After the extended first episode which introduced us to the key characters (but specifically Rick Grimes), and the wider world of the zombie apocalypse, and after the second episode which gave us a jolt of zombie destruction writ large, comes the third episode which fully chows down on the meat of the character interplay that is so central to the source material.
Glenn continues to entertain and provide the voice of the average viewer, brandishing a pleasing mixture of wit, common sense, and moments of child-like wistfulness. The first two episodes were a bit light on several key characters, but episode three fleshes-out the likes of Lori, Shane, and Dale nicely. Jeffrey DeMunn brings an old school sense of class and intelligence to his role - a perfect match for his character in the comic books - while the whole Rick/Lori/Shane triangle is given a more satisfying angle here than in the original material.
The characters here really think things through, and so much is left appropriately unsaid - merely written in glances and body language - and it makes for a satisfying viewing experience. If someone is thinking of doing something stupid or dangerous, someone else will call them on it, but then the reasoning will come through. Decisions are nicely thought-through, specifically Rick's reasoning for going back to Atlanta, which calls back to both of the first two episodes.
Furthermore it's really starting to feel like The Walking Dead. The first couple of episodes do change things up quite a lot - perhaps more than some were expecting - but this third episode not only suggests why those changes were made, but it also gives us the vibe, that those of us who have read the first story in the comics, have already experienced. I'm talking about the sequence during the campfire - I really got a greater sense of this truly being The Walking Dead, after many differences along a similar path, as witnessed in the first two episodes.
A couple of smaller observations would be the performance of Carl (Chandler Riggs) - which is impressive and not at all annoying (something that can easily happen with child actors). Specifically I'm referring to the nicely played moment between Lori and Carl, with few words, when Carl is heartbroken to not see (initially anyway) his father amongst the returning members of the group. In a few strokes we get a glimpse into the mother-son relationship, and a nice grounding for Carl.
Furthermore the attack upon the zombie which is seen chowing down on a downed Deer was pretty damn cool. Lifted from the original material too was Dale getting to bring-the-awesome with a decapitation, and then the severed head still being alive and trying to get at them - a sight in the comics that was not only cool, but quite creepy.
Finally it was interesting to see how they handled the moment, again from the source material, in which the women address the fact that they're the ones washing up after, and cleaning the clothes of, the men in the camp. This reversion to stereotypes was more of a throw away gag on one page in the book, meanwhile here it is handled head-on with Carol's unreconstructed chauvinist husband Ed. As an interesting aside, Carol's partner was dead before we're introduced to her in the book, and seemingly the TV adaptation combines Carol and Donna. In the books Donna had twins and a husband, Allen, who was a bit of a scruffy middle aged slacker, but a nice enough guy. There are still others wandering around the camp who we haven't been introduced to yet, so I'm not sure if that's actually the case - but it seems to be the case.
Here, after some apparent fiddling around with the characters (Carol is pitched as older than her comic book counterpart, but still the mother of Sophia), Ed - a newly created character, seemingly de-evolved from generally-amiable Allen - is a right bastard. A perfect example of a male pig if ever there was one, whose overtly old school approach to gender roles is grotesque, but challenged by Andrea - as I've said, a throw away gag in the source material is here turned into a confrontation, and ultimately it's a better handling of the fact that the men and women have both regressed to their classic cave-man-era roles. The women look after the camp and the children, and the men do the hunter/gatherer/protector thing.
Finally - I really dug the little cliffhanger at the end of the show - clearly The Walking Dead is working nicely, because I really wanted to see the next episode when the credits rolled. Roll on episode four!