Friday, September 4, 2015

In Which I Review Under the Dome (3x12)

For those who haven't heard (maybe you've been living under a dome this past week?) CBS officially cancelled 'Under the Dome.' So whatever plans the show runners and writers were laying in terms of Queen Bee, Baby! Queen, and the big looming threat will all come to naught as we slog our way through the final two episodes ever. I can't say that I'm terribly upset that CBS has called it quits and is going to dismantle Chester's Mill. The show took a sharp turn for the worse right around episode 2 of season one and never fully (or really ever) recovered, becoming sillier and more stupid with every passing moment. While I have enjoyed (no, really!) snarking at this show for three summers now (wow, that long?) pointing out the illogical drivel and gibberish and coming up with nicknames for everyone, it's time to move on (drink!) and find a way to go on without the Dome. This week's episode "Incandescence" was more or less par for the course here in the final run of Under the Dome: lots of meaningless talking meant to fill up time; lots of stupid drivel about umbilical cords and DNA; and a seriously stupid ending that caused my ribs to burst from laughing so hard. Folks, we've got one more to watch so grab a ratty blond wig and let's go. 

Do not adjust the color on your computer screens; yes, you are in fact looking at a purple and glowing Queen Bee. She must be a flying purple people eater as well. The penultimate episode was really designed to leave the fates of all our major characters in the balance as we prepare for the Dome to fall (literally in universe and out of universe) and so this episode was about setting up where we go from here. Joe has the proper equipment to take down the Dome (finally); Benton is dead because his Messiah Complex could not compete with Big Jim's ego trip; Uhura is still pointless and but being pointless with Hunter so that's a bonus; Jorrie are still gooey eyed teens; Barlie are still having the same damn argument they've been having about Barbie's mortality and Julia unwillingness to see sense; and Little Crazypants became even more crazy (if that's possible) by suggesting and carrying through with mass murder of the old people in the Borg Collective of Chester's Mill. As we enter the final hour of Under the Dome the question is not "is the Dome going to come down?" but rather after one month trapped inside a giant Goldfish Bowl, did the residents of Chester's Mill learn anything about themselves, each other, and the world at large in a meaningful way that will shape their destinies to come? My answer, for the most part, is no. They may have learned about themselves more, to an extent, but it was not for their own personal betterment. Barbie has a hero complex but it's still rooted in a thuggish nature that would delight in giving Queen Bee a slow and painful death and beating Junior to a pulp. Julia is still an overly hopeful and optimistic do-gooder who can't see past the end of her own nose and recognize that she has some truly bad taste in men. Big Jim is still a terrible, terrible, terrible man. While there may have been one moment of clarity for Jim (last weeks mostly overwrought conversation with Junior) he is still a self-serving, egotistical, politician who wants his crimes erased, who will commit murder, and who wants to rule his little corner (whatever corner it is) of the world with an iron fist and broken promises.

After three years on the air, countless crisis-of-the-week and the ever looming threat of a giant invisible Dome, there has been almost zero character development for anyone. It could almost be read as deliberate on the part of the writers, though that's giving them too much credit. I could take it as a metaphor that the people inside the Dome are unable to develop emotionally because they are literally trapped in one place except that is totally antithetical to the major theme of the show: what kind of naval gazing and other community based self reflection can be had when you're living in a (literal) goldfish bowl. So, no, Under the Dome. You don't get a pass on this one. Your total lack of character development comes down to one thing: Bad Writing. It's why, in order to push the characters in any direction, you have to bring in random people from the outside instead of letting it be introspective and coming from a place of self actualization. Case in point? Max No-Last-Name, Science Teacher Pine, Singer Lyle, Papa Q, and Benton. All of those random, nickname-tastic characters were designed to push our core cast to new plot points and new plot point only, but along the way development on an emotional, philosophical, or mental level came to a standstill while the major characters danced like puppets on strings whenever new people showed up. Big Jim treated Benton the same as he did Max-No-Last-Name. At no point did he stop to think that maybe murder is wrong because he has learned something from past experiences. This remains Under the Dome's biggest and most egregious problem; the writing is so concerned with its 1980s style science fiction, which was always pure gibberish and stank of mumbo jumbo hand-waving, that it never took the time to inspect its characters. For Julia to go from realizing, while drunk, that she has bad taste in men with Peter and Barbie to fighting for and kissing Barbie back to health, shows that her character didn't grow or develop but rather keeps forgetting any hint of growth and development from one episode to the next! These characters are truly terrible people and not in a tragic-feel-bad-for-them sort of way, but in a way that you don't care if they live or die. That Dome could calcify (gibberish!) in the next 24 hours and kill Barbie, Julia, Junior, Joe, Jim, and Norrie and I wouldn't care. I'd laugh and think that they got what was coming to them.

