“Under the Dome” recap (2.13): Not Without My Mother

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In loyalty to you, and out of a deep sense of professionalism, I have continued to watch Under The Dome, despite the fact that Julia’s hair and Big Jim’s scowls are the only good things left on that show. It has been long weeks since last we saw Carolyn, but tonight, for the season finale, she returned at last. Much as it would give me great pleasure to finally, fully bury this show under an avalanche of scorn, it was actually the best episode in quite some time.

I don’t think it’s possible to fully sum up the events of the last several episodes, and this show is so dumb that following along is far from mandatory. So let’s see: Barbie fell through a hole that took him all the way to his hometown of Zenith, which is not a town on the other side of the planet, but a mere few miles away. So the hole he fell in was like in U-shape or possibly a wormhole? Whatever, don’t worry about it. Once he got to the other side, Julia was like “Rad! Let’s get everybody else outside of the Dome too!” But Barbie refused because his dad runs the whole entire town of Zenith and his dad is an asshole. In Zenith, Barbie hooked up with Pauline Renny (Sherry Stringfield, who I will always remember fondly from ER) whose terrible prophetic watercolors they relied on to guide them back to Chester’s Mill. They finally returned to the Dome, with a lad named Hunter (who is irrelevant) in tow, just as the Dome started experiencing new levels of peril. This potentially Dome-destroying wave of earthquakes was brought on when Big Jim dropped the egg off a cliff and into Zenith. (Oh yeah, the egg is still around. I fucking rue the days when I was poring over it for metaphorical significance.) Lyle and Big Jim fought for Pauline’s affection but she was not into either of them, so Lyle stabbed Pauline and Big Jim killed Lyle. Finally, Melanie, manifestation of the egg, was pulled into the Earth via a giant, magical sinkhole.

This episode has all the usual trappings of the Dome: visions, product placement for tablets, Pauline’s paintings (in the greatest of which she predicts her own death via blood spigot.)

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Pauline asks Rebecca to give her a fatal dose of morphine, presumably to guard against the possibility that she might make a full recovery and have to be married to Big Jim again. When Jim finds her body, though, he loses his tenuous grip on sanity and MURDERS REBECCA WITH A HAMMER.

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On the one hand it’s not a huge loss because the show never really developed her character past “brilliant but brittle science lady.” But on the other hand, their lack of vision has now cost us YET ANOTHER female character. However, it does restore some genuine tension to a show that has become dreadfully formulaic, so overall I’d say the hammer was a good thing.

Way less good is the moment midway through the episode when Julia and Jim decide to split up and go on separate side quests for the zillionth time, failing to comprehend that this will lead to yet another heartstring-tugging separation.

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Stop splitting up, guys. Just buy extra-large sweaters you can both fit inside and stay like that from now on.

Meanwhile, Norrie, Joe, and Hunter take it upon themselves to explore the sinkhole that stole Melanie. Inside it are a series of caves that look like they were built one a budget of fifteen cents. They are papier mache caves, is what they are. Joe and Norrie spot a light up ahead, and rather than taking the thirty seconds necessary to investigate it, assume that it must be a way out of the Dome. The thought of actually leaving does a number on Norrie, who realizes that she’ll have to resume her life without her mom. But the show must go on, so Joe and Norrie join forces with Barbie to get all the townsfolk in the cave. You know how they say “don’t put all your eggs in one basket?” Well I say “Don’t put all your humans in one sinkhole.” The one upside to all this is the reappearance of Carolyn, who clutches her daughter and tries to keep everyone calm.

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While they’re all climbing into the cave, Julia gets a radio from Maxine the hoarder, who seems to be in distress. Of course, this is part of Big Jim’s rampage; he’s decided that since the Dome took his wife, he would take all its favorite people. (Actually, first he asks the Dome to bring her back to life, and when it refuses, burns her and all her paintings. As one does.) Next he lures Julia to Maxine’s and then shoots Maxine in the head for no reason at all. It’s another shocking death, but I really did like Maxine. She fed the whole town, after all. Julia is his next victim, but our girl has a pocket knife squirreled away and she uses it to hobble Jim and escape. Jim pursues her through the woods but instead finds Junior, who shoots him in the shoulder. Man, for a while I was all about pushing back against this redemption of Junior’s character, but it’s not even one of the top ten crazy things going on at this point, so we’ll let it stand. Jim hobbles about, wounded but still kicking, and we move to the caves.

Julia and Junior finally make their way down, but the cave has begun to crumble, and they are cruelly separated from Barbie. (Again.) They promise to be reunited, blah blah blah, and then Barbie plunges ahead to meet with the rest of the town. A butterfly appears to lead them onwards, but takes them only to a dead end. For a second I’m super psyched about them becoming cave people and developing a creepy cave society, but it’s not to be. The wall of the cave melts away and beyond it, Melanie stands, beckoning them on.

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Who knows what she’s beckoning them towards, but my money is on a spaceship, because that was on Defiance, which is a way better show. Honestly, though, all of this is really disappointing, since the convoluted supernatural elements are the main reason this season has been so profoundly dumb.

So at final count: Barbie, Carolyn, and most of the town are in the cave. Julia, Junior, Big Jim, and a whole lot of dead female characters are in the town. Under the Dome’s chances of renewal are still uncertain, but if there is a next season, I’ll be there for it.

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