Viewers who thought last season's "The Walking Dead" shuffled along too slowly while its human protagonists yammered on about morality in a post-zombie apocalypse world should be happy with the Season 3 premiere (8 p.m. Sunday, AMC; 4 stars out of 4).
There's a whole lotta zombie-slaying going on.
The season opens by putting us literally eye-to-eye with a decaying, remorseless walker. As the camera pans away, we see Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) leading his rag-tag crew into another Georgia farmhouse. But don't worry; they don't stay long. They can't. The place is overrun with zombies before young Carl (Chandler Riggs) is able to snack on the can of dog food he finds.
It's been seven months since the events of last season. Our not-so-merry band has survived the winter but they're exhausted, hungry and long overdue for a rest. Rick's very pregnant wife, Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies), needs a safe haven where she can give birth. After they slash, shoot, hammer and spear their way out of this latest zombie mess, Rick and Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) stumble upon the West Georgia Correctional Facility. Rick thinks it's the perfect sanctuary where they can regroup without fear of their faces being chewed off--once they clear it of all those pesky undead guards and prisoners.
Heads roll and eyes are gouged. You won't even be able to keep track of the number of zombies slaughtered.
Show runner Glen Mazzara and his writers don't dwell too long on the existential themes, keeping the first two episodes moving at a breakneck pace. We also meet, briefly, the katana-wielding badass Michonne (Danai Gurira), who saved Andrea (Laurie Holden) from certain undeath in the Season 2 finale. They're holed up away from the main group and will eventually lead viewers to another new character, the Governor (David Morrissey), a ruthless leader who rules his kingdom from the town of Woodbury.
For now, though, expect a lot of splatter as Rick and his posse claim the prison as their own. While Mazzara has amped up the action, he doesn't skimp on the angst. Rick, more decisive than ever, will stop at nothing to keep his group safe. The way he deals with certain obstacles inside the prison will have you questioning just how much of his humanity remains. Be ready for one or two "I can't believe that just happened!" moments.
It's amazing how a show about something that will never change--those zombies just keep on coming--continues to surprise, shock and delight.
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