It's been a long seven months waiting for AMC's "The Walking Dead" to return to the airwaves, which means the showrunners had to be sure they wouldn't disappoint the fans. Last night's season three premiere had something for everyone: exotic zombie kills for the gore lovers; internal strife for the drama lovers; and the return of beloved characters for the graphic novel diehards.
Here's a look at where all of the characters seem to have ended up after the season two finale:
***SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE SHOW & GRAPHIC NOVELS***
Rick - The oft-referenced "Ricktatorship" is in full swing here. Rick's got the group running like such a well-oiled machine that no one even has to speak to know what needs to be done. He's pushing the group hard, and he knows it, probably because he seems to have more of a desperate nesting instinct than pregnant Lori is exhibiting.
Lori - Lori appears to be seven or eight months pregnant, though she isn't looking too healthy. There's a whiff of Hester Prynne about her, except with the opposite problem: she doesn't know who her baby's daddy is. We find out later in the episode that she is anxious about losing the baby and then having it turn and eat her from the inside (I must say this would be a much more satisfying death sentence than she has in the graphic novels.) Rick and Carl aren't speaking to her, and now she has no Shane in shining camo to take her side. Boo hoo.
Carl - Clearly not a child anymore, Carl looks like he's grown about three inches since we last saw him; certainly his hair's grown about six. He's conditioned himself to the new reality and calmly goes around helping to clear the group's territory of walkers. He also seems to have a crush on Beth. Hmm...
Hershel - Probably the most surprising appearance-wise, our formerly clean-cut, Godfearing Hershel is unkempt, disheveled and just as likely to be caught putting down a walker as Rick. I was very disappointed that he sustained a walker bite, but hopefully Rick's Civil War field hospital-style operation will keep him from turning.
Maggie & Glenn - These two lovebirds are still very much in love. Maggie seems to be relishing walker killings, even figuring out a way to put down zombies wearing riot gear. Glenn is still fighting his walker bait reputation and volunteering for risky missions.
Beth - It's nice to see Beth getting more of a role in the series, at least as far as this episode goes. We get to hear her lovely singing voice and also see that Hershel is not so eager to let Beth out of his sight (Back off, Carl!).
Carol & Daryl - I never get tired of these two; they seem much more comfortable around one another now. Carol seems to have loosened up quite a bit from last season, even cracking double-entendre jokes and propositioning Daryl. Daryl, ever the badass, still seems closed off emotionally, but something tells me that Carol has managed to crack that facade (but Daryl's still not kissing and telling).
T-Dog - We all know why T-Dog survived season two and Dale didn't: the showrunners are gearing up for a big showdown between T-Dog and Merle. Ever since their unfortunate interactions in season one, we knew this story had to come full-circle. Until then, I suppose T-Dog will just be filler.
Andrea - As we already know, Andrea survived the season two finale thanks to Michonne and her katana sword, though she doesn't appear to be doing much better. She's ill and holed up in an abandoned building while Michonne goes out looking for meds.
Michonne - Appearing more than just in shadow this time, the much-anticipated badass Michonne gets in one of the better zombie kills in this episode--two heads are better than one, after all. She's nursing Andrea back to health, but also has to keep her on the run, as fast as one can run with two walker pets trailing behind.