Andrea and Amy sit in a canoe on the quarry lake fishing. Amy holds an umbrella to protect herself from the sun. An argument starts over the type of fishing knot their father used. They realize that their father taught them different fishing knots based on Andrea's need to catch the fish, and Amy's need to throw them back.
Both women are on the verge of tears before Andrea recalls their father's rule, "Remember what dad says, no crying in the boat. Scares the fish." Amy asks Andrea if she thinks that their mom and dad are alright, suggesting that "maybe Florida wasn't hit so bad." Andrea gives her a sorrowful look as they break the rule anyway. "I think it was more for Dad than the fish," reasons Andrea, sniffling
On the rooftop in Atlanta, an enraged Daryl Dixon has just discovered his brother Merle's severed hand on the ground. He angrily points his crossbow at T-Dog, who doesn't show any fear. Daryl eventually relents when Rick pulls his revolver out and aims it at him, telling him that he doesn't care if every walker in the city hears him shoot it. Daryl puts his crossbow down and asks T-Dog for a do-rag in which he proceeds to fold up Merle's hand and place it in Glenn's backpack. While T-Dog is grabbing the hacksaw and the numerous other tools from Dale's toolkit on the rooftop, Daryl follows the trail of Merle's blood along the rooftop.
Back at the campsite, Dale approaches Jim in the fields, who refuses to respond as he digs what appear to be graves. Dale's concern mounts quickly when Jim won't take a drink of water, despite the intense summer heat. Amy and Andrea, meanwhile, present the group with their lines of fish — a huge catch. Morales thanks the women, expressing gratitude that his children will have food to eat. Carl asks them if they could teach him how to fish like that, and Lori says she wouldn't argue with that, impressed by the girls' efforts. Dale interrupts the excitement to express concern over Jim, and points him out still furiously digging graves on the hilltop in the fields.
Daryl shoots another walker with his crossbow and notes that his brother managed to kill two (now dead) walkers in the room "one-handed." The trail of blood leads Daryl, Rick, Glenn, and T-Dog to a kitchen, where Sterno cans burn next to an iron steak weight crusted with skin — the result, they speculate, of Merle cauterizing his stump. "Nobody can kill Merle but Merle," says Daryl. The broken window leading to the fire escape tells them that Merle left the building. Rick agrees to help Daryl search the streets for his brother. When they look to T-Dog and Glenn to see if they're in, T-Dog scoffs. "Only if we get those guns first," he says. "I'm not strolling the streets of Atlanta with just my good intentions, okay?"
At camp, Shane and the others approach Jim, who still won't explain why he's digging. Lori tells Jim he's scaring Sophia and Carl, and Shane orders Jim to take a break. "If I don't...then what?" Jim challenges him. "Then you're gonna beat my face in like Ed Peletier, aren't'cha." He swings his shovel at Shane, who tackles him. Subdued, Jim cries over the death of his wife and two sons. "The only reason I got away," Jim tells the terrified group, "is 'cause the dead were too busy eating my family."
In an abandoned office above the department store in Atlanta, Glenn outlines a plan to retrieve Rick's bag of guns on an old whiteboard. Daryl will watch his back from the store's alley, while Rick and T-Dog cover a second alley that is two blocks away. Either way, Glenn says, he'll have a safe place to run. The men agree with his well-constructed plan, and Daryl asks him, "Hey kid, what'd you do before all this?"
"Delivered pizzas," Glenn answers. "Why?"
Glenn and Daryl climb down the ladder to the alley, and Glenn drops his backpack while Daryl stays behind to cover him. On the street, Glenn runs towards the tank. Walkers are waking up all around him, but he grabs the bag — and Rick's hat — without much trouble and heads back toward Daryl. In the alley, a teenager, Miguel, approaches Daryl, who trains his crossbow on the teen, interrogating him about his brother Merle and telling him to be quiet. Miguel screams, "Help me!" in Spanish despite Daryl's warnings.
