The Walking Dead Returns: Season 3 Preview This Weekend

Make sure your seat is comfortable — we're talking about nearly a full day of gore

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Gene Page / AMC

Rick Grimes, played by Andrew Lincoln, in a scene from episode one, season three of AMC's The Walking Dead.

In the three months or so since we saw our Walking Dead heroes battling a thousand zombies as Dr. Greene’s idyllic farm went up in flames, the news has been filled with real-life instances of cannibalistic activity that led Joel Stein to ask if America has an actual zombie problem. Even though that mini-furor died down quickly, it seems something’s been missing from this sweltering summer, and that would be the walking undead feasting on those who are still very much alive.

According to AMC’s schedule, TWD isn’t scheduled to begin until October. Thankfully, the folks at the network have cooked up a midsummer weekend marathon to make sure you’re all caught up long before Season 3 starts. If you haven’t seen The Walking Dead, or if there are gaps in episodes you’ve seen, AMC is starting off by showing all 19 episodes, starting at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 7. (Here are the full schedules for Saturday and Sunday.)

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When we left our group, they survived the farm battle and were stopped on the side of the road, trying to figure out what to do next. Andrea was about to be taken out by a walker, when a hooded figure decapitated the zombie. Almost immediately, blogs and Twitter went nuts with the name Michonne, who I wrote in March, “looked like a cross between a Jedi Knight and Boba Fett.” Michonne’s arrival is easily the most-anticipated aspect of the upcoming season, but fans of the graphic novels are also excited about the group arriving at the prison, which we saw a glimpse of in the closing shot of Season 2’s finale. “The prison’s as heavy-handed a metaphor as we could possibly get away with,” Sarah Wayne Callies (Lori) said of the group’s new home. “And yet, there’s something about it that’s very simple and very beautiful.” Without providing any spoilers for those (like me) who haven’t read the graphic novels, I’ve been told things get pretty brutally weird once the group enters the prison walls.

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While AMC isn’t previewing an entire episode from Season 3, the weekend marathon promises to be sprinkled with behind-the-scenes looks at the making of the upcoming episodes. Then, in a primetime special on Sunday at 9 p.m., showrunner Glen Mazzara, Robert Kirkman—the author of the source material graphic novels—and Laurie Holden, she of the badass Andrea fame, will discuss what’s going to happen in Season 3 and preview a scene from next season’s action.

Already there are some online nuggets to get us excited about Season 3 in the form of two new characters and the return of one old friend. AMC released first shots of Michonne (out of her Jedi garb), The Governor (who I’m told by fans of the comics is an insane character) and a handless Merle, who we last saw way back in Season 1, but who we knew would make a reappearance (promising an interesting reunion with T-Dog–who you’ll remember dropped the key to Mere’s handcuffs in a storm drain, precipitating his severed hand). AMC has also given us a cool behind the scenes look at the upcoming season:

But of all of The Walking Dead red meat (no pun intended) up for grabs this weekend, I’m most looking forward to seeing the pilot episode broadcast in black and white. As I said reviewing the midseason finale least year, the opening scene of the pilot, directed by Frank Darabont when he was still head of the show, is the best show opener I’ve seen since Deadwood. While the black and white will tone down some of the gore, it will be interesting to see the episode with an old time feel.

So if you’re looking to stay out of the heat this weekend, don’t complain that there’s noting to watch on TV.