Burkitsville, Indiana – One Year Ago
A newlywed couple is leaving after the locals have helped them out when they get lost. The guy has a tattoo that the daughter notices as they make their farewells and leave. Down the road the car and the cell phone both die and they notice a nearby house. They go to check it out and on the way see an ominous-looking scarecrow suspended from a pole. The scarecrow seems to move as they head off into the woods – as they proceed they hear noises behind them and run for their car. The guy disappears and she turns and stumbles over the corpse of her boyfriend. Then a shadowy figure closes in on her.
In their hotel, the cell phone rings and Sam takes the call – it’s their dad. He assures Sam they’re okay but that they have to trust him – he can’t reveal where he is. He reveals he’s after the thing that killed their mom – a demon. He tells them to stop looking for him and write down a list of names, warning it’s not safe. Dean takes the names, which are of three couples who disappeared over a three year-period on the same day in April. They head to the town where they disappeared, Burkitsville, but Sam decides they’re going to California where their dad is. Dean accuses him of being selfish and takes off without him when Sam insists he go.
Dean pulls into Burkitsville and thinks about calling Sam, but decides against it. He meets with a local man, Scotty, but the man claims not to recognize them. Dean comes across a young hitchhiker, who gets picked up by a guy in a van who refuses to take Sam. Dean isn’t having any luck with the Jorgesons, the couple that the newlyweds met earlier. Their niece Emily recognizes the newlywed husband, Vince, from the tattoo, and her parents then remember them. Dean leaves town but his electro-detector goes off as he passes by an orchard. He investigates and spots the scarecrow, holding a sickle. He climbs up and finds the scarecrow has a tattoo on its arm just like Vince’s.
Dean pulls back into town and talks to the daughter, Emily. She reveals that the Jorgesons are her aunt and uncle who took her in when her parents died, and that the town is seemingly “blessed.” He also notices a car belonging to another stranded couple. Sam is unable to get a bus out and meets back up with the female hitchhiker, Meg, and they bond. Dean goes into the café and chats up the couple, despite Scotty’s efforts to keep him away from them. Dean offers to help them fix their brake line, which won’t be fixed until sunset, but they decline. He gives them an ominous warning but they ignore him and Dean contemplates how Sam could have convinced them. Scotty calls the sheriff, who escorts Dean out of town.
Sam and Meg chat over a meal about her background and her issues with her family, and Sam’s similar problem with Dean. Come nightfall, Dean returns into town while the newest couple wanders through the orchard and are stalked by the scarecrow. They run for it and Dean gets in front o them and sends them to their car. He opens up on the scarecrow with a shotgun to no effect but they all get safely back to the car as the scarecrow disappears.
Dean checks in with Sam and they conclude that the scarecrow is a manifestation of a pagan god and takes the couple (fattened up by the locals) as a fertility sacrifice. The two of them kind of apologize and Dean admits Sam has to do his own thing and he admires him for standing up to their dad. Dean meets with a local professor who provides information on a Norse god, the Vanir, which the locals of Scandinavian descent imported with them. According to the books its energy springs from a sacred tree. Dean thanks him for his help and goes out…where the sheriff knocks him out.
The townsfolk are discussing what to do with Dean and how the Vanir is angry with them and the sacrifice must be made. It becomes clear that the Jorgesons are going to use Emily for the female sacrifice, and they toss her down into the cellar with Dean.
The bus arrives but Sam decides to go to Burkitsville when he can’t get hold of Dean. Meg tries to get him to come with her but he refuses and heads off. Emily has been ignorant of what’s been going on there and Dean figures they have to destroy the old tree the Vanir is tied to. She knows what tree he means but doesn’t know where the “First Tree” is. Then the locals show up to take them to the orchard and tie them up to trees near the scarecrow/Vanir. Come sunset, Sam arrives and frees them but the scarecrow has disappeared.
The three of them run off through the orchard, planning to come back in the morning, but the locals intercept them. Emily begs her aunt and uncle to let them go but they’re interrupted when the scarecrow kills them both. The townspeople run off and the brothers and Emily get clear. The next morning they find the First Tree, inscribed with runes, and the brothers prepare to torch it. Emily insists on setting it on fire herself and it goes up in flames.
Emily takes off on a bus and Sam says he’ll be staying on and they’re going to finish it…together. Later at night, Meg is driving off with some guy in a van and asks him to pull to the side. She pulls out a silver goblet, cuts his throat with a knife, and catches the blood in the cup. She then recites an incantation and questions why she was ordered to let them go. She receives a silent explanation and responds, “Yes – yes, father.”