PREVIOUSLY. So hopefully this means we’re done with Grady Hospital. Because I gotta be honest: it wasn’t compelling. I was never REALLY creeped out by the set up with the exception of a few scenes, mostly that first episode and the moment in Dawn’s office with Gorman creeping on Beth. They fell into the number one rule of “don’t do this” in storytelling: they told us it was scary and awful and didn’t show us.
Raise your hand if you actually got nervous every time Dawn stood calmly? Or every time she said in her neutral mom voice, “It has to be this way.” And it’s because we all know that it doesn’t. It absolutely DOESN’T have to be this way, Dawn, because we’ve seen the prison, we’ve seen Terminus, and we’ve seen Tenpenny Towers, aka Woodbury. I mean, if y’all are gonna be slavers, y’all need to be 100% menacing. And they just weren’t. Right? But let’s get to brass tacks.
Bob Cop runs off, and we see him frantically attempting to use the grille on his cruiser to try and break through the zip ties on his wrists.
PROTIP: HOW TO BREAK ZIPTIES. Step one: rotate your hands so the interior base of each is touching each other. Like you’re going to “here is the church, here is the steeple.” Step two: using your teeth, turn the plastic until the locking mechanism in in between your hands near the base of your thumbs. Step three: using your teeth, pull on the excess tie to make the plastic as tight as you can. Step four: brace yourself by slightly bending at the knee. Bring your bound hands up high and drive them down forcefully until your forearms smack against your hipbones. Step five: make your kidnapper know they messed with the wrong person, preferably by hogtying and suspending them in the air. NOTE: this works on all plastic zipties rated up to 175 pounds (the majority). I believe the military uses a metal-reinforced ziptie.
Back to our cop not knowing how to do this. We keep seeing running, then ziptie rubbing, then running, and it made me think of the endless running scene from Monty Python. Walkers start to approach, and ha! It’s Rick running! And he slices the guts on a creepy gaunt Walker [nice look, FX department!] as he races to one of the cruisers, hops in and takes off. Bob Cop struggles to get away with his hands tied, Rick catches up to him and uses the intercom to tell him to stop. Bob Cop won’t, so Rick floors it and hits him, knocking him forward. HOLY. SHIT. He’s not dead, though, just lying there saying “Help me”
Rick: You coulda stopped
Bob Cop: UH. Nuh uh. I don’t know you. But I think I’m getting a good idea. Can you take me to the hospital?
Rick: Nope. Can’t go back, Bob 2.0. [pulls his gun on him]
Bob Cop: You’ll die. You’ll all—[BLAM!]
Via six-shooter, Rick shuts him up for good, hops in the cruiser, and drives off. Yeah, let’s not forget that Rick will take a life if needs be. Bob Cop couldn’t be trusted and attacked their own, probably was going to endanger not only Beth and Carol but the whole group.
We cut to a shot from inside where multiple Walkers are trapped. We can see Father Gabriel walking slowly outside. OH. Oh, nice call back to his crime. (I still say it’s worse than we’ve been led to believe.) He picks up a magazine, True Police Stories, not realizing he just increased his Critical Chance by 10% and raising Luck +1. Oho, I see where he is! It’s where the Terminus peeps ate Bob’s leg. A popular tourist spot here in the apocalypse.
He picks up a backpack and finds a bible inside, one with “Mary B <3” inscribed on the cover. [The bespectacled woman from the Food Pantry, maybe?] As he opens it, the shot expands to show us Bob’s maggot-riddled, charred foot on the grill, the sound of flies overwhelming. Good lord, this is a beautifully shot and disgusting scene.
He screams and throws it aside in anger as the Walkers still pound on the glass, trying to get to him. And they break the door down, of course. He’s left limping along to one of the trees with a mark on it, a horizontal line ending in a vertical slash. WE ARE GOING TO TALK ABOUT THESE AT THE END, GUYS. He cuts through a cemetery and right to the back to the church, but there are more Walkers coming out of the woods. He cries out for the folks inside to help him, trying to use a pipe from the organ to defend himself as he continues to scream for help.
Problem: they can’t undo the fortification they’ve done without sacrificing their own safety. Thanks, padre. And great, the Walkers are getting through the pipes. Michonne has to use an ax to break through the front door’s fortification, there goes that stronghold, the Walkers stream inside, Michonne goes katana on their asses, but there are too many. SHIT.