Alright, that was more or less my down and dirty rant against Under the Dome. I don't know how next week is going to go. It's possible that next week, the final episode ever, is going to be one large snark fest so let me say one final thing. I started off watching (and blogging) Under the Dome because I thought it looked and sounded interesting. I've kept up with it because it continues to be ludercrious enough to laugh at but let's call a spade a spade: this is bad TV. This isn't even TV that was good at one point and then went downhill rapid fire fast like others tend to do (no name drops here but *cough* we know what I'm talking about). This was TV that was bad from start to finish and might be a lesson in why summer shows tend not to work. If you are going to make a blockbuster style summer TV show, then make it short, snappy, concise, and to the point. The worst thing that could have happened to Under the Dome was getting a second season when the first season was successful. I know, I know. Money drives the TV-As- Business aspect, but because it got renewed, the story that was only ever a novella by Stephen King, became a three season long slog that never actually got anywhere. Will we get questions answered? Who know but more to the point...who cares? I don't anymore. By stretching the story to comical proportions, Under the Dome shot itself in the foot a long time ago. It could have been a decent summer show with a clear beginning, middle and end with some fairly decent character development because living inside confinement does things to people. Instead it became...well, it became this show that I've been blogging for three summers. This isn't a race to the finish line. This is a crawl that stops, starts, stops, starts, and then finally just stops and sits by the side of the road waiting for the finish line to come to it.

So. One more to to go. Then we move on.

Miscellaneous Notes on Incandescence

--Why on earth was this episode call 'Incandescence?'

--The new Queen is Eva in a really fake looking blonde wig, wearing tight pants, boots, and a belly shirt. Ladies and gentlemen, Under the Dome. (no really, look at that picture and try not to laugh your butt off).

--'Time is the one thing we don't have." Truer words have never been spoken, Big Jim.

--How did Benton and Uhura bring a drone inside the Dome? Did I miss that?

--Norrie runs inside the paper mill, out of breath, in a panic and explains that the Dome is calcifying and that the worst thing they could do is use up the oxygen inside faster by running around and panicking. Everyone proceeds to spend the rest of the episode running around panicking.  

--"Everyone under this Dome is innocent." Um. NO. Please go watch season 1 and 2 (or read my above three paragraphs) for why this statement is flat out false.

--RIP Benton. RIP DNA Expert Lady. RIP Queen Bee. RIP LOTS AND LOTS OF OLD PEOPLE. Man, how many geezers did Sam and Little Crazypants kill at the Lake? 

Friday, August 28, 2015

In Which I Review Under the Dome (3x11)

Using Pat Benatar to further your own silly drivel is not okay with me, Under the Dome. Love is a Battlefield is a classic and iconic song that we've all rocked out to before, so how about you back off the 1980 anthem and focus on your nonsensical plot and random expositional wanderings. In this week's episode, horrifyingly entitled "Love is a Battlefield," we get something that might resemble answers. Or, at least, we got some exposition that is clearly going to set up season 4 and clarification--ha--that the Bugs are not the true enemy. You see the Bugs are just killing time before the writers could figure out how to extend the show past three seasons so pretty much everything that mattered or was said and done in the first three seasons means nothing because "they" are coming. I love when characters play the pronoun game and don't use specific words to elucidate what they mean, causing us to constantly yell "Who is coming? What are you talking about!?" over and over. Or maybe that's just me. Grab one-seventh of a broken amethyst and let's go! Remember, kids....we only have two to go. 

There are really only two things to talk about this week: the appearance of Baby! Queen going alongside the new looming threat and some sappy emotional crap that really doesn't mean much because it comes from either random nobodies that we don't care about or it comes from some truly horrible people that, again, I don't care about. I'm going to be somewhat fair to Under the Dome for a change. For reasons other than another season, having a new bigger and badder alien monster coming to destroy everyone makes sense. There has to be a reason why the Bugs decided to flee their home world, with so few of their species in tow, and are obsessed with the idea of survival and with reproduction. That particular thread has existed--shockingly enough--since the start of this season and thus makes narrative sense is if there is something much worse on the horizon. Where the failure comes in is in the execution of the bigger and badder alien menace. There has been little to no foreshadowing or real hints of what we have now been told is coming. Queen Bee has a been a figure on this show from the start of the third season with ample time to give a variety of expositions on the Dome, the magical cocoons, the oxytocin, not to mention her icky sexcapades with Little Crazypants. But instead of having her speak about this looming threat that is the real danger to planet Earth, she's been doing everything but showing any real measure of fear about this threat. It looks forced and pulled out of thin air now with her sudden plot bomb to Joe as she's forcing him to stare at a calcified Dome and order him to split the amethysts seven ways (apparently that's the key to bringing down the Dome? That's the utter gibberish for the week). Honestly, I don't care what the new threat is and why should I? Yes, Queen Bee has been a bit of a menace in a cold, calculating, smother you with a pillow sort of way, but given that the show has done nothing to flesh her or her kind out in any meaningful and non-threatening way, I find that I can't be even the tiniest bit intrigued about the new big bad and the circumstances for why the Bugs fled their own world. They are just a place filler until next season and, ultimately, Queen Bee will die before the season is out and the Bugs will be forgotten as the Borg Collective of Chester's Mill return to "normal." If they wanted me to care about the mass extinction of this race--these bugs--then the writers needed to build some sympathy from the start, to make them more nuanced than just Queen Bee running around having sex with teenagers, killing random people, and sounding off weird gibberish about purple goop. Because the writers made the Bugs so uninteresting and unimportant, I neither fear nor care about this new alien that is apparently out there in space. C'est la vie, eh?

