It's a scary world!
We are thrown straight into the strange world of Dead of Summer where we see a man in a spooky, candlelit room, playing the piano. A group of men bearing rifles then burst in and try to get him to leave, but he carries on playing regardless. As they struggle, we see a group of bodies, all dressed in white, floating in the lake outside.
It doesn't seem so bad!
It is now 1989 and we are introduced to Amy who is walking towards a bus in an empty parking lot. She is startled by Joel who is filming her. They find out that they are both on their way to Camp Stillwater, but Amy is going for the first time whereas Joel has been before. Alex and Jason then arrive on the scene and we find out that, like Joel, they too were campers once. Hot on their tail are Blair and Cricket, followed by Jessie. Amy seems to be the only newbie.
The group arrives at Camp Stillwater and all are excited to be back as counselors, this time, instead of campers. We are introduced to the camp director, Deb, who is very excited about the re-opening of the camp after it closed in 1984. Another counselor, Drew, arrives, but the group does not seem to remember him. Not long after, the sound of a trap going off spooks the group. Amy goes over to the trap and sets a mouse free, but gets a fright when Dave, the gardener, comes out of his cabin and tells her to stay out of his way. Flash-back to four months earlier and it is Amy’s first day at a new school. In science class, she is partnered with the most popular girl in school, Margot, but they do not seem to hit it off.
An omen, perhaps?
Back at Camp Stillwater, the counselors are gathered around a campfire, telling scary stories. As the fire begins to die down, Amy loses at a game of "not it" and has to get some more wood (as per camp tradition). In the forest, she bumps into Dave who tells her that she does not belong at the camp and should leave immediately. The next day, the group has a lot of work to do to get camp ready for opening day. Joel is filming a bird when he accidentally catches Deb, in her underwear, on camera. She is in her cabin, looking out of the window, and even though she sees Joel she does not move away. Meanwhile, Amy, Cricket and Jessie come across a deer carcass with its heart removed. The rest of the group arrives and Deb consoles them by saying it was probably just a hunter. Amy tells Deb that it could have been Dave because of what he said to her the night before, but Deb says that he is harmless.
A mystery unfolds!
That night, the group go swimming and Joel decides to catch the new girl on camera. While he films Amy, Joel sees the man who was playing the piano behind her, in his viewfinder, but when he looks up from his camera, the apparition is gone. Amy jumps in the lake and dives under the water, where she is terrified to come face-to-face with Dave's corpse! Not long after, two cops arrive on the scene. Sheriff Heelan believes that Dave’s death was nothing more than a terrible accident, but Deputy Garrett Sykes thinks there is more to investigate, considering the dead deer the camp's staff found earlier. found the night before. Back to four months earlier, Margot's friend Krissy tries to get Amy to give a mean note to another student and though Amy refuses Margot respects her integrity. This is the start of Amy's and Margot's close friendship.
As if things couldn't get any stranger...
Later that night, Amy goes into the forest to get some water and runs into Sykes who, off duty, was on his way to investigate Dave’s cabin. Amy learns that he once attended Camp Stillwater, as a kid, and that he had a crush there nicknamed “Braces”. When they reach Dave’s cabin, they find a secret room containing old tin-type photos – strange death portraits from the Victorian era – including a picture of the Tall Man who was playing the piano at the beginning of the episode. Unexpectedly, the cabin catches fire and they both run outside. Heelan arrives on the scene and discovers that the fire was caused by faulty wiring, but Sykes is suspicious that there’s more going on. He shows Heelan a map of Lake Stillwater that he retrieved from Dave’s cabin and points out that there is an image of some sort of horned beast overlaying it. We then see Deb, alone in the middle of the woods, digging up a box.
A kiss interrupted!
Back in the staff lounge, the counselors are trying to decide whether Dave committed suicide or whether he was murdered when the lights cut out suddenly. After another game of "not it", which Amy loses, she heads out to find the circuit breaker and restore power to the camp. Much to Cricket’s dismay, Alex tags along with Amy to show her the way. When they’re in the basement, Alex leans in to kiss Amy, but she pulls away and begins to remember a time four months earlier when she and Margot decided to go to Camp Stillwater as they didn’t want fear to stop them from doing what they wanted to do. Back in the present, Amy decides to kiss Alex, but then she sees a strange figure in the reflection of the mirror behind Alex. She recoils and falls into some racks of clothing where she hallucinates that she is being pulled at by more strange figures, all wearing the same robes as the bodies floating in the lake during the ceremony at the beginning of the episode. Alex turns the lights on and the figures disappear, but Amy is still shaken.
Amy confronts her ghosts!
The next night, Amy is sitting outside by herself. She thinks she sees another figure and, freaking out, she tries to run. While running through the forest she bumps into Deputy Sykes who eventually tries to calm her down, but she just repeats, “I’m sorry” over and over again. We are then brought back to four months earlier where we see Amy and Margot having fun at a party. Margot’s mom didn’t want her to go and so when the cops arrive on the scene, Margot panics and runs upstairs where she tries to leave through a window. Amy tries to stop her, but Margot slips and falls to her death. Back in the present, Amy is seriously upset. Sykes calms her down, telling her that it’s not her fault that Margot died and that she’s not the only one who is seeing things that are not there. The rest of the group arrives and jump in the lake, but Jessie storms off when she sees Amy and Sykes together.
The camp can open!
Later on, Sykes searches for Deb to tell her that the camp is good to open since it doesn’t look like there is a killer on the loose. Jessie says she will let Deb know and then asks Sykes if he remembers her. Sykes looks confused before it dawns on him that she is Braces – his crush from camp all those years before! Meanwhile, the rest of the group watches Joel's film in the staff lounge. Jessie arrives and tells everyone camp is clear to open. The group cheers and as they all head out to clean the dock the camera zooms in on Joel's viewfinder, paused mid-playback, where we are able to see, very faintly, the Tall Man who played the piano in the background.