Written by Damon Lindelof & Jaqueline Hoyt
Directed by Mimi Leder
A pregnant woman exits a cave crowded with sleeping bodies. Moments later, she watches helplessly as an earthquake demolishes the cave, crushing those within. The woman goes into labor and delivers her baby. Alone with her infant, she sees an eagle flying towards a plume of smoke on the horizon. She starts off in that direction. While the woman gathers food, a snake approaches her baby. She saves the child, but is bitten herself; the wound quickly becomes infected, and the woman dies with the baby in her arms on the shore of a small lake. Another woman picks up the infant and carries it away.
Years later, Evangeline Murphy and her two friends Violet and Taylor, jump into the same lake. Evie strikes up a flirtatious conversation with a man named Dr. Goodheart, who is collecting water specimens. Despite a sign prohibiting water removal, Evie fills up her own water bottle before hopping in the car with the girls. The trio rides in silence.
Evie arrives back at home and gives the water she collected to her twin brother Michael, who pours it into a set of test tubes. When he’s not looking, Evie takes a swig from the bottle. Evie’s mother, Erika, reminds Evie to take her medicine, and then heads upstairs to wake her husband John for breakfast. While at the kitchen table, the group hears a cricket chirp. John obsesses about finding the insect.
Michael rides his bike into the Jarden town square. Along the way, he passes a cracked slab of sidewalk protected by glass and a woman watering her lawn in a wedding dress. In the square, a bearded man lives atop a large pillar. Michael drops breakfast into the man’s bucket, and he lowers it down with a letter that Michael promises to mail. Michael sets up a booth at a farmer’s market peddling “Miracle” products. Unfazed by a small earthquake, Michael sets up a table for the Sacred Mission Baptist Church, complete with the test tube water on display.
John visits the house of a childhood friend, Isaac, where a group is waiting for their own “reading” -- Isaac's interpretation of their handprints for $140 a pop. John barges in and asks about Isaac’s plan to rent out his top floor; Isaac assures John that the building will be up to code. With that settled, John asks for his own reading. Isaac presses John’s hand in red paint and hangs up the paper. Isaac recognizes John has a birthday coming up, but his face quickly clouds over. “Something bad is gonna happen,” Isaac says, “to you.” The conversation turns serious and John tries unsuccessfully to get Isaac to admit that he’s faking his abilities.
Later that evening, John discusses Isaac with a group of men at the fire department, deeming the man “a five.” The group breaks into Isaac’s house. John lights a handprint on fire and when Isaac refuses to leave, he’s thrown out the window. Isaac looks on helplessly as his home burns to the ground. Later that night, Erika tends to Isaac’s wounds. He asks when John started burning down people’s houses. “Tonight,” Erika replies matter-of-factly.
Evie goes to choir practice where the group sings of the miracle of Jarden. Later, Evie, Violet and Taylor run naked through the woods. Evie goes home and plays catch with her dad.
The next morning, Erika wakes up and puts in her hearing aids. She goes for a run and heads into the woods. There, she unearths a box from the ground that contains a live bird. It flies away, unharmed. Erika comes home to find John chasing the cricket.
The Murphy family goes to church, where Michael reads scripture from the pulpit. The preacher announces that he’ll be stepping away from his post to get surgery and introduces his replacement -- Matt Jamison. John watches, interested, as Matt explains why he believes Jarden is so special. The reverend cuts him off and John follows up after the service, but Matt doesn’t get specific. The Murphys go to brunch; a man named Jerry slaughters a goat in the restaurant.
At home, John drops a spoon down the garbage disposal and hesitates to reach for it. Michael comes in and easily removes the spoon. He drops off dinner for the man on the pillar and makes another stop at a trailer decorated with Christmas lights. “Want to pray?” he asks the man inside, who invites him in.
The next morning, John finds a mysterious pie on his doorstep. He also sees a new family moving in next door -- Kevin and Jill Garvey, Nora Durst and baby Lily. John decides to invite the Garveys to his birthday dinner; Erika is surprised that John is choosing to “work” that evening. John meets his neighbors, gifting the pie to sweeten the invite.
The families bond at the party. Erika tells a story about Evie overflowing the bathtub as a child. The mood changes when John admits he missed the event because he was in prison for attempted murder. Evie brings out the cake but drops it when her face goes completely blank. Erika jumps into action, coaxing her daughter back to consciousness. Evie has epilepsy, Erika explains. As the girl laments the ruined cake, Nora sends Kevin to retrieve the pie. Later, Evie hands John a birthday present and tells him not to open it until she’s gone. She drives off with her friends.
Later that night, the Murphy family is awakened by a severe earthquake. John grabs Michael and Erika but discovers Evie is missing. When Evie doesn’t answer her phone, John and Erika panic. The group soon realizes that Violet and Taylor did not come home either. John and Michael drive out to the swimming hole and they find the girls’ deserted car, music still playing, Evie’s cell phone inside. The lake has been drained of water. At home, Erika waits in silence. The cricket chirps.