When we last saw our ragtag group of zombie-evaders on The Walking Dead, they were in a world of shit. As usual! The whole show is set in a world of shit! But here's exactly where we left off, just in case you need a reminder before Sunday's season premiere.
Who is still alive?
Rick is still alive. Carl is still alive (though his heart is stone cold). Carol is alive but sad. Daryl is alive but also sad. Michonne is alive but also sad. Glenn and Maggie are alive and engaged. Herschel is alive, but old. The Governor is alive, but evil. Beth, Tyreese, and Sahsa are alive, but have no real story lines. Newcomer Karen is alive. Baby Judith is alive, but oy, what are you gonna do with a baby?
And who is dead?
A lot of people died on the season finale, but only one was particularly important: Andrea. The Governor locked her in a room with Milton while Milton became a walker, and though Andrea fought pretty valiantly, he still bit her. Rather than succumb to the zombie virus, she did what any self-respecting recently infected survivor would do and shot herself in the head. She got to say good-bye to Michonne, at least.
And what is everyone up to?
At the end of last season, the Governor and his minions attempted to storm Rick & Co.'s prison enclave. But the siege was a bust, and the lunatic Governor wound up gunning down his own people and then fleeing in a hail of bullets and eye patches and brutality. Then Rick — in yet another gesture of ill-fated magnanimity — invited all the Woodbury people who'd been left behind to move to the prison. Except all the Woodburians are either old and frail or young and frail, and thus liabilities more than assets when it comes to survival strategies. Oh, Rick, no wonder Carl hates you. Also, Carl shot another kid in cold blood. He says he did it to protect everyone, but we know the real reason: Carl loves killing and has a bloodlust that's only just begun to rear its head. (We're kidding! Sort of.)
So what's at stake for everyone?
Rick has to confront his messiah complex — he was missing, and then he was in charge, and then after Lori's death he kinda went 'round the bend. Now he has his mental faculties back, but not everyone is onboard for the Ricktatorship. Also, the previously mentioned Carl has demonstrated a real dark streak, which is an issue both for the kid himself and for his dad. Michonne just lost her best friend and vague love interest Andrea, and now she has to hunker down at the prison with a bunch of the people she's been trying to avoid. All the Woodbury folk will have to integrate themselves into the loose society the prison's current residents have already established, and all prison people will have to figure out ways to accommodate the newbies. Glenn and Maggie are engaged, yes, but they were also just tortured, so there might be some lingering distress around that.
Who most deserves a good story line?
Carol. Definitely Carol.