Rarrggaahh!

Yep. That’s exactly what you think it is – an uncanny impression of a flesh-craving zombie! We’re just over a week away from the premiere of the fourth season of AMC’s The Walking Dead. If you’re a loyal fan, you’ve already marked the day on your calendar and set your TiVo to record the action for multiple sessions of gruesome enjoyment. If you haven’t gotten around to either, there’s no need to worry. The day to remember is Sunday, October 13, so there is still plenty of time to prep for the seasonal Apocalypse that millions of viewers have come to relish.

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The Dead Walk Again This Fall

To better prepare for the coming season, let’s do a recap (without too many spoilers) of what the Survivors went through in season three.

 Hardened Yet Weary

Season three opens with a bang – quite literally! Our favorite group of survivors storm a house full of Walkers, shredding zombie heads with modified handguns, crossbow bolts, and even what appears to be a wrought iron fireplace poker.

It’s obvious that the group have become seasoned Walker-killers. They clear the house in less than a minute and display a tactical poise that would give Seal Team Six a run for their money. Despite their impressive offensive skills though, the group is visibly battle-worn. The men appear haggard and unshaven, the women sweaty and gaunt, and everyone is in desperate need of hot running water and a soapy loofah. After the house is rid of the putrid hoard of walking corpses, the group gathers together in the newly liberated house to take what appears to be a well-earned breather.

Here is where we get the first look at the group outside of battle-mode. It’s obvious that at least seven or eight months have passed since season two’s finale. Lori, who was revealed to be pregnant in the early episodes of season two, is bursting at the seams. Hershel, who appeared well-kept and clean-shaven when first introduced, is now sporting a longer ‘do and a full beard. Carl still dons Rick’s old deputy’s hat, but it covers a stylishly greasy head of shaggy hair that would make even a pre-2010 Bieber envious.

The lack of personal hygiene is obviously the least of everyone’s worries. The group is dangerously low on food and supplies (so much that Carl swipes two cans of dog food for a quick lunch) and morale is virtually non-existent. Before a single word can be spoken though, another herd of Walkers descends upon the house, forcing the group to quickly abandon their new hideout and retreat.

When the survivors regroup, it’s made evident that they have constantly been on the run since leaving the farm. After determining that there are little options left in regards to shelter or routes to explore new territories, Rick and Daryl embark on hunting/scouting expedition while the remainder of the group holds a strategic perimeter around the vehicles and supplies. On the outing, Rick and Daryl happen across an abandoned prison, which will come to be the group’s permanent fortress throughout season three.

 New and Familiar Faces

If there seems to be a face missing from group, one you can’t quite place, then it’s probably Andrea. You know, the cocky, blonde, ex-ACLU attorney who just so happens to be a natural with a Beretta 92FS. Andrea was separated from the main group in the mayhem that transpired during the abrupt exodus from the farm. The last that we saw of her, she was running for her life in a forest full of hungry Walkers. That is, until a mysterious Katana-wielding warrior arrives to save the day. We briefly see the silhouette of the warrior flanked by two armless, jawless Walker-decoys before Andrea and her savior are added to the tally of cliffhangers that left fans itching for season three.

When Andrea reappears, she is gravely ill with some unknown sickness and is being cared for by Michonne, A.K.A. the Katana-wielding warrior. It seems as though the pair (and their two chained Walkers) have had a similar experience as Rick’s group over the past several months and have been on a constant retreat. Despite Andrea’s ailing condition, the two ladies move out to find a new location yet again, at which point they spot a helicopter crash not far from their position.

At the crash site, Andrea and Michonne watch safely from the brush as a new group of people arrive to investigate the helicopter themselves. Soon thereafter, they are discovered by none other than Merle Dixon, the long lost brother of Daryl and who last we saw was handcuffed to the roof in Atlanta on season one (at least until the group returns to find his sawed off hand). Andrea keeps it together just long enough to recognize Merle before she succumbs to the severity of her illness and loses consciousness.

The Governor and Woodbury

Andrea reawakens in what appears to be a makeshift infirmary, where she is greeted again by Merle and then by a stranger who will come to be known as “The Governor.” Despite the fact that a scowl remains on her face throughout much of the season, it’s made evident that Michonne is suspicious of the Governor and Woodbury from the get-go. On the other hand, Andrea becomes smitten with the Governor’s poise and sense of leadership. A sentiment that only seems to grow when she awakens the next morning to discover that Woodbury is an organized, peaceful settlement that is free of Walkers and bears an uncanny resemblance to life before all Hell broke loose.

