'The Walking Dead' Season 3 premiere recap: 'Seed' plants the foundation for a new direction

steven-yeun-glenn-walking-dead-seed-season-3-premiere-amc.jpgYou wanted walkers? You wanted walker kills? You got 'em. The third season premiere of "The Walking Dead" played like a direct response to complaints that the show had become too slow, too light on action and too sedentary during Season 2's life on the farm arc.

"Seed" didn't betray the established tone or style -- this is still the gritty, quiet, mournful, cinematic series we've come to know over 19 episodes -- but it ramped up the action to a level beyond even last season's eventful finale "Beside the Dying Fire" (which was also directed by Ernest Dickerson and written by showrunner Glen Mazzara). There may have been more walkers killed in this episode than in the last two seasons combined. It was impossible to keep track with the number of multiple kills in one shot, kills in wide shots, kills only heard not seen... Rick and company had themselves a full-fledged walker massacre.

But it wasn't just violence for the sake of violence. There was a clear mission in "Seed": Take over at least one secure area of a massive walker-infested prison so the group could have a place to rest for awhile. They accomplish the mission with focused, determined teamwork. Clearly the group has become a well-oiled machine in these past few months, and even previously weaker members of the group (like Carl and Carol) have found their niche when it comes to fighting walkers.

RELATED: "Walking Dead" Season 3 interview with Chandler Riggs (Carl)

Finding a secure place to stay was especially important with Lori on the verge of delivering her baby. And speaking of Lori's baby, she's more than a bit concerned there may be a little walker growing inside her. She hasn't felt the baby kick for days, and she confesses her fears to Hershel (she and Rick are barely speaking, so she can't find much comfort from him). Lori gives Hershel specific instructions that if anything goes wrong during the birth, he better not think twice about protecting the larger group: "Me. The baby. If we're walkers, you don't hesitate and you don't try to save us," she tells him.

sarah-wayne-callies-the-walking-dead-seed-amc.jpgLori's not just carrying a baby, she's carrying the guilt of what Rick did to Shane. "I put him and Shane at odds. I put the knife in his hand," she tells Hershel. But Hershel is a no-nonsense guy and he makes sure she understands to focus on her baby, not on what happened between Rick and Shane. Of course, things like that are easier said then done when her own son won't speak to her and her husband only does so when necessary.

Lori opened up to Hershel because he's the group's doctor, but now we know that may not do her much good. On a mission with Rick, Glenn, Maggie, Daryl and T-Dog, Hershel went and got himself bit -- a walker chomped down on the back of his leg like it was a KFC drumstick. And Rick, thinking fast and with no other options, hacked off Hershel's lower leg in an attempt to stop the walker bite from spreading through his system.

As the hour came to a close, Hershel was bleeding out while everyone else stood by horrified. And then discovered they weren't the only humans inside the prison...

Other highlights:

- Ever wonder what owl tastes like? Just ask Daryl.

- Although "Seed" was heavy on action and light on conversation, there were signs that even fringe members of the group (T-Dog, Hershel's daughter Beth) are being positioned for prime roles this season. T-Dog actually spoke (more than once!) and Beth had that lovely rendition of the Irish folk song "Parting Glass." It also seemed like Carl is nursing a little crush on Beth...

- Speaking of crushes, Daryl and Carol were in full on flirty mode tonight with backrubs and playful teasing. How far will the show take this relationship, which seemed on the verge of collapse after Sophia's death shattered everyone, especially these two?

- While Rick and company have coalesced as a team, the same thing seems to have happened to Andrea and Michonne. We don't know what went down between them in the time that transpired between the end of Season 2 and start of Season 3, but we do know Andrea has already saved Michonne's life several times. They're so tight that Michonne is determined to find a way to cure Andrea's current illness. They set off from their own safe haven with Michonne's two pets in tow...

RELATED: "Walking Dead" Season 3 interview with Danai Gurira (Michonne)

What did you think of the action-packed season premiere of "The Walking Dead"? Tell us in the comments below.
Photo/Video credit: AMC