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The State Of Zombie Nation: Seed
By KevinAherne

210. That number represents both the number of days between episodes, and the approximate number of "walkers" killed during this week's season 3 premiere of AMC's The Walking Dead. When we last saw the Rick Grimes Tribe, they had been chased off the farm by a horde of walkers, losing Jane and Jimmy in the process. Laurie was left for dead in the chaos, but was rescued by a mysterious kitana wielding woman with two walkers on a leash (wait, what?!). Rick shed his passive leadership style, opting for alpha status with a single dramatic phrase: "This isn't a democracy anymore." Then in the final shot, we saw a glimpse that the group has unknowingly camped a few mere wooded acres from a large gated compound.

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Breaching and Clearing

Season 3 wastes no time getting to the zombie kills. In the opening sequence, we see Rick, T-Dog, and Daryl bust into an abandoned house, clearing it of some straggling walkers. The group then moves inside to establish residency... but not for long. Soon, the house is swarmed by more undead from all directions, so the group quickly reacts and flees. The quickness and efficiency of their mobilization (along with the appearance of a VERY pregnant Lori), suggests that they have been nomadic for several months since fleeing Herschel's farm.

While scavenging for food, Rick and Daryl stumble upon their most valuable find to date... A prison complex. The penitentiary, though initially infested by walkers, offers dual chain-linked fence protection, large open (yet protected) spaces, as well as look-out points, in the form of guard towers. The group breaches the fences, and goes on a walker killing spree, clearing the space of the leftover walkers. The group is content to set up camp in the prison yard, but not Rick... he has bigger ideas.

He gathers his tribe's warriors: T-Dog, Daryl, Glenn, Maggie and Herschel to penetrate the prison facility. With Lori very pregnant and potentially popping out a baby (or still-born walker) very soon, he believes the building will provide additional security, as well as a stocked cafeteria and infirmary that will keep his family and tribe safe, healthy and nourished. The rub, however, is that they have no idea of what kind of walker mayhem to expect on the other side of the prison doors.

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3 Hots and a Cot

After entering the prison facility, the brave warriors are able to dispatch the inmate walkers with relative ease, but two unsettling developments occur that seem to compromise Rick's plans. First, prison guard walkers emerge in full riot gear... making it difficult for the survivors to neutralize. They are able to adapt and overcome this hurdle, but next, they notice some civilian walkers inside the facility. This means that the facility has been breached, and the prison may become over-run with zombies. They are able to seal off one of the cell blocks, and the rest of the group is now able to move inside, residing in the prison cells.

The next day, Rick and his recon team explore more of the prison to locate both the cafeteria and infirmary areas, killing several walkers along the way. However, in the mayhem, the group becomes separated, and as Herschel retreats to find Maggie and Glenn, he is bitten on the leg by a walker who had not been properly neutralized. Rick acted quickly to try and save Herschel from turning to the dark side, and hacked off his leg with a (very blunt) hatchet, in hopes that this would prevent the infection from spreading. After a bloody and gory amputation, Hershel passes out. Just as the group stops to catch its breath, the last startling development emerges... Daryl sees a small patch of walkers approaching, and as he gets up to put them down, it becomes clear that they are not zombies at all, but more survivors using the prison as refuge.

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Who Are Those Guys?

There were some interesting developments revealed in this episode:

Andrea is still estranged from the herd. It appears that she has been teaming up with Michonne, the mysterious hooded assassin, fighting for survival while shacking up in an abandoned hunting store. Andrea is weak and ill, but not much insight is shed as to what caused her sickness, nor whether she is on the mend or deteriorating. I am sure we will find out more in the next episode.

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They are not alone.

Who are the strangers on the other side of the partition? Maybe they are a small group of stragglers who are excited to see new faces... or maybe they are sentry units for a much larger group who view the Grimes-group as a threat... Hopefully they aren't part of Randall's old group, because that would likely end up badly for the Grimes Clan. I have a feeling that the prison will not be big enough for both groups, and I am sure that things are about to get very interesting in this slammer.

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Infectious Curiosity

* What will happen to Lori's unborn child? Could it become a stillborn walker? Will it inherit the infection? Will she survive childbirth under these conditions?

* Will Herschel's impromptu amputation actually stop the infection from spreading? Or did Rick just create a one-legged walker?

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Gruesome Kill of the Week

The Gas-Mask

After taking care of a gas-masked prison-guard walker, Rick inexplicably decides to remove its headgear... as he peeled back the mask, the walker's face came with it, leaving a grotesque view, reminding us all that beauty is in fact only skin deep.

Check back next week for a review of Season 3, Episode 2: Sick.

- Kevin Aherne


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