American Chestnut is the eighth episode of the first season and the 8th episode overall of Emergence.

Short Summary

The FBI arrives in Southold, complicating Jo's efforts to find Emily. Meanwhile, Alex and Piper hunt for answers on a road trip, and the family celebrates Mia's birthday.

Full Summary

Emily is talking to a glowing box. She tried to love Piper but she didn't want her and left her all alone. She thinks it's sad. The box replies with a robot-like voice resembling Piper's that it doesn't understand. Emily knows it doesn't. She has something special. She brings out the exabyte disk and puts it on the box. "I'm not real," the box says before powering down. Emily sighs and takes back the disk. She then smiles mischievously.

Piper picks up a shard of glass. Ed is working on repairing the damage she caused while under Emily's influence. Jo comes down and says she's running out to grab Mia's cake. She's bringing a cookie for Ed. He assures her it'll be ready for the party tonight.

Jo enters the kitchen and compliments Piper on her drawing for Mia. Piper is upset over the damage she caused. Jo stresses that no one blames her. Piper says Emily was talking to her in her head. She asks if that has happened to Jo before. Jo dodges and says there are things they might never understand. Piper recalls Jo telling her she's special. She's come to think Emily might know why she can do things no one else can. They hear a car honk, which means Mia has arrived.

Jo goes outside to congratulate her daughter. Ed brought very expensive speakers, which means no one gets to touch them. Mia takes bags of supplies for the party inside. Jo assist Ed with the rest of the stuff. They are calling a truce for Mia's birthday. Jo asks about tomorrow. Ed says that's up to her. Ed takes over the delicate equipment from her.

Abby and Jo are in line at the bakery. Abby offers to talk to Alex. She'd say Jo is not telling her anything either so he can join the club. Jo passes on the offer. While the employee gets her the cake, Abby points out a man who's been watching Jo for a while. The man comes over and assures them that this is a coincidence. He introduces himself to Jo as Agent Ryan Brooks. Abby leaves. Ryan is here to talk to Jo about Richard Kindred, who was murdered in federal custody. He'd love to sit down with Jo and compare notes. He hands her his business card.

Jo drops by Benny's hotel room. Alan is taking shower number four of the day. Since Alan also sleeps in the nude, this is not a sustainable arrangement for Benny. Jo reminds him Alan's not safe in any sort of custody until Emily's off the streets. Alan exits the bathroom. Jo informs the men that Richard is dead. The official report says he was melted into goo, which means Emily got to him. Jo asks Alan to get into Piper's code and eliminate the fatal exception. Alan refuses. Piper got Emily out of her head by rewriting her own code. Jo says Piper is on the verge of finding out who she is. Alan prefers that happen sooner than later. Jo reminds him he'll be in federal custody soon and his cooperation now will determine a lot. Alan informs Emily made the fatal exception so only she can change it. Jo receives a call from Chris.

Jo arrives at what remains of the building of Deep Kinetics. It was destroyed overnight. Jo informs Chris she's been here before. She informs him Emily also got to Richard. The FBI arrives on the scene. Ryan invites them to go check out the site together.

Ryan tells Jo a lot of time and resources went into investigating Richard. It's unbelievable what she accomplished in three weeks. He invites her to work together on the case. He'll investigate no matter what but it'd be nice to share resources. She points out it sounds like a good deal for just him. He shares what he knows: this is the third Augur property to be destroyed in a week and each time, the fire burned hot and fast. They are using a new kind of explosive. Ryan brings up Emily and her being Richard's daughter. Jo says Emily cooperated with the investigation but has since went underground. Richard senses an opportunity to prove himself useful. As he walks off, Chris comes up and Jo informs him they are sharing the case instead of being kicked off. Neither of them buys it but they need to keep them close since everything will lead to Piper. They'll need to be careful.

While cleaning up, Alex finds the map he gave Jo indicating the coordinates from the radio. Piper appears and asks what that is. He brushes it off and she apologizes again for making a mess. She starts helping to clean up. Alex asks her how her powers work. She has no clue; it's what her and Mia were trying to figure out. She says it feels like a bubble that grows bigger and the bubble is her. Alex asks her what else she can do. She answers she knows things no one has told her. Ed comes down the stairs to take Mia to her requested spa day.

