Tuesday, July 2, 2013

In Which I Review Under the Dome (1x2)

Theory: Walter White and Jesse Pinkman have packed up their RV and have moved to Maine. Please tell me I wasn't the only one thinking that exact same thing when, while discussing the propane mystery, Big Jim and his cohort, the local Reverend, called it "stuff" and how while Duke was protecting the town, they had other ideas. And with Big Jim being played by Dean Norris (Hank Schrader of Breaking Bad) it would certainly be rather meta of them to tie in a meth storyline. So my current theory about the propane is that Big Jim and the Reverend are a two man operation cooking massive (that's a hell of a lot of propane) amounts of meth for money. Duke looks the other way because the money is fueling Chester Mill's economy and Duke is (was--more on that in a second) first and foremost concerned with protecting the town. All we need is a bald guy with a hat proclaiming that he is the one who knocks, and we've got Breaking Bad lite. 

In Monday's episode of Under the Dome, entitled "The Fire," the residents of Chester's Mill face their first real "how are we going to survive this" situation. What we've learned about the dome so far is that it's impervious to caustic substances and lasers, but as wunderkind Joey discovered, it lets water slowly trickle in. It's also about 10 miles across, encloses all of Chester's Mill and part of a nearby lake, and goes deeply underground, thus no digging your way out. The fire in the title refers not only to an actual fire but to the more metaphorical fire many of our characters face, living incased in a dome like so many goldfish. This episodes tested almost everyone in different ways, some rising to meet the challenges and others showing how deranged they really are (yeah, I'm looking at you, Junior).

First, the show openly shocked me by having Duke, our Sheriff, die. Big rule of Typical TV Trope Land, the lawman who is responsible for watching over the town and whom everyone admires and loves, does NOT die. His morals are tested, his loyalties are questioned, but he always comes out the other side as a bona fide hero, getting credit for making sure the town remained civilized. The dome, apparently, does not like things that run on batteries, including Duke's pacemaker. My first thought when Duke was pronounced dead was, "but Lapidas can't die. He has to fly the plane off the island." Then I remembered that I wasn't watching LOST.

 Duke left this house to his deputy Linda, who really got to shine this episode. One small problem: Duke knows all about the propane and has kept records of the goings on in that house. Big Jim dispatched the incredibly creepy, almost cliche "evil religion" type Reverend to erase all evidence of their dealings, and the Reverend sets the house on fire. Cue the town coming together to prevent a disaster. The scenes of the town forming a water conga line is a gentle reminder that this is a small town where neighbors drop everything and help out anyway they can. Our outside couple, Carolyn and Alice, remark how in Los Angles this kind of generosity would never happen.

While the show was breaking one type of trope, it heavily reinforced another two. Was anyone else not at all surprised that Joey, the skinny, wide eyed brother of Angie, was also mathematically inclined and was the one who figured out that the dome was 10 miles across? By doing trig. Of course he's the resident child genius. Normally, I find TV child genius' annoying because they're often used to solve problems that adults can't, all while being endearing and precious. It's annoying. Joey isn't an exception (I actually rolled by eyes when he began explaining his math to the adult military officer, as if Barbie wouldn't know what was going on) but I am intrigued that Joey is one of two teens having seizures. The other, of course, is Norrie, daughter of Carolyn and Alice. And in reinforcing another trope, Joey was drawn to Norrie when he first saw her (through his camera phone because instead of helping to put out the fire, he is documenting everything. An action everyone will forgive him for because he's the child genius). Norrie is anti-establishment punk rock and Joey is the nerdy goodie two shoes, so of course they're going to embark on some sort of personal quest together. Norrie was also caught stealing from the local gas station. Is she hording candy bars for rations, or is this a clue as to why she was being taken to "camp" by her moms?

Speaking of teen melodrama, while other members of Chester's Mill were proving their mettle, Junior continues to be a self absorbed psychopath. Part of me wonders, if there is a meth lab in the town, if Junior is one of its biggest clients--without Big Jim realizing that his son is benefiting from his illicit affairs. Junior has determined that the dome is responsible for Angie's lack of interest in him. Once the dome goes away, Angie will return to normal and they can pick up their relationship right where it left off. Until that happens, Junior has chained her to the bed and continues to stalk Barbie, intoning that Angie belongs to him and him alone. Barbie, of course, has no idea what Junior is talking about. To him, Angie was just a girl he gave a cigarette to. No one has figured out that Angie has gone missing, but I predict that by the end of episode 3 next week, Joey will have realized he hasn't seen his sister in over a day. Naturally, he'll recruit Barbie into helping him.

Speaking of Barbie, we got more information on why he killed Julia's husband. Or at least, how it happened. Peter owes someone something and Barbie has come to collect. When Peter pulls a gun on Barbie, a fight ensues and Barbie accidentally shoots Peter. I knew Barbie wasn't some cold hearted killed. He has a pretty face and has done nothing menacing outside of burying a body in the woods. However, Julia catches him in a lie and now it looks like their budding friendship might be put on the back burner as her reporter instincts kick in. Julia was in full reporter mode this episode, trying to get answers from anyone on either side of the dome. She found Dodee and Phil listening to the military transmissions and took it upon herself to inform the rest of the town, like any good reporter would.

According to the radio transmissions, the military don't know what the dome is either. But as I said last week, Julia reminds us that someone has to know something. At the risk of sounding paranoid, just because the military doesn't know anything, doesn't mean the government ISN'T behind this. For now, I'm going to stick with my theory that the government has dropped the dome on Chester's Mill and that it has something to do with the propane (potentially meth related) mystery. Water can get in, meaning that it's not wholly impervious from outside forces which would indicate that eventually it is going to wear away enough to fall, but nothing can get out, including smoke. Cue an episode all about oxygen. And for the love of heaven, stop shooting at the dome. It does not yield results.

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