Image credit: Brownie Harris/NBC
TOWER-BOUND Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Aaron (Zak Orth) share a brief bright moment after their arrival in the Plains Nation.
A flashback – this time not attached to a title card indicating how many years before the Blackout this is – shows a teenage Miles (Days of Our Lives’ Casey Deidrick) with a young woman who can only be this Emma. Miles has just enlisted, and Emma's worried about him. But he reassures her with a promise that he’ll be okay and a kiss.
Cut to Monroe and his men in his hometown. The general is standing in a white gazebo, watching the militiamen round up the townspeople. We meet Emma (General Hospital and 24’s Annie Wersching), a woman with clear blue eyes, bright red hair, and freckles that surround her soft smile. “It’s me, Emma,” she says, walking past militiamen and approaching Bass. He appears stunned at the sight of her – maybe, even with the messenger’s threat, he wasn’t sure she’d be there, or maybe the memories that come flooding back to him make this that much more difficult for him. We see one memory: A quick glimpse back at the flashback of Miles and Emma in that kiss shows them parting lips, to reveal teenage Bass (Necessary Roughness’ Patrick Johnson) watching them with a hint of jealousy and longing in his eyes. Back in the present, Emma tells Bass she missed him and asks him what’s going on, why everyone’s being shoved into the town courthouse. She easily sees through his lie that this is all for their own protection, that there’s been a terrorist threat. “We’re old friends,” she tells Bass. “I know you, and I know when you’re lying.” That’s when Sebastian Monroe the general comes back: “Yeah, you’re right, we’re old friends. That doesn’t give you the right to talk to me like that.”
Bass visits the cemetery where his family is buried (remember, they were killed by a drunk driver on their way to a Harry Potter movie). There are flowers at the tombstone of his parents, surely placed there by Emma. Another flashback reveals teenage Emma pulling a blanket over Miles, who’s fallen asleep on the couch. She walks into the kitchen, where she and Bass draw close, his fingers drifting across her hand.
Later, at night, present-day Emma approaches Monroe again, now in the courthouse. She’s overheard militiamen talking and knows what Monroe is planning. “I know you loved me once,” she says, adding shakingly, “Bass, I loved you too.” He looks at her sharply, like this is the first time she’s ever said this. Indeed, he asks her why she’s never told him this before. She brushes off that question and implores him to not go through with his manipulative plans. “There has to be a part of you that’s still you, that’s kind and decent. If there is, please let us go,” she says. Bass asks about the flowers at his parents’ grave – yes, Emma says, she put them there.
There are plenty of militiamen in the room – including Baker, who has just informed the general that Miles is here – but in one moment, Bass acts like he and Emma are utterly alone. He draws close to her and whispers, “You see the best in people. You see the best in me. I wanna be the Bass that you know. I wanna be him so badly, you have no idea.” Bass gives teary-eyed Emma a long kiss, then draws away and says firmly, “But he’s dead.” Emma is taken away by militiamen, and Monroe orders his men to lock everyone in the basement and burn down the building.
As Miles -- who quickly left the camp after receiving Monroe's message without telling anyone -- makes his way to the courthouse through the gunfire, Monroe and his men exit the courthouse, then light it on fire. With a bullet in his leg, Miles hobbles into the courthouse and breaks the townspeople free from the locked basement. There he sees Emma, who helps him guide people to safety – but it’s a safety that doesn’t exist. On all sides are flames or militiamen armed with guns. It looks like Miles is about to die in the ever-nearing fire along with Emma and everyone else trapped inside, but then militiamen outside one nearby window are gunned down – it’s Nora and Jim, who have made it to town with Dickson, Charlie and more Georgia Federation soldiers who were able to get an answer out of Monroe's messenger about Miles' whereabouts and Monroe's plan.
Miles, Emma, and the rest of the townspeople escape out the window amid more gunfire, but Emma isn’t free for long – Monroe has her at gunpoint. Hiding behind columns in the town square (where a plaque indicates we’re in Dubois County, Indiana), Dickson urges Miles to take the shot. “I can’t do it. I’ll hit her,” Miles confesses, to Dickson and Charlie’s frustration. Charlie says she’ll take the shot – she’s unwavering in her determination to kill the man responsible for her brother’s death. “If anyone takes that shot, I swear to God, I’ll kill him myself,” Miles hisses.
As a shaky and almost mad Monroe starts shouting a countdown to Miles, Emma cries, “I don’t want to die. I want to see him again.” Monroe has no sympathy for her desire to see Miles one last time – but that’s not who she’s talking about. “Not Miles. My son,” she whispers. “Your son.” A quick return to the earlier flashback shows teenage Bass and Emma having sex on the kitchen counter. Bass lowers his gun slightly. Miles’ furrowed brow and Emma’s inaudible next words from the wide shot seem to indicate he hasn’t heard this reveal. Then Emma explains that Bass was at basic training, and her parents wouldn’t let her tell him or Miles about the baby. Mouth gaping, one tear falling from his eye, Bass asks her where their son is. “He’s not here,” is all Emma says. And it’s the last thing Emma says – just then, a bullet goes right through her chest.
Miles, shocked, looks back and sees Dickson with his gun raised. He immediately stands up and kills the Georgia captain with two shots to the chest. Bass, lying on the ground with the dead Emma fallen on top of him, is wounded too. He sees that she’s gone, and, in a rare moment of loudly vocalized anger and despair, shouts, “Noo!” and begins firing rather blindly in Miles’ direction. Militiamen step in and pull their injured leader away, back to the helicopters. Miles and Charlie start firing at the militiamen, hitting a few more, but not Monroe or Baker. Once the helicopters lift off, Miles rushes over to Emma and he sees that another person he loved has died.
Later, Jim walks over to Miles as he’s covering Emma’s body with a blanket. Jim can tell this woman was important to him. “I used to be engaged to her,” Miles says. Then: “This is how Monroe wants to fight? He’s got it. He has no idea what he’s in for.”
NEXT: A painful reunion for Aaron and his wife