Tuesday, July 1, 2014

In Which I Review Under the Dome (2x1)

Look what came back! Oh happy happy day! A year ago, when this blog was brand new, I decided to review Under the Dome as a fun summer project. Over the course of one summer season I went from intrigued to confused to really angry to somewhat mollified. There were plots and intrigues and random characters who came out of basements to make pronouncements (RIP Max No-Last-Name) and there were funny eggs. By the end, I wasn't sure if I wanted to spend another summer with the show, but a year away has made me rethink that. This show is silly. It's weird and sometimes frustratingly stupid. It can be over the top cheesy and melodramatic. But if you stop expecting it to be a masterpiece of science fiction, then it can be fun. And the season two premiere, "Heads Will Roll" (yes, I'm serious. That is the title for this episode) was actually rather compelling. I barely remember what happened last season, but it doesn't matter much. Just go with the flow. Welcome back to Chester's Mill, a town like yours and mine, except stuck under a really big fish bowl. 

When we left off last summer, Julia had dropped the magical egg into the lake, pink stars were falling, and Big Jim and Little Crazy Pants Junior were about to hang Barbie. The premiere picks up right where we left off and explores how (almost) everyone got to live another day!

I don't think the Dome is happy. Instead of letting Big Jim exact his plan to kill Barbie to cover up his own crimes, the Dome sends out a loud noise. This noise is painful for those inside Chester's Mill; so painful, in fact, that most of the residents pass out right where they are standing. Only Barbie, Jim, Junior. and Linda are left standing no the green because you need your main characters to do something other than fall to the ground. Oh, I'm sure there is an explanation for why they weren't affected--the Dome loves them more, the Dome hates them more, the Dome is a fickle bitch who likes to pretend it's God and tease the little ants that live inside it. Normal Dome stuff. But along with the now passed-out residents of Chester's Mill, the Dome has become magnetized and is pulling all the metal objects toward it--grills, car keys, hand cuffs, cars. Barbie manages to weasel his way out of the noose and he, Jim, Linda and Little Crazy Pants Junior go to inspect the wall of the Dome. Now this is a brilliant plan. Surely nothing bad will happen when you go to where all the REALLY HEAVY metal objects are being drawn. It's not like this could possibly lead to anyone's death or anything.

RIP Linda. You were sad a lot in the first season and it made it kind of hard to like you in the end, but being crushed by a car against a magnetized mystical Dome is no way to go.

While Barbie, Jim and Little Crazy Pants Junior are witnessing the crushing of Linda, Julia is still at the lake having deposited her egg. (I missed writing about this show). Moments after releasing the egg into the watery depths, a girl appears in the center of the lake, obviously drowning. Julia, being the smart resourceful girl that she is, dives in and proceeds to pull her out with the help of a New Guy! The New Guy stumbled out from nowhere and saves the day. He's going to be important, I can just feel it. The New Guy takes Julia and the slightly drowned New Girl to his house where we learn that his name is Sam and he's an ex-alcoholic and an ex-EMT and, because we need to give some sort of sympathy to the handsome mystery man, he lost his sister to suicide and has become a recluse. He and Julia have buddy-buddy time, which is exactly what I would do if some guy appeared out of nowhere, told me he was a recovering alcoholic who now lives alone because the small all-American town hates him. Also what I would do: leave the unconscious drowned New Girl alone with the New Guy while I went looking for all my friends. Smart, Julia. Smart. The New Guy does pose as an interesting new figure, I'll grant. Sam obviously has some inside information about the Dome in the form of a book we see him flipping through, which includes images of the New Girl and bloody handprints. However, he fails at babysitting and the New Girl gets up and leaves without him noticing. Who is she? I think the fact that she came out of the water moments after Julia dropped the egg make it pretty obvious: she was what was inside the egg. Growing? Incubating? Ready to be hatched? Does this make Julia her mom? Is New Girl a manifestation of the Dome? What ever she is, she spends most of the episode wandering around town looking lost, dazed, confused and mysterious. Angie is the only one, outside of Julia and New Guy, who notice her. Remember that for later.

