Previously! If you don’t know who Soraya Montalbán is, you will soon. I have no idea if the parallels are intentional between Dawn and Soraya, but oh, was I cackling with glee. (And I needed to laugh because WOWEE, Rape Hospital is pretty much the worst thing on the show yet!) Also, this episode is titled Slabtown, because that was the name of the old Red Light District in Atlanta in the 19th century, right on the spot where now sits the actual Grady Memorial Hospital. OHO.
We’re also gonna bring up all the chiaroscuro. If you haven’t been paying attention to the paintings in every damn episode this season, I’m not doing my job. They’re filming every scene like these Renaissance paintings and I LOVE it.
But let’s get to the Bethisode.
This episode starts like the very first episode of the series: beautiful blue eyes opening, someone waking up in a hospital. Like the pilot was Day One for a new Rick Grimes, this episode is Day One for a new Beth Greene. The room is orderly, tidy, looking like any modern hospital. But a quick check out the window shows that yep, still the Apocalypse out there. Beth has a cast on her wrist and a huge cut on her cheek, stitched up, as well as an IV.
A cop and a doctor come in: Officer Dawn Lerner and Doctor Steven Edwards. They let her know she’s in Grady Memorial in Atlanta—
Fun Fact! Grady Memorial was a segregated hospital back in the day. Most of the medical staff now comes from Emory and Morehouse, so I found it strange that there was only one black person there, and he was a pickup, not on staff.
—and she’s there because some of Dawn’s “officers” found her surrounded by “rotters.” And they helped her, they saved her. So she owes them. Um.
(Chiaroscuro Ref. 1 when Beth is clearly lit up all clean and lovely, and the shadows hang heavy on Dawn and the Doc.)
Beth (and the viewer) gets a tour of the hospital. It’s massive, but they don’t go down below (we’ll learn why in a bit). Lots of rooms have downtrodden looking people—several women—who don’t make eye contact. They go to a room where a man lies hooked up to equipment powered by generators and realize that there’s not much that can be done. The decision to pull the plug apparently falls to Dawn, who then pierces the body’s skull.
As music plays—and there is always featured music in a Beth scene/episode, have you noticed? I love that, and this song is Kiev’s Be Gone Dull Cage—we see Beth and the Doc rolling a body to an elevator shaft. It’s the easiest way to get rid of them, just toss them several floors below to the access into the basement. Walkers pick the bones clean.
Protip: Don’t Feed Strays. So you’re basically training Walkers to show up, which will bring more. Dumb dumb dumb.
Beth heads to the cafeteria to get some chow when Creepy Cop—and I’m telling you what, 2014 is the year of Shit Awful Cops both on TV and in RL—says he’s the one who saved her, drops mention of her thighs, and is Shit Awful. “You don’t remember me, do you?” he smirks. And hey, she can take that food and… pay him back somehow, or he can just write down everything she’s taking. “Everything costs something, right?”
Beth blinks and lets him know that yeah, write it down, Rape Cop.
She takes the tray to the Doc’s office passing Dawn riding a bike—presumably to power up the generators? PROTIP: HOW TO BUILD A BICYCLE POWERED GENERATOR—giving orders to a scrawny black teen. That’s Noah, and he’s going to be awesome. But for now, we go into the dark and shadowy office (Chiaroscuro Ref. 2) of Doc Stevens where a massive Caravaggio painting is. And hey, it’s the Denial of Saint Peter. More biblical imagery.
Fun fact! This is Caravaggio’s second to last painting, done after he’d been horribly injured. He used heavy shadows to hide his broad brush strokes. Also, the narrative here is a young woman telling a soldier that Peter (looking old, slightly balding, and the same could be said for Doc Steven) is a follower of Christ—there are three fingers shown, representing the “thrice denied” aspect—and Peter, terrified, is saying he’s not as he’s being accused. HEY. DOESN’T THAT SOUND SORT OF FAMILIAR.
Doc: I’m bored, ha.
Beth: You S.O.B., being bored is a luxury. HAVE YOU LOOKED OUTSIDE?
Doc: Nope. Btw, ever had guinea pig?