The other thread this week actually carried across multiple parties and characters, not something Under the Dome is known for. Namely, we had some parent-to-child conversation or introspective naval gazing. Up first we have Big Jim and Little Crazypants. Did Jim mean anything he said? Possibly, but I don't know how he got from a few episodes ago thinking it's okay to kill Junior to suddenly loving him and wanting to mend their very torn relationship. There has been no emotional upheaval, no change of heart, no moment of understanding for Jim. In this week alone, Big Jim is still all gung-ho about killing the Borg Collective of Chester's Mill. If I'm expected to believe that he's looking at his son lying on a cot and suddenly feels really bad about the way he's treated Junior, then the show failed (shock) because his emotional state has remained unaltered whenever he's come up against Junior before. Again, this whole "we could be the Rennie boys!" malarkey comes out of left field and feels like a time killer and only inserted to add to the "shock" of Jim agreeing with Benton in the end. The only resolution to the Rennie boys is obvious: Junior is playing Big Jim and in the end Big Jim says "ok" to Benton killing everyone inside the Dome to prevent the Bugs from escaping. Any emotional development on Big Jim's part just died before it even really began. In other parent/child news, Eva had a crappy childhood and I don't care. I really don't. Why should I? I don't know Eva; we haven't been given any kind of indication about who she was before the Dome (except that she was an anthropologist doing things no anthropologist would ever do...). Her sad (very remedial and cliche) backstory falls emotionally flat and on deaf ears as does her death at the hands of Queen Bee. Harsh, Queenie, harsh. And then there's little Baby! Queen who sucked the Kinship out of her mother's breast (yes, I really just wrote that) before her mother reverted back to normal only to be smothered by a pillow and a poorly sung lullaby. So much for the power of the Kinship, eh? What does Queen Bee really want? Is she truly ready to give up her time on the proverbial throne? Has she accepted, truly, the passing of the torch and is she ready to die because her cycle has come to an end? I don't know and again it's because the writers have failed at making Queen Bee a character that we can understand. I have no idea who the parasite pixel thing is. I know she's some sort of alien but I'm given no indication what sort of soul she is (to use the term soul rather loosely) and chances are, with the season drawing to a close, I never will. Ah well. C'est la vie, eh?

Miscellaneous Notes on Love is a Battlefield

--Julia found a single strand of Queen Bee's hair in a barn full of hay. Because she's the plucky young reporter, guys!

--I honestly don't care about Uhura learning her father is a pixel bug and that her pseduo-father Benton has been lying to her. Why should I care about these people at all?

--If the super drug with Queen Bee's DNA causes brain damage in Junior, I'd think that was a plus not a con.

--Barbie is going to save the Eva he "used to know." What? You never knew Eva. The Eva you "knew" was in a fake dream world fueled by purple cocoon goop! What an absurd line. 

--"I'm helping to deliver your baby with another woman."

--RIP Random Military Man. RIP Eva.

Friday, August 21, 2015

In Which I Review Under the Dome (3x10)

Eva is the flying purple people eater. Okay, she's not flying yet, but give Under the Dome time and I'm sure Eva will sprout wings and flutter away. Butterfly style. Once again, this week's episode, "Legacy," was a wheel-spinning, long drawn out exercise in which we learned the same information all over again (eggs are dangerous; they infect people and then these people go crazy; the Dome is calcifying) and a lot of Gibberish was both said and done (Barbie and Julia want to be parents and, seriously, Eva glowed purple). At this point, we are just slogging through to the finish line; plots are going left and right but never forward; characters wander around like zombies, even if they aren't part of the Borg Collective of Chester's Mill, being asked to spew quasi-emotional nonsense that falls incredibly flat. There are only so many ways I can say that this show is utterly ridiculous and dreck, but I've probably said it all already. There are no deep themes, simply the repetition of very basic themes over and over without any sort of serious resolution. Grab a glowing pregnant woman, kill a virgin, and let's go. 

