The story begins with Johnathan Davis.
John wakes up in a white room with only the memory of his name. After being prompted to exit the white room, John heads down a black hallway until he emerges on a large platform that opens to a vast and empty space.
John is soon picked up by a retrieval team and meets a young woman named Ruby Rose. She fills him in on his arrival and takes him to a place that is simply referred to as Town. Here he meets a few characters, including Samantha Valentine. Samantha informs him that each and every citizen living in town arrived here just like him… waking up in a white room and walking down the black hallway. They call that place the Core.
Over the course of time, John meets many citizens that live in Town. He begins to understand the town’s political structure and organization, including the Main Six, which is a group of six individuals that were the first to arrive from the Core.
These six individuals operate as a council, but Rayland Walsh holds the title of mayor.
John also comes to understand that every citizen has a skill. This is generally some kind of knowledge that is locked away in a citizen’s mind until the moment that they simply remember it all. This is generally triggered by the citizen being put in a situation where the skill is required. For example, a citizen might unlock their skill of plumbing when they come across a leaky faucet. It’s like an instinct that brings it all to the surface.
John’s ability focuses on writing, editing, and communication in general. During a visit to meet Olivia Sun, leader of the Explorers, John begins absentmindedly fixing Olivia’s memorandum, which reveals his skill and also puts him on Olivia’s radar.
While initially angry, Olivia soon warms to the idea of using John’s skill to her advantage. He quickly becomes invaluable to her team as he is able to better communicate her plans and desires to the rest of the council without upsetting for confusing them.
John also becomes passionate about the Explorers themselves, and believes in their mission to better understand the environment in which they live. Is it a spaceship? Is it an underground facility? What is the Core? Where did the citizens come from before the white room? All of these questions needed answers, and Olivia was the key to finding them.
Thanks to his efforts, he is able to help secure an old abandoned cinema in town to operate in a more visible way to the citizens.
John also helps to temper a growing rivalry between Olivia Sun and Rayland Walsh. Olivia’s increasing popularity, particularly thanks to John’s communications, is considered a threat by the mayor, but John assures him that Olivia will have little to do with his political ambitions.
Eventually, the Explorer’s are able to deploy their first experimental vehicle, unsurprisingly named Explorer One, which flies high into the sky and begins surveying the lands beyond town.
As the town celebrates their new adventures, John listens in as the two pilots from the mission, David Nash and Flynn Brickshelm, tell Olivia about their discovery during their flight… a place called the Upper Levels and a mysterious radio transmission!
When the second season begins, Explorer One is on another mission to the edge of the Upper Levels. They have flown his route so many times it is practically a routine. Meanwhile, Johnathan Davis and Ruby Rose are on a camping trip near Mount Machina where they can watch for Explorer One with binoculars and cameras.
Rayland Walsh continues his plans to expand the edge of town to make room for the new arrivals coming from the Core each week.
Unfortunately, a tragic accident causes chaos in town. Explorer One is thought lost.
John and Ruby are sent to confirm that the vehicle crashed, but they are unable to locate it, though they do discover a broken wing and scattered debris. Before they can return to town, however, Olivia directs them to Willow Creek Farms. The owner has said that debris crashed in her crops and someone survived!
When John and Ruby arrive at the farm, however, they discover that the unconscious pilot is not one of their own and the crashed vessel looks like nothing they’ve seen in town.
Meanwhile, as the confusion around Explorer One builds, the citizens are also faced with a new crisis when a very pregnant woman arrives from the Core and immediately goes into labor. Thanks to the newly arrived Nima Patel, who discovers her skill as an obstetrician, the baby is safely delivered and the citizens have a chance to be excited about something new again.
While the town is elated with their new development, the story shifts back in time to the day of the Explorer One accident.
After colliding with an unidentified object, the entire right wing of Explorer One is ripped free from the vehicle frame. The pilot, Flynn Brickshelm, works his best to keep them in the air, ultimately opting to fly to the Upper Levels rather than attempting to return to the safety of the ground below.
The pair survive the crash landing, but they are unable to call for help.
After attempting to free Flynn from the crumpled cockpit of the ship, David Nash comes up with a plan to locate the source of the radio signal that they learned about in season one. He hopes they can the signal to call the Lower Levels for help.
Flynn remains at the crash site while David leaves to send the signal. When he arrives at the radio tower, however, he is captured by an unknown entity.
At the same time, back at the Explore One crash site, Flynn is also captured.