The church is overwhelmed. I assume that’s Judith on her back, not a backpack. I know they can’t actually have a baby on her back during a fight scene, but they never look right, do they? Gabriel shows them how to sneak out like he did, says he’ll stay there and take what’s coming to him. GOOD. BYE BYE, FATHER DANGER.
“It’s worth it. I’m not going anywhere until you’re gone.” LOL, JK. He immediately jumps into the hole after Michonne, the Walkers pour in, there’s an awesome shot of one falling onto his machete and splitting her head in half, but they keep pouring in, right through the gateway that reads, “O Lord we ask thee to smite these Walkers until they shall truly be smoted, for O thou art so great and big.” Wait, no, it reads: “For who eats my flesh and drinks my blood shall have eternal life.”
Yeah. Unless they land on a Holy Machete of Antioch, amen. (And the number shall be three! Neither shall it be two, nor four. Five is right out!)
Gabriel crawls out, says he can’t run anymore and demands a piggy back ride. Surely it’s time for Judith to learn how to walk. But Michonne says they’re not running. They’re surviving. And also, you’re a grown ass man, make a crutch or something. And in a neat twist to Gabriel’s story, they then trap the Walkers inside the church where they can be surrounded by the passages about eternal life and resurrection for all time.
Sasha is seething and wishing Bob Cop hadn’t applied his escape directly to her forehead. Daryl and Ty stand guard. When Rick returns, he fills Daryl in on Bob Cop eating lead, but they don’t know if this changes their hostage trade plans or not. When asked if so, Girl Cop says Bob Cop was “attacked by rotters,” ooh, she’s a good liar! Daryl doesn’t trust her at all (me neither), but the Girl Cop keeps saying she wants to overthrow Dawn. Hmm. I still don’t care about this upset in power at the hospital, guys. Bald Cop says Lamson getting “ate” by rotters won’t mess with Dawn’s false sense of control, so he’s siding with his partner, I guess.
SPEAKING OF DAWN, she’s on the electricity-generating bike trying to get anyone to respond to her, but no one’s radioing back. It seems Beth is her new right hand man.
PROTIP: Standard bicycles converted to generate electricity lose up to 60% of power by virtue of poor, indirect design. Best is to build a pedal-powered generator that is directly connected to the machine it will power. Get plans to build your own here.
Beth asks about the former leader, Hanson.
Dawn: You’re going to hear stories about him and me, but this is a preemptive strike on my part to tell you that you shouldn’t believe any of it that paints me in a bad light. Ha, I’m kidding. We’re not going to actually talk about anything that happens at Grady in depth, because that might make you care about the hierarchy of power here. And you don’t. No one does. By the way, anything we hint at about Hanson is to make you think he went bad. So you’ll care. Which you don’t. And Beth, you need to do what these cops say so you have people at your back and because I’m telling you this, not really showing it. We really screwed the pooch on upping the tension at Grady, really squandered those first scenes.
Beth: I don’t like anything about this, but I’m getting paid, so. [weakly smiles]
Michonne asks Gabriel where he went on Walkabout. “Looking for a Bible, because there aren’t enough in the church, evidently.” Meanwhile, Walkers are starting to pour out of the church and a vehicle is fast approaching. YAY! ABRAHAM IN HIS FIRETRUCK! Whoo hoo! Dr. Mullet is still out cold, but IDC about him right now.
Glenn: So… that whole DC thing. Lies. Yeah. We all hate Eugene.
Michonne: HEY MAGGIE YOUR SISTER IS ALIVE.
Maggie: [freaks out and cries]
Me: YES GREENE SISTER LOVE!
Beth watches as one of the cops shoves an old man, because white cops are the worst. SORRY, CURRENT POLITICS ARE A PART OF THIS STORY and I’m really glad the show has gotten better about race and representation. Except they need to work on [zips lip until the end]. But seriously: a cop shoves an old man down and this is the interior tension you’re building, show? You’ve done so much better, I just don’t get it.
We next see Beth sitting in an open elevator shaft with Dawn watching.
Beth: Hey, so you keep saying that I’m stuck, well…so are you. Because this life sucks, this hospital sucks, your MOM sucks, and this is who you are. This life is how it’s gonna be forever.
