Let me begin by saying that this is the first episode of television I have ever considered just not recapping. Just calling in heartbroke, making a pillow fort, and stealing all my roommate’s ice cream. Not because it was bad, but because it was moving, painful, and exhausting. But now, after two good cries, a bike ride, and a quick re-read of Heather’s “when is it OK to kill lesbian characters” piece, I want to talk about what happened to Alice (and Carolyn and Norrie) last night. Dearly beloved, let’s do this thing.
Morning in Chester’s Mill. The air is peaceful. The light is golden, angelic, forgiving. Clearly, terrible things are on the horizon. Norrie wakes up Joe so they can go out and investigate the Dome. Her concern for her insulin-starved mother has imbued her with motivation and maturity. She’s still a teenager, though, so her first idea is to make out against the Dome. She and Joe try kissing, necking, petting, and dirty talk before resigning themselves to the fact that the giant energy field covering town isn’t as drunk on teenage hormones as they are. Undeterred, they scrape together their memories of science class and go off in search of the Dome’s nucleus like goddamn adorable little cherubs.
Also waking up to a brave new world are Julia and Barbie. Their first interaction is nearly silent, and the silences in this episode are eloquent in a way I never could have predicted in a show that felt so heavy-handed for so long. At first they just look at each other in joy and early morning wonder, but then Julia’s wedding ring catches the light and even though she hides her hand under the pillow, it reminds them both of their private guilt. They are prevented from examining their feelings by a knock on the door. It’s Julia’s extravagantly pregnant neighbor, Harriet, who is looking for a little yogurt fix. Julia scores her some probiotics and sends her on her way, but as Harriet is leaving she has a vision of her husband appearing from overseas. She reaches out to him but only touches the Dome, which is being awfully tricksy today. The Dome zaps her into premature labor and Julia rushes her to the hospital, even though it was established in the meningitis episode that the hospital has no gloves, medicine, or doctors.
Over at the Rennie’s, Big Jim kicks Junior out of the house, partly in hopes that it will restore Angie’s good opinion of him. For a man with a pretty good grasp of the psychology of control, Jim doesn’t seem to realize that by taking away Junior’s last link to normalcy, he will only increase his instability. Junior goes to the police station, where Sherriff Linda is gearing up to take down those fuckers who killed Rose last week. Junior volunteers his superior people skills to help resolve the situation without violence. But then Linda drops the fact that the Dundee brothers were only moments away from raping Angie, and Junior decides to kill them on the spot. And Linda is a competent, good-hearted, flawlessly beautiful human being, but that whole “believing the best in people” thing is really not working out for her.
This week, the inevitable showdown between Big Jim and Toothless McGee occurs, or at least begins. Toothless figures, quite rightly, that the balance of power has changed. He’s got the only working well in town, a farm, and all Big Jim really has is lots of worthless paper (both money and deeds), a fleet of cars with no gas, and the propane. Of course, Toothless’ next move is to hijack said propane. Big Jim goes to reclaim his ill-gotten fossil fuels only to get clocked in the face by a farmer goon (who, in a most indelicate case of foreshadowing, is named “Boomer”). And there are three important elements at play here.
1. The class dynamic between townies and farmers, which anyone who has lived in a rural community can tell you is very real. This is a chance for the farmers to get the respect and power they have been denied for so long in the “new economy.”
2. Big Jim’s sense of wounded masculinity, which Dean Norris plays with such a deft combination of emotional grace and hulking, silverback gorilla physicality.
3. The audience’s (or at least my) tendency to side with Big Jim, either because he’s the devil we know, or that we just can’t trust a man like Toothless, whose own incisors have shrunk from him in terror.
Julia is taking Harriet to the hospital when they are carjacked by those dreadful Dundee boys, who siphon off all their gas. Junior and Linda give chase and Barbie, Harriet, and Julia go off in search of Alice, the only person qualified to deliver this baby.
Okay cool, are you ready to cry now? If I knew my girlfriend might die, I think I would act exactly like Carolyn is acting right now. Just buzzing around, wrapping a blanket around her, shoving all the tea and chicken soup—okay well, vegetarian soup—at her that I could get my hands on, and trying to assure myself that I took as good of care of her as I could. But Alice doesn’t want that. They’re smart ladies. They both know the score. And what Alice wants is to dance with her love and to feel alive for as long as she is alive. So they dance, and tie up the loose ends of their last argument, and kiss. And then the baby brigade bursts in and Alice is called to bring a life into this world, even as her own slips away.
When Linda and Junior find the Dundee brothers, a battle ensues. Linda kills one of the brothers in self-defense. Junior chases the other down and shoots him in a scene that is both chaotic and detached, much like Junior’s mind. Linda sees the guy’s unarmed body and begins to suspect that law enforcement may not be Junior’s true calling.