Oh Under the Dome, if only we could trust your episode title. Curtains you predicted, and yet not a single one fell. I was prepared to give the show a positively-tinged review tonight if only because of the joy felt that it is finally over. But it did not earn that. What is it that Ghost-Alice taught us? That to get rid of the darkness, you have to earn the light. Despite “Curtains” being co-written by Brian K. Vaughan (the series’ new showrunner and writer of that great pilot), it didn’t distinguish itself in any way as a season finale, but just left views steeped in frustration. Hit the jump for more.
On the one hand, some of the best stuff that Under the Dome has provided us with this year has been mythology-related. The personal relationships among the leads are either nonexistent or not interesting. Though “Curtains” was almost all about the mythology, bizarrely, we didn’t actually learn anything new except that there is a “we” behind the Dome, and the egg really, really likes water.
The big setups about Big Jim’s ultimate fate and Barbie’s turn at the gallows all were for naught, as Chester’s Mill was left blinded by the egg turning the Dome all white instead of black. But did anyone actually do anything to deserve that light? Julia sunk the egg, which was a redemptive moment how exactly?
Can anyone imagine if the series had ended there? It might have been the worst drama series with the most viewers to have ever been allowed to live for that long on TV. All it showed us in the end was that most of what we watched was a waste of time, and blatant filler (which we could tell along the way, most of which went by the name “Maxine”). Though the show built up an interesting premise with the mini-dome, its slaughter of its characters and confusion about the protagonists (Linda and Phil, for instance, both useless and pretty much on the side of evil) left it a muddled mess. The worst part about Under the Dome was its squandered potential.
While the series lacked any believable interactions among its leads, it also populated the rest of the town with silent, faceless lemmings who were controlled by Big Jim like zombies. They riot, stay calm, pray and show up for hangings all on command. And the Dome wants to protect them from something? As I said very early in the season, it seems more likely that the Dome had the sense to quarantine them away from the rest of the world, and good riddance.
By all accounts it has sounded like Under the Dome was a ghastly adaptation of the original Stephen King novel, but the fact that it couldn’t — through thirteen episodes — ever find its own voice and carve a niche for itself as a worthwhile series illustrates its problems as systemic. Many of us have spent the duration of the season hoping the show would improve, and there were glimmers of hope. But CBS’s decision to elongate it into a second season was horrendous for the momentum of the series, and much of the season felt reminiscent to Lost‘s “lost years” (remember “Stranger In A Strange Land”? i.e. “Jack’s Tattoos,” starring Bai Ling?). To hit that lull so quickly though is telling.
Yet there’s a curiosity with Under the Dome, and an optimism for it that can’t be explained. Even after this non-finale, I’m sure CBS will pique our interest next year to find out what the story is behind the egg, so we need to remind ourselves of a truism: pink stars are falling in line / this show is so bad it’s a crime / we don’t need an egg for a sign / that this show is not worth the time.
Episode Rating: D-
Season Rating: D+
Musings and Miscellanea:
— What should you do when a magical egg starts glowing bright white and causing an earthquake? Pick it up!
— That butterfly seemed confused about who it needed to monarch-ize.
— Join us next year for another edition of Ask the Egg!
— Bless the Dome for knowing Linda is so useless that it fried her and sent her flying off. This week, Phil also solidified his place as the second most useless character.
— I would have given anything for this season to have ended “my name is Big Jim Rennie. Go fuck yourself.” (that was for the Breaking Bad fans)
— Thanks to all who hung around with me through this season. Anyone coming back to it next year? Please send me book spoilers now, I want to know all of the exact ways this show lost its mind.