walmart only has one tv in stock--to me that's ridiculous.
posted by tofu_crouton at 6:17 AM on November 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


Daryl returns with Noah, for sure. Here's my guess: Noah runs away and happens upon Daryl and Carol, who are following the car with the white cross. Assuming that Beth and Noah had conversations off screen, Noah recognizes the guy with the cross-bow as one from Beth's group. Noah then tells Carol and Daryl about what is going on at the hospital and what is happening to Beth. They decide that Carol will be bait for the crazy cops to come get her while Daryl and Noah go back and get Rick & Co.
posted by LizBoBiz at 6:39 AM on November 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


It was an awkward episode, no question, but not all bad. It was a bit too subtle and unfocused, probably needed another draft or two.

Still, the most important element to take from this is that Beth is willing to do what needs to be done, but she hasn't lost her sense of joy for the little things when they happen. She was genuinely happy that Noah got away, even though he left her behind. That's a good point to make about her as a character, but the proceeding hour that lead up to it felt forced. Seriously, the hospital situation with its water, electricity and what not just seemed ridiculous for that world. Dawn and Gorman seemed conveniently evil.

Also, Beth is tough. She takes a beating, figures out the doctor's scheme, and is ready and willing t kill if need be and calls out Dawn. But she's still smiles about Noah getting away. That's something.

Last season was enjoyable for the way it split the characters into smaller groups and explored them separately. This episode wasn't a good continuation of that idea, hope they resolve all of this soon.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:28 AM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Joan was kind of a throwaway character for a former Oscar nominee, though.

I can only hope that the Walking Dead makes use of Barkhad Abdi soon, because he has exactly one forthcoming film listed.
posted by maxsparber at 8:31 AM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't say this episode was exactly boring, but I just couldn't muster a lot of interest in so many new characters that I knew I'll probably see once or never again. (Three didn't even make it to the end of the episode.)

I guess I'll just keep on donning my uniform every morning and being a cop.

I think Rick's decision to lose the uniform is an important distinction. Our hero was a LEO, but presumably a "good cop" whose experience is an asset, in addition to giving him plausible access to guns and supplies in the early days of the show. Once he established himself as the leader of his group he did not need the trappings of authority to maintain that position. But someone who is power-hungry like Dawn* would want to use the uniform to intimidate others and maintain power, and why others with Authoritarian Personalities would continue their roles as foot soldiers; they either don't know any other way or simply find comfort in it. It's also worth noting that Korl wears Rick's sheriff hat now.

I think a large amount of people will do exactly that: try to maintain whatever shred of normality they can

I think Abraham straddles both of these worlds. Like most members of the military, his uniform is his identity, but as a Sergeant he would have been used to both giving and receiving orders. No doubt the fatigues (and they unspoken messages they project) are also an asset when he encounters new people so I don't see any reason why he would abandon them.

And that leaves us with everyone else. We know from flashbacks that at least some of our gang, like Michonne, adopted a New World uniform, but even when they have found moments of peace no one seems interested in a change of clothes. Fashion would not be a priority, obviously, but at minimum, clothes that are tattered offer less protection, and certainly wouldn't have the same lifespan in a real zombie apocalypse. (Where I can get a magic tank top like Maggie's?) The one bright exception to this is Beth, who picks out a new outfit at the store she and Daryl find. Now, to piggyback on mstokes650's DnD analogy, her new hospital gown uniform now de-levels her in a sense, preparing her for her adventure.

Also the electricity thing is beyond ridiculous

Also, the fact that the doc says they rarely venture out, and while they may have a lifetime supply of surgical sponges after all this time they'd still need to be going out all the time for food and other supplies. And how has guinea pig become a staple, exactly?

If Darryl's big reveal is Noah, that doesn't seem to bode well for other members of the cast.

Ik ben afgesneden, can you expand on this? I'm not seeing why that would be the case.

TL;DR: A) Uniforms, we all wear them. 2) Episode=Boring, FanFare=Not Boring.


*We don't actually know that she or her officers were ever even real cops. I would totally believe that people would steal uniforms and pretend to be former police officers.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:04 AM on November 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


Ik ben afgesneden, can you expand on this? I'm not seeing why that would be the case.

I'm obviously not that poster, but if we're going by previous happenings, black male cast members should shake in their boots when a new black male cast member shows up. Because there's a decent chance one of them is on the way out if a new one has been introduced.

