Most people don't know they're living during The Fall. Things aren't as great as they used to be, but most everyone expects things to get better. World War Three is more than a decade in the past, and things are getting stitched back together. Life is tough, but hope is the prevailing sentiment of the day.
Hope is misplaced.
Idris Elba as Russell LaRoux
His parents immigrated from Britain to the former USA just one year before America closed down its borders for good. Russell was in medical school when WWIII began, and he enlisted immediately. The piece of shrapnel in his chest wasn't the only thing he brought back - he's bitter, perhaps still traumatized. The country he returned to was a broken one, just like he is.
Despite himself, Russell is the renaissance man of Paradise, Kansas. Besides being the chief doctor, he uses all his various skills gleaned during the war to teach shop at the Community Learning Center (CLC) and act as the town's general handy-man. As much as he'd like to throw in the towel and become a hermit, he can't ever manage to say no.
Katee Sackhoff as Bev Jenkins
When Bev was a little girl, Peace Enforcers were the boogymen, scarier than thieves, murderers, and the outlaws from the Great Waste. Those were the days when the Enforcers set up public executions with mandatory viewing, when the curfews were strictly enforced, and when any meeting of more than three people was rooted out and crushed.
The dark days are over, though, and Bev thinks of herself as a good Peace Enforcer. She doesn't abuse her power, tries to help everyone whenever she can, and enforces the spirit of the law when the letter would do too much harm. The job is hard, though, and it seems everyday the choices she faces are more and more difficult.
Elle Fanning as Lou Jenkins
Bev's younger half-sister. Lou's mom died of the flu two years ago - Bev's mom died during childbirth. Their dad took off for the Western States a year ago, when everyone started hearing about the huge harvests and mild weather that region was having. The girls haven't heard from him since. While Bev is an optimist, Lou, almost twenty years her junior, is definitely not.
Something amazing has just happened - an organized data and information network (ODIN) has been installed through much of the Republic. Users can write to each other, the information being transferred from computer to computer far quicker than the post could ever take the same message. Lou uses ODIN to spread rumors, the nastier the better - she believes the Republic to be venal, corrupt, and wants more than anything for it to be overthrown. This means she's Paradise's single worst offender, and she's right under the Chief Peace Enforcer's nose.
Peter Dinklage as Henry Warner
He seems like the model citizen. Polite, conscientious. He works hard, scavanging dead cities on the border of the Great Waste, and he never says a bad word about the Republic. In secret, though, he's building a very, very elaborate safe-house. 120 miles away from Paradise, he's uncovered a long-abandoned salt mine, more than 600 feet below the surface. It's huge, it's cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and best of all, he's the only person that knows about it.
Henry has a feeling that things are going south. He's reading all kinds of crazy things on ODIN, about how the Republic plans to start taking genetic samples of every citizen, set up breeding programs, even relocate citizens to the Great Waste. He doesn't know what to believe, but he knows something is happening, and he doesn't want to be in Paradise when it does. The only problem is, he doesn't want to go alone - but who to trust?
Mary McDonnell as Clarissa Neill
In her lifetime, she's lived in the United States of America, the United States of North America, the Great Plains Empire, and now the Central Plains Republic. As a child, she wanted to be an artist - a great painter, whose work would inspire others, who would somehow make the world a greater place. Clarissa still thinks she can do that, only now she does so as Chief of the Republic. She's determined that the splintering of the once great nation will finally stop, that stability will reassert itself, and that people can stop working just to survive and instead work to rebuild their world.
Gone are the worst of the Enforcers, rewritten are the laws, and compassionate has the government been made. That's why the persistent messages of hate and insurrection spreading on ODIN are so troubling. Clarissa wants to find out who's behind it, especially since the lies seem to be spreading, and spreading fast; she doesn't want to bring back the fears of a decade ago, but something has to be done.
Because there are bad things outside the Republic's borders, and they all want to come in.