There’s not a lot you can afford to miss in the first 10 minutes of this week’s Under the Dome. And if you’re still on board with the show after the last rough episodes, this lightning-fast clip, this jam-packed set of events was a good way to drag me back into an episode I was hesitant to start. We see something I’ve been waiting for since the series intro (Junior gets a royal pummeling from Angie—thank you), people start dropping like flies from some sort of flu-like outbreak and Barbie’s past starts catching up with him.
As I marked in the last review, the series has waddled on for too long treating the Dome as a secondary concern, with Chester’s Mill residents acting as if there wasn’t some unknown bubble above them. We can now settle on, you know, the claustrophobic realization that there are limited resources, the exploration that maybe it won’t just be other people killing off characters from here on out. Episode four feels like we’ve reached the meat of, well, something.
Maybe the townspeople just needed a nudge. As the outbreak spreads, doctors realize that there are nowhere near enough antibiotics in Chester’s Mill to treat a town’s worth of sick people. A local pharmacy had been raided (finally. A looting), but not for the reason you’d expect. It turns out the reverend went apeshit crazy—there have only been a few glimpses of this so far—and decided that medication wasn’t in God’s vision of the Dome (scratch that, this doesn’t count as a looting at all). In turn, Big Jim walks in on the Rev. destroying medical supplies and gets an earful that God has a different plan for these people.
Barbie’s got some serious ‘splaining to do with Julia, after all ties link him back to a cabin with her husband who she really, really can’t possibly believe is alive at this point. And we get to see a side of Junior that doesn’t drum up images of Norman Bates when he manages to hold down a clinic and create a quarantine of sorts. We even see the first real instance of someone worrying at all to stock up on something when Carolyn Hill stocks up on insulin for her diabetic partner. You just want to yell at the screen sometimes: People, there’s a Dome over you. You use stuff. Stuff runs out. Gather/steal stuff.
And although the last few episodes have been labored viewings, this week’s series of unravelings show Under the Dome at its most comfortable. It’s a fast-paced sci-fi drama, not an enlightening look at humanity and definitely not an intriguing character study, at least on screen. But now things are happening. People are starting to become scared. Some are even worried for their long-term well being. And when Under the Dome leaves watchers with no chance to catch their breath, no chance to really settle in and sit with the over-the-top-ness of the show, that’s when I start to kick back and enjoy. If we can only build off this momentum, I see a light ahead.