Ryan drops off a box of evidence from his investigation. Chris mocks his one box after three years of investigation. Ryan says there 150 more boxes. These are just a year's worth of Richard's phone records. Jo comes up and Ryan asks if there's a place for him to work. Jo points him to Daphne, who gives him the cold shoulder. Jo tells Ryan she wants to start with the plane crash but he immediately asks about Alan Wilkis. Jo asks Chris to show Ryan the Wilkis files. Once they're gone, Jo calls Benny to inform him they've got a problem.

Benny has Alan leave the bathroom and tells him Jo wants to leave town since the FBI is aware of his being alive.

While working on the birthday decorations, Alex finds Piper looking at the map. She thinks Jo isn't telling the truth about her. She doesn't know what the truth is but she wants to know. She asks Alex to take her to the place indicated on the map.

Jo's office is now stuffed with boxes. Ryan is out for a walk. Chris showed him an edited version of the Wilkis report, which said Emily got to him and they've never seen him since. Ryan returns with a bag of delicious bombolonis. Ryan says he found Emily's mother, Vanessa Cox. He subpoenaed a DNA ancestor database. Vanessa left Ohio 20 years ago and moved to Corona, Queens. She's coming in for an interview. Jo can make herself available.

Alex is driving with Piper. He jokes they are heading towards a superhero camp for kids where kids with abilities are trained. She's worried they'll find something that will mean she's not safe to be around. She doesn't want people to be scared of her. Alex wants that, too.

Vanessa has arrived. She tells Jo and Ryan she never asked Richard for a cent. She requests to sit in Jo's chair. All they ever got from Richard was a house. He visited once right after Emily was born. She brought pictures. She has Ryan hand her her bag. She hasn't spoken with Emily since her college graduation nearly 20 years ago. Vanessa swears she never badmouthed Richard. Jo goes through the pictures. Vanessa says her assistant Chris can make copies. Jo abruptly says they have everything they need. They'll get some copies from the pictures and then she's free to go. Ryan leaves with Vanessa. Jo calls Chris into her office and asks if he met Vanessa. He did not. She knew his name anyway, which means they should look into her phone records. Jo hands him the pictures. 10-year-old Emily looks exactly like Piper.

Benny and Chris have a flat tire. None of them knows how to change a tire but Benny supposes it can't be hard. He then finds he has no spare tire. Benny wants to call a tow but Alan objects. If he calls, the AI will be able to track them. Alan throws away Benny's phone. Alan points out the woods around them, not a single American chestnut amongst the trees. There used to be billions of them. one day, somebody brought over a Japanese chestnut, which carried a fungus and obliterated the American chestnut. The AI is the beginning of a long line of unintended consequences. What the AI doesn't know now, it will know tomorrow. It's only a matter of time then before they go extinct. Benny says if there's one person in the world who can prevent that, it's him. Alan says the problem is he is a coward. He says Benny has to kill the AI. Benny says it's ridiculous and goes to fetch his phone but Alan knocks him unconscious with the tire iron.

Alex and Piper arrive in the abandoned neighborhood. Piper points out one house in particular. Alex pulls over. They get out and head up to the front door. Piper briefly holds his hand before they head inside. They find the living room and kitchen demolished and then notice the giant hole in the wall. Piper realizes she did this and remembers she didn't like it here, so she ran away. She was running and they were chasing her but they couldn't find her. She was alone for a long time. It was scary. Alex realizes he made a mistake in coming here and takes Piper away.

