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'The Walking Dead' midseason premiere: Lackluster return

"The Walking Dead” returned Sunday from its midwinter nap to resolve a few problems, mount a few more, and otherwise set us up for the final lap(s) of the third season.

Overall: A bit disappointing was this “Suicide King,” so bound up was it in the mundane business of explaining what happened/why in the first half of the season. The pace slackened, the action was beset with torpidity. Even the Grammys seemed interesting by comparison, at points. (Plus way too many commercials,  but that's- another story.)

But that's done. On to the next chapter, which is certain to be better. Meanwhile the five moments that made the head pivot back to the screen, in a “what the .?.?.!" kind of way.

 1.) The towering image of Lori -- Sarah Wayne Callies -- up in the window; hey, we thought we got rid of her! But no, she stood there, Amazonian like, and Rick was forced into some sort of soliloquy that made everyone think he had finally lost his mind.

2.) The governor dispatches the poor man who had been lunched on by walker; an important scene because clearly it demonstrated that after the death of his beloved zombified daughter, he was still capable of doing what the old governor can do.

3.) Glenn stomps on walker head. That was an especially pivotal moment because it's fairly rare that walkers have their heads stomped on. Glenn -- Steven Yeun -- addressed the technical aspects of this in “Talking Dead” later. (Think he said something about producers using a watermelon for the scene; may have misheard.)

4.) Merle and Daryl head off happily into the woods, as if nothing had ever happened. The brothers are back together, and surely that can't be good (right) or can it (?) and what does this fraternal reunification mean for the future of Woodbury, or Rick?

5.)  The death match: Of course the opening moment, not to be exceeded in the rest of the episode. The brothers fight, then are set free. That was the resolution of midseason cliffhanger, and no one -- especially those who have read the books -- expected either Merle or Daryl to die by one or the other's hands.

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