“Under the Dome” recap (1.07): The Dome giveth and the Dome taketh away.

 
 

When Joe and Norrie find the center of the dome, at first I’m afraid that it’s at the spot where Barbie buried Julia’s husband, but as it turns out, there’s all sorts of shit buried in these woods. The actual source of the dome is a little miniature dome with a black egg inside.

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If one takes the egg as a representation of the town then there’s some very interesting symbolism at play here, but I think I’ll go into it next week, when I have been crying less. Anyway, Norrie and Joe lay hands on the mini-dome, and are treated to a vision of Alice, which Norrie takes as a sign to go home.

In another part of town, where it is suddenly night time, Boomer is loading Big Jim’s propane onto a trailer, whether on Toothless’ orders or his own steam, I don’t know. But it really doesn’t pay to underestimate a man who kills priests with their own hearing aids. Jim shoots the propane, creating a massive fireball and causing Boomer to live up to his name. My favorite part is the darkly comic moment just afterward where Jim drunkenly smiles like “Heh. I made a essplosion.”

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Alice is in the middle of delivering the baby when her heart begins to fail. Carolyn begs her to rest, but she uses her last bit of strength to instruct Barbie in unwrapping the cord from around the infant’s neck.

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And maybe this is why the Dome chose to induce labor on Harriet. Because Alice’s body was bound to give out. And that baby didn’t stand a chance without a doctor. Harriet names the baby Alice, which is a sweet gesture even though it implies that you can replace one character with another, which is obviously not true when it comes to gay representation.

That’s basically the argument Norrie makes when she arrives. She doesn’t want some baby Alice or the will of the Dome or whatever. She wants her mom. And Carolyn lets this moment be about the two of them. And when the moment is over and Alice is gone, Norrie pounds against the Dome, begging, bargaining, pleading. It’s powerful. But even more powerful is the scene occurring inside, where Carolyn holds her wife one final time, brushing a stray lock of hair aside, trying to be strong but then deciding to let the hurt in. And I will not attempt to improve on Aisha Hinds’ silence with words of my own except to say that I am sending her my Kleenex bill because this scene has made me sob three times in a row.

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At the very end of the episode we see that black egg responding to Norrie’s prayer, but I’m really not trying to get my hopes up that the Dome will bring Alice back.

As anyone who has read my recaps knows, Under The Dome didn’t impress me much in its first few weeks. It’s really only in the past two episodes that it has found its urgency, tone, and emotional resonance. So I might wish that they had chosen to kill Alice–yet another casualty in this summer of endless lesbian deaths–before, when I didn’t like it and could just snark about it. But I don’t wish that. If you are going to kill off a lesbian character, especially a sweet, selfless one like Alice, I want it to hurt, as long as it hurts for the right reasons. And I think it did. Maybe even for important reasons. Let me explain what I mean by that.

I don’t think Under The Dome is ever going to get the kind of widespread lesbian love of, say, The Fosters. Alice and Carolyn are two parts of a large ensemble, and their story isn’t overtly gay. But they are on the most watched new summer show in America. It, in turn, is on CBS, which, as they constantly remind us, is “America’s most watched network.” CBS also has the worst track record of including gay characters of any of the big five networks, so this is a big step. This might not be the show you and your roller derby team get together and dish about, but it is the show your uncle and your high school chemistry teacher and your Facebook friends watch. And maybe they had a moment of recognition last night, in between the tears, when their hearts understood that losing a parent or a spouse is a universal sort of pain. Grief is like that; powerful in its ability both to hurt, and unite. Alice Calvert was with us for seven brief weeks, but she wasn’t treated as a throwaway character. Her death was not meant to be sensationalistic or convenient. Quite the opposite. So for that, her life and her death were a gift.

See you next week.

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