It's so hard to review an episode like this because really nothing happened. Plot happened, yes. Gibberish happened, yes. But nothing thematically significant or even interesting happened. Benton magically popped in to Chester's Mill. You remember Benton? No. Why would you? He appeared for five whole seconds in the season premiere and while his real name is Hektor, I'll be calling him Benton for obvious "ER"-nostalgic reasons. If there is a theme to this week's episode--and to be frank, if it's a theme it's not developed and I'm trying to catch the wind with this one--it's about establishing a legacy for yourself and generations to come. Benton has an obsession with the egg and with the power it can generate. Ever since Alaska, Benton has wanted to harness the clean, unlimited energy the egg provides. Why? Well, not out of the goodness of his heart, that's for sure. He's a greedy corporate man who can't see past the several billions of dollars this would generate for him. Shocking, right? Yet another self-centered charcter who knows more about the Dome than anyone and who has a hidden ulterior motive beyond rescuing the inhabitants of Chester's Mill. Benton knows exactly what kind of legacy he is bringing to the Giant Goldfish Bowl--he watched his best friend turn into digital, sparkly bug-thing after Patrick (the friend) came into contact with the egg (it wants me to touch it!). This is a huge problem Under the Dome has (one of the problems for there are many). Every time it introduces a character, the show makes them devilish, diabolical, egotistical, ruthless, or an alien Queen who wants to turn everyone into her own little doll collection. There are close to zero redeemable characters on this show; Norrie is the only one I maybe sort of care about. It's not that I even hate the characters; hatred is still a strong emotion to elicit from a TV viewer and any emotion is good when it comes to a piece of art. I just find everyone--new, old, and in between--to be truly terrible but also ultimately boring. They are all the same, even without being part of the Borg Collective of Chester's Mill. Why should I care if any of them get out from the Goldfish Bowl? I don't. Which is why their weekly crisis of "oh no! We're going to die for some reason or other" means absolutely nothing to me. It's the writers job to make me care. I should want these people to get out, to have a life again. Or I should want them to suffer for their crimes, but I feel neither. I am just bored and don't care if they live, if they die, if they sit around playing Go Fish. It would result in the same feelings from me.

 The other legacy in this show is of the literal kind: a baby. Who apparently needs virginal sacrifices? See! I told you guys those women were there to be sacrificed. What I did not expect (or, god knows, even want) was for Eva to glow purple as she sucked the life force out of those women. Or maybe the Baby Queen did the sucking. Either way, there was a glowing purple light and then many dead virgins and then miraculously a significantly more pregnant Eva. It's utter gibberish but it's also that we've only got 3 episodes to go (huzzah!) and so the writers must get the baby born because as Dead Alien Science Guy tells us, "AFTER THE QUEEN IS BORN THE WAR BEINGS."  Thanks for the newsflash, Sherlock. Cause I hadn't figured out that some sort of war would likely begin after the Evil Alien Baby was born. I've watched movies and TV, dude. I know how this game goes.

Miscellaneous Notes on Legacy

"You back-stabbing ass!" Joe, Sam killed your sister! Less than a week ago! Why would you ever trust him to begin with? Honestly, this is your own fault.

 --Whistling causes the amethyst to glow. Still doesn't explain why the Borg Collective of Chester's Mill has been whistling all this time.

--Hunter and Uhrua got their flirt on.

--There are still 2,000 under the Dome? Are we sure about that? Because I don't think that's right at all. 

--The opening monologue now states that the Dome fell 4 weeks ago. Man, hell of a month, eh?

--Apparently TLK didn't work all the way because Barbie and his infection are in a dormant phase. So TLK is not a catch all, cure all? OMG, quick! Someone tell OUAT before I have to suffer through Season 5!

--RIP White Clothed Virgins; RIP Midwife Lady.

Friday, August 14, 2015

In Which I Review Under the Dome (3x9)

Let's get sexual! Or, at the very least, let's kiss until we can kiss no more in the hopes that our alien lover returns to their once fine human form. Yes, that's right; in this week's episode, "Plan B" Under the Dome went all Once Upon a Time (Once Under the Dome? Once Upon A Dome?) and true love's kiss appears to have broken the evil spell of Queen Bee; in other words, Barlie once again are having themselves some good old fashioned BBQ. And in other news, Queen Bee has discovered that screwing teenage boys is a surefire way to heal stab wounds and prevent yourself from dying, with the added bonus that the Giant Goldfish Bowl will stop calcifying. You all know what comes next, right? Gibberish. Absolute gibberish. I'll say this--this week's episode was better than last week's, but that's not exactly a strong compliment. It only means that instead of being thoroughly angry at the end of the episode, I was only mildly nauseous and rolling my eyes a lot. We only have four episodes to go and I'm pretty sure this entire season has been an exercise in futility. But then again, isn't every season of Under the Dome? Pucker up, kids. We're almost there. 