Naturally, the town’s appearances turn out to be deceiving. Michonne’s gut feeling that everything at Woodbury is not as it seems is confirmed when it is revealed that the Governor is in fact sadistic tyrant with more than just a few deep, dark secrets (zombie heads, anyone?).

Still, Andrea remains gaga over the Governor, and the dynamic duo of female fierceness reaches an impasse: Andrea wants to stay and Michonne wants to go. Each end up getting what they want, with Andrea staying with the Governor and Michonne kissing Woodbury goodbye with only her Katana as company. But Michonne has more important things to worry about than a squabble with her pal, Andrea. The Governor trains his sadistic sights on the dreadlocked warrior, sending a team led by Merle to assassinate her and retrieve her sword as a trophy.

More Reunions

The attempt on Michonne’s life leave both Merle and Michonne herself injured. Michonne limps her way out of the woods, desperate to find shelter, only to cross paths with Glenn and Maggie as they scout for supplies (notably baby formula for Rick’s newborn daughter). Michonne is just about to reveal her presence to the pair when Merle arrives to shake things up again. Heated words are exchanged between Glenn and Merle before the latter pulls a gun on Maggie and forces Glenn to drive them all back to Woodbury.

Tensions Rise

Glenn and Maggie are interrogated for details of their camp back at Woodbury, with Glenn being severely beaten by Merle (and even used as zombie bait) and Maggie being pretty much molested by the Governor.

Michonne, having overheard Glenn and Maggie talking about a prison, staggers into Rick’s camp and alerts them of what went down between Glenn, Maggie, and Merle. She leads them back to Woodbury, where Rick rescues Glenn and Maggie and Michonne attempts to exact her revenge on the Governor.

The assault at Woodbury really stirs up a hornet’s nest. Rick has safely rescued his people from the Governor, but he loses a valuable member in the process as Daryl chooses to reunite with Merle instead of returning to the prison. The Governor is left seriously injured from his encounter with Michonne (here’s where the infamous eye patch comes into play), becoming ravenous for revenge in the process. And Andrea learns that her friends were held captive and tortured by the Governor, leaving her previous level of gaga-ness at a minimum as she struggles to promote peace between the two groups.

Tensions Come To a Head

Facilitated by Andrea, Rick and the Governor meet face-to-face to hash out a plan for peace. Neither seems in a reasonable mindset for negotiations, but the Governor does propose one solution: Hand over Michonne and Rick and the rest of his group will be safe in exchange. Allowing Rick time to consider his offer, the two men part ways.

Rick isn’t as naïve as the Governor might think. He’s certain that the Governor’s punking him, that any agreement made won’t be honored. Nonetheless, he decides to turn Michonne over to Woodbury (a task both carried out and purposefully botched by Merle) and prepare for the worse. Meanwhile, Andrea learns of the Governor’s plans to torture Michonne and attack the prison. She attempts to flee Woodbury and warn Rick, only to get captured by the Governor at the last moment.

The assault on the prison takes place, and the Governor and his boys mean business. The only issue is that the prison appears to be empty – at least until Rick’s group draws them into an ambush and gives them a response that leaves them bolting for their lives.

The Governor’s absconding soldiers seems to be the last straw for him. As his little army refuses to return to the prison and obliterate Rick’s group, he opens fire on them, killing all but one survivor. The last we see of the Governor is a pair of taillights disappearing down the lonely Georgia road.

On route to Woodbury to finish the Governor off, Rick finds the sole survivor of the Governor’s murderous rage against his own people. Using the survivor as a witness, Rick convinces the remaining residents at Woodbury to join his group. The third season concludes with the survivors coming together at the prison and no further appearances of the Governor.

Prepping For Season Four

If you’re a dedicated fan of the series, the synopsis above is enough to refresh you of what went down in season three. If you haven’t seen a single episode of The Walking Dead but are planning on jumping on the wagon this fall, I’d recommend catching up on what has been missed. All three seasons are available on Netflix and Amazon, so spend the time wisely preparing the season four’s premiere, which airs Sunday, October 13, at 9/8 Central on AMC.

Remember to visit each week for recaps and discussions of each episode as the season progresses!

Walking Dead