As far as this episode, it was terrible. Every 10 minutes I just kept saying what is this? The few moments I enjoyed was them letting Beth just stand in the hallway and stare out at the operation, and the couple of views of the city. Otherwise, this was terrible by this show's standards. It was just pointless. I'm at the point where it just feels like this was a bye week for the show. Like, the show practiced, but did not have any real events that counted.
posted by cashman at 9:54 AM on November 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh, oh, I misread it as all/any others in the cast. Sadly, this would make more sense.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:18 AM on November 3, 2014


I get that gasoline would be difficult to find, but my question is: where are all the barbers?

People seem pretty well coiffed in this here hellscape.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 10:23 AM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


That's just because the most popular haircuts nowadays look done by a straight razor at a dead run.
posted by maxsparber at 10:26 AM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


This ep was so disjointed I seriously thought I'd fallen asleep a few times and missed some exposition. I feel like maybe the ep wasn't coming together, so they cut a bunch of stuff and decided to go with subtlety and inference. But still, way too many questions. Like, how did the amputated arm woman end up on the floor in the woman cop's office? Did the bad guy cop assault her there? If so, why there, and why leave her on the floor? Why did the woman cop smack Beth when the patient died? And why didn't Beth ask why she got smacked? Why was the cop so mad the patient died? Did she know the person? Why wasn't Beth pissed off and asking lots of questions from the get go? Did she sort of buy into the idea of repaying them for saving her? How many "cops" were there in the hospital? We saw one parked on the roof when the doc and Beth were talking, but otherwise the place looked empty.

Anyway, terrible episode, badly written and acted.
posted by schoolgirl report at 11:10 AM on November 3, 2014 [6 favorites]


"Like, how did the amputated arm woman end up on the floor in the woman cop's office? Did the bad guy cop assault her there? If so, why there, and why leave her on the floor?"

She killed herself there is what I thought, leaving the "fuck you" as her note. Remember that she didn't want the amputation after she was bitten, so she had already been willing to die. She just didn't want to be there and being forced back was worse than death.

"Why did the woman cop smack Beth when the patient died? And why didn't Beth ask why she got smacked?"

She hit Beth because she couldn't hit the doctor, who was the person she was really angry with. I suppose that this was clear to Beth or, more likely, that she just had the good sense to know when it was better to keep quiet.

"Why was the cop so mad the patient died? Did she know the person?"

My assumption when I watched it was that Dawn has some combination of a desire to rescue people as a reason to think herself and what they're doing as useful, along with the real reason that the rescued people are essentially slaves (which Dawn can rationalize away). But maybe I missed something or you're right that something was elided or just plain didn't make sense.

"Why wasn't Beth pissed off and asking lots of questions from the get go? Did she sort of buy into the idea of repaying them for saving her?"

She's always been relatively passive and I think initially she was pretty emotionally shell-shocked to find herself there. And they had all the power. She did query Noah at basically the first opportunity.

"How many 'cops' were there in the hospital?"

We saw at least six, one way or another. There were maybe three there outside at the end. There was one acting on lookout/sniper duty during the rooftop scenes. Dawn and the rapist.

I sort of had the impression that the script was written with maybe a couple of dozen people in mind, at least -- think of the cafeteria scene. But they didn't film it that way for some reason. It was very weirdly sparse inside the hospital.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:55 AM on November 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


Like, how did the amputated arm woman end up on the floor in the woman cop's office?

She went there to commit suicide.

Did the bad guy cop assault her there?

I don't think he assaulted her at all.

Why did the woman cop smack Beth when the patient died?

She's stressed and blamed Beth for the person dying.

And why didn't Beth ask why she got smacked?

Either it was pretty clear or Beth has learned not to ask questions about those sorts of things. Especially when she's in a strange place, with strange people who clearly have emotional issues.

Why was the cop so mad the patient died? Did she know the person?

The cop's lost it a bit and views anyone dying as failure of the "mission".

Why wasn't Beth pissed off and asking lots of questions from the get go?

She's probably still reeling from seeing her Dad's head cut off, losing her semblance of home (again) and then getting separated from her family (again). So she was a bit docile at first, but eventually she called out Dawn for allowing all the crazy shit to happen.

