This week on Under the Dome, Big Jim organized a manhunt for an escaped prisoner, Linda got a promotion, Joe got closer to Norrie and Julia spent some quality time with Junior. Here are my thoughts on the episode but be careful…

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I’m somewhere in the middle when it comes to liking this episode. There was a pretty even ratio of “good stuff” and “bad stuff” going on. The bad bits weren’t bad enough to keep me from tuning in, they didn’t even make me lose interest. It is alarming that the show faltered slightly in its third episode. Let me elaborate.

Where to start? Junior Rennie is wearing out his welcome a little bit. We got a Junior-heavy episode this week as he followed Angie’s advice to check some underground tunnels for a way out of the dome. Angie suggested this in a really sweet way. I’m not entirely sure what her game here was. Was she just trying to keep him away for a while so she could have some private time? That’s the only real explanation for it. It just seemed like a lot of trouble to go through for no other real purpose.

I have a theory that’s a little out there. I read this online somewhere, so it’s not totally my own theory. But, in any case, here we go. I would like to see the end-ish of the season reveal that Junior actually killed Angie and the whole imprisonment thing is just a figment of his imagination. When he goes to the fallout shelter, he’s actually talking to her decomposing corpse. It would give us a nice surprise and inject some Stephen King horror into the show.

Elsewhere in Chester’s Mill, the town was up in arms over Paul Randolph’s negligence vis a vis firing his gun at the dome. A spectacle was made of his transport to a jail cell. His incarceration didn’t last long though, as he tricked Linda and escaped. From there, Big Jim organized a manhunt for the loose cannon police officer.

Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 12.36.32 PMEarlier in the episode, Junior told his dad that Barbie was crazy and hit him without provocation. Dean Norris, once again proving he is the strongest piece of the Under the Dome puzzle, plays Big Jim as a conniving politician who uses the episode to feel out Barbie. The two team up to hunt down the escaped prisoner and share some pretty good and revealing dialogue. Despite the hunt playing out in a rather cliché manner, we’re rewarded with some good backstory on Big Jim.

Across town, Junior heads to the tunnels. Julia Shumway, smelling a story, follows him. The two get a little lost and use matches to find their way out. Along the way, Junior again lies about his run-in with Barbie. Even though Junior is really whiny about it, his theories still succeed in casting doubt in Julia’s mind about Barbie’s reasons for being in Chester’s Mill. This subplot for the episode could have probably been a little more compelling or ominous. I think the fault with that lies with Alexander Koch’s performance.

juniorI have to say, I’m not totally on board with Junior as a character, though. I want him to be a volatile psychopath whose unpredictability makes him extraordinarily dangerous to the people of Chester’s Mill. Instead we have a whiny lovelorn brat who gets lectures from his dad as if he’s 13. I get what the writers are doing. I can respect it in theory (I liked that Big Jim poured his milk for him), but in practice it just makes for an annoying character that I hope will either change or go away quickly.

The scene where Julia, Barbie and the Rennie boys meet at Big Jim’s house was a good one. Seeing the characters react to each other in an awkward bit of bizarre timing was fun to watch. I especially liked Big Jim’s line (prevalent in the book): “It’s a small time, son. And we all support the team.”

Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 12.37.32 PMJoe and Norrie got closer this week. They have good chemistry together. Of course, Benny is a dick for inviting everyone over to drain Joe’s generator. That whole plot seemed a little forced. Introducing Carter was awkward. From the outset he’s a total dick. That wasn’t so bad. It was later, after Joe told him to leave. Carter is put in his place, the generator dies and everyone instantly starts to leave. It was a hackneyed forced exodus that led to Carter saying “You and me aren’t even close to being done.” The scene left me thinking, “Of course you’re not, nothing happened to really stop this altercation. The generator died but it shouldn’t stop you from talking to a human.”

Finally, I really liked Linda taking her role as the new sheriff. Jim’s interactions with her were fantastic. I have a feeling it’s going to be a lot of fun watching him try to control her. She is being built up to be a strong character. It should make for some compelling drama.

There was a bit of a drop off in quality this week. The episode overall was still pretty good. But if the writers are already a little strained by the third episode, then that could me trouble as we move forward. Hopefully this episode was just growing pains for the series and the show will work itself out soon.

Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 12.37.15 PM

Parting Thoughts

  • I assume the map Julia found in Barbie’s bag marks the place where he buried her husband’s body. If you are hiding a dead body somewhere, why would you leave any evidence of where it is?
  • Big Jim needed “every able bodied man” for the manhunt and all he could muster were the two bigots from the diner and Barbie? Okay.
  • I liked the small minded guys in the diner pestering Norrie’s mom about her lesbianism. It felt true to the small town setting. I hope there is more culture clash like that to come.

What did you think of the episode? Comment, Tweet or Facebook me. And read the rest of my Under the Dome reviews here. You can also subscribe to The Obsessive Viewer Podcast on iTunes or download episodes directly on The Obsessive Viewer Podcast page of the site.


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