It's finally here.
After a season two finale that featured a farm overrun with walkers, a mysterious sword wielding figure and Rick taking control, having to wait for a whole year to dive right back in to The Walking Dead wasn't easy.
But like surviving a zombie apocalypse, we all waited it out to be rewarded with a fantastic season three premiere.
Frankly, I wasn't surprised. The last two openers knocked it out of the park and "Seed" set the tone for what's in store not only for viewers but the rag tag group of Rick Grimes and company.
It is an interesting choice to set things off with a time jump that's not only obvious because of Lori's protruding belly, or Carl's new hair, but definitely in the way that everyone acts.
And while it would have been cool to see how they dealt with winter, the jump served to give us a clear view of the characters' changes. There's no more whining or questioning, someone isn't running off for no good reason, Carl's rock throwing arm has been replaced by a well aimed gun - and Rick is ruthlessly determined.
He is clearly and obviously the leader.
Except not only does he give out orders that are followed, but everyone works together. They're all tactical in their efforts, and immediately in the eerily silent cold open, the group sweeps through the house efficiently, even if they have to quickly leave after.
So while it was great to see Carol shooting a gun (and she seemed in pretty good spirits), the hacking and attacking of the walkers inside the prison was all in good bloody fun. If you felt that you were missing the action, it was certainly there with each gruesome chop, bang and pole through the head. Even the riot armored walkers was a great new challenge for the survivors.
Everything feels so matter of fact now. It's no longer shock and surprise that the world has essentially ended and the characters are used to the moaning and clawing of the walkers. And the fact that everyone is covered in dirt, blood and grime adds to the realism of the end of the world rather than looking like everyone just came out of a pretty looking Abercrombie and Fitch ad. (Cough, cough… Revolution.)
Yet the reveal of the prison as the potential safe haven amped up the stakes and looks to be a great setting for the show.
Reincorporating the tense, anxiety-ridden attributes of dark claustrophobia and never knowing what is going to jump out is a welcome return to the series. It's great having those scary moments.
It was certainly a shock that Hershel, looking for his daughter, gets his leg chewed out by a sitting walker. I mean, the guy was sitting! C'mon, Hershel.
So while you think Hershel is dead in the first episode back, that concept is spun on its head and has Rick hacking off the bitten part. And he does it quickly and pretty much without hesitation. Ugh, just thinking about it. The series never fails to give us the blood and guts.
Of course, to top it all off, there was a wonderful reveal of a group of men on the other side of the room simply saying, "Holy Shit." My sentiments on the episode exactly.
It's great seeing Rick take charge, but it's obvious he's being pushed to a certain breaking point. He's no longer the same guy who wanted to spend more time talking then doing. And it is interesting to see his relationship with Lori so strained. He's not happy, but you can tell underneath his brooding exterior he still has that care and concern.
It's going to be fascinating seeing everyone get the chance to grow in this new environment, especially after it's clear that everyone already has changed.
Although I'm not really digging the vibe Carl is giving to Beth. Are they implying more than just friends between these two? I don't know if I'm buying that one right now, but I do like that Carl isn't running away and instead contributing just like everyone else.
But the episode didn't just stick to the prison, allowing us a glimpse of a sickly Andrea and her new sword-wielding companion. It wasn't a lot of time with these two, but there was a sense that apart from bad ass sword moves, they've been working together to survive. I'm curious as to how they'll be greeted by Rick and company (if they make it to them alive!) and what their time apart means when there is that potential group reunion.
This was a fun episode and a great way to kick things off. Action, suspense, character development, a brand new setting, new characters and a solidly dark tone surrounding everyone's positive attempts to survive made for an entertaining hour. It's going to be exciting seeing the new season adapt from the sometimes sluggish season two.
I've got a feeling that this is going to be The Walking Dead season that viewers have been waiting for.
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.