After a seemingly eternal Season 2 spent milling around Hershel’s idyllic farm, fixing poisoned wells and talking a lot about everyone’s feelings, the most recent episodes of AMC’s zombie thriller The Walking Dead catapulted viewers straight back into the undead hordes that made its debut season so terrifying—and fun.
Along with the uptick in zombie brain-splattering, several eagerly awaited elements from the show’s source material (the graphic novels by show producer Robert Kirkman) have been newly introduced: Michonne, the katana-wielding badass who befriends Andrea and keeps two armless, mouthless walkers in chains; The Governor, a sometimes cuddly, sometimes murderous man of murky intentions who rules the sanctuary town of Woodbury; and the prison, where Rick and his remaining band of survivors attempt to set up a home, only to find that the place has plans of its own.
In keeping with the show’s no-character-is-safe rule, familiar faces have met grisly deaths over the last handful of episodes. (Some might call one of those offings long overdue—sorry, Lori). Merle makes a comeback and threatens to derail Daryl’s reinvented role as the group’s go-to good guy. And cracks have begun to show in Rick’s shining-knight armor. Whereas the former sheriff once spent days agonizing over whether he could kill a man to keep his group safe, the Rick Grimes featured this season machete-chops a guy’s head open at just the whiff of a threat. It’s a post-Dale (who often provided the show’s strongest moral center) atmosphere this season, making it ever more slippery for characters to hold onto the things that make them civilized even in the absence of civilization.
But who are we kidding—we mostly like this season for all the awesome kills. Here are our picks for the most memorable death blows of Season 3 so far.
With the clock ticking down to Lori’s due date and Hershel’s farm now overrun by walkers, the appearance of an abandoned prison—and its promise of food, medical supplies, and weapons—looks like a gift of divine intervention. The place is crawling with undead prisoners, though, and Rick, Glenn, Maggie, T-Dog, and Daryl set out in formation to clear out a cell block. It was smooth sailing at first—until walkers in SWAT-like uniforms amble onto the scene. Keep an eye out for Rick’s last kill in this clip; it’s pure gruesome glory.
Nobody said taking the prison would be easy, but the last thing anyone expected was resistance from live prisoners who had been locked in for 10 months and have no idea the apocalypse even happened. Rick is forced to strike a deal with the men and help clear out a cell block for them in exchange for half their food. But one particularly brutal, unpredictable prisoner crosses Rick just one time too many—and gets a machete lodged in his skull for it.
T-Dog, We Hardly Knew Ye
In a few ways, it was shocking that T-Dog ever made it this far. Far more developed characters were felled much earlier—and yet it gave us hope that one day soon we’d get to the real meat of his story. (Figurative meat. We wanted it figuratively!) But after some mysterious jerk lets down the prison’s defenses and a horde of hungry walkers gets in, T-Dog sacrifices himself to save Carol, who turns and watches as T gets ripped to shreds.
Carl Grows Up
T-Dog’s death in “Killer Within” was tragic in its abruptness, but after it was over we at least thought we’d be spared any more losses. Then Lori went into labor. Since Lori could only give birth by C-section, and since she was trapped in a room with just Maggie and her son Carl while a full-scale zombie invasion went on outside, she understood it was either her life or the baby’s. Though she and Rick never made amends, Lori chooses to die so that their unborn daughter can live. It’s a touching scene that almost redeems Lori of all the god-awful decisions she made throughout the series. But even her death presents a problem: as soon as she’s dead, she’ll start turning into a walker. The only solution? To shoot her in the head, a heavy task that Carl insists is his burden alone. As Maggie turns away with Carl’s newborn sister in her arms, we hear the sound of a gunshot.
A Husband’s Grief
News of Lori’s death sends Rick into a violent, guilt-ridden, delusional spiral that begins with this expertly shot rampage, with Rick recklessly hacking his way through to the room where Lori passed. Head-splitting walker kill ahoy!
Whoops, Were These Your Zombies?
Meanwhile, miles away from all the drama at the prison, Andrea and Michonne have found their way to Woodbury, the vaguely creepy safe town run by The Governor. No matter how great life seems in the haven (or how much Andrea buys into it), Michonne wants nothing more than to steal back her confiscated weapon and to get the hell out. In this scene, Michonne goes poking around The Governor’s place while he’s away, grabs her katana, and finds a bizarre surprise locked up in a secret area. Michonne is only too happy to spoil The Governor’s secret, kill off the walkers he uses for sport, and get some long-overdue sword practice in, too. That look on her face just before she slices the crap out of five walkers in under a minute? It’s Michonne’s version of sheer glee.
So That’s What They Taste Like
After a great deal of impatiently attempting to convince Andrea to come with her, Michonne finally just ditches Woodbury alone. However, despite his assurances that anyone is free to leave when they wish, The Governor is not exactly a man of his word. He sics Merle and a group of lackeys after Michonne with orders to kill her—though those plans get interrupted when a herd of walkers comes through. In a desperate moment, Michonne, who’s just been shot in the leg, falls and drags herself toward her katana, attacks—and gets a mouthful of zombie guts. Yummy!
The Coolest Thing Anyone Ever Did With a Chair
Jaws dropped across America last Sunday when Glenn, the typically quiet, Korean-American kid who spent half of Season 2 agonizing over a girl, not only withstood hours of Merle’s beatings and questioning about the prison’s location, but also miraculously turned an utterly hopeless situation—bound to a chair with a loose walker coming straight at him—and totally. Kicked. Ass. Make sure to catch the loose eyeball hanging from the walker’s head after Glenn nails him; it’s a nice touch.