Ugh you guys, I can’t believe we had to do ANOTHER episode without Aisha Hinds. I mean, is Carolyn even OK up in that room? Has she eaten? Is her iPod still charged? And most importantly, is she ever going to be able to come down and be a fully-fledged character; a three-dimensional woman capable of contributing to the town in ways other than being a wife and mother? Because that would be great. Until that happens, though, I’m going to make the recaps brief.
When last we left Chester’s Mill, Norrie, Angie, and Joe discovered that they were short one pair of hands to unlock the mysterious mini-Dome. While they mull over who the remaining person might be, Dodee sneaks in to see if she is the King Arthur in this sword in the stone scenario. Apparently not, since the Dome burns her hand and sends her flying across the barn.
The Dome Kids find Dodee and take her to the hospital, where a lone nurse is apparently still going through the motions of medical care like an abandoned robot. While the kids drop Dodee off (and brainwash her into believing that she hurt herself on a generator), Angie has the good sense to ask if anyone else has been having seizures. The nurse responds that there has only been one seizure in town history, and, of course, it happened to Junior Fucking Rennie. Angie finally tells her brother and Norrie the truth about her kidnapping, but reluctantly agrees that even Junior’s creepiness must take a back seat to “what the Dome wants.” So against everyone’s better judgment, they recruit Junior to be the newest member of the Dometeers, in the hopes that, with their powers combined, they can take the damn thing down.
Elsewhere, Barbie and Big Jim agree that they need to destroy Maxine before she exposes their secrets. Big Jim tracks down a list of properties she owns, and decides her most likely secret hideout is the giant mansion on Secret Island (secret because its existence was heretofore unknown by all viewers and most of the town’s residents). Big Jim goes to check it out while Barbie gets drafted into Maxine’s schemes.
As a follow-up to last week’s Surrender The Guns/Stop The violence campaign, Maxine’s latest venture is Join Fight Club/Restart The Violence. In the cement factory—which, after the Rennie bomb shelter is the hotspot for all awfulness in town—she’s set up a bare knuckle brawling ring, where citizens can let out their aggression and gamble for luxuries necessities, like booze. And I get what the writers are trying to do with people’s baser instincts coming out, but whereas the riot felt organic, this feels forced. For one thing, we’ve never met any of the characters doing the fighting, which means we don’t understand their motivations, and for another, they all look like they were kidnapped out of the Sons of Anarchy casting pool. But Maxine, at least, is still well-drawn. She’s one of those kill-or-be-killed, law of the jungle, free market capitalism people, although her Ron Paul tattoo certainly doesn’t explain her entire personality, as we learn in our other storyline.
When Big Jim arrives on Secret Island, he walks up to the biggest, evilest looking mansion he can find, and meets a lady, who introduces herself as Agatha the Harmless.
Big Jim: Hi there ma’am, are you the Dumbledore of this establishment?
Agatha: Oh goodness no, I’m just the Hagrid. I keep the grounds and maintain the thestrals for Mr. Madeup Topmyhead. Would you like some tea?
Big Jim thinks he can outsmart her while she’s brewing the Earl Grey, but psych! She was really just getting an AK-47. While she holds Big Jim hostage, she reveals three valuable pieces of information.
1. She is a former classmate of Big Jim’s, forced to drop out of high school when she got pregnant with Maxine. She was treated as a pariah and therefore has a large grudge against the town, as does her daughter.
2. She knows everything Max knows, including that Barbie is a murderer, which she helpfully shares with Big Jim.
3. She’s tough as nails, but not actually capable of pulling a trigger.
Big Jim uses this last piece of intel to his advantage and wrests away the gun from Agatha’s clutches. He then ties her up and takes her back to the mainland on his boat. Maybe he’ll use her as leverage against Max, maybe he’ll lock her in the bomb shelter and try to make her love him. But when she falls/jumps into the lake, he decides that’s as good a solution as any and speeds away, leaving her to drown. Except I really hope she lives, both so we can have yet another multilayered female character, and because one can never have enough Mare Winningham.
So obviously, my favorite part of this week’s episode was the alliance between Julia and Sherriff Linda, in which they open each other’s boxes.
Okay, I guess a slightly more accurate description would be: together, they decide to solve the mysteries of the absent men in their lives. First, Linda lets Julia in on Duke’s involvement with that “rapture” drug, then they go to his safety deposit box in search of answers. Julia finds his confession letter, in which he implicates Max and Big Jim, and says he only went along with the drug money in order to protect his beloved town. Then Julia figures that as long as they’re in uncovering secrets, she might as well open Peter’s box too. She finds a large life insurance policy, which means that Peter confronted Barbie with every intention of dying, which is the exact same thing that happened earlier this summer on True Blood.
Back at Fight Club, Barbie throws his bout in hopes of foiling Max, only to find that she bet against him. He wisely understands that he’ll never outsmart her, especially when she has such serious blackmail hanging over his head. He goes to Julia and confesses to Peter’s murder. But, to his surprise, she is pretty much cool with it, since Barbie is a lot handsomer than her ex.
When the Dometeers drag Junior back to the mini-Dome, they finally complete the circle of hands. When they do, the egg projects pink stars all around them, in some shots that make me happy to know this show isn’t wasting its visual effects budget. But as to what it all might mean, I’m as clueless as I am about where in Chester’s Mill Carolyn might be.