Rick and T-Dog, hearing Miguel's screams, head for the alley. Daryl is jumped by two men, Jorge and Felipe, who have also come for the guns — which Glenn has just arrived to the alley with. He turns to run the other way but the men grab him and start beating him. They take the bag of guns. Daryl fires an arrow into Felipe's butt, and drops the bag while yelling in pain. Him and Jorge instead grab Glenn, throw him in a getaway car while fighting off walkers, and drive off — leaving Miguel and the guns behind. Daryl shuts the gate in the alley to keep out the walkers before turning on the teenager. Rick and T-Dog arrive just in time to pull Daryl off Miguel as Daryl explains that his friends took Glenn. Taking Miguel with them, Rick grabs the bag of guns, and his hat, and they head back up the ladder to the roof.
At camp, Shane has tied Jim to a tree and is offering him water. Unlike earlier when Dale offered him a drink, this time, Jim accepts it. Lori and Carol are doing schoolwork at a table nearby with Carl and Sophia. Shane tells Jim he's going to keep him tied to the tree until he no longer thinks Jim's a danger to himself or others. Jim apologizes for scaring the children, and Lori forgives him on account of sunstroke. Dale asks why he was digging. "I had a reason, don't remember," Jim says. "Something I dreamt." He tells Carl that the boy was in his dream, and that his dad was there, too. "You were worried about him," Jim tells Carl. "Can't remember the rest." He asks Carl if he's worried about his dad — Carl responds by saying, "He's not back yet." Lori tries to end the conversation but Jim continues. "That man, he's tough as nails. Ain't nothin' gonna stop him gettin' back here to you and your momma, I promise you that."
Shane agrees with Jim before distracting Carl and Sophia. "Who wants to help me clean some fish?" he asks, and they run off behind him with Carol and Dale. Lori approaches Jim once everyone leaves, and he ominously tells her not to let Carl out of her sight.
Back inside the abandoned office building, Rick's looking for answers while a confused T-Dog wonders what they've gotten themselves into. Daryl's still seething over Glenn's kidnapping and getting jumped by Miguel's men. Miguel points out he jumped him first, demanding to know what he did with his brother. He further insults him by saying, "Merle? What kind of a hick name is that? I wouldn't name my dog Merle." Daryl threatens Miguel by throwing Merle's severed hand in his lap, letting him think that's what happened to the last guy who crossed him. Miguel cowers and Rick throws Daryl off him. He just wants to know where to find Glenn, and he manages to convince Miguel to take them to him.
Miguel leads Rick, Daryl and T-Dog to an abandoned factory, where the leader of the group, Guillermo, emerges. Rick proposes trading Miguel for Glenn, but has no interest in giving up his bag of guns. With T-Dog aiming a sniper's bullet at his head from a nearby rooftop, Guillermo demands the bag of guns, threatening to kill Glenn if they don't hand it over. "I see two options," says Guillermo, as his men emerge carrying weapons. They shove Glenn on the edge of a rooftop, his mouth covered with tape and his hands tied behind his back. "You come back with Miguel and my bag of guns, everybody walks. Or you come back locked and loaded. We'll see which side spills more blood."
Rick and the group retreat to a nearby foreman's office, where Daryl argues that the guns are more valuable than Glenn — but Rick insists he owes more than that to him. "What life I have I owe to him," he says, loading his shotgun while he recalls what Glenn did for him when he was stuck inside the tank. Rick knows how dangerous the mission could be, that he might get killed when he goes back to the factory, and tells Daryl and T-Dog to head back to the campsite. They refuse to let him go alone and also take note that they wouldn't know what to tell his family, so they too load their guns and grab Miguel.
Rick escorts him in to the warehouse carrying the guns on his back. Rick cuts Miguel loose and demands Guillermo hand over Glenn. Guillermo tells Rick that he's going to chop up Glenn and feed him to his three vicious man-eating dogs. "You said come locked and loaded," Rick says. "We're here." Guillermo's men raise their guns in response.
