By Kat Rosenfield
Sunday marks the long-awaited return of "The Walking Dead" on AMC, and unnnnngh, we are rarin' for it. The fourth season of the wildly popular show promises something for everyone: comic book-based goodies for the source material loyalist, brand new characters for those bored with the ever-dwindling cast of the Ricktatorship, and lots and lots of zombies who will no doubt be dispatched to the undead afterlife in ways that are gross beyond our wildest dreams. Don't forget: the more time passes in the "Walking Dead" universe, the more squishy and festering the titular characters get!
So, with that in mind, let's take a little refreshing run back through the best moments of Season 3 — so that when the zombies come a-running (or a-shambling, as the case may be), we'll know exactly where we left off:
The (non-walking) dead
Last season saw the loss of a whole slew of major characters: T-Dog died defending the prison from a rogue inmate saboteur. Lori croaked in childbirth, caught a bullet, and wound up making a delightful meal for one extremely gluttonous walker. Oscar and Axel joined the cast just long enough for it to sting when they got offed by the Governor's goons. Milton was our favorite evil minion until he bit it in the final episode; Merle was our favorite morally-ambiguous bro with a weaponized handstump until he went out in a blaze of glory in the penultimate one. (The death of Zombie Merle also merits a mention for an excellent show of killing-while-sobbing by baby brother Daryl.) And Andrea, who just wanted to be loved — preferably in a place with electric lights and hot running water — paid the ultimate price for cozying up to the wrong guy. She did, however, live long enough to enjoy a reunion with the Season 1-2 crew before offing herself in the third act of the finale.
Rick's core group of prison survivors has been seriously depleted, and even the ones who made it through Season 3 didn't necessarily come through unscathed. For instance: Hershel is missing half a leg, and Carl has lost all of his innocence and possibly his moral compass along with it… although he does still have his nifty hat, so that's something. Meanwhile, Rick was too busy cracking up in the aftermath of Lori's death to notice that his son was quickly transforming into a tiny tween-age mercenary, but the showdown at Woodbury — and, dare we say, the beginnings of a rapport with katana queen Michonne — seem to have knocked some sense into him. And just in time, too: there's a whole slew of Woodburian refugees newly arrived at the prison hideaway, he's got a newborn baby daughter to raise, and as Grand High Poo-Bah of the Zombie Apocalypse, he'll be needing to officiate at the wedding of Glenn and Maggie. Also: once those two lovebirds tie the knot, maybe it'll finally be time for the good ship Carol'n'Daryl to set sail. Please, oh please.
The looming threats
Obviously, our heroes will continue to contend with the ever-present problem of hungry, gnashing, oozing, unstoppable zombies as they go about their business — and if there's one thing we know about the prison, it's that it doesn't exactly offer adequate protection. (Really, for a supposedly impenetrable shelter, it gets overrun by walkers with alarming frequency.) And of course, the addition of so many new people in close quarters will no doubt cause plenty of friction. The survivors could barely get along when there were ten of them sharing a cellblock, and now they've got several dozen new roommates to boot. But the biggest baddie of them all? That would be the Governor, played with perfect one-eyed malevolence by David Morrissey, who went mysteriously missing sometime during the latter half of last season's action-packed conclusion, and who's no doubt now lurking out in the woods somewhere with murder on his mind. And considering his wily ways, immense capacity for evil, and official status as a man with nothing left to lose, the Governor should make for a heck of an adversary this time around. We, uh, wouldn't get too attached to any of those newbie Woodburians right away.
"The Walking Dead" returns to AMC Sunday, October 13, at 9pm ET.
What are you looking forward to in the new season of "The Walking Dead"? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter!