It’s back. As of this week The Walking Dead is two episodes into its third season and I can barely contain my excitement. Finally, I feel like screaming at my laptop. Like an antiquated fairytale heroine pining for her prince, I have been counting the days for the return of my favourite television and at last it is here. In fact, I don’t think it could have done anything more to make its presence known.

Season Three is, so far, completely different to the previous episodes. It’s brutal. Winter has passed since we last saw our band of zombie apocalypse survivors and they have all changed. They are organised. They fight in formations and plan their moves carefully. The weaker characters, the ones people loved to hate for being too wimpy as though every character had to be a samurai, have grown stronger. Carol? I don’t even recognise Carol. One minute she’s sobbing on the ground and we tune in months later to see her shooting, cutting open walkers and… Making sex references at Daryl. Who is this badass babe I see before me?

It’s not just the hair that has changed on Carl. He’s like a proper person now rather than a kid not being allowed to do stuff. Rick has completely abandoned traditional parenting and opted for a more hands-on approach; Carl bags a walker before the opening credits start rolling. No longer confined to the house, although some good that did, he’s more of a man-boy than a regular boy now. And he has a crush on Beth, which is probably the creepiest thing ever.

Even Lori has changed, although we all know it’s only to make her more sympathetic before she dies, right? But I guess Christmas and all the good cheer going around in December made her consider the notion that she might have been a manipulative, Lady Macbeth-channelling sociopath in Season Two. Lori is shunned by her family and really regretting it. I’m setting the writers a challenge right now to see if they can make me like her before her untimely death is upon us.

I’d also like to see the hidden scenes of Christmas during the zombie apocalypse. I wonder if Daryl gave Carol one of his special necklaces…

Having just watched episode two, I’ll admit that my heart got stuck in my throat a lot tonight. Like the comics, The Walking Dead on TV has you wondering “will they go there, will they do that” until it’s too late and the writers have of course done that. Rick is merciless with the prisoners in a way that I wasn’t prepared for. Sure, he’s done some gnarly things in the past to protect the group but as of right now he is basically Shane. His transformation from good cop to good intentioned bad cop is so compelling it’s unreal. It makes me look forward to the rest of his season, where we hopefully find out what his limits are.

This is probably the first show where, if I had to pick I would seriously struggle to decide on a main character I would choose to die first (… apart from Lori). I love Hershel, his bravery and faith. I’m not religious, but he keeps his faith during the most testing time you can imagine without being a moralising irrational git. Glenn is probably the first person I’d run to for a hug yet he somehow manages to be one of the bravest in a really real way. Last season, when he said that he froze during an attack because of his feelings… Glenn is brave in a way that is different from Daryl, the feral cat only half tamed. Andrea and Michonne are probably the coolest double team ever and it only took five minutes to show the compassion and loyalty these butt-kicking women have for each other. And then there’s T-Dog. He has more lines now, but I demand a third Kirkman novel that explains his life up until this point.

To be honest, I’m just amazed I managed to write a post about The Walking Dead without ending up simply saying “awesome” and “wow” over and over again. But… wow. Awesome. Because this is a show that is changing and developing, getting better and moving in new and exciting directions. I’m a zombie geek, and I’ll be gushing about this latest episode on Wednesday anyway, but this isn’t just a show for horror fans. It’s a show for human fans.

Start watching it. Now.

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