A note before I get started with this week’s review. I mentioned last week in my “Parting Thoughts” section that I didn’t understand last week’s episode title (Blue on Blue) and thought a better episode title would be “Friendly Fire.” Thanks to Reddit user “AegisToTheCrown” I now know that “Blue on Blue” is actually military terminology for “friendly fire.” I don’t know why I didn’t know that, but all the same, thanks Aegis!
MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD
It was a dark day in Chester’s Mill. The episode kicked off with a truck swerving into the town’s water tower. The townspeople, already confused and scared by their brush with death in last week’s episode, realize their supplies are dwindling down and take to looting. The episode was a very welcome change of pace, forsaking forced character interactions in favor of genuine questions regarding the Dome, organic plot advancement and a window into the minds of the Mill’s more sociopathic residents.
The scene where Barbie and Linda encounter the storeowner instituting a barter system in his store served to accomplish a couple things. First, it demonstrated how out of her element Linda is as the new sheriff. Barbie second-guessing her decision on the use of guns is a good indicator of things to come, I think. At least when it comes to clashes in leadership.
The second thing the scene accomplished was in establishing the “new reality” of the town. This new reality spiraled completely out of control in the second half of the episode and cost Rose her life (I’ll get to that in a moment). The looting/riot scene was great. It gave us an idea of how Junior is perceived by some of the less desirable Mill residents. It showed us a darker side of Barbie, as well.
In the beginning of the second episode, where we learned the circumstances of Julia’s husband’s death, a part of me felt a little shortchanged. I felt as though it was an easy way for the writers to re-establish the character as “good” after teasing him as a morally grey individual in the pilot episode. When he beat the shoplifter, I was satisfied that the writers were keeping him grey.
Then he took down Angie’s attacker and I was floored! Both scenes were high points of the episode and played very well by Mike Vogel. I’m liking him more and more as Barbie. And I like the implications this episode hints at for the long run of the series.
One of my favorite things about this episode was how it felt like a Stephen King story. It was dark, violent and mysterious. The moment the brothers broke into Rose’s restaurant, I got a very distinct feeling of foreboding that is usually reserved for a good King novel. The scene itself was surprisingly brutal for a network series. Obviously they cut around the actual violence but the effect was still intact. It was my favorite part of the episode.
Another high point this week was the Dome itself. For starters, I loved seeing the town finally asking questions about their situation. With a mystery series such as this, it’s expected for the viewers to make their assumptions and form their theories. Something that I felt had been sorely missing from the first handful of episodes was the town asking the tough questions about their predicament. Now that the Dome has proven to be indestructible, the characters are finally asking the right questions. And it’s increased my enjoyment of the show considerably.
I really like that we’re slowly getting more information about the nature of the Dome. I thought the microclimate development was a clever way for the series to show it can sustain itself for multiple seasons. What this means for Big Jim and Ollie Dinsmore is anyone’s guess. But I really liked their scenes together this week. Ollie knows Big Jim well but not well enough to know he’s painted a large bulls eye on his head.
Even if it was just a little on the ridiculous side for Dodee and Julia to be driving around looking for the ominous power source connected to the Dome, I was genuinely pleased with the outcome. It was a little obvious that Norrie and Joe were the source of the signal, but I loved Julia’s ponderings when she and Dodee got back in the car.
I’ve said before that I really like that the characters are talking about the Dome as if it were an organism. This episode played that up very well. Furthermore, I really liked Julia’s rationale for not telling anyone about Joe and Norrie’s bizarre connection. She’s right. The town would go after the kids. I wonder how long Dodee will keep quiet about it.
Big Jim’s scene with Angie at the end of the episode was another strong display by Dean Norris. Watching him work is a lot of fun, especially when he puts on his politician hat and tries to control people. I also really liked that Britt Robertson in this episode. It’s nice to see her out of the fallout shelter and able to stretch her acting muscles.
All in all, it was a strong episode, if a bit cluttered. There was a lot going on and I feel like the subplot with Norrie and Joe stealing the insulin for Alice could have been cut down considerably. But given how good the rest of the episode was, I can’t complain too much.
This week CBS announced that they were renewing Under the Dome for a 13 episode second season airing next summer. This is good news to me. King purists can complain about the loose adaptation, but viewing the series as a separate entity from the novel has made me more invested in the show the last few episodes.
To my knowledge, CBS has been enjoying consistently high numbers with Under the Dome. Frankly, I think a lot of that is due to a lack of competition. Under the Dome pretty much holds a monopoly in the Monday night scripted series arena. I’m very curious what next season’s ratings will be like considering Fox has 24: Live Another Day scheduled for next summer and NBC is re-adapting Stephen King’s The Tommyknockers for a summer miniseries.
- The truck that swerved out of Alice’s way was labeled “King’s Appliances” in a not-so-subtle reference to Stephen King. Fitting, seeing as this was a very King-like episode.
- Did the Dome orchestrate Alice’s strange behavior so that the truck would crash into the water tower?
- Having read the book (and knowing they’re changing the ending), this was the first time I was genuinely curious about what exactly the Dome is.
- Watch for some awful ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement, or dubbing) when Dodee says “The radio’s working again, whatever was jamming the airwaves is gone.”
- The water supply storyline reminded me of Lost’s season one episode “White Rabbit.” While I’ve nearly given up hope that Under the Dome could be the next Lost, I do like that they are at least subconsciously following some of Lost’s formula.
- Why wouldn’t Norrie accept a ride from Julia to the clinic? She has lifesaving insulin for her mom and she declines a ride? I don’t care how close the clinic is, I’d get there as fast as I could.
- Big Jim telling Barbie to find the guy responsible for Rose’s death has me weary that next week could take the show back to the subpar “Manhunt” storyline. I have faith the show will continue its rise in quality, though.
- I thought Barbie killed the guy in the diner but upon review, it looks like he got up and left after Barbie. Still a good scene.