Jo arrives at another one of Augur's facilities. Vanessa received a call from inside the building. Jo finds a way in and starts looking around. She discovers a lab-like space with apparent tissue engineering experiment. As she looks around, Emily walks in. Jo arrests her. Emily threatens to tell everyone about Piper but Jo is not sure that she will. Jo asks about the fatal exception. Jo knows Emily made Piper in her likeness to give her a shot at having the life she herself never had. Jo points out she can still help her achieve that. Blowing up every Augur Industries building still wouldn't give her what she wants. Emily has no clue what she's talking about. She did kill Richard but that's all. They hear a sound in the distance. Jo grabs her gun. While hiding in the dark, they see a group of masked people walking down the hallway. Emily doesn't know them.

Once they're gone, Emily and Jo move to another spot. From there, they see one man attaching an explosive device to the wall. They need to find another exit. With all their routes of exit blocked, they are forced to retreat into a room containing several servers, all of whom have explosive devices stuck to them. Jo has a possibly terrible idea. She uncuffs Emily and asks if she can make the devices go faster.

Piper and Alex arrive back at Jo's house. Alex apologizes. Piper realizes that Jo went to that place and knows what it means. She wonders why she hasn't told her. Alex says she told him it was dangerous and that it would be bad if Piper found out. He believes her. Piper is tired of not knowing. Alex suggests Jo might think they wouldn't understand. Piper hates that that place was her home. Alex says this is her home now, which makes Piper smile.

Emily has managed to do as Jo asked. They leave the room. Jo cuts off the hallway from a group of masked people and slides the device towards them. With mere seconds left, she runs to hide behind the corner as it explodes. Their exit strategy now free, they start running. Suddenly, Ryan appears. They are both surprised but there is no time for questions. They run off and manage to get out and hide behind Jo's car as the entire building explodes.

Jo and Ryan are being checked out by paramedics. Jo apologizes for not informing him of the lead she pursued. Ryan knows she wanted to get to Emily first. He wonders why. Jo claims she thought she had a better chance to bring Emily in quietly if she came by herself. Emily is in federal custody now and Ryan is looking forward to hear what she has to say.

Jo comes home. She puts her gun in the safe as Chris enters the hallway. She tells him the warehouse blew up and Emily's in federal custody. She thinks Ryan won't want to work with them anymore. Since Emily wasn't involved in the demolitions, Jo thinks they are looking for a new player. She's not sure yet if today was a loss or a win.

As she enters the kitchen, Mia greets her. She takes some friends upstairs. Chris joins the others outside. Alex comes inside to talk to Jo. He notices the small wound on her face. She compliments him on the party. Jo shares she's working on a way to tell Alex everything. Alex says he has come to an understanding with Piper. He tells Jo she has to trust him. She does.

Jo tries to reach Benny but she can't reach him. She leaves him a voicemail to tell him there are some developments. Abby and Mia come inside. The party was a success. Mia says Jo should go outside so Piper can open the present she got her. Jo doesn't know of any present. Mia saw it. It said "from Mom," which Mia thinks was really sweet.

Jo rushes outside. Piper has opened the box behind the others' backs. Inside was the exabyte disk, which she has now stuck to the dock in her forearm. Her entire body lights up in front of everyone. Once the light subsides, Piper tells Jo the disk told her who she is. She thinks she's okay. She asks if Jo is, too. Jo says she is. The others are shocked.

Alan arrives at a motel on foot. He enters a room and turns on the shower. When he returns to the bedroom, he finds a mask lying on the bed. He turns around and sees a woman. He hastily says he'll try to get it back. She tells him he took what didn't belong to him. Alan claims he didn't know. She tells him he knew enough and stabs him in the throat.


  • Jo Evans
  • Piper
  • Benny Gallagher
  • Mia Evans
  • Chris Minetto
  • Abby Frasier
  • Alex Evans
  • Ed Sawyer
  • Emily Cox
  • Alan Wilkis
  • Vanessa Cox
  • Helen
  • Ryan Brooks
  • Daphne
  • Agent Hsiao


Guest Starring


Mystery Notes

Following clues and mysterious elements around Piper's identity are revealed in the episode:


No licensed music was used in this episode.

Notes and Trivia

  • The episode scored 2.33 million viewers.


Episode Stills

Behind the Scenes

Promotional Videos


See Also

A complete overview of this episode's crew can be found here.


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