Each week I'll be doing a run-down of each episode from season 3 - a sort of week-by-week episode-by-episode debrief, if you will - so with the triumphant return of AMC's superb zombie apocalypse drama, onwards to the 3x01 "Seed"...
WARNING: EPISODE 3x01 SPOILERS AHEAD!
WHAT WE LEARNED:
* After months on the road, surviving winter in the process, our merry band of walker bashers have developed into a team with a procedure for clearing a house and searching for survivors. However, while desperate, Rick won't allow them to stoop to eating dog food - a prospect that a much more hardened (and responsible) Carl doesn't take issue with.
* Michonne and Andrea have formed a tight duo (with accompanying chained zombies). This will be an interesting dynamic to follow as the season progresses, particularly when Woodbury is introduced (no doubt in 3x02 or at a push 3x03).
* The gang have developed their own tools - silencers made out of torches (or flashlights to our American friends), locks made out of chains and climbing gear that are ideal for chain link fences, and so on.
Click "READ MORE" below for more info, gore, twists, and cliffhangers...
* Lori and Rick's relationship has been strained in the intervening months after the death of Shane and the birth of the "Ricktatorship".
* Is there a romance on the horizon for Daryl and Carol? Who knows, Norman Reedus claims that Daryl doesn't have much game, but it'll be an interesting relationship to watch develop. Daryl also more than fills the hole left by Shane for Rick (as well as being an indispensable member of the team), and Carol has greatly improved her firearms skills (for the most part).
* Does Carl have a crush on Beth? He was eyeing up bunking with her until Hershel turned up.
* Undead prison guards are a bitch to deal with - difficult to kill, to say the least, they pose a greater risk than your average walker inside the prison gates. Effective techniques are the risky face-front assault where a knife is thrust up under the chin, or the safer rear-attack where the head is pushed forward and you insert your favourite sharp zombie killing tool into the brain stem. Tackling them also helps - the shield of the helmet proving to be a handy guard against falling into their gnashing jaws.
BEST GORE MOMENT:
In an episode full-to-the-brim with gore-gushing-geeks (more zombie kills in 3x01 than the entirety of season one apparently), the watermark was set at a high level with double decapitations, practised headshots with silenced pistols, and sharp objects to innumerable rotted faces, but there still arose a victor. The gas masked guard walker, whose face had putrefied inside the mask, has its face torn from the skull when the mask is removed while it's still live and kicking. Then a machete is thrust through an eye socket for the perfect deal sealer. KNB Effects really out-did themselves with this little beauty.
BEST TWIST ON THE COMICS:
Dale was killed off late into season two, so he never made it to the prison. However Hershel is still around and so it is he - not Dale - who suffers a walker bite to the lower leg, and a subsequent amputation.
It's not just zombies inside the prison, there are living inmates too - five were glimpsed behind a fence in the canteen, including Lew Temple as Axel. I'm certainly looking forward to hearing him first utter the character's famous phrase "You follow me?" - not so much the bear-sized biker dude with a vast beard (as he is in the comics), but then again Otis was physically quite different in season two to his comic book counterpart as well.