The Walking Dead has been stuck in a rut for several years.
It managed to pack a punch during the second half of The Walking Dead Season 9. That was thanks in large part to the Whisperers arriving and breathing new life into the series.
The walkers are scary enough, but having deluded individuals dressed up like them, waiting to flip the script instills a different type of fear in the remaining survivors.
Thankfully, the increased quality continues into The Walking Dead Season 10.
Three episodes were provided for critics in advance of the premiere, and it's evident the show is returning to its roots and following a path that leans more heavily on the scares and less on the soapy melodrama.
Many thought the series would die following the loss of Andrew Lincoln's Rick Grimes, but there's so much smart storytelling at play here that the character feels like just a distant memory.
He is somewhat of a distant memory to the others, given that it's been years since they thought he died while trying to save them.
Michonne's storyline is particularly impressive. She's scared at the prospect of anything happening to Judith or RJ.
It's a natural instinct, but Danai Gurira's looming exit certainly makes it seem like something terrible is going to happen to her character as a result of Alpha's reign of terror.
The series is all about playing with expectations these days, so there's a chance she could pull a Maggie and up and leave to help developing communities.
Even though Michonne is featured heavily in these initial installments, there were a lot of scenes missing from the trailer, leading me to believe she will be sticking around for a little longer than the rumors suggested.
With the threat of the Whisperers rising, the communities all have opposing views on what should be done.
None of these views seem thrown in there half-baked to allow for people yelling at each other for little reasons.
These views come from the anxiety of having this new breed of villains lurking in the shadows, ready to strike. They could be watching your every move, or they could be gearing up to end your life. It's a sign of a show that knows what it wants to be.
The actors are turning in great performances. It's like they're excited that they are being given their best material in years, and that they know the show is in good graces with fans again.
The Walking Dead has suffered several missteps throughout its almost 10-year run.
At points, many fans hate-watched, hoping that someday things would improve, and thanks to Angela Kang taking over as showrunner, she has successfully steered this ship in the right direction.
Samantha Morton continues to embody Alpha with such finesse that it feels like the role was written just for her. Many worried that the series would start to slow down again following the conclusion of The Walking Dead Season 9.
The show has a habit of keeping villains around for too long, but there's so much we don't know about the Whisperers that they could probably stick around for the entire season without going stale.
We meet new Whisperers who have their own storylines that help give us more insight into the way Alpha does business, and just how far she's willing to go to keep everyone under her rule.
Alpha is the scariest villain on the series because she and her people can be anywhere at any one time.
When Negan was the villain, you could hear him before he was on-screen because the character loves the sound of his own voice.
Speaking of Negan, his storyline is finally developing away from the confines of a cell, and that's a welcome development.
Love him or hate him, having a character spend most of his time on a show in a cell can become dull pretty quickly.
Despite Negan making some big moves to keep Judith safe, many people are still against him. Rightfully so. He's such a complicated personality with a lot of misdeeds that it would be ridiculous to believe everyone would forgive him.
Prison -- or whatever they're calling it -- has been good for Negan. The character has more depth than ever. This is thanks to the knowledge that he will try and save the lives of those he cares about.
He's still an outsider in Alexandria, but he has many similarities to Lydia. People fear them because of the past, and they could prove to be a formidable force if they work together to try to change the way people think about them.
All of the communities know they need to work together if they have any hope of winning the looming war with the Whisperers.
Part of what makes this war so intriguing is that the remaining survivors are thinking strategically instead of rushing into a gunfight.
Guns and bombs will only bring more walkers to the forefront, giving the villains more options to take some much-needed cover. Now, our heroes are all going to extreme measures to ensure they are making the right calls as the tensions between both sides heat up.
That's not to say there's no tension between the established communities. Everyone has differing views over how to deal with Alpha, and that's another thing that makes The Walking Dead Season 10 must-watch TV.
Will you be watching the series when it returns?
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Be sure to return for my full review of the season premiere on Sunday!
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.