Synopsis for 4×02: Something happened to turn the Clarks into road marauders, tricking people out of their vehicles for their things. This episode takes it back to the before.
A black title card with the word ‘BEFORE’ brings audiences into a flashback to where Alicia, Strand, Luciana, and Nick are all sleeping in relative comfort. They all wake up slowly and pleasantly, revealing the baseball stadium they’ve made their home. In a montage of work, they’re all pulling their weight and taking good care of the place.
Madison is talking to a young girl about her family and her life before — schooling, her favorite foods — and asks where the girl came from, to which she points in a direction. Later, everyone is eating breakfast during an announcement that it’s been a year and they’re celebrating with maple syrup. Alicia brings breakfast to her mother, who is building a place for the young girl, Charlie, to stay now that she’s with them.
The inquisitive girl is asking Nick what’s wrong with his turnips and about the food situation in general when he reassures her that she doesn’t have to worry about those kinds of things anymore. They have almost enough food growing to be self-sufficient inside the stadium. Of course, this was before Nick realized there were weevils in the soil ruining the turnips.
As Strand, Alicia, Luciana, and Madison prepare to go out on a run, Madison makes the decision for them to go outside of the normal area in search of Charlie’s family. A baseball with a firecracker inside is thrown to draw the attention of the infected in the area and the caravan is able to drive out without incident. Nick asks Luciana to bring back a book for Charlie but doesn’t opt to go outside of the gates himself. This has something to do with how Madison and Nick reunited after the dam explosion that ended season three.
When they make it to Charlie’s camp, Luciana and Strand go off together in one direction as Alicia and Madison go another way. There are no material goods to be found, nor are there any of the undead or the living — there is, however, a familiar flag with numbers on it. Before they leave, Madison notices a recently abandoned can of food and a woman confronts her with a gun and asking for the car keys.
Madison tries to ask her about the camp and if she left a child behind, but she’s only passing through and wasn’t part of this camp. It isn’t long before Alicia, Strand, and Luciana surround the woman and she makes a run for it onto the roof of a building. It promptly collapses and puts her into an oil tanker, where she’s joined by Madison and fighting for her life.
Luckily, they’re freed by Strand on the outside. While he chastises Madison for another foolish rescue, Luciana is finding books for Charlie. Naomi, the mystery woman, introduces herself and joins up with them to head back to their home.
Nick is forced to burn the turnips and is up late when he hears music off in the distance. He’s worried that his family hasn’t come back from the run yet and has Charlie open the gate for him. Behind the wheel, Nick flashes back to the damn explosion and seems to have a difficult time leaving the stadium walls. Once he gets going, he panics and immediately slams into a light post. Cole, the man with a crush on Strand, provides cover for him until Madison rolls up and puts him in the car.
Inside and safe, Madison tells Charlie that they didn’t find her family and asks if she knows what happened to the camp. She has no answer. Naomi reveals herself to be an ER nurse and bandages Nick’s head wound before Madison catches up to them. Madison makes quick work of the exposition of the place to convince Naomi to stay with them. There are 48 people, including Naomi, living in the stadium and they have beds, showers, food. They’re taking chances on each other.
Meanwhile, Strand, Cole, and someone else are moving Nick’s crashed truck back into the stadium walls when Luciana yells at them to abandon it and run inside. Out of the darkness, headlights turn on and a whole caravan of vehicles is suddenly visible. They park their cars around the stadium as one man gets on a bicycle and begins playing music. He rides around the infected and eventually leads them into a box truck, marking it with the number of infected inside (12) — revealing the origin of the flags.
It’s Madison who goes out to speak with the leader of the group, Mel, to find out what they want. He knows all about the turnips and Nick by name, as well as the supplies they have inside and it’s revealed that Charlie is a part of their group. He wants them to hand over their stuff and join them, or his group will just wait them out and take it. Madison obviously doesn’t agree to either of those outcomes and returns to the stadium while Mel’s group waits.
There’s a montage of Nick’s food starting to rot while Madison still works on the room she was building for Charlie. Luciana leaves the walls to give the book she picked up specifically for Charlie to her. There’s tension between the groups, but no offensive actions happening.
A title card shows ‘NOW’ as they have Morgan, John, and Al on their knees in front of the SWAT vehicle. Luciana finds the flag Al picked up and tells the other that they’re with them. Al has no idea what they’re talking about as they reveal the name of the group leaving the flags: the Vultures. Alicia wants to know where they found the flag and the group starts moving.