Did she sort of buy into the idea of repaying them for saving her?

Not really, but she went with the flow.

How many "cops" were there in the hospital?

There were about 4 or 5 down in the parking lot, shooting at rotters and recapturing her.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:59 AM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sorry, I know others answered most of these questions, but a few are worth elaborating on:

Like, how did the amputated arm woman end up on the floor in the woman cop's office?

I saw this as the woman killing herself in the office so that she would turn into a walker and surprise bite Dawn (the woman cop). She couldn't escape, couldn't die when she wanted to, and couldn't get vengeance while alive. She wasn't assaulted by the bad cop.

Why did the woman cop smack Beth when the patient died? And why didn't Beth ask why she got smacked? Why was the cop so mad the patient died? Did she know the person?

She smacked Beth because she was angry, and because she knew that Beth killed him, and that Noah (the guy Beth befriended) was lying about accidentally killing him. She wanted that patient alive not out of some sense of duty or hospitality. She wanted him specifically alive because she knew he was a doctor (they found his wallet on him). She hated the other doctor but couldn't get rid of him, because he was their only doctor.

How many "cops" were there in the hospital?

I think we were supposed to assume that there were considerably more people there than we were ever shown. If not, then at one point there were more people and they had been dwindling down over time, yet Dawn still acted as if it was a bigger group. It's also possible that many of the cops were out finding more people.
posted by 2ht at 12:20 PM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Boring, boring, boring, boring, shoot some zombies in the dark, boring, boring, boring, boring, hey it's Carol!

The acting in this episode was so bad that I seriously thought it was a fake hospital with people just pretending to be a doctor and cops. And while they might be hiding some stuff, nope, that's who they are. Completely lifeless episode, except for Noah. Unconscious Carol was more compelling than the rest of the characters.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 12:43 PM on November 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


If that is Noah with Daryl, then it's hard to believe he would leave Carol and Beth behind. If he did (no doubt to get reinforcements) that might be a sign of growth on his end.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:58 PM on November 3, 2014


I kept waiting for a reveal, because everything seemed so artificial. At first I thought Beth was dreaming, because the idea of everyone wearing freshly ironed scrubs and cop uniforms with walkie-talkies three years into the apocalypse was so ridiculous it couldn't be fake.

Then I assumed that there was some unseen character pulling all the strings and the on-screen people were all engaged in some weird deception. Because I figured there couldn't be yet another "sanctuary from the zombies isn't so idyllic!" plot, and also because Beth's quick friendship with the conveniently placed and well-informed janitor was so hackneyed I thought it had to be a setup for some double-twist.

But no, it was just a shitty place where everyone was shitty because they were evil, but maybe they used to not be so evil, which it seems like they've done 50 times now.
posted by skewed at 12:59 PM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


She smacked Beth because she was angry, and because she knew that Beth killed him, and that Noah (the guy Beth befriended) was lying about accidentally killing him

Actually, didn't the smacking occur with an earlier dead guy, not the doctor? Anyway, it was a bizarre way to show Dawn being high strung or something. She could have simply kicked over a chair. Smacking Beth just made zero sense, and Beth didn't bother asking the doc about it when he was treating her cut.

I saw this as the woman killing herself in the office so that she would turn into a walker and surprise bite Dawn (the woman cop).

That makes sense, actually. Thinking back, I must have been looking at something else on the screen other than the scalpel or whatever she used to cut herself, hence my confusion. Still, seems like it was clumsily set up so Beth could have a way to off the bad cop (and the edit from Beth knocking him on the noggin to him on the floor getting eaten was jarring).
posted by schoolgirl report at 1:16 PM on November 3, 2014


The acting in this episode was so bad that I seriously thought it was a fake hospital with people just pretending to be a doctor and cops.

Me too!

I still don't understand how Beth ended up there, either. Last time we saw her, she was (apparently) being whisked away in the black car with the cross on the back. When she wakes up in the hospital, she's told that she was found alone in Atlanta with a broken wrist. Wouldn't she remember being abducted in the car? If she really did end up on the streets of Atlanta at some point after being abducted, how the hell did that happen? If she didn't, why doesn't she question that story?