Back in town, the pilot and the mysterious ship are brought to town in the hope that the citizens can learn more about the loss of Explorer One. When the pilot does regain consciousness, he introduces himself as Ronin. He seems rather silly at first, but upon realizing that his ship was brought to town, he tries to warn the citizens they are in danger and that the power crystal has to be taken far away as quickly as possible!
The council disagrees over how to handle the situation, but before they make a plan, they hear a rumbling in the streets and Ronin tells them it’s too late.
A large vessel descends on town.
When it arrives at Town Hall, a man climbs from within and introduces himself as Thresher. He informs Olivia and Rayland that he is here for the power crystal. Olivia considers resisting, but Thresher makes it clear he isn’t asking, and she relents. Thresher also reveals he is the one who captured Flynn at the crash site and returns the injured pilot to the citizens. He tells Olivia that if he finds David Nash he will return him as well, but that none of the citizens of town should ever venture to the Upper Levels.
The season concludes with the citizens in shock from the revelations they have just witnessed. Ronin, now considered a captive, is sent to the town’s bank vault for safe keeping while the others are forced to contemplate what comes next.
The episodes in season 3 split between the normal activities in town, and the adventures of David Nash after we last saw him near the finale of season 2. For simplicity here, I have broken the two arcs into their own sections. Be mindful that these arcs are happening in tandem.
In the weeks following Thresher’s visit, the town has started to come to terms with the dangers that lurk in the Upper Levels. Olivia Sun continues her work on a rescue mission to find David Nash while Rayland Walsh focuses on securing the safety of his citizens. He attempts to keep the attention off the past events, instead focusing on the town’s only baby. At the same time, however, he also allows a citizen named Leonard Calgray to organize a volunteer militia that can defend the citizens if the flying ship returns
When Rayland learns Olivia has ignored his order to abandon a rescue mission he decides that she is too risky to have operating. In fact, he decides he is going to shut down the entire Explorer operation, just to be safe. He uses Leonard as his muscle and tells her to lock down Mission Control. Olivia pretends to comply, but she is worried that Rayland has gone too far and she decides to escalate the situation. She rushes to the edge of town and helps Ruby Rose steal the town’s rescue helicopter.
Ruby gets away in the helicopter, but Olivia is captured by Leonard’s militiamen.
Rayland, completely blindsided by Olivia’s defiance, demands that she be locked up in the bank vault with the pilot Ronin. Bryan Steeles, a member of the town council, believes that both individuals have overstepped their bounds and begins a desperate attempt to negotiate the situation between the two.
Ruby arrives at the Grid. She informs Elsie Lamarr of the situation and Elsie is forced to take control of the Explorers. At first she attempts to calm Rayland Walsh, but she soon realizes that he see no other solution than for everyone at the Grid to surrender themselves and shut down all exploration missions. She becomes entrenched against him and the militia that Leonard has gathered.
As the two groups are now in a standoff, Elsie decides that Olivia is the only one that will be able to help bridge any kind of peace between the growing divide. Over time, she is contacted by Samantha Valentine, to informs her that many citizens still support Olivia and her ideals. Elsie first attempts to demand Olivia’s release, but when Rayland refuses, Samantha helps her plan a prison break.
During this interim, Olivia and Ronin spend some time bonding. The pilot is contradictory, telling Olivia that she should not return to the Upper Levels while also arguing that he should be allowed to return there.
Their bonding is interrupted, however, when John Davis, working with Samantha Valentine, breaks into the vault and helps them escape! The group finds their way to an extraction point and Ruby Rose brings in the helicopter to rescue them.
Olivia is reunited with her Explorers, and she remains convinced that a rescue mission must be launched to the Upper Levels. They have Ronin now, so the pilot can help them navigate the unfamiliar world that will await them. Everyone has been working overtime on the new launch vehicle, Explorer Two, but before they can start organizing the launch, they receive a transmission over what Elsie determines to be a Ship-Wide Intranet.
The message comes from David Nash. He tells them that he is alive and well, but that they must not come to the Upper Levels. There are dangers that a rescue mission would be unprepared to face.
The message is brief, but Olivia trusts David enough to take his word.
In town, Samantha Valentine becomes aware of a sinister plot. Leonard Calgray has bigger plans for his militia. He is ready to seize control of the town from the council and become a dictator of the highest order. She decides to take this information to Rayland, revealing her association to Leonard in the process, but also giving the council the advantage.
As he is losing control of the situation, Rayland finally agrees to make peace with Olivia’s faction. When she realizes that Rayland is defeated, Olivia decides to play along and pretends to reach a “compromise” with the mayor. The Explorers will agree not to launch a rescue mission to the Upper Levels, so long as Rayland gives them full control over their own operations.
