The show opens in Chicago Illinois with a family. The father, Benjamin runs in and instructs his wife to fill the sinks and tubs and says that they don’t have much time. Benjamin calls his brother Miles and says that everything is going to turn off and it will never turn back on. Suddenly, the signal disappears and the electricity in the city begins to turn off. The cars on the highway suddenly stop dead and even their headlights get shut off. When Benjamin goes outside, he watches as planes literally fall out of the sky and crash. We get an image of the globe and every single light slowly turns off. The world is left in darkness with no electricity.
15 years after the blackout there is still no electricity and now nothing works, not even batteries. In the intervening years people starved, died from sickness without medicine, governments fell, and militias rose up. Benjamin emerges in what seems to be a thriving rural community, where children play and corn grows nearby. His children, Charlie and Danny are out hunting when they come across an old RV turned on it’s side. We get a flashback to the night when the power went out. Charlie is given a pint of ice cream and told to remember what it tastes like. Back in the present, she looks at a postcard of Chicago but when Danny unleashes some dust, he ends up havng an asthma attack and they are forced to return home.
Maggie, the area doctor gives him some medicine and Benjamin is not at all pleased because the area is not safe. Charlie is not happy with the restrictions but Benjamin says that she is risking her life. Charlie wants to explore but Benjamin tells her that there is nothing worth seeing, not anymore. There is a lot of animosity between Charlie and Maggie, because Charlie believes that Maggie is trying to replace her dead mother. Charlie walks off on her own and sits in a now defunct ferris wheel to look at the postcards she has collected of different cities pre-blackout.
Maggie is teaching a local boy about herbs, when a man rides in on a horse. Benjamin hands over the flash drive he saved before the blackout to Aaron. The captain wants to talk to Miles or Benjamin Matheson. It seems that he is under the orders of General Monroe, under the authority of the Monroe republic. The captain says that he has been searching for Benjamin for a long time and that he needs to leave with him or he will conscript all of the children and re-educate them until they no longer remember their parents. Ben asks for a moment and tells Maggie to watch out for his children, but Maggie resists. Danny points a weapon at the man and asks him to leave, even as Benjamin tells him to put his gun down. The other residents start to arm themselves saying that Charlie has a point. Benjamin gets shot in the chest and a fire fight starts, but the captain quickly brings it to an end. Benjamin is dragged away screaming for his father and by the time Charlie arrives he is gone.
Benjamin lies dying and tells Charlie that the militia took Danny and says that she needs to travel to Chicago to get Miles, because he will be able to get Danny back. When Charlie asks her father to come with her, he says that he can’t. Before he dies, Benjamin tells Charlie that she is strong like her mother and that she can do this. Charlie goes and starts to pack immediately and Maggie makes it clear that she is coming. Charlie tries to bush her off and Maggie insists on coming with her. The two women leave and are joined by Aaron, who says that Benjamin was his friend and he is going as well.