Later in the episode, it sounds like Beth does remember being picked up on the streets of Atlanta. And we see the black car in a reveal at the very end of the episode, so the people at the hospital were obviously involved in her abduction somehow – but what are we meant to understand (or suspect) based on that reveal? None of it makes any sense.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 1:41 PM on November 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


The slapping scenes make sense in theory but were so poorly executed it was almost comical.
posted by Room 641-A at 1:41 PM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Actually, didn't the smacking occur with an earlier dead guy, not the doctor?

You're kind of right. My bad - I remembered the slap in the wrong place. She slapped Beth earlier in the episode when the injured doctor was first brought in and the resident doctor said he was beyond saving. I know my SO questioned the slap at the time. I thought early on that the doc had made some sort of claim to Beth, maybe even insisting that she be saved when she was in a similar critical state.

There were many, many clumsy things about this episode!
posted by 2ht at 1:56 PM on November 3, 2014


I thought the doctor and cops were going to turn out to be Cylons.
posted by olinerd at 2:05 PM on November 3, 2014 [3 favorites]


My overwhelming impression of this episode is that the conception of it was much much bigger than the episode budget allowed. So a lot of stuff is sort of implied -- I don't think there are four or five cops and four or five "wards" maintaining and operating that entire hospital.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 3:02 PM on November 3, 2014


I thought the doctor and cops were going to turn out to be Cylons.

About ten minutes in, I started calling it Battlestar Pegasus Memorial Hospital.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:36 PM on November 3, 2014 [7 favorites]


The "amputated arm woman" was played by kiwi actress Keisha Castle-Hughes (usually known as KCH around these parts).

A pattern I've noticed is how these communities that form and try to maintain a semblance of civilisation ultimately display self-destructive elements, whereas the group that are actively moving around trying to find these groups are more bound and resolute.
posted by arzakh at 4:54 PM on November 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Saw this another board and I just about died: how the next episode should end.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:35 PM on November 3, 2014 [7 favorites]


I actually liked this episode. I thought it was one of the creepiest ones yet, whereas my husband found it boring. I think the difference in our reactions is probably correlates to the difference in our respective likelihoods of ending up as rape slaves in the zombie apocalypse. I could very much identify with the situation that Beth was in and empathize with her concerns and he couldn't.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:24 PM on November 3, 2014 [10 favorites]


Yeah, wow, you folks really hated this one.

I'm with Jacqueline: I liked it as a change from the endless Team Rick Rampage Through The Woods Killing Zombies. And I thought the slower pace was effective at building the hospital as a malignant place; that by making it so ordinary on the surface -- the uniforms, the laundry -- it made the underlying wrongness all the more creepy.

Also: a not-very-subtle allegory on healthcare, no? You have to pay for your treatment.

And how has guinea pig become a staple, exactly?

I thought I saw a row of hutches on the roof? Maybe they're farming them up there.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 7:23 AM on November 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


So many questions, none of which the writers intend for us to ask.

But I'll throw out my responses, because I didn't find issues with these items.

We are what, 2.5 years post-apocalypse? How the eff does this hospital still have generator power?

In the beginning, Dawn is on a reclined exercycle-type thing, and I'm pretty sure it was hooked up to the bank of batteries on the right side of the screen in that scene.

They are sitting around with lamps on like it's not INSANE to have electricity.

The comment on the limited resources a number of times, and while it would have made more sense to see more people on bicycles to re-generate electricity, I figured it was a boring thing to include, compared to the attempt for Dawn and co. to cling to the old ways, with her notion that someone's going to save us any day, and when they do, we'll get praised for maintaining order and some semblance of normality.

See also: clothes maintained just so, and the police (those who are capable of surviving in this hellish reality, the protectors of the weak servants who provide for the police) in their nice, clean uniforms. They're maintaining the old way of life, ready to be saved and show their saviors that they were good little keepers of the peace.

Also, I thought that Terminus/the prison were like... not super close to Atlanta? How freaking far are these hospital people driving out to look for people? Isn't that a waste of gas for them to drive out to rural Georgia to find weakling survivors to force into indentured servitude of... ironing?

The narrative that Dawn's group provides is that they're going on supply runs, and they come across people who they can turn into indentured servants, to support their slice of Civilization. In reality, it seems like they abduct people, too -- at least pretty young girls. You know, gotta keep the guys with guns happy, or all hell might break loose.

And how has guinea pig become a staple, exactly?

