I’m going to try my hardest to be fair during this review, although I would enjoy nothing more than to tear this episode of The Walking Dead to shreds. (spoilers ahead!)
Up until this week, I’ve been absolutely in love with Season 5. The season premiered with a bang and then kept its decent momentum going. Last week’s cliffhanger was so intense that I could barely wait for tonight’s episode to find out who was accompanying Daryl back to the church. This episode may have shed a bit of light on that mystery, but it was not worth the hour time slot. Honestly, you could watch just the last five minutes of “Slabtown” and get all the information you needed.
When we saw the preview for this episode, we knew it was going to be a Beth-centric story. All the previews revealed to us was that Beth was in some strange hospital that appeared to be a safe haven. Obviously, since this is television, it was anything but safe. We discover that the hospital staff has a hidden agenda. While this location is willing to welcome people from the outside world, there is a strange system in place where visitors have to “pay off” a debt for being saved. This debt is very ambiguous but it is implied that some of the hospital staff members are hurting and abusing people who have been rescued.
It was difficult for me to get into this episode. I was strongly reminded of Season 3 where Andrea came to Woodbury and fell to the Governor’s charm, only to soon discover how sadistic he was. I didn’t mind it the first time around, but is this show already out of ideas that it has to re-hash the same formula? Not only is it a repetitive storyline, it also makes me hate the characters involved, even Beth.
I’ve always liked Beth. She was innocent and calm, yet strong in her own ways. I admired her for getting over her suicidal tendencies that she exhibited in her earlier appearances. I was really excited to see her return after months of going off the radar. This episode, though, made me almost wish she was still out of the picture. There was something about her presence that just irritated me. I think it was because she really reminded me of Andrea, whom I could not stand at all. Even the last few minutes of the episode slightly mirrored Andrea’s actions when she almost stabbed the Governor in his sleep.
Another thing I hated about the characters was what I call the “pronoun game.” This occurs when characters are conversing and rather than saying someone’s name, they just use ambiguous pronouns like “he” or “she” in order to enhance the mystery. I know that it’s part of writing a story, but it’s so annoying and frustrating to witness. The Walking Dead has proven time and time again that it can stir up drama and ambiguity in more creative ways. The show does not need to resort to the pronoun game.
There wasn’t even any great acting in “Slabtown”. It was like everyone knew it was a terrible episode so they half-assed their way through the plot. I didn’t care what happened to anyone – not even Beth. I’ll emphasize this point again: this is just a step above a carbon-copy of Season 3’s Andrea-in-Woodbury storyline.
Remember how I said you could watch the last five minutes of the episode and that would give you all the crucial information? That finale was the only part of the episode I would consider even remotely enjoyable. But then the trailer for next week’s episode took away most of that enjoyment because it showed how the plot will now focus on Glenn, Maggie, and the rest as they head to Washington. Don’t get me wrong; I’d welcome that story after the travesty that is “Slabtown”, but now we have to wait even longer to conclude the already-tedious Beth story.
I’m going to be optimistic and hope that The Walking Dead will take an upward turn by next week, but it will be really hard to get the taste of this episode out of my mouth.
Final Grade: D
+ I barely consider this a positive but the final cliffhanger was okay.
– Poor performances by everyone involved.
– Slow, dull pacing.
– Pointless sub-storyline.
Did this episode bother you as well? Do you think that next episode could bring Season 5 back to its former glory? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!