There's a pretty good chance that with next week's mid-season finale, we'll end up with something of a cliffhanger that leaves us all reeling with excitement for when it returns next year.
Except where The Walking Dead Season 2 spent most of its time dragging along toward the inevitable outcome, Season 3 seems to be sprinting along with breakneck speed, pushing the boundaries of the series and providing compelling material that doesn't necessarily hinge on a final moment of an episode.
The journey itself has been exciting. It has constituted what feels more like a natural progression of story and character, allowing smaller moments to be just as important as the big ones.
"When the Dead Come Knocking" was a great set up for the prison versus Woodbury confrontation, reaffirming why Rick and his crew are the good guys.
I'm pleased, though, that Michonne acted wary of Rick, even though we knew he would actually help her out. I almost expected her to easily accept her new compadres, but she was just as quiet and stand-offish as she was when with the Governor. Acting the same way in both situations helped more fully establish her general distrust for all people.
At the same time, falling in line with Rick and his team made complete sense for her. Woodbury is one of those places that seems far too nice to be real, and the prison is so raw and honest. Michonne is all about the basic necessities - and finding a group that shows real compassion and emotion amidst focusing on plain old survival is far more in line with her thought processes than fake smiles and tea parties.
It also makes sense that both Michonne and Rick would team up to take out a common enemy.
Of course, the episode really captured those dramatic differences between the two groups, especially when it came to Woodbury.
Sure, Merle has always been a little crazy and it wasn't a surprise that not only was he willing to beat the crap out of Glenn, but he was also okay in letting a walker kill him while Glenn was strapped to a chair.
And Glenn had a chance to shine and be resilient in the face of danger. He was able take the beating, kill the walker and not give up his friends' location. This was a great moment for him even if the situation was a horrible one.
But where Merle has always been pretty straightforward with his antics, the Governor got a chance to take the level of interrogation up a few notches.
His scenes with Maggie were tense and uncomfortable, which is brilliant in the sense that you don't need walkers to carry out those scary moments. The Governor's stares and growls while commanding Maggie to take off her clothes felt all sorts of wrong. When he took off his belt and slammed her head on the table, I feared he would rape her.
Thank goodness he didn't, but at this point, I wouldn't put anything past this sicko.
Truly, the outcome for Glenn and Maggie pushed them to the brink to reveal their group's location. Frankly, I'm surprised the Governor kept both of them alive after getting his information.
It only makes me want Rick and his team (the two prisoners have seemed to move in nicely, haven't they?) to take out the Governor before anything worse happens.
I do find the Governor's interests in walker studies to be curious. Perhaps he is hoping to find a way to give his walker daughter a chance at a normal life? The results did seem pretty conclusive, though, in that all a walker wants to do is eat human flesh.
That was grotesquely evident when the cabin man was fed to the horde of walkers. Was the scene necessary? Not really, but it did reestablish that the walkers are everywhere and you never know when you're going to get surrounded.
And I'm glad Carol is back. It was a happy reunion among all the current problems and it's great to see she still has a sense of humor. That and she can take care of the baby.
Are we happy the baby is named Judith? I guess Ass-Kicker was growing on me, but I'm fine with the new name.
This was a solid episode that wasn't filler fluff. Some great tense moments with the Governor and some positive unification ones with Rick rounded out a riveting lead up to what looks to be an outstanding fall finale.
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.