The dynamic team of Barbie, Jim and Little Crazy Pants Junior have decided to split up, most likely because Jim still really wants to kill Barbie. Jim heads to his house and the underground shelter where Angie once had such a pleasant life as the resident captive. There, Jim gets stuck with a Dodee ghost. Remember Dodee? Jim murdered her and then burned the radio station to the ground because...she was hearing things? I don't honestly remember. Suffice to say, Jim killed her and Dead Dodee is not happy about her new situation. The question is, really, is that Dodee? Dead Dodee doesn't think so. Dead Dodee claims to be a messenger. And I suppose I'm to assume that this is a message from the Dome? The Dome honestly just likes screwing with people. On the one hand, we've got Dead Dodee who is telling Jim that the Dome is demanding his sacrifice or else everyone, including Little Crazy Pants Junior, will suffer. But on the other hand, Julia thinks the Dome wants the killing to stop because violence is bad. I think poor crushed Linda would agree with her, but sadly she's unable to voice an opinion because the Dome smooshed her with a car. When Jim finally manages to get out of the shelter (random explosion that does not kill Jim nor renders him deaf, or at least with a slight ringing in his ear), gun in hand, he meets back up with Little Crazy Pants Junior, but just then another mysterious magnetic pulse goes off and still more people collapse to the ground, including Little Crazy Pants Junior! Oh no! Apparently this is a wake up call for Jim who thinks that he is to blame. Sure. If the Dome really is angry that Jim killed Dodee (and is basically a mob king pin who is trying to rule the town with an iron fist) then yes it's all Jim's fault.

Oh Little Crazy Pants. I almost missed you. After the Dome renders him unconscious, Little Crazy Pants Junior has a dream. Or, I suppose in this case, we'd call it a vision. Wandering through a deserted Chester's Mill that is not Chester's Mill, Junior encounters something called Zenith. Now, if I had to guess, that's going to be important. How do I know? Because when Junior finds a snowglobe (dome alert!) of the town, it clearly shows Zenith Tower...and then it turns to blood. Future tip: things that turn to blood and break in a TV show are probably important. Continuing down not-Chester's Mill lane, Little Crazy Pants Junior sees a woman walking around town. Turns out to be....Mommy Dearest. Remember: Junior thinks his mom killed herself and all she left behind were paintings of the Dome and what's to come. Oh, and a lot of emotional trauma because Little Crazy Pants Junior was stuck with Big Crazy Pants Jim. The Vision-o-Mom insists that she never left Junior and that he's her "sweet boy." Um. Your boy locked a girl in an underground shelter, handcuffed her to a bed, and basically made a menace of himself last season. He's not playing with a full deck here, Mrs. Rennie. Momma Crazy Pants might top Little and Big Crazy Pants in terms of crazy because this whole vision feels real, as if Momma Crazy Pants might be apart of some Dome conspiracy.

While all this is going on, the other three Miracle Children (Jorrie! Oh you sweet little couple) are running for their lives since all the metal in Chester's Mill is out to get them (Under the Dome, Season 2: When Trash Cans Attack). This was actually a rather interesting sequence--knives flying, nails flying. But, a quibble. Joey hides behind a table with his hand still out front and a nail proceeds to lodge itself in his palm. Hand, nail, wood, miracle wudnerkind with some sort of mystical connection to the Dome (God). The Messiah overtones are strong with this one. And when the nail passed through his hand, leaving a gaping wound, it was a bit too "Christ" for me. Joey has been set up, all along, as the one who understands the Dome; he was fascinated by it and he clearly has a stronger connection to it than some of the other kids. But now that they've gone and put a clear Christ image on him, I have to wonder if Joey will be dead by seasons end. The Dome doesn't want any more killing, or maybe it wants the RIGHT death. Poor Norrie. However will she cope without her Joey? The trio meet up with Barbie and...another new person. Ok, seriously. I have New Guy, New Girl, and now New Girl, the redux? At least this one came with a full name: Rebecca Pine, high school science teacher who has (gasp) been studying the Dome since it fell. She proposes that they need to De-magnentize the Dome by creating some Frankenstein science project. Now, don't get me wrong. High school science teachers are totally smart. My uncle is one. But, why is it that the only person studying the Dome since it fell is a high school science teacher? Aren't there...engineers in Chester's Mill? People who work with peers and not acne faced angsty teens? What exactly have those people been doing (probably going to Max No-Last-Name's underground Fight Club). So: in sum, we've got science vs Big Jim's test of faith. Science vs faith, why do I think this going to be the strong central theme for this season? Big Jim's solution to the Dome problem isn't as elegant as a science project---he thinks killing himself will do the job. And Julia is more than happy to help out, until she realizes that the Dome wants the killing to stop, and like a miracle the Dome stops pulsing and the fog clears. Now was it faith? Or was it the the magnet from Science Teacher Pine working after building up a charge? See. Science vs Faith.