Guinea pigs seem like a pretty easy animal to grow and breed in small spaces, and they have a short reproduction cycle (gestation period between 60 and 70 days, then nursing for up to 30 days, and males are ready to reproduce at around the age of 3 weeks - now you know). Not very meaty, but a quick bit of protein from relatively friendly animals.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:20 AM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also: a not-very-subtle allegory on healthcare, no? You have to pay for your treatment.

To me, that's the bit that makes the least sense of all, and once you start pulling that thread, it all just completely unravels.

First, it's not healthcare. That's just a front for the slavery thing they've got going, right? Second, the "payment" -- which I guess is in exchange for all the gas burned driving around looking for new slaves, plus the forget-me-nows used for brainwashing them -- is to stick around, eating their food, wearing their scrubs washed regularly in their water, etc., etc., etc.

So, if it's not really healthcare, why do they even need a doctor? If the slaves are using more resources than they're saving, what is their purpose? These people are just using their finite resources to find more people to use their finite resources. NOTHING ABOUT THIS OPERATION MAKES ANY SENSE AT ALL
posted by Sys Rq at 11:24 AM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


Beyond maintaining some sad shadow of Good and Normal Order of the Old World. This makes sense with the scene where Beth yelled at Dawn, saying "no one is coming to save you." At first Dawn is hurt, then she looked pissed off, as if that was clearly a lie, or perhaps angry that someone tried to shake her own confidence in the myth that she held to in the face of her subordinates raping women and making "weak people" slaves for the officers.

More responses to the questions of other folks, based on my own wild guesses and theories:

how did the amputated arm woman end up on the floor in the woman cop's office? Did the bad guy cop assault her there? If so, why there, and why leave her on the floor?

I guessed she was in there specifically to kill herself and leave a final message

Why did the woman cop smack Beth when the patient died? And why didn't Beth ask why she got smacked?

The patient didn't die then. Dr. Edwards remarked again that trying to save the guy was a waste of resources, so Dawn was displaying her place in things, and her power over Beth as a weak individual, and a new-comer to her domain. She couldn't directly punish the doctor, because he had to save the new guy, who Dawn knew was also a doctor (because they found his wallet.)

Why was the cop so mad the patient died? Did she know the person?

He was another doctor, and if her people saved him, he owed her something, unlike Edwards, who was resentful of the way Dawn treated people and let officers abuse "weaklings." With Edwards gone, she'd have more control over her realm, and she needed to control things. Her place in this terrible world is to maintain control in the face of chaos.

Why wasn't Beth pissed off and asking lots of questions from the get go? Did she sort of buy into the idea of repaying them for saving her?

She has always been a pretty soft character. I chalked her silence up to general shock at suddenly being in a hospital, generally not being anywhere near the badass that Carol has become, and possibly the fact she's starting to recall that she was abducted, not "found in the grasp of a bunch of rotters" as Dawn's group tell her. She was smacked for the insubordination of the doctor, and Dawn told her she was weak, so she probably realized she was pretty low on the rank of power, and asking too many tough questions would get her more abuse.

How many "cops" were there in the hospital? We saw one parked on the roof when the doc and Beth were talking, but otherwise the place looked empty.

Yeah, this was the weakest part from my view. Maybe it was intentional, to make the place seem huge and empty, but also orderly and devoid of undead, so Dawn was clearly capable of keeping people safe. But it could also support the notion that they could survive on the meager production from their rooftop garden, and whatever scavenging they do now.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:37 AM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think all of these justifications and explanations (from both the writers and the fans) would make perfect sense if we were talking about Woodbury.

But it could also support the notion that they could survive on the meager production from their rooftop garden, and whatever scavenging they do now.


I think this is where the disconnect is for me. They cannot really support a lot of people, so their need for slaves seems really forced. I would have bought into them just finding Beth and bringing her into this little "normal" society-in-waiting with some other kind of dark secret, but why do they really need more people? As Sys Rq says, the slaves are a negative asset so you'd think they would not want more people around.

NOTHING ABOUT THIS OPERATION MAKES ANY SENSE AT ALL

Thank you. Now I can read this thread in Jason Mantzoukas's voice. Upgrading episode to C+.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:55 AM on November 4, 2014


And, of course, there's nothing to stop everyone doing as Beth did and picking off the abusers one-by-one or ganging up on them. Why didn't they?