What exactly was Plan B? Was it to sit in an empty funeral home and rehash some information, also known as killing time, which is what all final three episodes of Under the Dome does every single season (you think I'm kidding? Season 1, episode 9 is when Max No-Last-Name showed up!) Information, the first: Carolyn is dead and everyone is sad; this emotion rings as hollow since everyone (Norrie included) pretty much forgot that Carolyn was a person until she suddenly appeared in the plot again, just in time to die. Information, the second: there is a weird schematic that has something to do with hertz and sound waves and the Dome and Amethysts and, let's face it, I can't be bothered with that drivel. And apparently neither can the writers because Joey was at his Wunderkind best, simply doling out information after reading a few stolen library books on the nature of sound. That's all Joey needs in order to come up with a working hypothesis about how one can bring down the Giant Goldfish Bowl. Never mind the fact that Science Teacher Pine had no idea how to do that; Joey is all you need, thus making Science Teacher Pine even more useless! Information, the third: Julie really loves Barbie. I mean, she really loves him. If she could, Julia would write Julia + Barbie 4Eva on her notebooks in school. So much of this week's episode was given over to Julia holding Barbie hostage in a shack (same shack where Barbie killed Peter, Julia's husband. Ah, memories) and torturing him to make him feel her love...or something. There are two kinds of drivel on Under the Dome. The first is Dome-Drivel; the kind that involves amethysts, cocoons, oxytocin, and sexual assaults on teenage boys in order to heal an invaded body. The second is character-emotional drivel; this kind is a bit more complex because it isn't science-fiction mumbo jumbo but, instead, is a series of speeches or lines that are meant to show how well the characters understand themselves and those around them, but comes off as really pretentious. For example, Julia yelling (in an over the top, first year drama student sort of way) that while Ava is Barbie's past, she is his future, or that Barbie is the kind of man who owns his mistakes and doesn't hide in the dark is character-emotional drivel. I have no idea what the first sentiment even means because I don't know how Ava is representative of Barbie's past, but the second doesn't even remotely resemble the Barbie I've seen on screen for three seasons now. Doesn't hide in the dark? You mean like his introduction as a shadow mercenary and later as a hired killer who neglected to tell the woman he was sleeping with all about his past as a shadowy mercenary and hired killer (who murdered her husband?) Yeah, no. Not like Barbie at all. See, it's overly pretentious; the writers think they are about to stick some sort of impactful landing and really drive home character development and understanding, but it comes across as forced and silly.

Speaking of forced and silly: Ava is pregnant and several beautiful women of the Borg Collective of Chester's Mill have been chosen for ritual sacrifice. Or, at least, I assume it's ritual sacrifice. You don't put pretty ladies in white dresses with candles and have them stand in a circle with insipid smiles unless you are about to kill them. Or they are joining a sorority. It's an either or thing, really. Since Ava is not about to pledge her life and existence to the Sisterhood, I can only assume that the lovely ladies are there to offer up their blood for her little Baby-Q to bathe in. Or the baby will eat them. Again, it's an either or situation, really. God, how silly and stupid is this? Eva just slept with Barbie "yesterday" but she's already pregnant because "alien" and this pregnancy is not like other ones? But shouldn't it be? Ava's true form--the scary bug thing--is inhabiting Eva's body but Eva's body is human. Shouldn't a human body + another human body (albeit an infected one with scary bug thing) be a somewhat normal human gestation? It's still just human biology--hence why oxytocin from human biological sex can cure Queen Bee. Am I thinking too hard about the plot mechanics of Under the Dome? Yes, yes I am. I'll stop now. But the long story short is that Eva is carrying a Baby-Q who will be the next Queen and take Queen Bee's place as head of the Borg Collective of Chester's Mill. Also known as Season Four of Under the Dome. May God have mercy on our souls.

Miscellaneous Notes on Plan B

--"George and Ringo just torched the Aktion house." Big Jim is now being used only for snappy one-liners. I think I'm okay with that.

--Who needs a pregnancy test when you have a glowing rock!

--"Kinship phone home." Norrie, don't ever change.

--"I thought you were my mate." Junior continues to be Little Crazypants and think that woman who sleep with him want to be his life partner. Look out, Queen Bee! He could lock you in a bomb shelter like he did with Angie.

--True. Love's. Kiss. (I vomit profusely)

--"Who hooks up with the guy who killed her husband?" OMG THANK YOU BARBIE.

Friday, August 7, 2015

In Which I Review Under the Dome (3x8)

I had a choice tonight. I could choose to watch the Republican debate on Fox or I could watch this weeks episode of Under the Dome, "Breaking Point." I chose to watch Under the Dome because I am committed to blogging this series from start to finish. After a solid hour of nonsense, gibberish, and utter tomfoolery, I realized that I made the wrong decision because while the Republican debate would be equally nonsensical, gibberish and tomfoolery filled, at least it would be entertaining. There was no point to this episode. At all. It backtracked every single thing that happened last week; it killed minor characters that we all but totally forgot existed, and it continued to force a love triangle between three terrible, dull, and moronic people, only one of whom is an alien inside a human costume, but all of whom are metaphorical pod people. The apocalypse of last week did not happen; it was just an illusion designed to bring the Borg Collective of Chester's Mill closer together. So the one sort of exciting, somewhat interesting plot to happen on the show in forever was nothing more than a "dream" reality. I give up. The Republicans are better than this show! (And now I need to go liquify my brain). Grab a giant amethyst and hunker down for dear life. We still have 5 episodes to go. 

