Not that it hasn’t been good in the past. It has been very, very good. When The Walking Dead works it works beyond well. It’s like watching a movie on TV—the pilot remains one of the best things I’ve ever seen produced for television. But as good as it can be, there’s nothing more frustrating than The Walking Dead, either. Season two was frustrated by behind the scenes drama that took almost the entire schedule to shake out. The last few episodes got rolling, though, and it ended on a satisfyingly dark, violent and zombie-laden note.

Now we’re onto season three, the season that, supposedly, has no such drama marring it. Everything is settled, everything is fine, and the show is set for an October 14 return. So how’s it going to be? Well, the four-minute preview shown last week at Comic Con (and available online - see below) looks like all the best parts of The Walking Dead—the fear, the tension, the conflict, the zombies. There are looks at new character Michonne (who may finally solve our “all the women on this show suck” problem), the prison which will be home to Officer Rick and his group of survivors, and the “paradise” town of Woodbury, run by the new Threatening Southern Man, the Governor.

If you’re familiar with the comic books, you know what Woodbury, the Governor and the prison means. If you’re not, season three is when all the sh*t will go down. More than ever before, the zombies are really not the central problem Officer Rick will face—it’s other people. And of course, there’s Horrible Lori’s progressing pregnancy, and, as the end of the sizzle reel shows, the looming specter of Darryl’s racist brother Merle. I wonder if they might have passed a crucial moment from the Governor to Merle, for continuity’s sake. I can really only think of one reason to keep him around, and it’s um VIOLENT.

I want season three of The Walking Dead to be as good as the promise of the pilot, and the final few episodes of season two. When this show is firing on all cylinders, it’s not like anything else on television. If they can bring all those elements together and stay away from the copious amounts of standing around and talking that bogs things down, The Walking Dead’s third season could be the one where it justifies its pedigree, and not be another exercise in frustrating television.

Also, with Stupid Shane gone, Darryl can move up to Officer Rick’s number two. I was really into the quick glimpse of a Darryl/Rick scouting trip in the sizzle reel. I’d like a lot more of that, please.

Attached - The Walking Dead cast at Comic-Con