Pilot is the first episode of Season 1 of Emergence and the first episode overall.

Short Summary

Jo Evans, a whip-smart police chief, plunges her family into a deepening mystery when she discovers a young girl the night of an inexplicable plane crash in the quiet northeastern town and decides to protect her. Who is this child? Where did she come from and what does she know? Benny Gallagher, an investigative reporter, intrudes into Jo's inquiry with his own take on the shadowy evidence.

Full Summary

At 3:10 AM, lights start flickering in the town of Southold.

In police chief Jo Evans' room, a safety pin shoots from her nightstand to the radiator as though pulled by a powerful magnetic force.

A blackout hits the entire town and the pin falls to the ground. Jo is woken up by loud noises. Her daughter Mia and father Ed call from the other room. Jo gets up. Her phone doesn't work.

The three of them go outside and see a mysterious blue light in the distance. Suddenly, the lights go on again and Jo receives a call. She tells the caller she's on her way and hangs up. She tells her family to go back to bed.

She arrives at a busy plane crash site on the beach. Officer Chris Minetto informs her it looks like a mid-sized private jet. It didn't come from the nearby Mattituck airport, but the PSEG's suspect the plane has clipped one of their lines, causing the blackout. The telecom company is already investigating the mobile network issues. Jo instructs him to start canvassing for witnesses. She goes to grab her phone to have the beach shut down and sees a girl ducking behind a small dune. She approaches with her flashlight and finds a young girl wearing a Toy Story T-shirt. She wins the girl's trust by talking about the movie and comparing herself to Woody. The girl hugs her tightly. Chris wonders if she was on the plane. Jo asks for a medic. She asks the girl to let go so they can check her out, but she refuses. Officer Lopez comes to inform them that NTSB wants to clear the area. Jo hands over her keys to Chris and decides to accompany the girl to the hospital.

Doctor Abby Frasier tells Jo that the girl is fine physically, but she doesn't remember anything. She suspects it's dissociative amnesia, but she can't fathom that the girl was in the plane crash.

They enter the girl's room. The radiology aide tells them she was very brave. Abby tells her she's completely healthy. The girl asks if she can go home, but when asked where that is, she just points to Jo, whose jacket she's wearing. Abby suggests Jo stay with her until she falls asleep her. She quietly tells Jo she expects the girl's memory to return the next day. Jo sits down and she plays the Skittles color guessing game. Jo hears an argument outside.

Out in the hallway, Abby is yelling at NTSB that they can't have access to private medical files. The aide is helping her block the way to the girl's room. The NTSB leader threatens to arrest the aide, but Jo points out they don't have arrest authority. Abby calls security and goes to check on the girl while Jo suggests they talk in the waiting room. Abby then yells that the girl is gone.

Abby calls a code yellow while Jo instructs a systematic search of the building. She asks Frankie to look at the security footage and Lopez to organize radio cars along Route 25 as well as issue an Amber Alert. Frankie fears the kid could have fallen into the Harbor. Jo receives a call from Chris from the crash site, who tells her that the NTSB seems different. Nobody knows who those first guys were.

Jo runs up to the exit and sees a black SUV driving off. She runs to her car but can't get it to start. She then notices that the rain on her windshield is drawn to the left. Suddenly, the engine and the siren start. The girl sits up in the backseat and tells her not to be mad.

Ed Sawyer gets up from his chair as Jo comes home. She brought the girl. She says they'll find her a bed, but the girl says she's not tired. Jo takes her upstairs anyway.

Back at the kitchen table, Jo is telling her father about people impersonating NTSB. Ed thinks she should report the girl to Family Services in the morning. Jo says the people looking for her will be able to find her then. She doesn't have a plan yet, but she didn't know what else to do. Ed admits it's the right thing. They'll figure it out in the morning.

Upstairs, the girl is just staring out of the window.

Jo is woken up the next morning by girls laughing. She finds her daughter Mia Evans laughing and talking with the girl. Ed has made them breakfast. Mia has been thinking about a name for the girl. The girl can't decide. Jo always liked Piper, which she almost used for Mia. They all like it. Mia has to go to school. Jo tells Ed that Chris informed NTSB's already cleared out, which doesn't make sense, so she needs to go back to the site. Ed will watch Piper. Jo asks him not to go outside with Piper.

As they leave the house, Jo thanks Mia for being sweet with Piper. Mia always wanted a little sister and this is the only way now that Jo and Mia's father are no longer together. The SUV drives by the house.