This will be a very short review, not only because of the total lack of plot advancement but also because I don't think I have it in me to care about snarking at Under the Dome this week. Apologies in advance but really, nothing happened. The last few episodes have been somewhat thought provoking, at least enough to allow me to do more than mumble pure snark at you all, but this episode was just gibberish and nonsense coupled with characters standing around talking about things we already knew. Do you care that Barbie and Eva had sex? No? Me either. Good, moving on. Do you care that Eva and Julia had a standoff with guns over who gets to BBQ with Dale Barbara? No? Me either. Good, moving on. Do you care that Big Jim Rennie failed to make an emotional connection with Little Crazypants and that Little Crazypants continues to think with what is inside his crazy pants instead of with his brain? No? Good, moving on. Do you care that Sam was tied to a bed in a fallout shelter and forced to believe that he was being given Queen Bee's blood in order to tie him back to the Borg Collective of Chester's Mill? No? Good, moving on. Do you care that the Apocalypse was really just an illusion that Queen Bee pushed into people's minds while she was incubating in a cocoon until she hatched? No? Good, moving on. Do you care that the Borg Collective of Chester's Mill only managed to save one amethyst? No? Good, moving on. Do you care that Carolyn died in a mine explosion but remembered her love of Norrie? Yes? Ok, so did I a bit. That was a small heartfelt moment in the absolute cesspool of stupidity that was this episode. See, I just gave you an almost bullet point by bullet point plot hash (which I almost never do in my reviews) but did not give any depth to the plot because there is no depth, at all. Everything about this episode, except the death of Carolyn and Norrie's reaction, had no heart and no emotion. This show wants me to care about these people, the plot, and the drama between those two elements but they have yet to make 99.9% of these characters compelling enough--either good or bad--for me to be compelled by. The Dome is still standing. Julia is in love with Barbie. Eva is trying to keep Barbie between her legs because Queen Bee demands it. Junior is his own man. Jorrie are true love and will probably bring down the Dome with their constant sexing. And there is some new girl who is talking to Hunter and I'm sure she's important but to heck if I know why. In fact, I don't even know her name. Is it Lucy? Is it Lily? I'm going to call her Uhrua since she's some sort of communications expert. Do you get my frustrating right now? I don't expect life altering TV from Under the Dome. But I expect more than mindless drivel that does absolutely nothing but backtrack on the previous weeks advancements while simultaneously offering nothing in any kind of development this week. Try again Under the Dome. Try again.

Miscellaneous Notes on Breaking Point

--There is something ironic about this weeks title given my own breaking point with this show.

--Eva is going to end up pregnant, isn't she?

--"We have to go!"
"Where?! We are under a dome!" This is why Norrie is still the only good character.

--So no Apocalypse at all? Not even a little bit?

--The Dome is going to calcify. Queen Bee used up all the energy in the crystals and Oxytocin to heal herself. Gibberish. Absolute gibberish.

--"We need to kill them all." Finally, Queen Bee and I agree on something. 

--"A cripple, two horny teenagers and a plucky newspaper girl?" OMG. Big Jim, have you been reading my blog?

Friday, July 31, 2015

In Which I Review Under the Dome (3x7)

It's like an apocalypse out there. On this weeks episode, "Ejecta," it's the end of the world as we know it and all the main characters inside the Dome handle it about as well as we expect them to handle the destruction of mankind: badly. Some are feisty and feel as though the embers of the burning world provide a delightful aphrodisiac for some BBQ-ing; some are figuring out a way to stop the Borg Collective of Chester's Mill; some are getting drunk; and some are giving long winded expositional speeches that finally, at long last, confirm once and for all that these buggies are aliens from a different world. Thank you Bug!Little Crazypants; beating around the alien bush was getting old. You know, like so much of this plot. Very little plot was advanced this week, rather we looked at how each of the little groups handled all the destruction at 1 am and then again at 7 am. Because in the span of 6 hours people should be expected to come to grips with the end of everything they once knew? Hint: no. Grab some falling pink stars and let's go. 

When the world comes crashing down around you, how would you respond? You're safe in your upside down goldfish bowl, but everyone else not so much. Do you feel the compelling, and ultimately human, need to save everyone and mourn their loss when you prove ineffectual? That is, for the most part, the main thrust of this episode. For some, the end of the world means rediscovering your humanity, the thing that makes you tick as a walking and talking bipedal ape. Joe and Norrie have stumbled into the correct "human equation" that is going to be the downfall of the Borg Collective of Chester's Mill. It's human emotion, our ability to move beyond the basic and baser instincts of hunger, need for shelter, work, and reproduction. It's fear and rage and grief and if Under the Dome is cliche enough (and it is) love. Those are apparently the defining attributes of a human being. It's also, for what it's worth, the defining attributes of tons of non-humans. Take a dog. A dog can feel fear (whimpering, tail between legs), rage (teeth bared, growing, biting) and a dog can feel grief (keeping to themselves, whimpering, lethargy). While the idea that humanity can be saved by emotions and emotional response and that this is what separates us from the animals is perfectly fine--and goodness know it's a science fiction cliche of the highest magnitude--it's also illogical given that in reality animals are capable of feeling emotions. And, in fact, the Borg Collective of Chester's Mill also seem to have this capability. Were they not jumping out of buildings because of a collective ennui when their Borg-ish-selves detected that Christine had abandoned them? Did they not feel the collective suspicion of Jorrie last episode? They feel emotion, but it's of the collective shared variety instead of being unique to each soul. So instead of tapping into raw, almost archetypical, emotion--like rage, fear, and grief--the new Resistance have to tap into a singular emotion that will resonate to each individual or person. Jorrie, Julia and Big Jim are going to need to brush up on each person left standing in Chester's Mill if they are going to save them from being full on Drones. What works for Mrs. Jones isn't going to work for Mr. Smith just like it was grief that saved Joe, anger that saved Norrie, and fear that saved Hunter.  I don't know what saved Sam. Drink and sex, I suppose. Please tell me we aren't about to see a full on Chester's Mill bacchanal....

