The Walking Dead: Season 1 Episode “Vatos” Turns 10 Years Old

The Walking Dead aired its at-the-time deadliest episode yet when first season episode "Vatos" premiered ten years ago on November 21, 2010. In the fourth episode of the season, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) heads into Atlanta with a small group to retrieve a bag of guns and a handcuffed Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker), who T-Dog (IronE Singleton) accidentally left behind in "Guts." The mission goes awry when Rick, along with Merle's pissed-off younger brother Daryl (Norman Reedus), must negotiate a trade with the Vatos gang that abducts Glenn (Steven Yeun) while trouble brews at the survivors' camp outside the city.

While a frantic and paranoid Jim (Andrew Rothenberg) unsettles the camp by obsessively digging graves, Rick's group uses the captured Miguel (Anthony Guajardo) to arrange Glenn's safe return. A tense standoff with Vatos leader Guillermo (Neil Brown Jr.) ends when the sudden appearance of his Abuela reveals that the tough-talking Guillermo, along with Felipe (Noel Gugliemi), stayed behind to care for the nursing home residents abandoned at the onset of the apocalypse.

The groups part on good terms when Rick provides the Vatos with weapons and ammunition, only to find a now one-handed Merle stole their transportation. Rick's group hooves it back to camp, where a fish fry turns deadly when Andrea's (Laurie Holden) younger sister, Amy (Emma Bell), and Ed (Adam Minarovich), the abusive husband of Carol (Melissa McBride), are among the dozen people killed by invading walkers.

As Rick's group returns to camp, Jim reveals he dug holes to the point of exhaustion because of a foreboding dream.

In addition to having the highest kill count at the time of airing, "Vatos" was the first episode of the television show scripted by Walking Dead creator and series producer Robert Kirkman.

"It was very exciting. I got to write the attack at the end of the episode — which was very much something that happened in the comic book series — so I knew I would be revisiting something I had already written," Kirkman said in a 2010 interview with EW. "But as we were in the writers' room, when things started shifting which led to all this new stuff that wasn’t in the comic book series, I thought that was great because it wasn’t me writing the same-old same-old or rewriting something I had already done and trying to make it interesting for myself."


Kirkman added, "It was really an entirely new story: getting the gang members in there and getting to write Daryl — played by Norman Reedus — which is one of my favorite characters on the show, despite the fact that he’s not in the comic book. It was a blast."

The "Vatos" anniversary comes after the series premiere, "Days Gone Bye," celebrated its tenth anniversary on October 31. November 14 marked a decade since the first appearances of Daryl and Carol, who debuted together in season 1 episode 3, "Tell It to the Frogs."

The Walking Dead returns with new episodes on February 28, 2021, on AMC. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter for all things TWD.