A mysterious hooded figure revealed just near the episode's end steals the show in Sunday's The Walking Dead, "Beside the Dying Fire."

In Sunday's season finale, the group is forced to flee the farm when it's overrun by a hoard of walkers. Before the show's over, Rick reveals a terrible secret that he learned at the CDC from Dr. Jenner, two characters die, and we're introduced to the aforementioned hooded stranger, who brandishes a Katana and is chained to two armless, jaw-less walkers.  More about her in the recap below. Her name's Michonne.

Previously in The Walking Dead

In the previous episode, Rick is forced to kill Shane, ending forever the simmering tension between the two former friends in an eerie moonlit clearing. Carl has followed his father out into the field, and when Shane resurrects as a walker, Carl shoots him to save his father.

Tonight's recap of The Walking Dead

The episode opens with a grisly scene where we encounter a hungry herd of walkers apparently making its way to the farm.

Daryl returns to the farmhouse, after hunting for Randal with Glen. He tells the group they found Randal as a walker, he shares his suspicions regarding Shane.

Rick, Carl first encounter the herd  of walkers

Rick and Carl are still in the clearing. "How did Shane die?" Carl asks his father, who's momentarily speechless.

That's when they notice a huge herd of walkers.

They flee but can't get back to the farmhouse right away. They head toward the barn.

Fleeing the farm

"This is my farm, I'll die here," Hershel says, eying the walkers approaching the barn.  He picks up his shotgun and prepares to defend the farmhouse or die trying.

Lori panics when she notices that Carl's missing.

Rick and Carl get stuck inside the barn, with walkers surrounding it. They quickly hatch a plan to lure some walkers inside the barn and burn it. Rick escapes up a ladder as the walkers enter the barn and Carl drops a lighter into some gasoline. The barn erupts in a blaze.

The remaining group members decide to flee the farm, believing that so many walkers attacking the farmhouse would demolish it. They separate into small groups, arm themselves and get into vehicles.

Chaos ensues, walkers are everywhere and the group members fire upon them from their vehicles.

The first casualty

In the RV, Jimmy drives toward the burning barn and hears Rick and Carl, who are trapped on the second floor. Jimmy brings the RV up next to the barn and Rick and Carl jump onto its roof and then onto the ground.

Walkers burst through a door in the RV, grabbing Jimmy  and tearing him apart.

Maggie and Glen get surrounded by walkers in their car and the only way out is to plow through them in the car.

"Get off the farm now," Glen yells to Maggie as she protests. They drive through the crowd and off the farm.

Hershel has a close call, another character dies

Hershel ignores calls from the women inside the farmhouse to leave as he begins firing at the walkers.  The women flee hastily as the first wave of walkers reaches the house.

Patricia is grabbed by walkers and killed. Her tearful daughter is almost killed as well when she can't let go of her mother.

Carol gets separated from the women, is trapped with zombies on all sides when Andrea saves her. They run in opposite directions.

A walker almost reaches Hershel when Rick rescues him with a well-aimed shot.

"Did you see Lori?" Rick screams, dragging the reluctant Hershel away.

On another part of the farm, Daryl hears Carol's screams and picks her up on his motorcycle.

The group reconnects, Rick reveals a terrible secret

Rick drives himself, Carl and Hershel back to the piece of highway where they left supplies for Sofia before they originally went to the farm.

Rick insists that they stay together when Hershel tells him to find safety with Carl.

Daryl and Carol make it to the highway where they see Rick, Hershel and Carl just as Glen and Maggie arrive. Lori, T-Dog arrive with Hershel's daughter.

The group members tally their losses. Patricia and Jimmy are dead, they think Andrea's dead too.

The group decides to leave the highway, where they'd be trapped if they encountered another zombie herd.

The group drives away from the farm until they run low on gasoline. They decide to set up camp after bickering about safety.  They don't know what to do.

Lori asks Rick what happened to Shane.

"We're all infected," he tells the shocked group, "At the CDC, Jenner told me." He continues, "Whatever it is, we all carry it."

He then tells Lori that he killed Shane, that Shane killed Randal to lure Rick into the woods. Rick explains that Shane resurrected as a walker and Carl shot him.  That's when Rick realized that what Dr. Jenner had shared with him at the CDC was true. That they are all infected and that when they die, they'll resurrect as zombies.

Andrea meets the mysterious hooded stranger

In the woods, Andrea has been running all night from a group of walkers. She's low on ammo when her gun jams.

An exhausted Andrea kills a few walkers, then collapses as she's pulled on the legs by a walker.

That's when she's rescued by a mysterious hooded figure, who's armed with a katana and leading two armless, jaw-less walkers on chain leashes.

In the Walking Dead comic books, this mysterious hooded character is Michonne, an emotionally scarred Katana-weilding woman who supposedly will be a regular character in Season 3.

In an episode of The Talking Dead, immediately following the show, AMC announces that actress Danai Gurira will play the role of Michonne in The Walking Dead Season 3.

The episode ends with a haunting image of what appears to be a prison.