In episode four of this season, fans learn that Beth Greene is indeed Herschel’s daughter. No, this is not an episode about paternity, as in a blood test and “who is the real daddy.” That episode would center on Judith, but I digress.
The point is that Beth Greene has never been a character that was paid much attention to until recently. Elder sister Maggie fights zombies and earns her keep practically every episode. Sweet and fragile Beth sits back and watches. Fans have criticized her and gone as far as to ask, “What is she there for? Why is she on the show? All she does is sing and babysit.” In “Slabtown” Beth shuts down those naysayers and holds her own.
The episode quickly reveals that Beth has been made into an indentured servant by those who kidnapped her. She wakes up in a hospital that is used as a fortress from Walkers. The show veers from convention by giving the leadership role of the group to a woman named Dawn. Like the Governor and Gareth, Dawn has a skewed view of reality. She deludes herself that she is doing the “right thing” because eventually she and her group will be rescued. She can’t say who will rescue them, but she is sure it will happen. In keeping her illusion going, she is willing to kidnap people, enslave them, and kill them if they are no longer useful to her. She demands that people earn their keep. She tells Beth that her group “saved” her and that means that she owes them.
From the first few scenes, it is clear that Beth’s payback to Dawn and her group involves cleaning, caring for patients, and assisting Dr. Edward, the only doctor in the hospital. But it does not end there. In Dawn’s society women can belong to her henchmen. Sexual Servitude is also part of paying back.
Like the fans, Dawn underestimates Beth. She bullies her. She physically abuses her. But her biggest mistake with Beth is that she takes Beth for a fool.
In previous episodes, Beth was not just watching and listening. She was learning. She knows she is surrounded by people who have no regard for human life. She does not cower, but fights. She carefully plans her escape with the help of Noah. She is methodical–from getting keys to Dawn’s office to fighting Walkers when she gets out of the hospital.
Her quick thinking is highlighted when Gorman interrupts her when she is searching for the escape keys in Dawn’s office. Gorman is not aware that the body of recent suicide is in the office. Beth convinces him that she will have sex with him. She strikes him with a jar of lollipops just in time for the suicide to turn into Walker and kill Gorman.
As soon as that is over, she walks into Dawn, and convinces her to go to her office, and possibly to her death. She brilliantly executes her plan.
Unfortunately, Beth is caught while trying to escape, but she does help Noah get away. Even as she is being dragged away, she smiles as she watches Noah find freedom. That smile reveals her strength. She has it in her to be happy for someone’s good fortune, even while she suffers loss. “Slabtown” shows viewers that Beth Green is a multifaceted character, and there is more to reveal as the show continues.