Rayland begrudgingly agrees. The conflict in Town is resolved just as Leonard prepares to attempt his takeover. When the militia leader realizes that peace has already be reestablished, he backs down, admitting defeat and retreating from Town Hall.
David Nash’s fate is revealed.
Unlike Flynn, who was captured by Thresher, David Nash is taken in by a group calling themselves the Guardians. This includes a young rebellious type named Trevor, and another individual named Mike. David is kept in a cage-like pit, listening in on the pair as the days tick by. During this time, he learns that their leader was another man named Ronin. This specific individual went missing on the same day that Explorer One crashed. David wastes no time in telling the two that there is no coincidence. Their vehicle collided with an unknown object… likely Ronin’s vehicle.
With enough time, David might have convinced the pair to set him free, but before any of that can happen, they are confronted by Thresher.
When Thresher arrives at the underwater facility, David assumes the man to be the picture perfect “bad guy”. Thresher informs him, however, that he has returned Flynn Brickshelm to the Lower Levels and would be happy to do the same for David. While Trevor and Mike are flabbergasted, David agrees to go with Thresher.
After Thresher destroys the underwater facility and forces Trevor and Mike to retreat in their own emergency vehicle, Thresher follows through on his word and sends David on his way home. Before going, however, David probes Thresher for some answers to his questions. Thresher is uninterested in telling David everything, but entertains a few questions before sending him away.
Unfortunately, as David is being taken home, the ship he is on falls under attack. The pilot attempts to escape the situation, but a sudden explosion ripped the vehicle apart and launches David Nash into the cold waters.
Left alone in the water, David assumes this might be the end.
After passing out from exhaustion, David is picked up by some local fishermen. They assume that he works for Thresher and they soon turn him over to an elderly man at a bait shop. The man, named Anton, explains his humble business is also a way point for the citizens that come and go from their city out to the ocean.
After David has a chance to recover from the accident and explain his story, Anton takes pity on him and agrees to let him stay at his bait shop until they can learn more about his situation.
He remains there for an unknown amount of time, before he is soon pulled back into the situation by the arrival of the Guardians, including Trevor.
He hides at first, but soon gets angry and exposes his hiding place so that he can challenge their claims of being the “good guys”. He demands that they take him home, immediately. After some brief dialogue, Trevor does agree to help David Nash get in contact with his home to confirm or deny that Ronin was killed in the crash.
David leaves the bait shop and sails aboard a large vessel.
They soon arrive at the Hub. This sprawling metropolis is home to all of the citizens that arrive in the Upper Levels from the Core. David learns that there is another exit from the Core here, and citizens arrive just like they do in the Lower Levels.
Thresher’s forces soon threaten their realm and David is left in the Hub with Trevor’s sister, Annie. The pair work together to use the Ship-Wide Intranet so that they can send a message directly to the Grid on the Lower Levels. They successfully make a connection, but their time is limited. David sends what he can before the system short circuits and burns out on their end. Annie informs him they can make it work again, and David begins to relax for the first time since Explorer One crashed.
David is last seen helping Annie in any way he can to prepare for Thresher’s attacks.
Christmas Special 2019
Several months have passed since the finale of the third season. The town, finally at peace, has settled into some level of normalcy once more. The Explorers, now under Elsie’s leadership, are branching out to dozens of new projects, while Flynn Brickshelm has volunteered to deal with Leonard’s militia.
Thanks to Flynn’s dedication to helping people, his Protectors are a highly approved group of kind souls that are always there to help a citizen in need. In fact, the town firehouse has been gifted to Flynn recently, and he operates out of it with joy.
After Flynn is approached by Bryan Steeles, he learns that William Everett might be up to something secretive. Despite Flynn’s attempts to calm Bryan down, it is clear the banker does not want to see another Rayland level conspiracy go down.
Flynn agrees, and travels to find William Everett. Along the way he pairs up with Grace, an ex-militiaman that desperately wants to become a Protector.
Far outside of town, Flynn and Grace discover a construction crew working on building a railway through the Lower Levels. Flynn confronts the foreman and demands that he be allowed to speak with William Everett.
William arrives shortly after and cheerfully invites Flynn to come and see his work. They make their way up Mount Machina using a finished railway. They discover there, in the snow of the mountaintop, an entire town.
William calls it the Winter Village.
After explaining his plans, he also invites Flynn to use a newly constructed firehouse as a Protector station. Flynn states he can’t stay, and William then asks if Grace would like the position. She refuses at first, but after getting Flynn’s blessing she agrees.
Flynn then catches the train back home, happy that he can tell Bryan a good story with a pleasant ending.