Ed is showing Piper all the pills he has to take for his cancer, which is a result of his long career as a firefighter. Piper says they're not making him better. Ed could use her help to install a garbage disposal. He hands her some tools and goes to retrieve some more from the basement. As soon as Piper is alone, the TV starts making static crackling noises and the image distorts, displaying a mysterious symbol. She walks up to the screen and is about to touch it when Ed returns. The screen and sound go back to normal. He turns off the TV and goes to work. She hides a utility knife in the pocket of the coat.

Jo finds a British man investigating the crash site. He introduces himself as Benny and hands her his ID and business card. He's an investigative reporter. Jo says it's a restricted area, but he disagrees since the NTSB's so-called investigation is complete. They cleaned up the crash site. Benny says the report will say it was an unmanned drone or some other rubbish. He has sources she doesn't. He offers to share information with one another. He knows the plane took off from Plum Island, which holds a Homeland Security research facility, although he does not have proof yet. Benny is confident they are laying foundations for a perfect working relationship and leaves.

Jo comes home in time for dinner. Her ex-husband Alex has been waiting for her. Mia explained the situation and she has decided that she's staying. She doesn't want to leave Piper. She learned in therapy that kids needs security and consistency. Jo didn't know she was going to do this. Jo smooths things over by saying Alex can have Mia all the time during next school break so they can go fishing. Alex agrees and Mia tells Piper she'll love it. Ed invites Alex to stay for dinner, but Alex passes. He hugs Mia goodbye.

Jo walks him out and apologizes for Mia's stunt. She offers to force Mia to go with him, but Alex is fine. He asks about Piper. Jo says she's keeping Piper for now because she's all alone. Alex points out it doesn't seem so temporary since Mia wants her to come next month. He leaves.

Jo finds Piper playing with her old dollhouse in the playroom-turned-bedroom. Mia let her borrow one of her favorite necklaces. Jo asks Piper about her day, subtly asking if she's remembering anything. Piper diverts. Jo suggests she's afraid of remembering. She shares a story of how her mother left her family behind when she was about Piper's age. She only left a note saying she was going on a trip, but she never came back. Jo understands not wanting to remember something like that. She herself never talked about her mother leaving, but it didn't help her. She thinks talking about it is better because then you know you're not alone. Piper admits she's scared she'll have to go away if she remembers. Jo promises she's not getting rid of her any time soon. Jo leaves her to go to bed. She receives a call from Chris. A couple showed up at the station and they claim they are the girl's parents.

At the station, Chris informs Jo that their names are Freddie and Caitlyn Martin. Their daughter Olivia went missing at their campsite last night. She asks Chris for coffee and heads into her office to meet them. They are relieved to hear she's fine. Chris comes in with the coffee as Jo checks their ID's. They're from North Carolina. Caitlyn says they came to camp here since she grew up nearby. Jo finds it odd that they're camping in the middle of the school year. She asks how Olivia went missing. They say she disappeared from the tent and they couldn't get a signal, so they drove here. Freddie takes out his phone to prove he doesn't have a signal. Jo asks to see pictures of Olivia. The couple gets hostile and demands to see their daughter. She takes their coffees to warm them up and leaves her office.

Outside, she asks Chris to pull prints and run them immediately. She thinks these people are lying. The lights in the office flicker and the computer are shut off. Jo goes to check her office and finds that the couple has disappeared.

Alex is woken up by a call from Jo. She asks him to collect everyone from her house and bring them to the place where they set the kitchen on fire. He remembers the place. She asks him to leave his cell phone behind.

In the vacation home, Alex is trying to entertain Mia and Piper. Ed is making hot chocolate. Jo arrives. She greets the girls and hands Alex a burner phone. Everyone sits down and Jo informs them about the couple who claimed to be Piper's parents. She promises Piper she won't let them take care. Piper asks why they want her, but Jo doesn't know. She bets the answer is in Piper's memory. They go to set up beds in the living room. Piper promises she will try to remember.

As they fetch cots from the closet, Jo apologizes to Alex for dragging him into this. He's not convinced she's not just paranoid. She tells him about the plane crash, fake agents, and fake parents that vanish. She didn't want to put her family in danger but she didn't know what else to do. Alex promises to help out. The lights are then shut off.

