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02 November, 2014

REVIEW: The Walking Dead (AMC Network TV Series): Season 5 - Episode 4 "Slabtown"

A number of plot points will inevitably be revealed in the course of these writings.  My intent is to review this program from the perspective of the Doomer / Prepper / Survivalist community, but, to do that effectively, some things have to be explained in greater detail than I might normally prefer in a review.  As a result, spoilers will follow.  You have been warned.  In truth, you might more accurately describe these posts as in-depth discussions of certain aspects of each episode with an emphasis on how the character's actions might be applicable in a real-life societal collapse.  I hope you enjoy.
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In this episode, we finally get to see what has become of Beth after her disappearance quite a few episodes ago. Thankfully, she didn't end up on the barbecue at Terminus as the writers had previously somewhat alluded to as a means of creating tension for the viewers. But, in true The Walking Dead fashion, where she did end up is far from a desired haven, further reinforcing the idea that – in a societal collapse situation – other people seem to always be the real monsters.

Something this episode does a good job of highlighting is the idea that another option to use as a stronghold in a real world TEOTWAWKI / SHTF situation would be an abandoned hospital. It lacks the security measures you would find at a prison, but it would allow you to combine the fact that you would have easy access to medical supplies and equipment with the ability to house a large number of people somewhat comfortably. After all, it's already partitioned into small rooms with their own beds and bathrooms.

Not sure how that would work out. I have to admit that I'm not at all familiar with how plumbing would work in a large city like Atlanta, but I know that in many areas the drains still operate as long as you pour water into the toilet/washbasin. Either way, having a bedroom and a bathroom with doors would make things far more comfortably private even if you were doing your business in a bucket, and would far surpass the sheets they had hung to partition off the jail cells and give themselves what tiny bit of privacy that afforded.

The episode also gives us a glimpse of the fact that they are doing some of the things at the hospital exactly as I would advise. They're doing container gardening on the building's flat roof as well as using tanks attached to the guttering to create a rain catch, something that could be very fruitful due to the large surface area of the roof. They could just about catch enough water to survive there indefinitely with enough food-grade plastic tanks to store it in. In fact, if I were them, acquiring more water tanks would be a major goal of any supply foraging run.

We also see them using banks of batteries wired in sequence to keep themselves in electricity, even to the point of being able to run life support equipment. As anyone who has researched alternate energy knows, deep-cycle batteries are a must for this type of set up, but simply foraging automotive batteries from abandoned vehicles on the streets around the hospital would give them access to a great deal of power, even though these batteries wouldn't last anywhere as long as a good deep-cycle. It would still be crazy not to go ahead and make use of such a readily available resource. Were I there, I would also make it a priority for supply foraging parties to seek out those small solar panels found at railroad crossings. They aren't typically very large and don't produce a great deal of wattage, but every little bit helps, and a whole bunch of them on that hospital's roof would help out a great deal.

Regarding the monstrous nature of some people and how those traits will come to the forefront in a situation where society has collapsed and there are no longer any constraints on their activities, this episode does a really good job of reminding one that – in a world as brutal as the one portrayed in this particular bit of Doomer television – it isn't wise to think of anyone's kindness as being simply that. Always best to remember that every kindness could come with a cost attached to it. In the show, we are introduced to a group of survivors that bring in survivors and "save" them, but only in return for those people entering into a sort of indentured servitude under which they are expected to pay back the kindness they have received.

I must say, such a concept interests me because I actually can see where it would be a good thing if handled differently. If society collapses and someone wants to join my group, they will it be expected to work. I can see an arrangement where someone is allowed to live under your protection and even farm a portion of your land if you have enough; and, in return, they provide you with a percentage of everything they grow and maybe a certain amount of firewood or wild game per week or month. Something agreed-upon by both parties. In all truth, that kind of arrangement was what feudalism was based on, only for our purposes it would be done without a ruling noble class keeping the worker classes downtrodden. That might sound like indentured servitude, but the difference between it and what we see in this episode is that the people at the hospital are essentially prisoners. Every morsel of food they eat adds to the imaginary bill they are attempting to work off, and they are never allowed to leave... which, in truth, makes it far closer to slavery in my opinion. And, apparently, the females are being forced to act as sex slaves to keep the deputies happy, which is just despicable.

And these terrible practices are being allowed to continue under the leadership of a female commander who sees herself as doing what must be done to keep everyone alive until they can be rescued and society can be set right. Just proves that there are few things more dangerous than a True Believer, willing to make any compromise if it serves what they believe to be the greater good. The truth, though, is that often the ends do not justify the means.

Another lesson taught by this episode is the value of medically-trained personnel in a survival situation. We talk a lot in the Prepper / Survivalist subculture about attaining skills that will help one to survive. It's something we strive toward all the time. It is a fact, however, that nurses, EMTs, paramedics, military medics/corpsmen, physician's assistants, and especially doctors and even veterinarians will be able to write their own ticket in any dystopian, apocalyptic future. It should be all of our goals to either gain some of this kind of training ourselves or include someone with such training in our survival groups.


The Walking Dead: The Complete First Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Second Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Third Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

The Walking Dead: The Complete Fourth Season [Blu-ray] --- [DVD]

My previous reviews for this series can be accessed by clicking the links below:



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