“Under the Dome” recap (2.1): SHUT UP AND BE DEAD


Hello and welcome back to Under the Dome, last summer’s surprise hit about a small town trapped in a mysterious, impenetrable force field. A wise man once said of Camelot, “it is a silly place,” and the same could be said of Chester’s Mill. In spite of a premise ripe with post apocalyptic and dystopian promise, Under the Dome went in the direction of a popcorn-munching guilty pleasure. Which is fine; they only killed off half of their lesbian characters and there remained enough hair porn on the show to keep a girl happy (the town’s supply of Pantene Pro-V apparently far outlasted its insulin). So I return to this show without the high expectations I brought to season one, but with a healthy appreciation of the charms it does have to offer.

When last we saw our dome sweet dome, Big Jim and Junior were moments away from executing Barbie, Julia the Dome Queen dropped the egg in the lake and the sky glowed suddenly white, and…who even cares. There’s a giant fucking dome and it killed a cow. There, you’re caught up.

This season opens with a new character, a tall man whose manner vaguely resembles that of the Others from Lost. He’s holed up in a cabin at the edge of the Dome and the first thing we see him do it swig whiskey out of a hip flask, so right away I’m team New Guy. He goes outside when the dome turns an opaque white and starts pulsating with a ringing sound and he is like “whoa, how much have I had to drink?”


Meanwhile, Julia the Dome Queen and Hair Goddess pulls her boat up to the shore when she notices a young woman in the middle of the lake, flailing and gasping for breath. She dives back in the water to rescue her, because that is just the kind of benevolent monarch she is.

Elsewhere in town, Norrie, Joe and, Angie (our lovable Dome Kids) gawk as the spire of the town church falls off and the bell comes flying out and crashes against the Dome. Over at the gallows where Barbie is waiting with a noose around his neck, another strange phenomenon is occurring. Townsfolk (coincidentally, almost all secondary characters) are fainting left and right from the vibrations being emitted by the Dome. This freaks Junior out so much he refuses to kill Barbie, much to Big Jim’s chagrin. Barbie, for one, is eager to explore other options besides death and Sheriff Linda steps in to save his life.


Back at the lake, Julia successfully pulls the strange teen out of the water. (Theory: she was what was inside the egg this entire time.) She is assisted in her rescue by New Guy, who saves the girl’s life but also gives her a very sidelong look, as if he recognizes her from somewhere. The strain of gliding through the water like a gorgeous mermaid of justice opened up her shoulder wound, so they go back to New Guy’s cabin to patch it up and tend to the girl. The man, whose name is Sam Verdreaux, it turns out, is a former EMT with a drinking problem and probably a very sensitive heart. Julia is like “hey maybe you should come to town; because both of the doctors are already dead.” And Sam is like “I can’t. My Feelings act up around other people.”

On the outskirts of the Dome, Barbie, Big Jim, and Sheriff Linda realize that it’s not just the church bells flying towards the wall, it’s every metal thing. Immediately, Barbie is dragged to the side by his handcuffs and plastered there, helpless. Which is particularly bad news, because the next thing drawn towards the Dome is the SUV, and it’s headed straight for him. Linda steps in just in time to rescue him, and Barbie darts away to safety. Our beloved Linda, however, is crushed and killed.

When it first happened, I assumed she couldn’t really be dead, because Natalie Martinez is one of the best actors on this show. But as it turns out, she is so good she’s getting her own pilot and is actually dead. Which is a real fucking shame, because she’s worth twelve of Barbie. Once she is gone, Big Jim tries to pull his magnetized gun off the Dome so he can finally finish killing Barbie, but Junior has had enough of his craziness and refuses to participate. Junior even goes so far as to make the great deductive leap that his dad killed Dodee last season, and abandons him. I guess this puts Junior on the fast-track to redemption, which I am really not cool with, since he spent most of last season imprisoning Angie in the family bunker.


Barbie also runs off in search of Julia, which is probably a good idea, because that new guy is a lot better at patching bullet holes than him and could bring some serious competition. He’s breaking into a truck so he can get to her faster when another new character sneaks up behind him.