The other option in the face of destruction is despair, to drink yourself to oblivion and accept that you are the last living humans on the face of the planet. What a great pity party, Julia and Big Jim! You two are quite the hoot, amirite? Julia laments that she married Peter (you remember Peter. Barbie killed him and then Julia totally forgot all about that because Barbie made her feel safe and loved for the first time in her whole life. Ah, romance. It's...complicated) and that she never became a big shot reporter who traveled to Paris. Big Jim has regrets but he isn't exactly opening up about them but it's okay cause Julia also has a degree in psychology and realizes that Big Jim regrets his treatment of Little Crazypants and trying to make Junior into Big Jim's second chance. Maybe I'm being unfair to Julia. After all, in my 1x03 review of Under the Dome, I said the exact same thing when I analyzed Big Jim and Junior's relationship and my educational background is not psychology. Julia is right; it's a total cliche. Julia and Big Jim both are cliche. She's the plucky, young, and intrepid reporter who got her head turned by a dark and mysterious guy and then got bent out of shape when her main squeeze turned out to be...dark and mysterious. Jim's the football star who made nothing of himself and resented everyone because of it. Together they are woefully inept and blandly drawn. Maybe by the writers openly acknowledging Big Jim and Julia's cliche nature, they are setting us up to stop expecting the un-cliche. Go with the cliche flow, folks! Which is why, of course, Julia and Big Jim team up with Jorrie (and a miraculously cured Hunter) to take down the Borg Collective of Chester's Mill, one drone at a time. Good luck with that--what am I saying? Of course they'll win. It's cliche.

Miscellaneous Notes on Ejecta

--I more or less passed over Barbie and Eva because they bore me to tears but they represent another type of response in the face of destruction: not caring and moving on (omg, drink). Eva has gotten her claws (and teeth) into Barbie and now he's determined to forget all about humanity and his quest to save all the things. Instead, he turns toward the new world order of the Borg Collective of Chester's Mill and openly embraces his role, whatever that is.

--Also, Eva, put your clothes back on. Now is not the time for BBQ. 

--Little Crazypants gave us some vague exposition about the destruction of a former home world and all the death of "last time." I guess, without saying it, this confirms that these little critters are aliens and they fled because they had no place else to go. It sounds like meteors also destroyed their home world but that leads to the question of how did the falling pink stars follow them to Chester's Mill? Also begs the question of why the bug aliens didn't put up a Dome over their home world to protect themselves from a destructive meteor shower?

--Sad Linda shout out!

--Is Junior planning on feeding Sam to Queen Bee?

--"It's no longer about right or wrong. It's about survival." Wait. Isn't that what Under the Dome has always been about?

Friday, July 24, 2015

In Which I Review Under the Dome (3x6)

Just whistle while you work. Or while your mind and body are being taken over by an alien parasite and you become part of a hive collective that is all about Communism--or community. Same thing, really. Here's something somewhat (okay, totally) shocking: this weeks episode, "Caged," had two distinct themes. This isn't to say that those two will be handled well in future episodes, but at least it's a step in the right direction from the normal meandering and multi-forked gibberish of a plot. These two themes were, one, the idea of being caged or trapped--either by design of another person or symbolically trapped by a totalitarian society. The other theme, one that has less significance to the current plot but might be more relevant to the show as whole, is the idea of civilization and how we define a prosperous civilization. Is it built by creative individual leaders, charismatic thinkers and doers who shape from the top down? Or is it the followers, working together in a group (a kinship you might say) to build something together, as a team? In other words: Great Men Of History or the efforts of the everyman? Philosophically deep and interesting but most likely never going to get the proper treatment it deserves here in Gibberish Land simply because the great men of Chester's Mill are all terrible people and the little townsfolk who suffer under them are currently being mind-warpped by sex juice from a cave. So, everyone, grab a tuna can and let's go!

