The trailer opens on a shot of waves, which fade into a dark forest, over which Alan Wake says the iconic line: "It's not a lake. It's an ocean." The camera moves through the dark forest, until resting on the face of an unconscious Alan Wake, whose eyes jolt open.
A male voice says "He's been gone for five years." Fade up on what appear to be two detectives, a man with dark hair and a woman with blonde hair, standing in front of a wall covered in clues — perhaps about Alan Wake's disappearance. Jazzy noir music begins to play.
Alan Wake's voice: "Dark matter and dark energy constitute over 95 percent of our universe." We see the two detectives from the front, eyes furrowed in concentration, as they simultaneously lift mugs of coffee up to their mouth in perfect unison. It's revealed that the male detective is portrayed by Remedy creative director and writer Sam Lake.
Alan Wake again: "We're just a speck of light floating in an endless ocean of darkness." Glitchy static noises slowly overtake the music, and we see the two detectives walking through the forest, stumble upon what appears to be Alan Wake's unconscious body.
"Every story finds its writer." Cut to a brief shot of the male detective flicking The Clicker in his hands, likely taken from an evidence box in the room.
Next we see the detective walking through a dimly lit, empty location with flickering lights. A figure emerges from the darkness, and the detective raises his flashlight to reveal the figure's identity: Alan Wake, now with a full beard.
We see The Clicker again. A few shots of the female detective lost in concentration. A shot of Wake's torso from behind, walking, flashlight in his left hand and his pistol in the other.
Back to the detectives' clue board, where we see the female detective's hands hang up a new clue: a mugshot of Sam Lake, with the words "ALEX CASEY" written underneath — the name of the protagonist in Alan Wake's series of thriller novels. A brief flash frame of Sam Lake's character, now revealed to be Alex Casey, appears — pale, lying on the floor, a trail of blood coming from his mouth. The female detective grabs her jacket and runs out of the room. In the next shot, we see a bearded Alan Wake exploring the detectives' room, examining the clue board and going through the evidence boxes.
Alan Wake begins paging through a folder full of paper found among the evidence, and snippets of Alan Wake voiceover can be heard: "Wake has a bloody knife in his hand." "He smiles a wicked smile." "Casey lies on the floor, eyes staring." He continues to frantically search through the pages, then looks up, horrified.
In the final shot, we see the female detective walking through the forest at night with a gun and flashlight. She walks into a building, then shines her light onto a man facing the wall with his back to her. He slowly turns around. It's Alan Wake, and he looks scared. The detective looks down, and sees Wake standing over Alex Casey's dead body, a bloody knife in Wake's hand. She steps back, gun pointed at Alan.
Then, a title card: "RETURN," the name of Wake's collectible manuscript from Alan Wake's American Nightmare. The phrase "WHAT LIES BENEATH THE SURFACE" appears on screen. We hear Wake's voice one last time: "All of us have two faces. The one we wear for all to see, and the face that lies beneath in the dark."