See: the Stanford Prison Experiment. Also, they were careful to choose slaves that seemed vulnerable, and who would buy into the idea that they couldn't make it on their own outside in the sea of walkers, and needed the protection of their captors. They're not nice people, but they make the trains run on time.

And how has guinea pig become a staple, exactly?

They're breeding and raising them in the cages we saw on the roof. Dr. Edwards mentioned that he did a lot of research before the ZA, so I'm assuming they had research labs with guinea pigs in them, making them the most readily available livestock.

These people are just using their finite resources to find more people to use their finite resources.

That's why they're so selective about not saving everybody. You didn't see the hospital overrun with low-level workers. They only keep the number of people they can sustain in the ecosystem they've created for themselves.

I actually really liked and appreciated that every little detail wasn't spelled out for us in an infodump of words as if we couldn't draw these conclusions based on what we saw. I love when a show doesn't underestimate me as a viewer.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:51 PM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


That's why they're so selective about not saving everybody.

But they're not. Even when the doctor dude made a big fuss about how cutting that lady's arm off would be a waste of resources, he nonetheless went ahead with it. Indeed, on the contrary, they're going out and gathering more people to save, and then they're making those people stick around and eat their guinea pigs. That's the opposite of conserving resources, no matter how sparkling those people get the toilets.

At least Terminus made sense: They let the people come to them, and then turned them into a resource. But this place? This place is just a sloppy plot device.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:05 PM on November 4, 2014 [3 favorites]


I liked this episode. There may be some holes in what we've seen so far but I expect them to be filled as we learn more. Maybe that won't happen, but it really seems like there's more to the story than what we saw in this episode. I will be disappointed if there's not, but for now I am excited at the prospect of a new group of seemingly normal villains and their little society.

Actually to me this seems like a pretty rational response to the apocalypse. It also seems like a metaphor not just for healthcare but for our society as a whole. No one wants to work, right, but we keep doing it because it provides a measure of safety and security. The world without work, income, a house, tv, all the other comforts and trappings of our society seems very dangerous and unattractive, and those who reject our society are either criminals or fringe weirdos. Why wouldn't it be the same in zombie land? I mean really, given the choice between striking out on your own in the zombie apocalypse, or getting food, clothes, safety and shelter in exchange for menial work, which would you choose? In the real world, there are real consequences for rejecting social norms. In the apocalypse, it makes sense that the brutality of those consequences would be stepped up.

The black cars parked in the parking lot full of zombies doesn't make much sense though...
posted by natteringnabob at 1:07 PM on November 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


-That's why they're so selective about not saving everybody.

--But they're not.


They saved Noah, but not his father. They saved Joan (and presumably Beth) because the male officers want fuckable young women around (shades of 28 Days later).
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:28 PM on November 4, 2014


And they wanted to reinforce "you'll leave when we say you can leave."

Not a crystal-clear episode in terms of how things really work, but personally they didn't bother me enough to cast aside the whole episode.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:33 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


The black cars parked in the parking lot full of zombies doesn't make much sense though...

They all had crosses painted on them, which I assumed was meant to indicate their purported humanitarian mission like how the Red Cross puts the cross on their vehicles.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:41 PM on November 4, 2014


They all had crosses painted on them, which I assumed was meant to indicate their purported humanitarian mission like how the Red Cross puts the cross on their vehicles.

Also, like many ambulances.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:47 PM on November 4, 2014


I thought the point was that why would you park your vehicles in what seemed to be a fenced-in area but that was full of zombies. Kind of like how Rick and company cleaned out the prison courtyard then used a gate for access when vehicles returned.
posted by cashman at 4:53 PM on November 4, 2014 [5 favorites]


The slaves probably don't last very long and it's costly to replace them. You have to find someone that's easy to capture and control in a world that's been winnowing out the weak for 3 years. The only places that you're likely to find someone like is on the margins of a strong group and the hospital people don't want to get into a conflict with other groups. I'm guessing that a good percentage of solitary survivors would hide if they saw a car coming.
posted by rdr at 5:07 PM on November 4, 2014


Oh, and: gasoline would no longer be good, so gas generators would be useless. And even if gas was still good, the risk involved in getting it would be such that they would ration it: not blaze every light in the building, and run a full-service laundry and a commercial kitchen, and (apparently) buff the floors, and so on.