Now that the town has returned to normal, or as normal as it gets when you live in a giant Dome, we get several revelations. Ready? They are rather big. First, New Guy Sam is really Uncle Sam (insert joke here) to Little Crazy Pants Junior. Sam was Junior's mother's brother. Is Sam just as crazy? Uncle Crazy Pants? Big Jim is obviously not happy to see his brother-in-law and when Little Crazy Pants Junior tries to tell Jim about his vision of Momma Crazy Pants, Jim dismisses it--because Jim clearly hasn't learned anything from the past hour in which a Dead Dodee tried to give him a message from beyond the grave which resulted in him almost hanging himself. So yes, why would we listen to Little Crazy Pants when your mysterious recluse brother-in-law suddenly shows up looking for New Girl (not science teacher, Lake Girl)? It's not like this should send up red flags for people living in a giant fish bowl. Angie, who is not Big Jim's biggest fan, asks Junior to have her back (STUPID) because Angie still wants to appease the Dome by offering a blood sacrifice of Big Jim. And this leads us to the conclusion. Angie sees New (Lake) Girl and follows her into the high school. New (Lake) Girl runs scared from Angie but not before Angie notices that the New (Lake) Girl is overly fascinated with a locker--shiny metal!. When Angie looks inside, there is some sort of glow and then...an axe chops off her head. Or at least kills her, I'm not sure if she's headless. RIP Angie. And RIP whatever remains of Junior's Sanity. Killing his little Angie-kins is not going to be good for his Crazy Tendencies. Cut to the final moments of the show: Junior's mom--alive--painting while a news report talks about a dome having fallen over a random town. So...she's alive? How? And what does she know about the Dome (probably everything). Theory time: the locker that so fascinated New (Lake) Girl holds another mini dome, with a replica of Chester's Mill inside. The residents of Chester's Mill are actually an ant colony and the Real Dome is in the Big World where Momma Crazy Pants is. Everything is a smaller version of the world, all of them living inside a Dome.

Miscellaneous Notes on Heads Will Roll

--What an utterly pretentious title. No heads rolled. Unless Angie really is headless now.

--Of course Stephen King has a cameo in this episode.

--"What the hell are you supposed to be? The Ghost of Christmas Future?"

--Raise your hand if you feel a love triangle brewing between Barbie, Julia, and Rebecca Pine. Barbie will have to choose: faith or science.


  1. Ugh…<-(overall reaction)
    You said that this show is enjoyable if you suspend any expectations and just enjoy it's nonsensicalness. I am unfortunately unable to do that. The ridiculousness factor is just off the charts.
    My only "constructive" addition to this entry would be my newest theory. Chester's Mill sits on top of a Hellmouth and The First is running amuck manipulating people like pawns on a spherical chess board. Angie died in the school because it is at the center of the town (like in Sunnydale) and we cannot have spoilers this early, there is a Savior complex (like Buffy) arising with multiple characters, and soon enough food will run out and people will start eating each other (vampires). It all adds up.

    1. Headcanon: accepted.

      (wait until you see the latest episode. It's even more "enjoyable"