Season 3, episode 01
- After a hard winter and with Lori's pregnancy in its' final days, Rick's group finds a prison that may be the sanctuary they've been seeking.
It has been eight months since the horde attacked the Greene homestead, and the survivors have spent the winter months scavenging and surviving house-to-house, becoming much more proficient with weapons and survival skills in the process.
Rick, Daryl, Carl and T-Dog enter a house and clear the walkers before inviting the rest of the group in. Carl finds a can of dog food and prepares to open it, but Rick tosses it away. The group sees more walkers approaching the house and they hastily drive off. They stop on a back road to discuss their options, and several in the group complain that they have been going in circles. Rick and Daryl go off to hunt for food, but come across a prison complex full of walkers. Rick realizes that this may be their perfect home.
The group cuts a hole in the prison fence and clear the outer yard of walkers while Rick secures the gate. Later that evening, the group sits around a campfire and celebrates their good fortune at finally having a secure place to rest. Maggie and Beth sing a song while Daryl talks with Carol. Rick patrols the perimeter and returns to tell the group that they will clear out the entire prison and that there will likely be supplies, food and weapons inside.
The next morning, the group gears up to assault the inner courtyard. Rick, Daryl, Maggie, Glenn and T-Dog take up a tight defensive formation as they move through the prison, taking out walkers. They run into resistance when they encounter several walkers wearing riot gear, but are able to kill them and move inside the prison building. They enter Cell Block C and kill the remaining walkers before deeming it secure. The other survivors enter and make themselves comfortable in different cells.
Elsewhere, Michonne enters a pharmacy and scavanges some aspirin before dispatching two walkers. She returns to a deer cooler where Andrea is laid up, suffering from influenza. Andrea tells Michonne to leave her behind, but Michonne refuses to leave her friend. The weakened Andrea gets up as Michonne retrieves her armless pet walkers, and they move out together.
Lori tells Hershel her fear that her baby will be stillborn, and tells him that he should put them both down if it is. Meanwhile, the group discovers a cache of weapons, and Rick, Daryl, Glenn, T-Dog, Maggie and Hershel clear the prison corridors of walkers while Carl and the rest of the group stay behind.
As Rick's group moves through the corridors, they alert an unexpectedly large group of walkers, and Glenn and Maggie barely manage to escape into a cell. When Hershel goes back to look for them, he is bitten in the calf by a walker. When the group gets to Hershel, they rush him out of the corridor. They stumble upon a nearby cafeteria, where in desperation, Rick amputates Hershel's leg below the knee.
Suddenly, the group realizes they're not alone, and turn to discover five prisoners watching them in shock from the other side of a cafeteria window...
- Adult Fear: Lori's fears about a stillborn baby ripping her apart from the inside, or herself dying in childbirth and attacking the child. Beyond squick and Nightmare Fuel, both of them.
- An Axe to Grind: Rick uses one to amputate Hershel's infected leg. Beth is shown carrying one in the sequence when they clear the yard.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: The group that enters the inner courtyard (Rick, Daryl, T-Dog, Maggie and Glenn) take a defensive formation, wherein they only strike a walker when they get close.
- Call-Back: T-Dog picks up a riot shield, leaving him armored like he was in the second episode of the first season.
- Chekhov's Armory: The weapons and armor they find after liberating the prison will make appearances throughout the season.
- Chekhov's Gun: Daryl kills an owl in the opening sequence, which he uses to feed the group. Later, he is shown firing arrows that are using the owl's feathers as fletchings during Rick's run to the inner gate. The first of these arrows is fired into a walker that tries to sneak up on Rick.
- Dog Food Diet: Subverted in the opening sequence. Carl finds two cans of dog food in a house and immediately opens one to give to the group. Rick picks up the can before anyone has the chance to eat it, and throws it away without a word.
- Dramatic Irony: Hershel originally suggested that Rick amputate Randall's leg during the second season. In this episode, Rick is forced to amputate Hershel's leg.
- Elite Mooks: The riot-gear wearing walkers.
- Failed a Spot Check: Hershel is bit by a cadaver he had previously passed, and had never bothered to check whether it was a walker or not.
- Gorn: A riot-gear wearing walker has its helmet ripped off - along with most of the flesh on its face - while a decaying walker has an axe shoved into the middle of its head as it writhes around. Not to mention Hershel having his leg amputated.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Michonne and Andrea have been fighting together all winter. Their first on-screen interaction is incredibly tender.
- Human Pack Mule: Michonne travels with a pair of walkers who have had their arms and jaws removed. The neutered walkers carry her bags as she tugs them with chains tied to their collars.
- Life-or-Limb Decision: Rick cuts off Hershel's leg to try and save his life.
- Made of Plasticine: The walkers in the prison are notably more decomposed than they were in previous seasons, with their heads being much easier to stab.
- Salt and Pepper: Andrea and Michonne respectively.
- Sexless Marriage: It's made clear that Rick and Lori aren't on good terms.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: The group has been on the run for months, never staying in one place for long, since they were forced off the farm. They're showing signs of exhaustion and burnout, constantly on the run from hundreds of walkers.
- The Team: After two seasons of struggling, the survivors have finally become a solidified and effective group.
- Took a Level in Badass: The whole group have become much more capable in the eight months between the farm attack and the assault on the prison. Not only are Carol and Beth comfortable with killing walkers, but Carl proves to be a capable shot, and the group clears out entire an entire prison complex by themselves, which the Governor will later say that Merle said was impossible. The Ricktatorship is a high-functioning machine.