'Walking Dead' returns with a vengeance

Story highlights

  • Four key characters die in midseason premiere of sixth season on "The Walking Dead"
  • Fans cheer the beleaguered team for coming together in showdown with zombies

This article contains spoilers from the midseason premiere of "The Walking Dead" that aired Sunday in the United States.

(CNN)Fans of "The Walking Dead" are reeling after the hit AMC show returned Sunday night with enough drama to fill a whole season.

After a brief hiatus, season six resumed with Rick and the gang struggling to escape Alexandria, now overrun with zombies, while other members of their crew tried to reach them.
After the smoke (literally) cleared, four characters were dead, Carl was down an eye and Glenn lived to see another day after a brush with death. The quaint subdivision is back under control of the good guys (for the time being) after a nail-biting standoff between the living and the dead that had fans cheering at the end.
Here's a brief recap of what you missed:
"No Way Out" opens on the road to Alexandria with a tense encounter between some of Negan's followers and Daryl (Norman Reedus), Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin). Daryl gains the upper hand in the form of a rocket launcher and takes out the bad guys but we know this is far from the last we'll see of the sadistic Saviors.
Meanwhile in Alexandria, Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) and her sons Sam (Major Dodson) and Ron (Austin Abrams) die during the group's attempt to escape the zombie invasion. The ill-fated turn of events starts as Rick (Andrew Lincoln) leads a crew of survivors camouflaged in zombie guts through the throng. Things go south when Sam sees a young zombie boy and freaks out, drawing attention from walkers who promptly swarm him as his mother looks on.
Predictably, Jessie screams and is attacked. She holds onto Carl's hand as walkers feast on her, prompting Rick to chop off her arm in an effort to save his son. That doesn't sit well with Jessie's older son, Ron, who draws a gun on Rick and Carl (Chandler Riggs). Michonne (Danai Gurira) comes to the rescue, cutting down Ron with her sword. Amid the melee a gunshot fires, hitting Carl in the eye. Rick scoops him up and brings him to the infirmary.
Meanwhile, Denise (Merritt Wever) forms a bond with her evil captor Wolf (Benedict Samuel), who ends up saving her from zombies. But it's too little, too late, and Carol (Melissa McBride) guns him down. While Denise tends to the injured, Rick returns outside to defend the infirmary, cutting down walkers one by one as fast as he can.
Luckily for Rick, the previously timid residents of Alexandra work up the gall to join his side, leading to a hackfest of epic proportions. Daryl shows up in time to to deploy more firepower, creating a pool of flames that draws the walkers into a fiery demise.
Fans cheered the divided group of survivors for finally coming together when it mattered most in a show of #teamwork.
Oh, and Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) steps up, too, by watching over baby Judith during the showdown. It's still hard to tell, though, which side he's really playing.
Finally, no episode would be complete without a close call for Glenn (Steven Yeun), who is finally reunited with wife Maggie (Lauren Cohan) after Abraham and Sasha gun down a horde of encroaching walkers.
Now on to the rest of the season.