I'm starting to think we need one of those Pop vs. Soda map charts that shows what word people use for zombies in each area of The Walking Dead. It may be less geographical as it is varying from community to community. Rick's people call them walkers, while the people of Woodbury preferred "biters." And then you have the people in Atlanta, who refer to them as "rotters." There are probably arguments to be made for each one, as the reanimated corpses do walk, bite and rot. Which word will stick? That's also up for debate, but let's get on to more pressing matters, like the last few moments of tonight's episode, which revealed a dire situation for one lead character.
Spoilers if you haven't seen The Walking Dead's "Slabtown" episode!
Tonight's episode left us to ask one question: Who's in trouble here, Carol or Dawn?
While much of the focus of tonight's episode was on the whereabouts of Beth, who's been M.I.A. since last season, the close of the episode had Carol being wheeled into the hospital where Beth is essentially imprisoned. Carol is presumably injured and possibly dying... or is she? Because let's face it, this wouldn't be the first time Carol found a way into a facility on a rescue mission.
Is it too much to hope that Noah got out, ran into Daryl and Carol, told them where Beth was and they concocted a plan to get Carol into the building so that she can help Beth escape? Even if Noah didn't cross paths with Daryl and Carol, we know they were in pursuit and possibly on their way to Atlanta, depending on where that car led them. It's possible they figured out how the place operates and set Carol up to be admitted as a patient. Hopefully.
It's also worth noting that last week's episode ("Four Walls and a Roof") left off with an intentionally mysterious final scene, where Daryl emerged from the woods and called back to someone else to come out, leaving us to wonder what happened to Carol. Tonight's cliffhanger once again forces us to worry that Carol's days are numbered.
If Carol is legitimately injured, her tab has just been opened. This community "saves" people and then forces them to stay there and pay off their debt. It seems like a twisted version of a system that might be able to work on a voluntary basis if this reality weren't becoming such a kill-or-be-killed environment. And if it had a stable leader that wasn't physically assaulting people.
Grady Memorial Hospital is a prime example of why The Walking Dead has the potential to stick around for a long time. There are multiple ways to survive in this reality, as we're learning season by season. While Rick's group is fairly nomadic, we've seen from the people of Woodbury, Terminus and now this hospital, that people are finding other ways to function day to day. But the more episodes go by, the more it seems that the people who do manage to survive are the ones willing to do whatever it takes, which may not be such a good thing.
As bad as this hospital situation is for people who find themselves rescued (by force) and taken in, it's not hard to see how things got this way, especially when we take into consideration Dr. Edwards' story about how Dawn didn't want to spare the resources to save a burn victim, but was convinced to let Edwards treat the man if the man was made to repay the debt.
That seems pretty fair, right? They save a patient, the patient contributes something back for the resources that were used. Everyone wins. In the hands of a stable leader, a system like that could work. But Dawn's not stable. She proved tonight that she's prone to outbursts and seems to take them out on people who aren't likely to fight back. She's also picking and choosing who gets saved by what they can contribute. On paper, that might seem reasonable in a "do what we need to do to survive" kind of way, as it relates to conserving resources. In reality, it's pretty harsh. And then there's the matter of these "rescue" efforts, which might be straight-up kidnapping. We didn't see how Beth's rescue actually went down, after all. Is it possible these people set up a walker attack on the house where Beth and Daryl were, just to flush her out and snatch her up? Regardless, the fact that they won't let her leave is a problem.
It's also a problem when the seemingly decent doctor allows (or outright arranges for) a patient to die because he's afraid he'll be expendable if there's another doctor in the house. These people really need to get out more. And Beth needs to get out soon. I think she will. She may be sweet, and she may have had some dark moments in her past, as evidenced by the scar on her wrist, but she's not weak. Dawn was foolish to underestimate her. Creepy guard and sexual assaulter Gorman was too, and he paid for that with his life. Something tells me Dawn won't make that mistake again, but hopefully Carol's arrival is meant to be a good sign and not a bad one.
So, who's in trouble?