Dawn: Uh, you should shut your face? BTW, with the Gorman wants to see me stuff? That totes makes you a cop killer. So…
Beth: UM. THAT IS A BULLSHIT BIT OF TERMINOLOGY IN THIS POST-MODERN APOCALYPTIC WORLD.
Dawn: I’m choosing to ignore that. Here, lemme put on an Officer Friendly face. Now help me help you—wait, what was that?
The Douchey Old Man Pusher Cop shows up, has overheard the whole “Beth sent Dawn in to get nommed by Gorman” thing and plans on ratting her out. Time to overthrow the queen!
Except the queen pulls her service pistol and reminds everyone why she’s been in charge for a while. She’s willing to make the “tough” calls. Like maybe shooting a cop in the back of the head. Or making him walk to stand close to the open elevator shaft.
Before she can do something drastic, though, HR Shovenstuff Cop rushes Dawn, disarming her as they tussle. Dawn is no lightweight, though. The gun goes down the open shaft. It looks bad for Dawn until she busts out her Krav Maga moves, getting him perfectly poised for a sharp call to Beth to knock him down the shaft. Which Beth does. He falls with a wet splat just before we hear Walkers snarling.
Dawn: Thanks. I’ll take off the Jell-O from your bill for that.
Beth: NOOOOO OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE.
She goes into Carol’s room for a little peace and quiet, which of course is why Dawn comes in with her false sympathy and calm voice. Beth is no dummy, though. She knows that Dawn had her do all the things she did because Dawn’s position is shaky. So Beth’s hands are dirty instead of Dawn’s. That’s what the hospital is: they use each other to get what they want. But she’ll get out just like Noah did. You watch.
Dawn offers her a part in this hospital sitch, her and Carol, because yeah, Dawn figured out that they know each other. And Beth killed two people who needed to die, and that carries a lot of weight with her. That’s the apocalyptic hospital slaver version of holding a BFF’s hair back while she pukes, so… BFF, right? Ki Omega lyf! (UGH. DAWN USES A SOFT VOICE BUT SHE IS ALL AWFUL INSIDE.) Aaaaand Carol begins to stir in her bed. SHIT.
Ty and Sasha are in sniping position on a roof as the hostages are brought up, too. Ty explains how he didn’t kill Martin/Ball Cap Douche from Terminus. STOP. Y’all see that Ironsides patch on her over shirt? Is this supposed to be Medic Bob’s? Because that’s a 1rst Division (Fort Bliss, Texas) patch for the first armored division. Medic Bob was a Medic? Hmm. The symbol stands for shock and awe, fire power, and mobility. I don’t understand. Anyone?
Anyhoo, Ty wants to believe the two of them are still the same people from before, but Sasha’s hard now, okay? (Is she? Is she “ironsides?” Because she hasn’t quite shown that. That’s a problem with a large cast spread out, me thinks. She hasn’t hit Michonne levels of badassery, imo.)
The rescue plan is now in motion. Rick walks out to meet two new cops with his hands up. There’s a bloody rag or bag flapping in the wind. White is for parley or surrender. Red means “you’re fucked.” Well, technically it’s a sign of gearing up for war or a massive warning. Nice touch. Rick introduces himself as a former deputy—smart—and lays his weapon on the ground, nice and slow. OOH. Daryl has one cop dead to rights. Rick says he wants an even exchange: their people for his. These cops look green to me. They wonder if Noah is with Rick. Yep.
Cop 2: Where are your people?
Sasha: [snipes a Walker coming up behind them]
Rick: Heh. They’re close.
Me: [CACKLING WITH GLEE]
Rick: So… maybe touch base with your superior.
Me: [hums “Big Iron On His Hip”]
We cut to Rick walking in his bound captives, led by the New Cops. Beth, in her “bloodied by Daryl” yellow shirt, slips her scissors into her cast, then pushes Carol in a wheelchair to where the remaining cops are all lined up behind Dawn. Rick can see both of his missing women folk are there. Dawn orders her people to holster their weapons, Rick does, too.
Beth and Carol come forward, the captive cops reiterate that Lamson went down by Walkers. I FELT LIKE THIS WAS CODE. AM I THE ONLY ONE? It was all the significant looks being shared, I guess.
