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In 2016, the volcano at Yellowstone Park (it's there — look it up) went ka-boom, sending a whole bunch of ash and other gunk into the atmosphere, blocking out the sun and making most of the surrounding area (and maybe even the entire world) a lot safer for vampires.
They called it The Rising.
Now it's three years later, and the Pacific Northwest is overrun with bloodsuckers, with humans living in fear and on lockdown. For Axel, a by-the-book military man, it's a relatively quiet life as he's been assigned to do one thing and one thing only: protect, at all costs, a comatose woman named Vanessa. Axel spends his days holed up in a fortified hospital, where he gives his own blood to his old colleague, Doc, who has since gone vampire and is now locked in a cage. Vanessa's the resident Sleeping Beauty in the next room, and, well, life goes on …
And then, one day, a group of ragtag survivors check into the Emergency Room. You've got Ted, Axel's sergeant, who went out on a recon mission that ended up lasting six damn months; Sam, who's both deaf and good with a baseball bat; Mohamad, full of fire and desire and street smarts; Cynthia, a teenager on the verge of a nervous breakdown; Nicole, a survivor with a chip on her shoulder; and Melanie, who's obviously doomed from the start.
And then there's John. His wife is still out there on the street with those monsters, and Axel won't let him go after her under any circumstances. This doesn't sit well with John, and makes this sudden impromptu family even more dysfunctional.
Things are tense from the start. John and Nicole don't like the fact that Axel keeps a vampire in a cage, and they rally the others into a lynch mob before Mohamad comes to Doc's rescue. Axel and John have at least one almost-violent confrontation in the kitchen. And everyone's wondering about the woman in her underwear, unconscious on a gurney. Why does she get to sleep through the apocalypse?
And then the vampires show up. Fast, mean and feral, they get past Axel's UV-light booby traps and viciously attack the survivors. Melanie gets bitten by one, prompting poor Cynthia to smash her face in with a fire extinguisher before she turns. But at least Sam and Mohamad show that they're cool under fire as they take out several of the bloodsuckers.
The kicker, though, is that one of the vampires gets to Vanessa and feasts on her blood … which must be spiked with something, because soon the thing is coughing and retching on the floor. The bite also seemingly brings Vanessa out of her coma, and she shows off incredible fighting skills as she takes out the rest of the vampires in her room.
Whew. Okay, so Sleeping Beauty is now Awake Beauty … and she has no idea how she got there or why she would be of such importance as to have a military bodyguard. Also, where's her daughter, Dylan? She wants to go looking for her, but of course Axel won't allow that.
Vanessa eventually escapes to the roof, where she gets evidence of the vampire apocalypse firsthand, looking out over a ravaged cityscape covered in filthy smog. Ted has followed her, knife in hand, telling her she's coming with him; apparently, some bigwig vampires have something on Ted, and he's been assigned to bring Vanessa to them, dead or alive. Vanessa and Ted throw down, which results in Ted getting his own knife in his eye (after stabbing it through Vanessa's hand, a wound which almost immediately heals) … and Vanessa returning, albeit reluctantly, to the relative safety of Axel's hospital.
The episode ends with a man completely soaked in blood and gore emerging from the hospital's waste disposal chute, where the survivors dumped the bodies of fallen humans and vampires. This is Flesh, and feasting on Vanessa's blood has made him human again!