Walking Dead: Change

827d089d-ec8c-942d-4b70-f599a2fedb92_TWD_504_GP_0612_0184

Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead, in which we finally found out what’s been going on with Beth, also ended up being a bit of a throwback to the series’ early days. And just as we got the chance to see how far we’d come since Rick’s hospital wake up call, Beth showed off how different a character she’s become since the survivors ended up at her family’s farm.

For all that I’ve been clamouring to find out what happened to Beth—or at least wondering why her sister didn’t care at all about where she was—the gentle buzzings of the Internet still suggested a Beth-centric episode might not be the most welcome. It’s understandable since her suicidal first-foray as a leading story didn’t really set her up as the ideal survivor, and she’s never quite offered up the kind of action Rick and Daryl deliver being Judith’s pre-Tyreese de facto babysitter. Until tonight, that is.

Because this whole time Beth’s been quietly adjusting to the apocalypse in the background, almost as if to make up for the way she very loudly and disruptively tried to escape it in the beginning. We saw a bit of that when her boyfriend died last season, and even more when she ended up being the calm, sane one in the Daryl/Beth adventure duo. Which is turning out to be the case again in the hospital, as Beth clearly, and oh so coolly, told Dawn no one was coming and the apocalypse was not a blip in the span of human history.

And just as Beth has been facing an uphill battle with fans, she was getting the same flack in the hospital minutes into her copycat wake up in the heart of Atlanta, with Dr. Edwards saying they weren’t the kind of people who make it. Noah’s theory about why his dad wasn’t saved (Everybody Hates Chris’ Tyler James Williams is my new guess as to who’s in the woods with Daryl) also seemed to suggest that Beth looked like an ideal, weak new addition for the hospital’s staff. Dawn explicitly spelled that out for Beth while flinging her scarred wrist back at her—but by this point we knew how wrong Dawn was considering she was also questioning who would look after Beth for free “out there” and who would keep her safe. We already know that Beth was more than just safe and taken care of before getting grabbed, without owing anyone anything, and that just underlined how far off Dawn’s perceptions of her, and it would seem, reality really were.

Even with all that, it was nice to see Beth take action against Dawn’s system by refusing to use too many resources and by planning and nearly executing an escape so soon. She put the things Daryl taught her to good use by taking advantage of zombie Joan to deal with Gorman and finally got a decent couple of action sequences, including her very own Walker Foot Stomp™. More importantly, she’s now openly declared war on Dawn and the things she’s letting happen in the hospital for the “greater good.”

Maybe it’s the Harry Potter fan in me, but the second Dawn started uttering those words, along with all her debt comments, it was obvious something was up. It was just horrifying to realize that Dawn thought a suitable payment for the minor health care they were offering was sexual slavery. At first I thought Gorman just happened to be a creep Dawn needed—not quite understanding how Joan’s bite fit into things except that they were obviously trapped. But when Dawn finally spelled out exactly what was expected of Beth to pay off her debt, I wanted nothing more than to high five the girl for telling Dawn both Gorman and Joan were waiting for her in her office. We’ve seen a lot of bad from the humans in this series, but Dawn’s delusion that someone would come and rescue them, and that sacrificing girls to Gorman was some way to save the human race in the meantime, was a special kind of low that made me miss Gareth and his leg-chomping ways. Unfortunately it seems Dawn can fight her own battles when she doesn’t have anyone weaker than her to throw in the way first.

Thankfully now she doesn’t just have Beth to contend with, but Carol too. And if my guess about Daryl’s new companion is right, there’s a whole new kind of hell coming to this hospital.

Dead on:

  • After that Rick-created opener, I though for a second Beth might pull a Shane and leave Noah as walker distraction.
  • Our final throwback was Beth not being at all upset about having blood on her shirt. Just goes to show you how a little Daryl can go a long way.
  • Did that re-interpretation of privatized health care feel like a commentary to anyone else?
  • I was sufficiently creeped out watching a character on this show eat meat after Gareth, but that lollipop scene ended up being much worse.
  • Of course a Beth episode would get a musical shout out, but it’s also worth mentioning that was Kiev’s “Be Gone Dull Cage” playing when Beth first walked through the halls.

Is Beth’s redemption working for you? Do you think Noah is in the woods with Daryl? Are Beth and Carol about to become an unstoppable duo? Sound off in the comments below!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96SGsBB60lU

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on AMC.