They start with a one and one exchange, Bald Cop for Carol. Dawn personally walks Beth in to trade for Lady Cop.
Dawn: Nice work, everyone! Now if you’ll just hand Noah over so it’s all even- Steven.
Rick: Asshole who goes back on her word says WHAT?
Daryl: [snickers] Good one, Boo.
Noah: No I’ll go, it’s cool
Beth: NO IT’S NOT [hugs him] YOU’RE MY FRIEND WE JUST MET DAMN
Dawn: [smugly towards Noah] I knew you’d be back for some White Chocolate
Beth: Oh. I get it now. [STABS DAWN!!!]
Dawn: [SHOOTS BETH IN THE FUCKING HEAD ARE YOU KIDDING ME WHAAAAT?!]
Everyone holds their breath, ev-er-y-one. Well, except for one. Daryl Gee Dee Dixon shoots Dawn right in the brain pan. Lady Cop tells everyone on her side to stand down, because she knows it was all about Beth and Dawn’s weird boner for her. And maybe for Noah, jeez.
DARYL STARTS CRYING AND WHIMPERING which is when I start losing it, and Carol is, too, holding him, pulling him away.
Rick is shell-shocked. They all are. I AM. This is… shit, this wasn’t really earned.
Cops: So you maybe wanna stay? It’s pretty great. You know, for us here? Aside from all the implied rape and slavery, that is.
Rick: That’s a HARD NO. In fact, anyone here who wants to leave is free to come with us.
Y’all should be grateful you didn’t all die in a hail of bullets and bolts, tbh.
SHIT, ABRAHAM’S TRUCK PULLS IN, and they arrive just as our group exits the building, Maggie cracking a smile with excitement because she hasn’t seen Beth since the Governor’s prison attack, since they watched their father get beheaded, and this is awful, AWFUL. She breaks down with the most pitiful, awful noise as she sees Daryl carrying out her sister’s dead body, falling over in her anguish. OH MY GOD. And Daryl is crying and I’m crying and ALL OF THE NATION CRIES FOR BETH GREENE.
I know Emily Kinney has a music career she wants to pursue, but this wasn’t earned. It’s a waste. I can work with that, but the hospital should have been built up more. OR. She should have been shot when they first handcuffed her on the ground, her happy smile as Noah gets out. THAT would have been more effective, I think. BOO HISS.
And in a teaser, we see Morgan come to the school, survey the magazines—he picks up a Lad’s Life and a Patriot’s Cookbook to up his Survival and Explosives in a pinch—then spies a lady walker trapped and moaning. He quietly dispatches it. He heads to the church where we see the horizontal mark on the tree. He goes inside, places a crucifix on an altar, a GooGoo peanut cluster candy and Fancy Lad snack cake, lights a candle, and prays, breaking into laughter. Laughing at his own folly, maybe? And then he finds a map with Rick Grimes’ name on it and realizes his nice cop friend from S1E1 is still alive.
And…now we have to find a way to deal with waiting until February. SURE. YEAH.
But let’s talk about those marks on the trees, huh?
Okay, so hobos have their own set of glyphs to communicate danger, etc. to one another as they ride the trains. And we’re intersecting the two, I think, since all last season featured our gang walking along train tracks to “terminus,” which was a way-station for all train transport in Georgia. Now, we see Morgan with an X in a circle, and in hobo-speak, that’s a sign of safety, that you’ll get a handout at that spot. He keeps following those until he gets to the church, where we have that horizontal line ending sharply in a vertical slash. That’s not a specific glyph that I can find, but it’s similar to a bunch of variants, all meaning: STRANGER DANGER. Straight horizontal lines mean “doubtful location.” SO I’m hanging onto my slaver theory, that they signs were a way to signal that people could be purloined from specific locations. Or maybe it’s for people who broke away from slavers?
WHO KNOWS. Also, while I’m happy the show has gotten so much better about representation (two amazing and complex black women! Black men! Latinas! LGBT!), I wish they didn’t sacrifice young girls. On one hand, the virginal white girl being traded for a black character is pretty groundbreaking, but killing women–especially young women–is pretty standard (gross) fare. Hmm.
You tell me your thoughts. (And remember, no comic book talk here! No spoilers of any kind for upcoming episodes! HELP ME STAY SANE.)