Night. A couple of high school sweethearts fooling around in the stands of a football stadium. They hear something and a few minutes later a man grabs the woman. Her boyfriend kicks him down the stairs. They look down at the man whose face appears almost zombie-like and says "Mr. Howard?"
Rachel (Azita Ghanizada
) makes out with a date. While they kiss she starts freaking out and asks him to leave.
Dr. Rosen (David Strathairn
) gives the guys brand-new Defense Criminal Investigative Service badges, with the idea being to help cut red tape during cases. Rosen, like everybody, asks her about her first date. She doesn't want to talk. He asks her to travel with him to Fenton, Pennsylvania.
Agent Sullivan told Rosen that Fenton has recently seen a number of deaths due to rabid organ failure. The CDC doesn't have answers, but Rosen thinks an Alpha could be connected. Immediately Rachel smells fear, telling Rosen the entire town is "scared to death." They meet with CDC doc Calder (Lindsay Wagner
) who tells them the victims' damage was centered in the fear/stress centers of the brain.
Rosen and Rachel show their new badges to the local sheriff. He says the three bodies looked "half melted inside" but there was no infection. A fourth person, a young kid named Chris, was killed in a car accident, but no autopsy was performed. Rosen makes a request to see the body.
They talk to the boy's mother, Mrs. Elkhart, about permission exhuming his body. She says Chris helped her get through the death of his father when he was 12. She mentions Chris recently tried out for the football team and was cut. Elkhart hated the coach. and Chris never fit in. Rachel gets emotional and tells Chris' mother he was lucky to have her. She agrees to let them examine his body.
Outside. Rachel tells Rosen her parents won't even return her calls since she moved out.
They go back to see the sheriff and strangely find the station to be completely empty. Rachel smells decay. They head to the back. While in the back, the sheriff tries to grab Rachel. He falls to the ground, looking exactly like the victim in the opening. Just before dying he whispers she should have stopped it.
The rest of the team heads to Fenton to join Rosen and Rachel. Rosen tells them the sheriff's body had levels of Cortisol (the hormone the body produces in response to stress) four times higher than normal. In high enough amounts, Cortisol has the ability to eat away at organs and muscles. The team targets the town's football coach, Kent Zelansky, who now has connections to several of the victims -- Chris, the father of the town's football star and the school guidance counselor.
At the high school Gary (Ryan Cartwright
) finds four "mean emails" from Zelansky to quarterback stud David Burton.
Bill (Malik Yoba
) and Nina (Laura Mennell
) speak with the uber-confrontational Zelansky. He gets defensive when Bill questions him about his relationship with David Burton's father Ned.
Gary comes across a sweaty David Burton as he bullies a kid in the hallway. Gary pulls info out of the air that is unflattering to David, resulting in his trying to beat up Gary. Hicks (Warren Christie
) comes to the rescue just minutes before David collapses.
The team takes David to the hospital. Chris' autopsy comes back. It doesn't seem to indicate he suffered from what killed the other victims. David's body is continuing to produce Cortisol even after being flushed. Rosen thinks the victims are all displaying symptoms of withdrawal.
When Calder takes David's hand, he seems to respond. Rosen thinks there is someone out there who is cutting off ties to the victims with fatal ramifications. David begins to crash.
Rachel tells Elkhart it doesn't seem like he was one of the victims. She tells Rachel football players like David bullied him for being different and spread rumors about him. Making matters worse was that Chris idolized the football players. Elkhart takes a liking to Rachel.
Bill and Hicks examine the scene of Chris' death. Hicks is convinced it was no accident.
Rosen's suggestion David receive Oxytocin seems to be working. David tries to tell Rosen he didn't mean to hurt someone but doesn't give a name. Bill and Hicks call to tell Rosen Chris' death was a suicide. All the victims so far were involved in either bullying or covering-up, which gives Chris' mother quite a bit of motive.
Cut to Rachel sitting with Elkhart. She talks about how much she loved Chris. Rachel tells her that her parents think she is a freak. Rachel complains about her parents' lack of acceptance for her unique abilities and says they won't return her calls. Elkhart gives Rachel a long hug. Afterwards, Rachel says "I feel wonderful."
Hicks and Bill arrive and find Rachel is gone.
Rachel and Chris' mother are in the car. She asks Rachel about her team members being alphas and says she has to make one step -- and will need Rachel's help to "get away."
Rosen tells Nina that Rachel could be very much in danger. He thinks Chris' death has triggered a psychotic episode similar to postpartum depression for Elkhart. Gary locates Elkhart's car.
Cut to Elkhart telling Rachel about initially comforting David's father after he apologizes for what happened to David. When he told her he didn't stop the behavior, she became angry and was he dead in a day. Elkhart and Rachel argue over her actions. Rachel starts to look ill.
Bill and Hocks get in an accident trying to catch Elkhart. Bill decides to run for it.
Rachel notices Bill on the way. Elkhart pulls the car over. She tells Rachel sorry and begins to tell Rachel she doesn't love her and wants her to die. She drives off. Rachel starts to writhe in pain.
Elkhart pays a visit to Zelansky. He tells her if they talk he'll feel much better. She responds she wants him to spend his last few hours "dying alone."
Rosen arrives with Oxytocin for Rachel. It doesn't seem to be working. Rosen explains she is like a daughter to him and everybody tells her they love her. This seems to pull her out of it.
Zelansky and Elkhart argue. He asks what he can do and she says "burn in hell." The team arrives and places Elkhart in custody. Rachel says Chris wouldn't want her to hurt anybody.
Rosen told the public Elkhart poisoned her victims. He tells Rachel Elkhart will be headed to custody and gives her a mini-pep talk.