In the series premiere of Dead of Summer, “Patience,” we meet a group of former campers returning to Camp Stillwater to serve as counselors. The camp has recently been reopened thanks to another former camper, Deb, who has poured everything she has into the camp. The group is joined by newbie Amy, who is the first to notice that something is very off about the camp. Freeform’s new horror/mystery series crams a bit too much into this first episode, but the pilot certainly offers up enough scares and poses enough questions to keep viewers coming back for more.
The Group Arrives
As the episode begins, we get a glimpse of something creepy that happened at the camp back in 1871. A group of men with guns confront another man, who is playing the piano. They ask him, “Where are they?” and we see a bunch of dead bodies floating in the lake. Were all of these people drowned? Is the piano man responsible for that?
After that creepy opening, the show jumps to the present day, which, for this show, is 1989. All of the counselors are meeting up to get on the bus heading to Camp Stillwater. Amy, the new girl, feels awkward around the others since they all attended the camp when they were kids and they have known each other for years. Still, she wants to try and fit in.
Fitting in has apparently always been a problem for Amy, as we see via flashbacks to Amy arriving at a new school in the middle of her senior year. Amy chats up a friendly girl in her class before being paired with a different, not-so-friendly girl for lab work. This girl, Margot, becomes someone very important in Amy’s life.
While we learn quite a bit about Amy in the series opener, the same cannot be said for Amy’s fellow counselors. There is Joel, recognizable by the camera he carries around 24/7, and Jessie, the flirty girl who seems to have no problem being the center of attention. We also meet Blair, the only openly gay counselor, and his best bud, Cricket. The group is rounded out by Alex, the “cool” guy, and Drew, the loner. There is also another counselor who doesn’t make enough of an impression for me to even remember his name.
When the group arrives at Camp Stillwater, they meet Deb, the new camp director. Like many of the new counselors, Deb also attended the camp when she was younger and it made such a strong impression with her that she has now put all of her money into reopening the camp.
The camp seems nice enough, at first. That is, if you ignore Dave, the creepy gardener. He has apparently been tending to the camp grounds for years. Amy is instantly freaked-out by Dave, but no one else seems to mind him. The camp opens in three days, so the group has a lot of work to do to get everything ready.
Later that night, the counselors all gather together around the campfire. Joel freaks everyone out by pointing out that their cabins don’t have locks, and anyone could just walk into camp and murder them all. The group then sends poor Amy out alone to gather more firewood so they can keep partying. Of course, Amy runs into creepy Dave, who tells her that she doesn’t belong here and says she has no idea what this place really is. So that’s nice and horrifying.
Someone Winds Up Dead
The next day, the kids gets back to work because they now have two days to get the camp ready for the campers. While he is supposed to be working, Joel is spying on Deb via his camera. Deb doesn’t seem all that upset about the spying, and it is the first time we realize that Deb might be more than just the friendly camp director.
The group’s work day is interrupted when they find a dead deer in the woods. The poor thing has been gutted, and we are told that its heart was removed. While Amy is a bit shaken up by this and thinks Dave might be responsible. Deb seems perfectly calm and tells Amy that Dave is harmless.
The group apparently works through the day again, so they decide to go for a swim that night. Joel is once again recording everything, and when he watches Amy through the lens, he spots someone that looks a lot like the ghost of the piano man. But no one else notices this, and Joel doesn’t say anything. Alex decides to be a jerk and yanks poor Amy into the water. Amy then finds our first human victim. Yes, Dave the creepy gardener is dead in the water.
The local sheriff arrives at the camp with a young deputy. This deputy, Garrett, thinks it’s too much of a coincidence that Dave turned up dead the same day the kids found a deer mutilated in the woods. The sheriff doesn’t share his concern and tells Garrett to not scare the counselors. The sheriff is seemingly friendly with Deb, so I figure they are both involved in whatever spooky stuff is going down at the camp.