An old woman wearing a nightgown, Abuela (Felipe's grandmother), shuffles into the middle of the standoff, asking Felipe for help with "Mr. Gilbert." She notices Rick's uniform and begs him not to take Felipe away, saying he's turned his life around and they need him here. Rick tells the old woman that Felipe is helping him find a missing person. "The Asian boy? He's with Mr. Gilbert," she says, taking Rick's hand.
Abuela leads Rick into a nursing home auditorium, where several elderly people (and Glenn) are grouped around an asthmatic man. Felipe helps the man with an inhaler. Guillermo's "three vicious dogs" are teacup-sized chihuahuas, and they yap at the group as the survivors realize what's really going on.
Rick pulls Guillermo aside and tells him, "You're the dumbest son of a bitch I ever met. We came in here ready to kill every last one of you." Guillermo explains he was only trying to protect the food and medicine for the residents.
The staff abandoned the patients, Guillermo explains, leaving only himself (the building custodian) and Felipe (a nurse) behind. People will trickle in to check on their grandparents, and suddenly he's the leader of a group of young men, women, and the elderly. Guillermo wonders why the people look to him for leadership. "Because they can," Rick says with tears in his eyes, handing him some of his guns and ammunition.
Rick, Glenn, T-Dog, and Daryl walk back to the cube van, and Glenn jokes, "Admit it. You only came back to Atlanta for the hat." Rick smiles. "Don't tell anybody," he says. They find the van missing. "Merle," Rick says. "He's going to be taking some vengeance back to camp," Daryl predicts, and they take off running for the hills with no other cars in sight.
Back at camp, Andrea searches through Dale's RV looking for wrapping paper. "It's Amy's birthday tomorrow. I've been marking days on the calendar to make sure," she tells Dale, showing him the mermaid necklace she took from the department store. "You don't give a gift unwrapped." Dale says and assures her that he'll find something.
The group is preparing for a fish cookout, and Morales proudly shows off the upgraded campfire, with higher rocks to protect higher flames. Carl walks to the tree with Shane, who frees Jim and invites him to the fish fry.
Ed, his face bruised and swollen, broods in his tent, declining Carol's invite to join the group for the fish fry. He grabs Sophia's arms and tells her to stay with him, but Carol says forcefully, "She wants to join in," and they leave. His injuries from Shane's beating are severe, which we see for the first time.
As they sit around the campfire after dark, Morales asks Dale why he still winds his wristwatch every day. Jacqui agrees that it's pointless, ever since the world ended. "It's important to keep track," Dale explains, paraphrasing a Faulkner parable about a father giving his son a watch — "the mausoleum of all hope and desire."
"You are so weird," laughs Amy, heading to the RV to use the bathroom. Ed, meanwhile, hears rustling outside his tent. He thinks it's Carol bugging him to join the group, and unzips the flap to yell at her, but instead, he finds a walker. It topples on him, biting his neck as more walkers swarm inside the tent devouring him.
Amy emerges from the RV, complaining that they're out of toilet paper, as a walker approaches from behind the door and bites her arm. Amy screams, and Andrea turns to see her sister being attacked, and she looks on in horror as the camp is sent in to a panic.
Walkers attack from all directions, grabbing and devouring people all over the campsite. Shane orders Lori to get Carl and everyone else into the RV as he fires his shotgun. Amy screams in pain as a large chunk of her neck is bit by the same walker who bit her arm. Andrea runs for Amy as Jim and Morales beat down walkers with baseball bats.
Rick and the others, running toward camp, hear gunshots in the distance and quicken their pace, while back at the RV, Amy is dying from blood loss. Rick, Glenn, Daryl, and T-Dog arrive and quickly shoot the remaining walkers.
The survivors begin to catch their breath as Carl runs tearfully into Rick's arms, and Lori looks on, terrified.
"I don't know what to do," Andrea cries. Amy touches Andrea's face, choking, then falls still. Andrea, sobbing, screams Amy's name as the group looks on in tears. Stunned, Jim speaks: "I remember my dream now. Why I dug the holes."
There are dozens of dead bodies all over the campsite — both humans and walkers — and the group looks upon the carnage in shock.
