'The Walking Dead's' Merle Returns -- But is He Friend or Foe?

AMC Walking Dead Merle Dixon - H 2012

AMC Walking Dead Merle Dixon - H 2012

Rick and his band of not-so-merry survivors will have their hands full come Season 3 of AMC's The Walking Dead.

The zombie drama has already announced that the legendary villain The Governor (David Morrissey) from the comics will be making his entrance when drama returns in the fall and now it looks like he won't be the only bad-ass that Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Laurie (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) -- among others -- will have to contend with.

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In a new image AMC released Wednesday, Michael Rooker's fan favorite Merle Dixon -- Daryl's long-lost brother! -- is officially returning. The racist character, who butted heads with Rick and T-Dog (IronE Singleton), was last seen handcuffed to an Atlanta rooftop with a pack of walkers closing in.

Ultimately, after the group returned to the site to reclaim the polarizing member of their rag-tag band, only Merle's hand remained next to a bloodied saw.

Rooker appeared briefly during a vision of Daryl's during Season 2 and now that Rick has killed Shane, Reedus' character is going to be tasked with stepping up into a greater leadership role with the gang.

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"There's definitely a chance," comic creator and executive producer Robert Kirkman told The Hollywood Reporter in November after Rooker appeared in Daryl's hallucination. "We still don't know what happened to him after he cut his hand off, we don't know where he went, we don't know if he survived and if he survived, for how long. We don't know anything about him. We would never leave something like that hanging indefinitely. That's going to be something coming up at some point in the show.

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Could Merle have joined The Governor's less-than-upstanding group? Will he attempt to sway Daryl to jump ship from Rick's team? Do you think Merle will be a friend to the group or a foe? Hit the comments with your thoughts.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com; Twitter: @Snoodit