First episode impressions: ‘The Walking Dead’ Season 3 (TV review)

“The Walking Dead’s” (8 p.m. Central Sundays on AMC) third season starts with a rarity: Good news. The gang finds a prison that could serve as an excellent home base. They even enjoy a picnic and a sing-along.

But that doesn’t last long. A lot of the appeal of “The Walking Dead” comes from its (well earned) reputation that each episode is gonna end with a shocker. “Seed” has a pretty good one, and we’ll find out in coming weeks if removing an infected body part (Herschel’s lower leg) can save a person from becoming a walker. Also, we’re briefly introduced to a group of live prisoners, which could set up the tried-and-true human vs. human conflict over who gets to stay at the prison in coming weeks (I’ve learned from past episodes that “Can’t we all just get along?” rarely works on this show).

We also meet the much-hyped Michonne, the katana wielder who keeps two armless, jawless walkers as pets (presumably because it allows her to avoid the attention of hordes; maybe comic-book readers can fill me in if there’s more to it). She cuts (pun intended) an impressive figure, chopping off walker heads and skewering a pair of them. “Seed” is a little short on characterization, though; all we know is Michonne has been taking care of Andrea all winter and now the duo is planning on moving out from their safe haven for unknown reasons.

Carl is a revelation in this episode, as Rick (clearly the leader now, with Daryl as his second-in-command) trusts him to stand watch and shoot walkers. (The apocalypse has toughened everyone up, as we see Beth and Carol also taking down walkers with pointy objects and bullets, respectively.) Carl has grown up a lot since we last saw him — and he seems to like older women, as he eyes Beth a couple times. It makes sense that a kid would grow up fast in a zombie apocalypse, as children would be even more adaptable than adults who are set in their ways.

The biggest mystery of the moment is Lori’s pregnancy. Lori, in fact, states a fear that would make a very cool gross-out visual: If her baby is stillborn in this world where people turn into zombies upon death, would the baby tear her up from the inside? It’s hard to imagine “The Walking Dead” featuring a baby as a cast member, and combined with the fact that fans don’t like Lori (and her husband, Rick, doesn’t seem to, either), I’m guessing both mother and child could be dispatched in the weeks to come. Then again, nothing is predictable on this show.

What are your thoughts on the Season 3 premiere? Share your comments below.