- IronE Singleton as Theodore Douglas
- Adam Minarovich as Ed Peletier
- Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier
- Jeryl Prescott Sales as Jacqui
- Madison Lintz as Sophia Peletier
- Maddie Lomax as Eliza Morales
- Neil Brown Jr. as Guillermo
- Anthony Guajardo as Miguel
- Gina Morelli as Abuela
- James Gonzaba as Jorge
- Viviana Chavez-Vega as Miranda Morales
- Noah Lomax as Louis Morales
- Unknown as Gilbert
- Timothy Douglas Perez as Vatos Gang Member
- Roger Herrera as Vatos Gang Member
- Travis Love as Vatos Gang Member
- Orlando Vargas as Hispanic Camp Survivor
- Travis Love as Shumpert
- Chris Banks as Travis
- Unknown as Carlito
- Unknown as Eva
- Unknown as Vatos Thugs
- Unknown as Carlito
- Unknown as Atlanta Camp Survivors
- Unknown as Vatos Nurses
- Unknown as Vatos Patients
- Unknown as Vatos Residents
- Various as Vatos Chihuahuas
- Gregory Nicotero as Amy's Walker (Zombified)
- Chris Burns as Walker (Zombified)
- Erin Leigh Bushko as Walker (Zombified)
- Larry Mainland as Walker (Zombified)
- Travis Charpentier as Old Walker (Zombified)
- Kevin Galbraith as Walker (Zombified)
- Sonya Thompson as Walker (Zombified)
- Derrick McLeod, Alexyz Danine Kemp, Charles Casey, Alphonse A. Lambert Jr., Joe Hernandez, Eddie Rattanasouk, Jack Byrd as Walkers (Zombified)
- First (and last) appearance of Guillermo. (Unknown)
- First (and last) appearance of Felipe. (Unknown)
- First (and last) appearance of Miguel. (Unknown)
- First (and last) appearance of Abuela. (Unknown)
- First (and last) appearance of Jorge. (Unknown)
- First (and last) appearance of Mr. Gilbert. (Unknown)
- Last appearance of Amy (Alive).
- Last appearance of Ed Peletier (Alive).
- This is the only episode of Season 1 written by Robert Kirkman.
- A vato is a Hispanic youth; guy; dude.The name of the episode, "Vatos," refers to the fact that the opposing group that tried to take Rick's bag of guns called themselves, "vatos." In the previous episode, "Tell It to the Frogs," Morales used the term to describe Rick when he was first introduced to the Atlanta survivors, calling him a, "crazy vato."
- Greg Nicotero, consulting producer and one of the special effects makeup artist, portrays the zombie that kills Amy. Emma Bell stated that Nicotero placed a skin-colored prosthetic around her neck, which consisted of a layer of red viscous liquid and a hose. Once it was bitten into, the prosthetic exploded and resembled a severe flesh wound.
- Ugo.com makes 15 comparisons between the Comic Series and the episode.
- Bellwood Quarry is the location of the lake that Andrea and Amy fished on. Taken from this thread: "Following the completion of mining, the Bellwood Quarry was acquired by the City of Atlanta for a mixed-use recreational/park facility and water reservoir."
- An Atlanta Camp Survivor extra, Orlando Vargas, was originally supposed to be credited and had a longer scene for his death when the zombies attacked the camp. Ultimately, the scene was deleted and Orlando remained uncredited.
- Once Shane tackles Jim, pinning him down after he is digging holes, Jim expresses what had happened to his wife and sons. In this shot, we see him pinned down to the ground, his hat knocked off. But in the next shot, Jim's hat is back on his head.
- In several close-up scenes of Daryl with the crossbow, you can clearly see that it's not loaded correctly. The nock of the bolt (arrow) is resting well above the bow string and no way would it fire properly.
- When the grandmother appears during the stand-off, Rick lowers his rifle towards the ground, away from Guillermo. In the next shot, there is a jump-cut, as the rifle is suddenly back up, pointed at Guillermo again. We then see Rick lowering the rifle a second time from a different angle.