Last week’s brief intro to the town of Chester’s Mill, its residents and their Dome-y situation didn’t leave much room for anything but a surface glance at what this show might bring. And while I felt that Under the Dome was off to a decent start, the true test would be how it picked up after the titular barrier settled and we cracked into the characters a bit more. I let myself get excited for this summer event; I defended it. Now I feel like I’m eating my words here, guys.
Like a bad visual effect or a deceptively deep cut, Under the Dome‘s characters are uglier after a close examination. Junior—sorry, this guy just kills me—is laughably crazy as predicted, delivering the same tired “But, you don’t understand, I can fix you” nutso-ex lines he started on in the pilot. Dean Norris is doing the best he can with Big Jim’s not-so-subtle involvement in this Dome business, now revealing he’s dragged Rev. Lester Coggins into whatever scheme he has cooking. And now Barbie’s taken on a more dramatic, know-it-all hero role, tackling dudes with guns and dropping hot tips like Yes, now’s a good time to stock up on cigarettes and candy bars. We’re about to have jail rules up in this Dome.
Maybe I had my blinders on, hoping for the best with the first episode, but I felt less forgiving in the second installment of Under the Dome. And as far as one-dimensional cheese factor goes, nothing compared to the dialogue presented when case-cracking journalist Julia Shumway finds that this mostly solid, Dome-like object surrounding Chester’s Mill is, in fact (Spoiler Alert, the name of the Dome lies ahead) being called a Dome (!) by the military.
“We’re under a Dome,” Julia tells Dodee after catching some military chatter.
“Yeah, that’s what they keep calling it,” says Dodee.
“Why haven’t you told anybody?”
“We’re not a news station.”
Okay, hold on. Pump the brakes. Someone stop the show.
We’ve already seen a plane collide with the Dome, streaking a curved, black mark over Chester’s Mill. We’ve seen trucks smash into it. Birds snap their necks on this thing from different angles. We’ve seen water sprayed at the dome that doesn’t fall at a completely vertical angle. So why is it completely town-rattling news that we’ve given a name to something that looks, curves and stands like a Dome? Shumway bursts into a radio studio, grabs the mic and makes an epic announcement on the air.
“This is Julia Shumway from the weekly Independent. I have some news for all of us stuck here inside Chester’s Mill. I have just learned the barrier around Chester’s Mill is being called a dome. This information appears to be coming from military sources positioned just outside Chester’s Mill…Just outside the dome. We will keep updating you as information comes in, so stay tuned to…”
“WYBS,” the radio host interjects. “Your only source of news from…under the Dome*.”
But with all these corny elements set aside, this is still a story I’m interested in seeing through to the end. The show’s pace is great. All every minute of it feels fast, easy to follow (maybe too easy at times, if we’re referencing that Dome discovery) but there are still nuggets being dropped all the time by Big Jim, Barbie and their supporting cast to promise some big (but solvable) plot-turns through the entire run. Throw that in with our still-undefined circumstances (this thing traps smoke, but allows some water to filter through? Will there be enough air? Should we start planting trees?) and I still have unresolved questions from the show’s intriguing set-up that I want to see answered.
After its second episode, maybe the show feels like a wobbly structure that’s built on a solid foundation. But I suspect there’s still enough left for this event to feature some great moments if nothing more.
*-This is where the show’s title comes from.