Let's start with the first theme of the night: being caged. On a literal level, almost every major character ends up caged somehow this week. Obviously, Big Jim (and Hero Indy the Dog) are in a physical cage, trying to sweet talk and flatter his way into getting Queen Bee (who is likewise in a cage) to confess her dastardly plans so that the lone scientist in his white lab coat will let Big Jim loose on the world. Jorrie are caged in the broom closet--the same broom closet, I believe, where they officially put Joe's amply supply of condoms to good use. Julia is tied up and gagged (which is really the best way to have Julia at all times) by Junior and the rest of the Chester's Mill Borg Collective. See, literal levels. But on a more symbolic level, the Chester's Mill Borg Collective are caged as well, and not by the upside down goldfish bowl. It's true that they've literally been caged for about 3 weeks (that's all? really?) inside the Dome, but now their cages are their minds and bodies, not a physical manifestation. I would be interested to know if any of the former "person" resides in the new hollowed out Borg form. There must be something intact because Norrie snapped out of her momentary lapse and thus far Joey hasn't been affected at all, even though he was inside the cocoon. However, Junior (and Queen Bee to Big Jim) insists that there is nothing of James Rennie left inside the tall, muscular, lusciously lipped Little Crazypants. But I think that's wrong, not only because of the aforementioned Norrie, but also because Queen Bee has been very careful in how she manipulates her Chester's Mill Borg Collective. She tosses around ideas like kinship and being "for the group" when in public (which is just politics and thus akin to local amateur theater full of shadows and dust) but on an individual level--say Queen Bee and Junior--she uses the host's life, quirks, flaws, and traits to bend them to her will. When Queen Bee is manipulating Junior for the first time, she doesn't talk about the greater good of the group; she uses Junior's own traumatic past (namely the emotional abuse and neglect at the hands of Big Jim) to get him to burn down the Rennie house (another cage). Having found in Queen Bee what he never got from Big Jim, Junior is more malleable and open to suggestion, like sex in the Cave of Wonders. I think Queen Bee knows that she is playing a dangerous game; her plan to turn the residents of Chester's Mill into her Borg Collective is teetering on an edge. One strong gust--say from Julia or Jorrie--and it could all fall to ruin. The individuals have to be gotten rid of if they won't play by the rules because once you introduce independent thought and creative genius (even if it's crazy creative genius) into the mix, the masses will open their eyes and blink away the effects of their drug. This does bring one question to mind: would the Chester's Mill Borg Collective consider Queen Bee their goddess as well as their leader? They certainly revere her in a manner that is not unlike revering a god. They stand around (whistling) while they wait for orders; there is no forward motion for the Chester's Mill Borg Collective unless dictated by Queen Bee. Now, that's a monarchy (tyranny, really) but it's also a (highly) negative and cynical look at religion. And at this stage, if there is an apotheosis a'coming for Queen Bee, then I am reminded what Marx said about religion: it's the opiate of the masses.

That is also a nice bridge to our second theme of the night: civilization and the merits of what makes one "good" and what makes one "bad." Under the Dome seems, in my mind, to be setting up a dual and oppositional dynamic here: the individual, non-cult-like flavor of a few select Chester's Mill residents against the drugged out, cult-like (with some potential religious connotations) of the Borg Collective. It's an us vs them mentality, but given the language Queen Bee was using in her conversation with Big Jim, it's more than that. It's that individuality must be suppressed. You--the core of what you are--do not exist. The collective, the kinship, the fellowship, the herd exists. But you do not. You are a cog in a machine that is intricate and far more important than your tiny bit. As I said, it's more than an us vs them mentality; we can extend to it to religion (atheism vs organized religion); to political systems (republics vs communism) and so on and so forth. Perhaps this isn't what Under the Dome is intending--and, actually, given their track record of thinking small and only in cheesy cliches, I would be stunned and amazed to learn that they had put this much thought into their show--but nevertheless, it's where my brain went and given that TV is subjective, I'm running with it. I'm not even sure that Under the Dome wants to come down on one side of this issue. Being part of a collective is serving the residents of Chester's Mill on one level: they are fed; they are being put to work; they are whistling (I assume) in happiness. Yes, they've lost their individuality, but their needs (if we go by Maslow's woefully outdated pyramid) are being met. On the other hand, being a leader isn't that great. Big Jim was a leader and he was hated and despised. Queen Bee is a leader but Sam stabbed her through the stomach this week because of her choices. Yes, they get to call the shots but they aren't exactly living the high life. I strongly suspect that Under the Dome will come down in the middle--you need to work together as a kinship (but sans sex juice) with the help of strong, charismatic leaders--to survive. And if that fails, then you better have a Cave of Wonders with some sex juice to wrap you tightly in a cocoon while you return to health. See. Just when it gets deep, Under the Dome reminds you not to give it too much thought.

Miscellaneous Notes on Caged      

--Queen Bee is "not of this earth, but something very foreign." Please just use the word "alien." Come on; we all know they are aliens.

--Anthropologists were hired to find fragments of a meteor that fell to earth. I really don't think Under the Dome has any idea what anthropologists do.

--The drawing Junior found: what are they plans of? A way to reach the aliens still up in space who need to come to Chester's Mill? A way to bring down the Dome? The next orgy?

--"We mean no harm, but we will defend ourselves." What does 'mean no harm' even mean to you then, Queen Bee? Cause lots-o-people have died.

--Why has Joey been totally unaffected and why did Norrie snap out of it? Please don't say true love.

--Queen Bee orders Eva to have sex with Barbie. How romantic.

--RIP Barlie? No more BBQ-ing I guess. 

--"I've seen the movie, Mrs. Spock." I'm going to pretend Under the Dome did not just riff on "Wrath of Khan."