For rabid TV viewers, fall means one thing: No more channel-surfing and settling for reruns of Lockup, Lockup: Raw, or Locked Up Abroad. Among the most adored programs making their triumphant returns: Boardwalk Empire, Dexter, Homeland, Sons of Anarchy, and The Walking Dead (pictured above). But even the most devoted viewers may need a refresher course in how these shows concluded, so we've provided speedy recaps of the most important events from last season—with clips—to help you catch up before you tune in.
NOTE: SPOILERS BELOW.
Sons of Anarchy (FX)
Premieres on: September 11, 2012
Recap: The last we saw of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club, a major power struggle had placed Jax (Charlie Hunnam) at the head of the table—leaving an actual family and an adopted brotherhood completely splintered. With long tenured members murdered (Piney), and the club's recent foray into the drug trade having tested allegiances, Season 5 is shaping up to be the bloodiest yet.
Why you should watch: There's absolutely no way that both Jax and Clay (Ron Perlman) will make it out alive.
Boardwalk Empire (HBO)
Premieres on: September 16, 2012
Recap: The power struggle between Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) and Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) bubbled like booze in a moonshine still throughout the second season thanks to a power play by Jimmy's father, the Commodore (Dabney Coleman). After a failed attempt to get Nucky thrown in jail for election fraud, Nucky exacted revenge by killing Jimmy in one of the most dramatic, cinematic moments in the show's history.
Why you should watch: Nucky's grief over the murder of his one-time protege will lead him down a dark and dangerous path.
Premieres on: September 30, 2012
Recap: The biggest revelation from Season 6 was that Dexter's detective-sister had finally observed his "Dark Passenger" firsthand, when she discovered him disposing of the Doomsday Killer (Colin Hanks). Sure, Dexter has been vulnerable in the past—but never to an individual with so much invested in both exposing and suppressing the truth. After everything Dex and Deb have been through, will she figure out a way to cope privately, or will she turn him in?
Why you should watch: Deb always gets her man…but so does Dexter.
Premieres on: September 30, 2012
Recap: While Season 1 didn't literally go out with a bang, it wasn't for lack of trying on the part of American hero Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis). After a botched assassination attempt on the Vice President, it's clear that Brody's burgeoning political career will give him many more potential targets—and a continued motivation to bring about their bloody demise. In the meantime, we saw Claire Danes' terrifically manic portrayal of tortured CIA agent Carrie Mathison. Despite being correct about Brody's sinister allegiances all along, Carrie's mental illness ultimately got the better of her. When the season ended, she'd decided to resort to electric shock therapy to wipe away the damage from her past—but something tells us she won't be able to suppress all those memories.
Why you should watch: A terrorist is the right-hand man to one of the most powerful figures in the country: shit is gonna go down.
The Walking Dead (AMC)
Premieres on: October 14, 2012
Recap: After finding much-needed shelter on an idyllic farm, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his clan of post-apocalyptic survivors were quickly reminded that in this world, no one—and no place—is ever truly safe. When they stumbled upon a barn filled with walkers, their worst fears were realized: 12-year-old Sophia (Madison Lintz), for whom they had been searching for half the season, had become a zombie. Season 2 also claimed the lives of Dale (Jeffrey DeMunn) and Shane (Jon Bernthal)—each at the hand of the living.
Why you should watch: There's nothing quite like enjoying a Sunday night snack whilst watching zombies feast on dimwits.
—Alec Banks (@_smart_alec) is an LA-based pop-culture writer and a contributor to Details.com.