Staying Alive & Strong is the sixth episode of Season One. The episode centers on the ghost of Elizabeth Bathory taking control of the Rake, a vicious monster that leaves long claw marks along the chest region of its victims to kidnap girls so Bathory can torture them.
The episode opens with a character entering an eerie mansion. He is followed throughout the mansion by a woman in a red dress, who kills him by hanging him from a chandelier. The man is Loomis Crowley (Milo Ventimiglia). Loomis later wakes up, realizing what happened was a dream. He heads upstairs to find his roommate and his roommate's girlfriend slaughtered post-coital. He is then hanged from a chandelier and killed, similar to the way he died in the dream.
The next day at work, while talking with his boss, Miller (Adam Goldberg), Hutch (Jon Foster) learns that Loomis is dead. At the funeral, he meets a girl named Abigail (Samaire Armstrong). Afterward, Hutch goes to an internet cafe owned by his girlfriend, October (Katie Cassidy), and her brother, Phineas (Jimmi Simpson), both avid gamers. Hutch has received a bag of Loomis' possessions, and while looking through it, Phin finds "Stay Alive". Although Hutch is reluctant, they decide to read it as a group. Abigail and another friend, Swink (Frankie Muniz) join in, with Miller reading the book online from iBooks. The story is set in a derelict mansion on Garouge Plantation. The readers create their characters and fight through a cemetery full of evil ghosts of children, heading toward a mausoleum and tower.
Upstairs, Abigail hears a strange noise, followed by a voice that says, You cannot escape the Blood Countess".
Two detectives, Thibodeaux and King, question Hutch who knew homicide victims. Hutch realizes that Loomis and Miller both played "Stay Alive" right before they died, and that they both died the same way their characters died in the game. Later, October researches Countess Elizabeth Bathory, the woman in red, a real-life murderer. Bathory would torture beautiful young girls to death and drain their blood, bathing in it to maintain her youth. Her weakness was mirrors, because she couldn't stand to see herself growing old. Elsewhere, Phineas decides to play on alone. Keeping in touch with the others by cellphone, he tells them his character has found an unbreakable silver metal mirror which repels Bathory. Escaping outside, he is chased by a black horse-drawn carriage. Before he can be run down, Phin pauses the game, so his character doesn't die. Reassured that he's safe, Phin drives to meet the others. A demonic ghost-child startles him and he drives off the road. When he gets out of the car, the same horse carriage runs him over and kills him. The survivors agree to stop playing "Stay Alive" until they can find out more about it. However, Detective King, a former gamer, ignores Swink's warning and Bathory rips his head apart with a trap. Undaunted, King tries to find "Stay Alive" at a video store, but the clerk has never heard of it. Moments after he enters his car, King is killed the same way his character did in the game.
Swink and October stay at Hutch's, while the other two search Loomis' house. Hutch tells Abigail why he hates fire; when he was a boy, his jealous father set their house on fire. Unable to move, he had to watch as his mother was burned alive. After his father went to prison, Hutch lived with Loomis' family and knows one window is always left unlocked. Inside, they locate Loomis' cellphone and find the name Jonathan Malkus (James Haven), the creator of "Stay Alive." Swink gets the corresponding address. As King's murder hits the news, the police arrive at Hutch's house. October and Swink escape and rejoin the other two at Loomis'.
October has discovered that the real Countess Bathory was locked in the tower of her estate as punishment for her gruesome acts. She lived on for years and vowed to one day return and seek revenge. A resurrected Bathory haunted the school at Garouge Plantation, killing many girls and keeping a diary. October reveals that the only way to kill the Countess is to drive three nails into her body to trap her evil soul. October then goes outside alone to smoke. She sees the countess enter a house that is still under construction and follows her. Once inside, October tries to shoot the countess three times with a nail gun but this proves to be ineffective due to her being transparent. She tries to flee but a shackle and chain wraps around her ankle and she is hung upside down. Hutch and the others head over to the construction site to save her, but they arrive too late and October is nowhere to be found, as she was captured by the countess, which leaves Hutch devastated. The remaining three decide to search the house at Malkus' address. Swink volunteers to stay at the van and read the book on his laptop to distract Bathory, while Hutch and Abigail explore the house. They soon realize Malkus' house is actually on Garouge Plantation, Bathory's estate. Moreover, as he reads, Swink discovers he can cause items in the story to appear in reality.
Swink leads Hutch through the cemetery towards the tower, while Abigail is drawn to the closet and secret passage she'd found earlier in the game. In the hidden room, she finds the blades used by Bathory, who then attacks her. Hutch hears Abigail screams, and Swink guides him through the house to the closet. Swink throws roses at the Countess until Hutch arrives. The Countess begins to cheat and locks Swink out of the van, while her carriage rides towards his character. Swink breaks a window and moves his character just in time, but Bathory comes to kill him in real life, even though the character is still alive. Swink ditches the van and runs across a field, with Bathory's carriage close behind. He falls into a patch of rosebushes as the Countess exits her carriage, with her blades in hand. Hutch and Abigail return to the van to find the laptop screen marked "Game Over" and Swink's character dead.
Grabbing the laptop, Hutch and Abigail gather some of the wild roses. They then cross the cemetery to a mausoleum-type passageway leading to the tower. As a group of undead children pursue them, they drop numerous roses and make their way into Bathory's torture chamber. When Hutch starts up the staircase, a heavy door with a barred window slams shut, separating him from Abigail. She urges him to go after Bathory's body and perform the ritual, while she stays trapped with one last rose. Hutch reluctantly leaves and Bathory's phantom attacks Abigail. Hutch climbs to the top of the tower and finds the completely preserved body of Elizabeth Bathory. Elsewhere, the Rake is knocked out of the tower and falls to its death.
While Abigail and October fight through the tortures that Bathory dishes out, Hutch hammers three nails one by one into the inert body.
When he finishes, the evil spirit stops attacking Abigail and October, and reanimates Bathory's body. Retreating, Hutch knocks over an oil lamp, spilling oil across the floor. Recalling that the Countess hates mirrors, Hutch uses his reflective silver laptop to repel her. Overcoming the fear of fire, he sets the room ablaze. Just then Swink, still alive and carrying more roses, bursts in with Abigail and October, rescuing him. As Countess Bathory's body burns, the four walk away from the tower.
Meanwhile, in the video store, the shelves are now full of just released "Stay Alive" games. Intrigued, the employee puts a copy in the PlayStation 2. As the video game starts, voices are heard reciting Elizabeth's prayer. The evil phantom of Countess Elizabeth Bathory is then seen gazing out her tower window.