Tuesday, July 9, 2013

In Which I Review Under The Dome (1x3)

This week's Under the Dome, "The Manhunt" had very little in the way of advancing the plot, so expect this review/recap to be short and sweet. It was mostly a continuation from the previous weeks episode; the fallout of the fire and sudden insanity of the cop Paul, who took it upon himself to try and evade the law, took center stage this week as the residents of Chester's Mill continue trying to survive in their upside down fishbowl.

The most obvious new information we received this week centers on our resident psycho and his controlling father. Was anyone else not shocked at all that Junior--who does not like being called Junior but prefers James--has daddy issues? Turns out papa Big Jim will not be the recipient of any "Father of the Year" awards, though I would argue that he is like a lot of small town fathers all across America. Big Jim's character reminds me a bit of Tom Buchanan from The Great Gatsby; during the readers first meeting of Tom, Nick Caraway describes him as "one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savors of anti-climax." Big Jim was the quarterback in high school and has obviously spent the years since trying to maintain that level of excellence and ego. But, Jim lives in a small town where opportunities for the kind of success and validation he so craves are limited. Think about it: how did the star football star end up? He sells used cars for a living, has lost his hair, and has a semi-noticeable beer gut. Jim maintains his fantasized level of importance by being a councilman, even supposing that he needs to bribe the townsfolk to vote for him, even though he runs unopposed. This subconscious sense of failure has manifested in two ways: becoming what I think is drug king pin and a really horrible father. We got confirmation that whatever Big Jim and the Creepy Rev (yes, his name is Lester but I think I'll keep calling him Creepy Rev as he perfectly fits the "evil religion" type) are doing, it has something to do with drugs. Creepy Rev apparently even dips into the supply on occasion. We still do not what type of drugs, but I don't think the casting of Dean Norris was accidental. Talk about meta! On the other front, Big Jim has taken all his memories of past success and past greatness and forced them onto his son, whom he both belittles for not being man enough and also constantly reinforces that Junior is a "kid" and therefore "less than." In their first father/son confrontation, Big Jim sees that Junior has been in a physical altercation and all but says "man up" or "be a man!" While that is the subtext, the text has Jim chiding his son for hiding behind his mothers skirts, even after her death, and reminding Junior that the Dome "is an opportunity" and Junior needs to take advantage of that. Apparently, Junior has failed in the past when such opportunities presented themselves: like being on the football team. In the final Big Jim and Junior scene, Jim slowly pours his son a glass of milk (a symbol of childhood if ever there was one) and acts like the big man on campus. Junior, in an act of defiance, pours the milk down the drain once Jim leaves the room. So what does this mean? Well, it was designed to help us understand Junior more--I have very little sympathy for him, or anybody who locks their girlfriend in a bomb shelter. Junior obviously has abandonment issues to the point where he literally holds the one fleeing from him hostage but this all goes back to his mother's death and his cold relationship with his father. Junior also feels like he has to play "the man"--hence his outward hatred of Barbie and their fighting. Last week I thought Junior might be dipping into the drugs in town, but now I think he is just a troubled kid who needs years of therapy. Will Angie escape? She took those first aid scissors without Junior noticing. And seriously, why hasn't anyone noticed that she is missing? Even her brother Joey made mention that he had the house to himself--but it doesn't dawn on him that Angie hasn't been home yet? Or that he hasn't even seen her?

Speaking of Joey, his house has turned into electricity party central--without his say so. At the center of Joey's story this week is habitual liar Norrie. I don't think she told one single truth this episode--from her moms to where she was headed when the Dome fell. She obviously plays things close to the vest, but why was she on her way to "camp" really? She has the whole punk-rock anti establishment thing down pact, but she also knew what the Sherman Anti-Trust act was. I was a history major and even I had no idea what it was at first! She has the smarts but is rebelling--remember last week when she was seen stealing candy bars? Is she conflicted over her lesbian moms? She was living in LA, not a city known for its anti-homosexual agenda, yet she does not call Carolyn her mother, but refers to her by her first name. The big moment for Joey and Norrie (Jorrie? Noey?) came when they held hands and then both started seizing, mumbling "the pink stars are falling." Pink stars? While I doubt it refers to actual pink stars, maybe it ties back into the drug enterprise Jim has set up. I wonder if his brand of drug is pink.

Also this week, Big Jim found himself on a manhunt for escaped cop killer Paul. He "recruits" Barbie into helping him. Big Jim seemed to be able to read Barbie and his background almost as if he knew more about Barbie than the audience does. Jim could tell Barbie was ex-military and had been to war and that he had some sort of expertise. Yes, he said most of this after Barbie successfully tracked down Paul, but he picked up on Barbie's talents back in the diner. Does Jim know things about Barbie somehow? Is it possible that the boss Barbie is working for and killed Peter for is really Big Jim? Barbie, of course, continues to be the mystery man and tries to downplay Julia's rising suspicions of her new house guest. But, our plucky young reporter is too plucky! This week she helps Junior out of the underground with only a box of matches (where did she get them???) and her sage advice on growing up and being afraid. She then turns that pluck and moxy on Barbie and goes through his things finding a map with a spot marked. Is that where he buried Peter?

Miscellaneous notes from The Manhunt

--Linda is the new Sheriff. I am shocked. (not)

--Good to know that even after a giant Dome drops on your town, bigotry is still alive and kicking. (ugh)

--Julia doesn't "do caution." Next episode will find her with a shovel and that map, digging up Barbie's secrets. Cue the drama!

--Junior beat the Dome with his fists and it only hurt him. So water can seep through, but it's immune to lasers, acid, and angry teenage boys.

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