My biggest complaint about season 2 of The Walking Dead was the lack of zombie killing, which made the series drag on and seem to go nowhere (I wouldn't be surprised if that was intentional with all the characters stuck on the farm), until the last few episodes where an enormous herd of walkers passed through. After Sunday's premiere, I don't think season 3 is going to be slowly paced. I think season 3 is going to be one hit after another.
The first episode was filled with zombie slaying, including an interesting battle with correction officers in riot gear. With Rick's son, Carl, getting in on the action with a pistol, a change in the characters is evident; they have been hardened by the events on the farm. Rick, when he takes a can of dog food from his son, demonstrates his role has expanded. Not only is he trying to keep the group safe, he is keeping their humanity intact.
I actually wondered if Shane's death in last year's finale would hamper the series, but his absence was barely noticeable. In fact, I'd forgotten about the entire ordeal until Rick's wife, Lori, said, "He blames me...I put that knife in his hand," after they cleared the prison yard of walkers.
And I have to wonder are the zombies getting smarter? One went as far as playing possum. Until that scene walkers generally...walked. They went at things mindlessly, drawn by sound and movement. Either the writers were inconsistent in an attempt at a horrifying scene or deliberate in stretching what a walker is capable of. A thinking zombie, even on a basic, predatory level, could be fearsome.
With Shane dead and his cohort Andrea split from the group (it'll be interesting to see how her story with Michonne ties into the overall arch), the show is in search of new villains. That might sound weird in reference to a show filled with zombies, but just like Night of the Living Dead, the biggest threat in a post-apocalyptic world filled with the risen dead is still humanity. The last scene when Rick's group was discovered hints that there's not going to be a lack of antagonists.
If The Walking Dead keeps pace with the premiere, killing zombies and pitting characters against each other, I think we might be in store for the best season yet.