Amy Can’t Catch a Break
Instead of making a pact to stick together, since they found a dead body in the water, Amy decides to go off on her own to get water. Cricket lets her because these people apparently don’t believe in safety in numbers. On her way back from getting something to drink, Amy runs into Deputy Garrett. He’s off-duty, so he’s out of uniform, but he says he came back to check out Dave’s cabin. Garrett offers to walk Amy back to camp, and this gives them a chance to chat. Amy learns that Garrett also went to Camp Stillwater back in the day, but he only attended the camp for one year. Yet, during that year, he had his first crush on a girl he knew as “Braces.”
When Amy and Garrett get to Dave’s cabin, Amy insists on tagging along because she wants to know why Dave was killed. Garrett is seemingly not that great at his job because he lets her search the cabin with him. They find a secret door hidden in the wall. This door leads to a room full of weird, satanic-like stuff. As they search this room, the cabin mysteriously goes up in flames, and they barely make it out before the place is consumed by fire.
The sheriff claims that the fire happened due to bad wiring, but Garrett isn’t buying it. He shows the sheriff a map he found in Dave’s cabin. Whoever drew this map made it look like some kind of beast, and the camp is set right in the heart of this beast-like map. Garrett thinks someone set the fire to keep him from finding this map.
The counselors all debate how Dave died, and Amy tells them about the old death portraits Dave had in his cabin. While the others continue to chat, Drew looks outside and sees the ghost of a child holding a balloon. (Am I the only one who thinks ghosts are instantly creepier when they’re kids?)
The power goes out and, of course, Amy is chosen to flip the breaker back on. Jessie tells Alex to go with her, apparently wanting the two to have some alone time together. Alex and Amy head to the basement to flip the breaker on, and Alex uses it as a chance to kiss Amy. While Amy debates about kissing him, we see via flashback that she and Margot were planning to come to Camp Stillwater together. Amy was a bit hesitant about it, but Margot told her that it’s good to do things that scare you sometimes. Keeping that in mind, Amy leans in to kiss Alex, but she gets a shock when she sees what looks like the ghost of her dead friend. Amy is then dragged into a closet by the ghosts of those drowned people we saw in the episode’s opening. Amy screams and screams until Alex flips on the power and the ghosts disappear. Alex seemingly didn’t see any of this, and Amy pulls away from him when he tries to comfort her.
Amy is Haunted By Her Past
Amy, freaked out by her ghostly haunting, spends the next day away from her fellow counselors. Amy stays out on her own until it gets dark. She is once again visited by the ghost of her friend, and she takes off through the woods to get away from the spirit. Amy runs into Garrett, who tries to get her to calm down, but she just keeps running away from him.
After Amy calms down, she and Garrett share a nice moment together that Jessie is none too pleased to witness. Amy then decides to join her friends for another late-night swim, which gives Jessie a chance to approach Garrett on her own. Jessie is surprised that he doesn’t recognize her, and she informs him that he used to know her as “Braces.” As if all the ghosts weren’t enough, we apparently have to suffer through a love triangle too.
As the episode ends, we see Joel once again filming Deb, who snuck off into the woods earlier to dig up something. We also see Alex cutting the tags off some stolen clothes and learn that Drew is transgender. There’s an ominous shot of the lake while the counselors are watching Joel’s recordings, and Jessie tells everyone that the camp has been cleared to open in the morning. As the group heads out to pull an all-nighter to get the camp ready, Joel’s recording shows a glimpse of a spirit lurking on the docks.
What did you think of the series premiere of Dead of Summer? What did Deb dig up in the woods and is it connected to her reason for reopening the camp? Was Amy the first one affected by the ghosts at the camp because of the recent tragedy of Margot’s death? What was up with the little girl ghost that Drew saw? Was that little girl one of the drowned people in the lake or is she connected to another crime? Who or what killed Dave, and why? Did he know too much about what’s going on at Camp Stillwater? Which of the main characters stood out the most for you and do you plan on tuning in again? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
Dead of Summer airs Tuesday nights at 9pm on Freeform.
(Image courtesy of Freeform)