“The Walking Dead” returns to AMC Sunday (Oct. 16) for a second season of zombie-infested drama. It’s been nine months since we last left Sheriff Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his rag-tag band of zombie-pocalypse survivors outside the exploding headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
Season 2 promises more friction between survivors, a richer understanding at some of the characters (Norman Reedus’ Daryl, for instance), twice the episodes (13 in all) and lots and lots of blood-splattered, zombie-fueled terror.
As we head into the 90-minute premiere, we’ve gathered these 10 important things to know before you watch. For fans, it’ll serve as a refresher. For newcomers, it should give you all the information you need to survive a zombie attack. Okay, not really — but you’ll at least make it through the premiere unscathed:
1. Pay close attention to Rick’s opening monologue. He’ll give a brief re-cap of where things stand, too. You’ll probably be left with one dangling question. The answer: Jacqui.
2. The nasty, black-toothed people you see on the screen are not meth addicts. The entire population of the earth (as far as we know) has been decimated by a virus that turns the infected into zombies.
3. If you read the Robert Kirkman comic books, don’t assume you know where this ship is headed — the show only uses the comics as a loose guide for its own story line.
4. Zombies, though lethal, are slow and stupid. They’re easy to outrun, characters just need to avoid getting trapped and/or surrounded by them.
5. We don’t know if there’s any cure for the virus. At the end of season 1, we met Jenner (Noah Emmerich), a CDC scientist who was pretty sure he knew how the infection worked. He chose to stay and die when the building self destructs.
6. Before they left, Jenner whispered something in Rick’s ear. We don’t know what that something was. Could he have seen something — say a surprising encounter between two characters — or did he discover something interesting from the blood tests he did on the group?
7. Andrea (Laurie Holden) didn’t want to leave the CDC alive. If you’re wondering why she’s got a death wish, know that she had to shoot her younger sister in the head at point blank range when she (her sister, Amy) was bitten and turned into a zombie.
8. Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Rick’s best friend and fellow sheriff, Shane (Jon Bernthal), had a post-zombie-pocalypse friends with benefits kind of relationship when they both thought Rick was dead. When he surfaced alive, they broke things off. Rick doesn’t know.
9. Carol’s (Melissa Suzanne McBride) husband was killed when zombies swarmed their camp in season 1. She and daughter Sofia are kind of downcast about that, but not really since he was a pretty abusive guy who had more interest in his daughter than was probably healthy.
10. Daryl’s older brother, Merle (Michael Rooker), was left handcuffed to the roof of an Atlanta building by Rick. We know he cut his hand off to escape. We don’t know what became of him after that.
Bonus: Season 1 only consisted of six episodes. If you’ve got about four hours, you can watch it all before 9 p.m.
P.S. Watch this 5-minute clip that premiered on Saturday (Oct. 15) at New York Comic-Con:
“The Walking Dead” premieres Sunday 9 p.m. ET on AMC.