I have just come to accept that in the WD alternate universe, where the word 'zombie' does not exist because apparently there have never been any zombie stories in pop culture, they also had perfect fuel stabilizers.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:16 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


Lot of people didn't like this episode, but the comments above discuss a lot more topics spanning a much wider range than you normally see on these threads. More interesting than the run of the mill episode IMHO.

(If you're bothered by gas going bad or being in short supply, have't you noticed the amount of driving around that goes on on this show? But I just assumed they have a lucky still working power line to a lucky still not melted down (but for how long?) nuclear reactor.)
posted by joeyh at 8:23 PM on November 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


As long as car companies are buying ads, gas is never going to go bad.
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 1:50 AM on November 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


It's also possible that some stuff - suck as the analog wall clocks - was running on batteries and not using up generator power.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:33 AM on November 5, 2014


Bicycles. Everyone should be using bicycles. Admittedly that would be rough going through the woods but the roads seem remarkably clear (especially compared to the pre-Farm days).
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 6:55 AM on November 5, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think one-legged Herschel would disagree!
posted by Room 641-A at 7:31 AM on November 5, 2014


but the roads seem remarkably clear

This is one area where the show has boxed itself into a corner that I don't think they have the budget to address. Did we say we're three years in?

The original zombies would be long gone, taken apart in mere months by carrion insects and bacteria. The only zombies would be new zombies, newly dead from the small number of survivors of the original infection -- and there woulnd't be many of them, because, as we have seen, most survivor communities make it a point to destroy the brain of their own as soon as they die. There will be instances where a new zombie takes out a few, but the survivors are quite good at zombie killing at this point, and there are those who make it their point to just go around killing any zombie they can find, like Morgan.

No, herds of zombies would no longer be the issue. It would be nature. We wage a relentless war against nature because we must. The group would constantly be dealing with insect infestation, rats, snakes, and scavenging animals. Carl would, at this moment, be far more likely to die from a swarm of bees than zombies. I live next to an abandoned frat house, and this past summer the owner neglected the lawn. The sidewalk was gone within months. The bottom windows had been shattered by the building's own vines. I dread to think what sort of mold took root inside the building. After three years, rural Atlanta wouldn't look like the badly tended suburbs we have been shown. It would look like those photos of entire villages that have been abandoned due to, say, radiation leaks, where foxes live in old kitchens and every single house seems to have been built in a clearing in a dense forest.

There is no good way to represent the world three years after apocalypse, because suddenly everything must be a special effect. Have you ever walked through an untended woods? Reached a part of it so thick that you had to squeeze through, and by the end of it you had torn clothes, your skins was scratched where it was exposed, and you were covered with burs?

Imagine this is now the whole world.
posted by maxsparber at 8:28 AM on November 5, 2014 [11 favorites]


Imagine this is now the whole world.

I would watch this show.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:32 AM on November 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


I thought the point was that why would you park your vehicles in what seemed to be a fenced-in area but that was full of zombies.

I assumed those were the zombies from the basement and Beth and friend let them out when they unlocked the door to the outside?
posted by Jacqueline at 11:42 AM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


As long as car companies are buying ads, gas is never going to go bad.

The product-placement cars will also continue to be ridiculously clean and undamaged.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:43 AM on November 5, 2014


I thought you were kidding because who in the hell would like a product placement on a show about a world overrun with zombies?

But no, you weren't.
posted by rdr at 12:55 PM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


The original zombies would be long gone, taken apart in mere months by carrion insects and bacteria.

One of the conceits you have to accept with zombie apocalypse fiction is that zombies don't decay like normal corpses. They're rotten, yes – but they are no longer rotting. (Or, at least, their ongoing rot never accumulates to the point where it compromises their ability to shuffle around, groan, or try to eat people.)

It basically has to be that way to make the apocalypse plausible. And it fits with the idea of zombies as not-quite-dead, not-quite-living.

Maybe some of their cells regenerate while others decay, and the two processes average out to effective stasis? I just accept that a wizard did it, and concern myself with the story.

It would be interesting (and more realistic) to see more things more ruined, though. Roofs collapse. Yards get overgrown. Garbage and debris accumulates along drainage paths. Storms blow out windows. Animals infest any conveniently dry, uninhabited location. Lots of doors and windows would have been smashed or left open, either by apocalyptic scavengers or in the chaos of the initial outbreak. Pipes burst and cause flooding. Fires happen.