Beth: I’m not into you like that.
Doc: …I meant actual guinea pig? [shows fork]
Beth: Oh. Okay.
The music playing here is Junior Kimbrough’s “You Better Run.” BETH. LISTEN. “You better run. Don’t let him get you. HE GONNA RAPE YOU.” I MEAN. The whole song is about a girl running to the singer, thinking he’ll help her get away from the rapist. THEN. AS HE IS DRIVING HER AWAY, says “you might still get raped.” So Junior is a PoS, too, but the girl in the song says “You don’t have to rape me because I love you.” I think we know everything we need to about Doc Steven, huh?
A new injured person arrives—fell out of a window down below—and Doc thinks they’re too far gone to save. Yeah, Dawn’s not interested in what he thinks, just save him. She’s also not interested in Beth being Doc’s new Tagalong. With a huff, Doc checks him over and realizes there’s a punctured lung. He can fix that, but not all the internal bleeding, okay? It’s a waste of—
Dawn hauls off and SLAPS Beth, reopening her wound. “Steve. Try to grasp the stakes here.”
IT IS TELENOVELA TIME. One of the most famous soaps of all time is a Mexican Soap called María la del Barrio, or Humble Maria. In this soap is arguably one of the greatest moments in television history, in which the fabulously over-the-top Itatí Cantoral as Soraya Montalbán loses her god damn mind over her lover falling for the “weak” and purely innocent Alicia. The following scene happens, and if this doesn’t make you happy, you might possibly be dead inside. (“You invalid devil!”)
Dawn is Soraya. Dawn has that cool exterior until pushed, and then it’s tarantulas in Beth’s bed while hers is an evil laugh. (Seriously. That was the best damn soap opera ever, and I barely speak Spanish.) Woman in power being usurped by lovely, innocent new thing? HELLO, MALEFICENT.
Where were we? Right, the Doc fixing Beth’s cheek (“You better run, girl.”) and talking about how Dawn’s always like that: batshit insane. She’s also a massive control freak and neatnik. So she’s a lot of fun! Beth changes her shirt to avoid another altercation and finds a lollipop hidden in her clothes. Someone’s getting sweet on you…
A woman struggling and yelling is brought in forcibly—her name is Joan, she tried to escape and came out of it with a bite on her arm. Either Joan can chill out and let them cut her arm off so she can live or they can just take it. Joan spits in their faces. Okay, then!
Dawn: [to Doc] Take it.
Beth: Uh… what’s going—
Joan: I’m not going back to him! (UH. YOU BETTER RUN GIRL.)
Beth: Guys? I just want to know—
Dawn: Sure, sure, whatever. TAKE IT.
Doc: Hey, did you guys see Audition? [piano wires it off]
Beth: THIS IS A LOT LIKE MY DAD LOSING HIS LEG DO NOT WANT NO NO NO
We cut to Noah doing laundry—ironing, because it’s important in the apocalypse to look your best!–and hear his story, and consequently more of the hospital’s. He and his dad were “picked up” by the cops and the echoes of what happens to black men when in the hands of cops in this country are deafening. His dad was strong, probably would have fought back. So they left him and took Noah, instead, believing he was weak. Basically the hospital wants gruel-fed slaves running the place, too tired to fight the status quo. And everything they take or use goes against their tab, so it’s like they’ll never work off their debt.
Hey, just like how Company Stores operated in the Deep South pre-Civil Rights. Yeesh.
But Noah has them all fooled into thinking he’s still weak. He’s not, though, and he’s getting out first chance. I like you, Noah.
Dawn shows up with food for Beth, insisting that she eats. Yeah, Beth knows the game, lady. Dawn, half in shadow as bright and pretty Beth sits under a light (Chiaroscuro Ref. 3) and tells Dawn she’s not staying longer than she’s being forced.
Dawn: This isn’t a sentence. (O RLY) I’m giving you stuff. When has that ever been free?
Beth: Yeah, but I didn’t ask for it.
Dawn: But you’re taking it. And we’re doing this for the Greater Good.
