The end of season 2 of The Walking Dead was a ... how do we put this? ... ball breaker. Yes, that's it: ball breaker. Not only did the hero of the piece, Rick, murder his psychotic best friend Shane (who may or may not have knocked up Rick's wife Lori in Season 1), but he revealed to his crew of survivors that the zombie virus is in everyone -- so even if you die in a manner that isn't related to a zombie eating your face (unlikely, but still), you'll still pop up as one the second that you're cold anyway. Quite the predicament. "This isn't a democracy anymore," Rick scowled menacingly and we all waited with baited breath.
So we're back finally, and appropriately, the first scene of season 3 starts with zombies getting shot in the head with arrows by Rick, some of the gang, and -- oh, yay! -- Rick's young son, Carl, who does this now (good for him). Carl shoots one in the face too. Not bad for a 12-year-old. Then hick-with-a-heart-of-gold, Daryl, kills an owl, which makes us sad, but hey, zombie fighters have to eat too, we guess.
The gang raids the now safe house and Carl attempts to eat dog food, but is thwarted by his father. Hey. Seems kind of unreasonable. If we were three seasons into a zombie apocalypse, we'd probably eat dog food too. The gang steals some cars and we're off!
The gang tries to find a route that isn't going to get them slaughtered by the undead and Hershel warns Rick that his heavily pregnant wife Lori can't take much more travel. Lucky then, that Rick and Daryl stumble across a prison shortly afterwards. The gang breaks in while zombies hiss at them through the fence. Our favorite undead-murderer -- the mild-mannered Glenn -- stabs zombies in the eyes through the chain link. Bless.
Of course, this being The Walking Dead, this prison is far from abandoned. Instead, it's full of undead prisoners. The gang slaughters, like, a million of them in the first 10 minutes. And not only is Carl joining in now, so is Carol -- a woman who started this show as a down-trodden, abused housewife (good for her). Clearly finding her small daughter growling and zombified at the end of season 2 has toughened Carol up. She's positively gleeful about the amount of space that the prison affords the gang too, so they have a lovely campfire.
Daryl gives Carol a backrub. Is this going where we think it's going? 'Cause that's kind of weird. Then Hershel's daughters, Beth and Maggie, sing to the gang. Man. Of all the annoying things about a zombie apocalypse, we'd really begrudge not having real music. Poor souls. Rick helpfully points out that there's a ton of undead wardens and prisoners still to kill. "This place could be a goldmine!" he notes. "These assholes don't stand a chance." Lori suggests everyone could do with a rest. Rick is a hostile bastard. Uh-oh. That whole screwing-his-best-friend thing is never going to stop biting her in the ass, baby-in-uterus or not.
The next day, the gang works their way further into the prison, which involves smacking zombie riot guards in the head a lot and then stabbing them in their undead necks, which is fun. Maggie particularly enjoys it. We like her even more already (and she was already pretty cool last season). Inside the prison -- good and grey, it is too -- lots of undead prisoners hiss through bars and the gang sets themselves up in nice, secure cells, which in the context of this show, looks pretty heavenly. No wonder Glenn and Maggie feel instantly amorous. Home sweet prison.
Meanwhile, we catch up with Angela and her new dread-locked cohort, Michonne (Angela got left behind by the gang in the farm disaster at the end of season 2, remember?). Michonne is a sword-wielding badass who keeps de-armed "walkers" on leashes. Like we said, badass. She's really good at beheading things too, unsurprisingly, and is nursing Angela back to health, despite Angela telling Michonne to go on without her, as all good heroes do. Eventually, Angela suggests moving on or she'll "die here." Off they go, armless "walkers" on leashes and all!
The increasingly pregnant Lori gets checked out by Hershel (he's a doctor, remember?). She thinks the baby inside her is dead. Hershel disagrees. Lori is understandably freaking out about a.) her baby being dead and festering in her uterus and b.) dying in childbirth, then turning into a zombie and trying to kill everyone. "It would've been better if I'd never made it off the farm," she says. Can't blame her.
Nighttime and the gang pushes further on into the prison, wielding only flashlights and paint cans, stumbling across dead and rotting corpses as they go. At least all the dead folk in here aren't trying to eat their faces (good for them). But of course, it's not long until zombie prisoners emerge, growling and hissing in their blue jumpsuits. There's lots of them too. Isn't it always the way? Hershel gets bitten in the ankle. Major bummer.
The gang holes up in a room with Hershel and his gross ankle. Rick shouts "There's only one way to keep you alive!" and immediately starts hacking off Hershel's leg with an axe. Finally, the gang turns and finds a crew of living, not-yet-zombified prisoners, watching them through a grate. "Holy shit," says one of these prisoners. I mean, what would you say if you stumbled across a gang of living people hacking each other's legs off? Probably worse.
So, The Walking Dead is back. And it's bloodier than ever. And we couldn't be happier. We can't help but suspect that all the stakes will be raised this season, judging from the first episode, and we can't wait for all the glorious gore. Don't even get us started on the new baby that's about to arrive.