Cruz: Tonight’s episode “Slabtown” opened with a sound and face foreign to The Walking Dead’s season thus far—the ticking of a clock and ... Beth Greene (Emily Kinney)! While Maggie’s younger sister has a reputation for little other than her (lovely, if inappropriately timed) singing, it was a relief to see Beth again for the first time since her bizarre kidnapping back in season four. Much like Rick at the start of the series, she found herself patched up in a quiet, unassuming hospital only to quickly realize the horrors outside her door. Her strange new companions—the slightly robotic leader Officer Dawn Lerner and Portlandia extra/hipster dad Dr. Steven Edwards—told Beth she had been rescued from “rotters” and must now repay the group’s charity by working at the hospital.
With this new setting, the show again offers a variation on a familiar but fascinating theme: Collectives can offer safety, but only from the outside world. With the hospital group come more concrete forms of order, however tenuous—menacing clocks; uniformed police officers; a strict code of fairness; rules about cleanliness; a miniature economy of goods and services; and a post-apocalyptic indentured servitude system. Despite the fact that Beth has never had to carry an entire episode on her own, I found “Slabtown” immensely engrossing (her new friend Noah helped) and found myself fully allied with Beth and admiring her toughness. David, how did you feel about watching Beth navigate a creepy hospital for 45 minutes?