Alex and Jo return to the living room. Someone's sneaking around the house. Gun drawn, Jo starts leading them to the basement. They hear glass shattering and then footsteps upstairs. It's Freddie. They run into the basement. Alex and Jo smash the window while Freddie attempts to open the door. Piper is freaking out in Mia's arms and things start shaking and moving all over the room. One by one, they climb through the window. Ed can't make the climb fast enough as Mia calls for Jo. She finds Alex on the ground. Someone hit him and they took Piper. A red Jeep drives off. Mia yells at Jo to go get her.

Jo is following the Jeep while calling for back-up. Suddenly, the car crashes as though it hit an invisible wall. Jo gets out to investigate the overturned car. Freddie and Caitlyn appear dead while Piper crawls out. She appears fine. Jo hugs her tightly.

The next day at work, Chris tells Jo that the ID's were fake and their prints were not in the database. They found a mysterious object on the man. Nobody has figured out what it is. It has no circuitry nor is it magnetic. NTSB reached out with the report that the "plane" was an unmanned drone mapping forests. They're lying. Whatever's behind this, Jo is convinced it has something to do with Piper. Jo has decided to keep her. Chris is okay with keeping that to himself.

Jo sits down with Benny. She's had Frankie tailing him since they first spoke. Normally, she wouldn't trust Benny, but now she doesn't know who she can trust. Benny found out the phony agents recovered and removed the black box and human remains from the crash site. He hasn't reported anything yet because he wants to get the full story first. Jo hands him the mysterious object and asks him to find out what it is.

Jo comes home and finds the girls in her bed. Mia's asleep while Piper's wide awake and wearing her jacket. Jo tells Piper that those people are gone forever. Piper asks if Jo thinks she crashed the plane. Jo does not. As she goes to change for bed, she tells Piper to go brush her teeth with the toothbrush she just bought her.

After finishing brushing her teeth, Piper looks at herself in the mirror. The running water triggers a brief memory of her being immersed in water in a brightly lit setting. She then reaches for a particular place in her neck. She grabs the utility knife and makes a cut right there. She digs in and pulls out a sphere-shaped chip displaying the same logo that appeared on the television. She tosses it down the drain and then washes away the blood and covers up the cut with her hair.


  • Jo Evans
  • Piper
  • Benny Gallagher
  • Mia Evans
  • Chris Minetto
  • Abby Frasier
  • Alex Evans
  • Ed Sawyer
  • Caitlyn Martin
  • Freddie Martin
  • Officer Lopez
  • Frankie
  • Radiology Aide Walter
  • NTSB Leader


Guest Starring


Mystery Notes

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


Song Performer Scene
"you should see me in a crown" Billie Eilish
  • Water from the faucet triggers a memory for Piper.
  • She cuts a tracking device out of her neck and wipes off the blood.

Notes and Trivia

  • The episode scored 4.12 million viewers.
  • The pilot was streamed for the first time during the Emergence panel at San Diego Comic Con on July 18, 2019. The episode includes some tense moments, including an edge-of-your-seat car chase and a scene when one character cuts a tracking device from their neck.[1]
  • On August 27, 2019, about a month before its official premiere, ABC made the first 9 minutes available on YouTube for American viewers. The special screener was released at 3:10 AM, the time at which the mysterious plane crash happens in the episode.
  • The opening sequence of the pilot was shot in Greenpoint, Long Island, New York. The plane crash was filmed at Island Beach State Park in New Jersey.[2]
  • Outdoor scenes around Jo's house were filmed March 11-13, 2019 in Montclaire, New Jersey. Several neighbors complained about inconveniences they experienced because of the filming.[3]
  • On March 21, 2019, filming took place at 120 Elm Street, Westfield, New Jersey, which stands in for the Southold police station.[4]
  • The town of Greenport, New Jersey was used to shoot stablishing shots in late March 2019 for the pilot without any actors present. At the time, crew told locals they'd like to come back if the pilot was picked up to series.[5]


Episode Stills

Behind the Scenes

Promotional Videos


See Also

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


  1. CheatSheet ABC’s ‘Emergence’ Is a Family-Friendly Sci-Fi Thriller That Channels Steven Spielberg
  2. Long Island has a lead role in ABC's new show 'Emergence'
  3. Lights, camera, headaches! Get paid to have your house on TV. Your neighbors may not love it, though.
  4. TV Series Filming In Downtown Westfield Thursday
  5. New TV Pilot Filming In Greenport
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