Beth: Okay, Grindelwald. Nice Nurmengard you have here.
Dawn: I don’t know what that means. I don’t read. But I do like to keep my officers happy, who also don’t read. And by happy I mean sated. And by sated I mean their dic—
Beth: UH… [TAKES A BITE]
[Background music here should have been: I sold my soul to the Company Store…]
Beth cleans up the blood by Joan’s bed (this is a recurring image) and listens to Joan talk around the fact that Dawn basically okays sexual slavery in the hospital. WOW I WANT BETH OUT OF HERE NOW.
Another clock ticking away the time when Beth is in her room, looking for her lollipop. In hands down the most disturbing scene in the entire series, which is saying a lot, Bad Touch Shit Cop shows up with it and proceeds to force it into her mouth, rubbing it on her tongue, then pulling it out and popping it into his.
Doc comes in and interrupts this creepy moment.
AWFUL BAD COP MAN: “The girl shoulda been mine.”
You know what this scene needed? Doc and Officer Creepy recreating Brandi and Monica’s seminal hit, “The Boy Is Mine.” Because don’t for one second think that Doc doesn’t see Beth as his. The Doc points out that Officer Nasty better treat him right, because what happens when Nasty gets sick? YEAH. THE ONLY DOCTOR. YO SOY EL ÚNICO MÉDICO.
A quick trip to a delivery grate in the basement shows Beth that within seconds of banging on it, the driveway is flooded with Walkers. That’s why the Good Doc (ha) hasn’t left yet. That, and that he’s a weenor. Up to the roof shows a sniper patrolling on one of the hospital’s wings as well as some vegetable gardens. The Doc has essentially been there from Day 1 along with Dawn and the other hospital cops. Eventually he and Dawn struck a deal: they’d only save people who could contribute to their New World Order of For The Greater Good. Saving lives for their service.
Doc: [sweet smile] Hey. Call it a day. Go give Punctured Lung 75 mg of Clozapine and am-scray, ya knucklehead!
Beth: Sure thing! [unsuspecting]
Beth grinds up the meds, injects it with all the skill of a Hershel Greene kid, and Noah comes in to chat her up juuuust as Punctured Lung starts seizing. HOLY SHIT. Dawn and the Doc arrive, but it’s too late. Flatlined.
Noah says it’s his fault, he had an accident, and Dawn, grim-faced, nods for Officer Shitty to give him the boots, medium style, much to Beth’s horror. And the Doc, in case you forgot that he was listening to a song about saving a girl from rape only to rape her in return, says, “I’m pretending you misheard me telling you the medication’s name so you have to take the fall for killing that guy.”
Beth: YOU DIRTY ROTTEN—I GREW UP WITH HERSHEL AND HAVE BEEN A NURSE, I KNOW MY MEDS. ALSO, THE ONE YOU SAID JUST NOW WOULD ALSO HAVE KILLED HIM. See? I know things!
Dawn finds her and reveals that ha, she knew Noah was lying, and it’s pretty clear Beth is weak, is worthless, and how it’s time for her to make a bigger payment to the Company Store. It’s important that Dawn’s officers are happy and let’s face it, Beth is a burden.
Beth: OH NO YOU DI’INT.
Dawn: [points to wrist scars] YEAH. I DID. Some people just aren’t meant for this life, and that’s okay. As long as they don’t take advantage of those who are.
Beth: Hypocrite says WHAT?
Noah limps over to Beth later, reveals that Punctured Lung had something of value Dawn wanted, and if Beth will sneak into Dawn’s office for the spare basement key, they can make like a baby and head out. YAY.
Beth roots around in a filing cabinet while Noah keeps Dawn busy, and there she finds a card from another hospital. Hmm. AND OH, HEY, BLOOD AND JOAN’S DEAD BODY. Joan has, oh my god, cut off the scarred cap of her stump and has bled to death, the scissors by her hand. Beth stays on target and gets the key just as Officer Soon-To-Be-Living-The-Rest-of-His-Short-Ass-Life-In-Agonizing-Pain-Rapist shows up. Of course he’s awful and begins sexually assaulting her as Beth notices Joan’s hand twitching.
