‘Walking Dead’ Season Three: What You Need To Know

From the initial outbreak to Shane's death, here's our cheat sheet on the 'Walking Dead' saga ahead of the season three premiere.

“Fight the dead, fear the living” are good words to live by if you’re in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. “Watch the dead, in the living room” are better words to follow if you’re just watching a zombie apocalypse unfold.

Regardless of the words you follow, we’re certain you’ll be speechless when the “Walking Dead” season three premiere arrives on Sunday (October 14). The record-breaking AMC drama kicks off the first of 16 brand new episodes this week, promising even more of the head-splitting, brain-leaking action that fans of the undead constantly crave.

But are you one of the few television viewers who still haven’t dialed into the “Dead”? You won’t need to binge on two seasons worth of gut-wrenching horror to catch up in time for the new episodes. Read on for our primer on everything you need to know about “Walking Dead” ahead of the season premiere!

There Are Zombies
Well, duh. No one is sure who or what caused the outbreak, or how or why it happened, but the situation itself is clear enough: the dead are walking the earth. In fact, all of humanity is infected with the disease; upon death, a person will come back to life as a flesh-feasting member of the undead, unless their brain is destroyed. In this new landscape, these so-called Walkers are the dominant species; mankind’s time is over.

There Are Survivors
Almost over, that is. Remnants of the old world still exist in the form of men and women who have not yet succumbed to the zombie plague. “The Walking Dead” focuses on a band of these people led by Rick Grimes, a former deputy who will do whatever he must to keep his fellow survivors safe. These survivors include Rick’s very-pregnant wife Lori and their young son Carl, the crossbow-wielding hillbilly Daryl Dixon, the resourceful Glenn and his equally capable girlfriend Maggie, and others.

There Was Safety
Season two focused on Rick and his group’s attempt to survive the apocalypse while holed up on a farm owned by a kindly old man named Hershel Greene. The farm kept our heroes safe for a time, but some of Hershel’s family and key members of Team Grimes — elder statesman Dale Horvath included — were killed or went missing when zombies came along to prove that there are few safe havens in the apocalypse. The collapse of Hershel’s property forced Rick and his companions back onto the road, with nothing to rely upon for their continued survival but each other.

There Was Love
Rick’s group was crippled by more than just the fall of Hershel’s farm. For Shane Walsh, Rick’s best friend, the apocalypse left him with a “survive at all costs” mentality that meant the lives of others were second to he and his loved ones — a group that included Lori (who he had a brief affair with) and Carl, but not Rick, who Shane viewed as a weakling not suited for this world. Rick proved Shane wrong with a literal knife to the heart, removing his increasingly dangerous friend (and the show’s second main character) from the playing field. Not only have Rick’s actions led to a deep rift in his marriage with Lori, they also brought him one step closer to becoming the thing he fears most: a monster, just like Shane.

There Will Be Blood
The stakes have never been higher on “Walking Dead” than they are going into the upcoming third season. Life on the road is difficult, but Rick’s team is about to find possible salvation in the form of an abandoned — well, mostly abandoned — prison. It’s not just the zombies behind bars they need to fear, either. Nearby, there is a yet-to-be-seen community called Woodbury run by a sociopath known as The Governor. There’s also sword-wielding Michonne and sharp-shooting Andrea, once a member of Rick’s group, out in the wilderness on their own. All of these groups are destined to converge, and when they do, nothing is certain about the outcome except for this: there will be blood, lots of it, and very few milkshakes to drink up when the dust clears.

“The Walking Dead” premieres its third season on Sunday (October 14) at 9 p.m. ET.

Will you be tuning into the “Walking Dead” season premiere? Let us know what you think in the comments section below or hit me up on Twitter @roundhoward!

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@roundhoward