After a compelling start last week, Under the Dome faltered mightily in this second episode. Despite the limited run of episodes, there was a lack of urgency to develop characters past what we already knew, though we did get more mythology about the dome itself through the eyes of precocious teenager Joe. The natives haven’t grown too restless yet either, it seems, and only at the end of the episode did they really begin to understand that life in the dome, for however long they are there, is one that may lead to suffocation or starvation. Without much character development, this second week fell fairly flat; but hit the jump for why you might want to hang on to that candy bar.
There are elements of Under the Dome that are reminiscent of both Lost and Battlestar Galactica, but they haven’t quite manifested fully yet. In the latter two series, a small band of survivors are forced into a new way of life, and must begin to rebuild civilization, at least among themselves. In Chester’s Mill though, there doesn’t seem to be much of a sense of urgency, save for one crazy police officer who’s acting as a Doomsday prophet. Though these kinds of stories will likely pick up in subsequent weeks, everyone’s general confusion and calm regarding the fact they are under a goddamn dome made for a long hour.
The viewer tour guide for all things dome is Joe McAlister, who roughly figures out its size mathematically, and determines that it could actually be a circle, not a dome (at the very least, it goes exceptionally deep into the Earth — digging one’s way out isn’t an option). Thanks to his friend, we saw that spraypainting the dome works, but as the crazed officer found out, shooting a bullet does not (it ricochets off). Water seeps through, but not very much of it, which is a concern as things begin to burn (and if the dome has cut off the pipes, are water and sewer issues not a probe?)
The other big clue, as if there was any doubt, is that the military is not involved. Soldiers on the other side are trained to not look at those inside the dome, and no one is attempting to communicate with signs or anything at all, which seems to be an odd choice if they are ultimately on a rescue mission. Information comes through to those in Chester’s Mill in bits and pieces thanks to Dodee and her engineering degree, but besides the word “dome,” not much else seems helpful at the moment.
The rest of the episode played out as pairings of opposites: Linda is a good and pure person who wants to help the community and just do her job, while “Santa Jim” helps the community while really helping himself. Demolishing Duke’s house looked heroic, but Jim’s motivations were to get rid of any evidence of the mysterious propane deal. What he should be doing is keeping a closer eye on home, where his son has his crush locked in the creepy cellar, and is torturing her. The propane deal won’t be hard to cover up, apparently, since Duke liked to label his secret envelops with things like “Propane!!” just in case he forgot.
Back to the opposites — Dodee wants to exercise caution, while Julia pushes her out of the way to give the denizens of Chester’s Mill every scrap of news possible, even if it’s not particularly helpful. Joe wants to unlock the secrets of the dome, Barbie just wants to profit from it.
The promos for next week show the townsfolk starting to turn on each other, which is really what we’ve all been waiting for (besides an explanation for the dome itself), but again, given the show’s short run, it seems that those sorts of things should have picked up more in this second week, or at least given a little more time to performing their own experiments to see how the dome works and what that means for their future. But hey, who needs that when you have wall ball?
Episode Rating: C+
Musings and Miscellanea:
— There was a lot of setup with Barbie this week regarding the dog tags and him accidentally killing Julia’s husband, along with the question of what his involvement was in the first place. Unfortunately, it’s not all that interesting yet to really care.
— The cabin was called “The Cabin,” because in Chester’s Mill things are really obvious.
— The Junior / Angie story is hard to watch because it’s creepy and weird, yes, but also because it so far doesn’t have a connection to anything else. Also, Angie, come on — if your first escape plan doesn’t work, just pretend you agree with this crazy kid and stop fighting and threatening him every step of the way. He’s not a stranger, he’s a long-time friend and recent hook-up. Fake some affection and remorse and get out of there!
— Linda is a good person, but damn, she’s boring.
— Chester’s Mill is a really clean town.
— The seizures mention pink stars … more clues!
— Looks like there’s a little romance brewing between Joe and Norrie …
— Nice effect towards the end when the propane tank exploded. Same with the body that was severed and dragged away. The show needs more of this, and less of Angie screaming in the cellar.