Officer Rapist: Lucky for me you’re not a fighter.
Beth: [smashes glass against his head] YOU FEEL THAT STING, BIG BOY? That’s PRIDE fucking with you!
Gorman falls to the floor and Joan goes to TOWN on his neck. Sweet, sweet justice. [kisses fingers]
Cut to Beth walking calmly down the hall. Gorman’s sidearm is in the back of her waistband, because she is no dummy. She tells Dawn that Joan was looking for her, Gorman’s in her office waiting. Oh, snap!
Noah turns and follows Beth. She peers down the elevator shaft, hears people yelling, but with sheets tied together, Noah lowers her down just to the edge of the trash compactor where a Dianoga isn’t waiting, it’s just a massive, disgusting pile of half-eaten bodies. Noah slips on his way down, falling right into the pile and hurting his leg, but they push through the pile and get to the gate and outside, squinting in the bright sunshine. (From out of the darkness, our hero is reborn.) She pulls iron and head caps a load of Walkers (whoo hoo!) as more show up. They then hotwire one of the cars and drive away safely.
SIGH. NO. They fight off Walkers, Noah gets ahead and out of the gates, but Beth is tackled by a cop and handcuffed. WOW. I HATE THIS HOSPITAL SO MUCH. She smiles for her friend making it, though.
She’s brought before Dawn, who wants to know who the hell Beth thinks she is. Oh, you don’t want the real answer, Dawn.
Beth: I’m your doom, lady. I know who you really are, I know that you condone sex slavery, and I know that you’re about the dumbest person ever for thinking we’re going to be saved. NO ONE. IS COMING. It’s just us, you stupid—
Dawn: [speaks with her fists]
Yet another debt added on for Beth as Doc stitches up the other side of her face (She looks like a blonde Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas). Beth knows Punctured Lung was a doctor, and that Steven had her kill him.
Doc: [looking at painting] I didn’t have a choice. Like when Peter was caught denying Christ. Peter would have been crucified, so isn’t it great he pretended not to know his Lord and Savior so that he could keep on living? Like how all those times I pretended to be above what goes on here or not connected to it, but ultimately I was saving you for myself? Wait, did I say that last part out loud? Have some guinea pig.
Fun fact! The Apostle Peter was essentially the leader of the disciples and Jesus’s right hand man. Peter was also the “rock” (petra) that the church was founded upon. Ahem. Doc isn’t getting out of this clean, in other words. He is definitely Dawn’s right hand man here.
Later, music starts up, the lyrics “Ain’t nobody’s fault but mine,” can be heard as Beth, blonde, bloodied and bruised Beth walks out of the dark shadows (Chiaroscuro Ref. 4) intent on harm. We can see she has the scissors in her hand. “I have a bible in my home,” the music plays as she approaches the Doc. My thought was she was going to take him out, and feel safe that she’d be unharmed because she has medical training, but now I just think she was intent on getting rid of a bad apple.
But a body rolls in and she can see that it is CAROL PELETIER, OMG. I guess we’ll hang on with the whole Doc Stabbing?
QUESTION: Do you agree that the person Daryl has is Noah!? My guess: Daryl and Carol followed the car into Atlanta, hung back to avoid being caught, got out of their car, maybe were separated, Carol was surrounded by Walkers, the sniper on the roof saw her–alerting the other officers–and they brought her in (knocking her out, perhaps? Gassing her?). Noah had just escaped, and Daryl finds him. Noah tells him what’s happening in there, Daryl realizes he needs the calvary, aka, Michonne and Rick.
It looks like we’ll have to wait for answers on that since next week seems to be Abraham focused. (MAGGIE. WILL YOU REMEMBER YOUR SISTER? This is a complaint to the writers, not the actual character.)
Oh! Another fun fact about Carvaggio, and why I think the set decorators are amazing. He had another painter at the time who he accused of plagiarism, and they battled it out for a while. Carvaggio basically thought this usurper was trying to take his place in the art world. Punctured Lung Doctor, anyone?
TELL ME ALL OF YOUR THOUGHTS.