Well-preserved structures of the sort they're constantly discovering – structurally intact, sealed up from the elements – would be way less common. Roads would certainly be less passable than they're shown to be. Maybe this is just another genre convention that you have to accept, but it'd be interesting to see a take on the zombocalypse that really embraces physical ruin.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 1:04 PM on November 5, 2014 [7 favorites]


From rdr's link:

"We pitched them last year where maybe the characters could find a library with a generator and do a Bing search," said Sean Carver, a marketing director at Bing, who acknowledged the scene was a stretch.

I almost wish they would do this (but separately from the actual show, as a web-only short or something). It would be so gloriously, hilariously stupid.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 1:08 PM on November 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


I would literally stop watching if they did a Bing search. However, if they wanted to search the web and found Baidu was still active, I would suddenly be a million times more interested in the show.
posted by maxsparber at 1:23 PM on November 5, 2014 [6 favorites]


"We pitched them last year where maybe the characters could find a library with a generator and do a Bing search," said Sean Carver, a marketing director at Bing, who acknowledged the scene was a stretch.

I think the show they're looking for is Under The Dome.
posted by Room 641-A at 2:03 PM on November 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


It would be interesting (and more realistic) to see more things more ruined, though. Roofs collapse. Yards get overgrown. Garbage and debris accumulates along drainage paths. Storms blow out windows. Animals infest any conveniently dry, uninhabited location. Lots of doors and windows would have been smashed or left open, either by apocalyptic scavengers or in the chaos of the initial outbreak. Pipes burst and cause flooding. Fires happen.

This is exactly the design of the Walking Dead game, which I recently played on iOS. It's pretty great, and worth playing if you're a fan. Well written, well performed, gorgeous to look at.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:04 PM on November 5, 2014


There is no good way to represent the world three years after apocalypse, because suddenly everything must be a special effect. Have you ever walked through an untended woods? Reached a part of it so thick that you had to squeeze through, and by the end of it you had torn clothes, your skins was scratched where it was exposed, and you were covered with burs?

There are some real world examples of what this looks like. For example, the town of Varosha in Cypress has been abandoned - entirely uninhabited - since 1974. More ghost towns here.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:09 PM on November 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


The Telltale point-and-click games? Oh yeah; they're great. CLEMENTINE 5 EVA
posted by escape from the potato planet at 2:21 PM on November 5, 2014


The Telltale point-and-click games? Oh yeah; they're great. CLEMENTINE 5 EVA

Yeah. Haven't played Season 2 yet, but Season 1 was was super gripping and I smashed through it in a weekend. I don't know if I can bear to replay it and try different choices. It was pretty heartbreaking the first time round.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:26 PM on November 5, 2014


I'd actually recommend not going back to replay that game (which I also liked a lot), as it makes the whole thing seem a lot more game-y.
posted by whir at 2:54 PM on November 5, 2014


I can only hope that the Walking Dead makes use of Barkhad Abdi soon, because he has exactly one forthcoming film listed.

Oh man, I hope so too.

I actually really liked and appreciated that every little detail wasn't spelled out for us in an infodump of words as if we couldn't draw these conclusions based on what we saw.

I get your point, but it's not really a black or white thing where there's an infodump of words or a huge boring unexplained mess like this episode. There's a plenty of room for excellence in the middle ground, and this show generally sucks at finding it. This episode specifically.
posted by dogwalker at 2:47 PM on November 11, 2014


enough medicine to waste on anyone who had less than a 60% shot at survival

Just to be clear, Grady is a huge hospital (~1000 beds). If any place in Atlanta is still going to have meds a few years into a zombie outbreak, Grady is up on the list. Also, big stocks of food and water, as well as several generators (to be run on gasoline that magically never goes bad). The floor plan is such that there is plenty of natural light on the units to keep down power for lighting.

I don't find the Grady group's situation that far-fetched, is what I'm saying. Particularly if the group is pretty small (we see like less than 12 people total?). Which is not to say I don't find the idea of a laundry service ridiculous. Really though, I was thinking that it highly amusing to have the Grady group running around in patient gowns, which would be far more plentiful than any stock of scrubs.
posted by Panjandrum at 7:11 PM on November 24, 2014


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