The Walking Dead: 5.04 Slabtown

So we didn’t find out who was with Daryl. Typical The Walking Dead, never showing you what you expect. But it was good to see Beth again this week, and a whole forty-odd minutes of Beth at that.

It turns out she was “rescued” by her new friends in the hospital, and for friends read slightly sinister people with hidden agendas. Her new best friend is Doctor Alexander and he’s as close to a good guy as you’re likely to get on this show, much like Father Gabriel he’s only interested in self preservation, as he explains in a lengthy spot of exposition.

Continuing it’s brutal start to the season there was more gore with the amputation of an arm; this is surely the most graphically gory of the five seasons so far. Still there’s some restraint, the scene where Beth is groped is cut short, the young Chris Rock (Tyler James Williams) gets a beating off camera, although the pile of dead bodies is pretty grim.

After starting the season with a tight focus it feels as if the show is starting to break up storylines again and splinter off the characters from each other. This works in terms of showing a broader story but the fact everything is still restricted to Atlanta means this is only partially successful. What works better is giving the viewer the time to get to know some characters better. Beth has developed almost beyond recognition in the last year on the show, her episode with Daryl last year was a highlight and Emily Kinney is doing a fine job with the character, so much so you can buy into her being a mini action hero.

Whether you enjoyed Slabtown or not will depend on your view on these side story episodes where the focus is on one character. Season Four introduced the concept in a big way, even if the Governor (remember him???) and his two episodes stretched the idea a little.

Either wayThe Walking Dead is a show that still has the capacity to shock, and to surprise. It’s also a show that is now trying something a little different and exploring it’s characters in different ways.

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