Astute viewers will recognize the actor as being one of the few bright spots of the last two seasons of Misfits, but here she is playing an ultra-brainy high school science teacher bent on unlocking the mysteries of the Dome. Her name is Rebekah Pine and she theorizes that if the magnets are a problem at the center of the town, they could be fatal to those living on the edge. Since that includes some of his only friends, Barbie and Rebekah speed off together.

Sure enough, in her Dome-adjacent house, Carolyn (the Dome’s remaining lesbian character) has been knocked unconscious by a flying saucer (actually a flying frying pan, but I couldn’t resist). Joe, Norrie and Angie rush to tend her while every metal thing in the house tries to attack them. A nail goes straight through Joe’s hand, even. And though the story is frequently shallow as a mud puddle, all the stuff with the magnetized Dome looks amazing and it’s super cool to see a radiator jump off the wall and start chasing people. Thankfully, Big Jim and Rebekah arrive just in town, and they carry Carolyn out just before the entire house collapses.

Also affected by the magnetization is Big Jim, who gets trapped inside his own bunker (ha!). While there, he is plagued by visions of Dodee (his most recent murder victim) who tells him he must learn the value of self-sacrifice to save the town.

The gang of Barbie, Rebekah, Carolyn, and the Dome kids all go to the high school, where Rebekah has built a scale model of the town, and hypothesizes that if they build a big enough conductor it could counteract the Dome’s magnetism and help all the unconscious people wake up. Angie, on the other hand, is like “UM THE DOME TOLD US TO KILL BIG JIM WHY DON’T WE JUST TRY THAT.” I’m with you, Ang.

Meanwhile, EMT Sam pulls out a scrapbook made by his dead sister (I’m assuming you’ve already figured out that she was Big Jim’s wife and Junior’s mom). In the book is an illustration of a girl who looks very much like the one he helped rescue from the lake. I would be intrigued by that if Lost hadn’t rendered me immune to everything that looks remotely like a clue; they just lead your further down the rabbit hole.

As the magnetic pulses become more intense, more people fall unconscious. Norrie faints while guarding her mom, and Angie and Junior both collapse in probably the worst pratfalls I have ever seen to my life. (Seriously, my kingdom for a GIF of those.) Joe and Rebekah also succumb to the force while they’re still waiting to see if their giant conductor works.

While he is out cold, Junior has a vision of himself playing with a magical snow globe that suddenly fills with blood (if he were a girl I would say this is a menstruation metaphor) and he then catches a glimpse of his departed but much-discussed mother. She even calls him by his real name which (who knew) is James.

Meanwhile, Barbie and Julia have a tearful reunion and press their faces together.

Even meanerwhile, Big Jim finds Junior lying unconscious and is visited by another vision, this time of Linda.


She repeats Dodee’s warning that Jim must stop being such a goddamn megalomaniac if he wants to save Junior, so he climbs up onto the gallows he had built, and prepares to shed this mortal coil. He’s too scared to pull the lever, but then Julia walks up and is like “yeah, sure I’ll kill you.”


But because she is pure of heart, even Julia can’t kill Jim. Finally he just starts stomping on the trap door of the gallows until it breaks, but Julia cuts him down with a pocket knife (the same one Sam loaned her, in some bludgeon-like symbolism). When Jim falls through the trap door, the townsfolk wake up, the magnetization ends, and this week’s main drama is over.

In the aftermath, the townsfolk tear down the gallows and Rebekah and Julia debate whether it was the magnetized tower or Big Jim’s “sacrifice” that saved the town. Let’s take bets on how long it takes before their fighting over Barbie kissing rights.

In further denouement, Big Jim invites Carolyn and Norrie to come live with him since he destroyed their house with his ego. Carolyn agrees on the logic of keeping your enemies closer. And as much as I’m glad that means she’ll be near to the action this season, I’ve never found that cozying up to one’s enemies was a particularly sane strategy.


And then the episode has not one, not two, but three tags:

1. Just as Junior is telling everybody that he prefers to go by “James” now, we see his mother, alive and well and still painting crazy prophetic shit somewhere outside the Dome.

2. Sam showing up in town, to Big Jim’s surprise and displeasure.

3. And finally, Angie tracks down the mysterious girl to the high school where somebody sneaks up behind her and sprays a large and terrifying swath of her blood all over the place.

I swear to god, Under The Dome, if you kill Linda and Angie in the same episode, I will never forgive you.

So, how does it feel to be back?

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