The Walking Dead is on the rise and has been for some time. Last night's mid-season premiere was no exception to that, as the series earned itself its largest audience to date with 12.3 million viewers tuning in for the premiere airing of "The Suicide King," besting its record, which was set for the third season premiere last fall with an audience of 10.9 million viewers on October 14.

AMC shared the figures, mentioning that the series' return for the second half of its third season last night was also the strongest telecast for a series in basic cable history for adults 18-49 with 7.7 million. When factoring in the encore airings last night, "The Suicide King" delivered a staggering 16.6 million viewers for the night.

Needless to say, TWD is bigger than ever. The series, which gained its initial buzz from zombie fanatics and fans of Robert Kirkman's popular zombie comic, is now achieving the kind of mainstream appeal that many network TV shows hope (but don't always succeed) to secure in their earlier seasons.

Spoilers if you haven't seen last night's episode yet!

Last night saw Rick's group fractured as Rick and some of the others helped Daryl and Merle escape. Because Rick (understandably) wouldn't allow Merle to join them at the prison, Daryl and Merle went their own way. That's a pretty huge loss for Rick's group, but what does it mean for Daryl? One of the preview clips gives us an idea of how things are going for him and his brother. And here's a photo of him from next week's "Home."

Ah, the familiar sight of Daryl and his crossbow.

Also armed is Michonne, looking ready for a fight…

Are we surprised that she's already up and about? No. Not at all. But I hope this doesn't mean she's on her way out of Rick's group? Maybe he'll come to his senses enough to keep her around.

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9:00 p.m. ET on AMC.

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