We immediately launch into a zombie attack, in a superb opening sequence that plays out in eerie silence; save for some heavy breathing, some bloody squelching and a creeping Romero-inspired musical score.
In this dialogue-free first five minutes, the survivors seek refuge in a run-down house and it's clear that quite some time has passed since the events of 'Beside the Dying Fire' - there's Rick's tousled locks, Hershel's scruffy beard and, most obviously, Lori's rather large baby bump.
At once, you get the feeling that the makers of The Walking Dead are ticking off boxes on some kind of fan checklist - there's walkers getting their brains splattered all over the place, underused fan-favourite T-Dog (IronE Singleton) is being proactive and has plenty of lines, while - most jarringly of all - Carl (Chandler Riggs) has been transformed from ungrateful little s**t to a competent and useful member of the 'team'.
The group's attempts to secure the house prove fruitless - in case their experience with Hershel's farm last season didn't make it clear... in this new world, there is no safe haven. But it seems that the survivors themselves still haven't quite cottoned on to that yet - the relief and hope that Rick (Andrew Lincoln) feels upon spotting the iconic prison eight minutes in is palpable.
The assault on the prison grounds that follows takes in hundreds of zombies, incorporating a pleasing dollop of inventively violent action. It's also worth noting that the show's characters spend much of this sequence, and indeed much of the episode as a whole, running - a very direct and literal counter to criticisms regarding a "slow pace".
Once 'Seed' has done its best to silence last year's critics, we finally get a chance to take a break and examine the show's key relationships at around 15 minutes in. Having taken the prison grounds with relative ease, a sense of peace arrives as night falls and the Greene family indulge in a campfire singalong.
Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride) sneak away from the group for an intriguing scene - Reedus has made it clear that he's against the pair coupling up and we're with him 100%. So does their apparent flirtation here signify an approaching romance or is it the case that something physical happening between them is so clearly out of the question that they can openly joke about it?
Whatever ends up happening on that front, one relationship now clearly devoid of anything approaching emotion or sentiment is the cold shell that was once Rick and Lori's marriage. Despite Jon Bernthal's absence from the cast list, the spectre of Shane continues to loom large and Rick has become increasingly ruthless, rejecting his wife's multiple attempts to build bridges. Be careful what you wish for, Lori - the Ricktatorship is here to stay.
The tranquility of the campfire is soon interrupted when Rick suggests pushing deeper into the prison, ultimately leading the group in a concentrated assault on the zombie-packed place. This second siege provides 'Seed' with its first real dose of dark humour, as the survivors come up against zombies in riot gear who are impervious to their basic weapons and are forced to get inventive, resulting in some truly gruesome scenes.
Once the prison interior has been successfully infiltrated, things settle down again in the final act as we move beyond physical violence to the quieter horror of Lori's childbirth fears, the expectant mother terrified that either she or the baby inside her could become flesh-eating monsters.
But if, as the comic timeline suggests, Lori is indeed not long for this world, then the cliffhanger ending to 'Seed' implies that she won't be the first to go. A tense confrontation with walkers in the prison tunnels ends in tragedy as Hershel is bitten on the leg and Rick is forced to hack off his infected limb in what is by far the episode's most harrowing sequence. So stunned were we by the graphic brutality of the scene that the episode's cliffhanger ending - in which a second batch of human survivors is found within the prison - almost passed us by entirely.
With all of the above going on, there's not much room for a B-plot in 'Seed', but we do get our first introduction proper to Michonne (Danai Gurira), who divides her time between decapitating zombies with her katana and caring for a sickly Andrea, who's certainly seen better days...
Has Andrea been bitten like Hershel, or is she suffering from some other mystery illness? If she's been bitten, we've seen from publicity materials that she survives a few weeks yet - could The Walking Dead be about to explore the notion of a cure? Hopefully not - part of what's always made this show special is the complete absence of hope.
But enough speculation - let's get back to what we know. 'Seed' launches the third season of The Walking Dead in exceptionally fine style - at various points, it's dramatic, funny, stirring and horrifying. If you'll forgive the pun, it's just bloody good.