TV Review: Under the Dome – 111 – “Speak of the Devil”

UNDER-THE-DOME

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It’s time again for everyone’s favorite game, “Is Under the Dome good this week?” The rules are simple. The folks at CBS air an episode on Monday night. I watch said episode either late Monday or early Tuesday. Then I procrastinate. On Wednesday (sometimes Thursday, ahem) I post my thoughts.

So. Was Under the Dome good this week? Place your bets and read on.

BEWARE: MASSIVE SPOILERS

Screen shot 2013-09-05 at 11.26.31 AM

The answer this week is a Yes! Yes, Under the Dome was good this week. It fits the pattern the series has been following lately. After a weak episode, they hit me with a strong one. Being a Stephen King fan (and a blogger) I’m committed to this series. So I’m viewing their sways in quality as a mystery worthy of the show itself.

The series has shown its capacity for creating a quality hour of television (network television, yes, but still quality). What is going on behind the scenes that’s causing the show to see-saw so heavily?

Last week I wondered what Big Jim was going to do with the knowledge that Barbie killed Peter Shumway. More importantly, I wondered what he could possibly do with it after Julia conveniently found her husband’s will and pieced together that he wanted Barbie to kill him.

Big Jim talking to Linda at the start of the episode addressed that question in a great way. Jim’s manipulation of Linda was played very well. His reasoning for being involved in the Chester’s Mill drug conspiracy actually feels genuine. If he hadn’t murdered anyone this season, I would almost believe him. The writer’s used this scene to set up the end of the episode and it is some of the best writing the show has displayed.

Screen shot 2013-09-05 at 11.26.12 AMElsewhere in the town, we see that Barbie has been pushed to the couch. Julia comes downstairs and they share an awkward moment. I still don’t buy them as a couple. Julia asks to see her husband’s grave and explains to Barbie “For us to move forward we need to have closure.”

At that point I nearly screamed at my TV: “YOU’VE KNOWN HIM FOR TEN DAYS!”

Screen shot 2013-09-03 at 2.37.42 AMIt’s just frustrating to see the writers play up a romance that they didn’t earn. Even considering that they are all that each other has under the Dome, I still find is weird that they would start up a romance that soon. Simply put, it feels as though the writers wrote it that way simply to serve the plot.

Those reservations went away briefly when Julia got a surprise visit from Max. The gunshot took me by surprise and made me happy for a brief moment. I like Rachelle Lefevre a lot but I think the series needed that gunshot to kill Julia. I think it could have done wonders for the plot and viewer expectations as the series movies forward.

But the Dome has other plans for Julia, it seems. It was a win-win scenario. Rachelle Lefevre avoided the unemployment line and we got a quick, shocking end to the Max storyline that dragged the show down considerably last week.

Screen shot 2013-09-05 at 11.28.17 AMSpeaking of Max, I had a bizarre reaction to her finding her dead mother washing up on the shore. Agatha’s death was so hokey and awkward that I kind of hoped she would have paddled her way to shore and raise hell with Jim this week. Maybe she could have told Max what happened and decided to shoot Julia because she assumed Barbie put Jim up to it.

Screen shot 2013-09-03 at 2.39.05 AMBut it played out fine as is. The episode led to the death of Max (and presumably her fight club) that showcased the diabolical side of Big Jim. So I won’t complain there. The way Jim manipulated Linda (and soon the town) into thinking Barbie murdered Max and her henchman all while Julia is unconscious in the hospital is a breath of fresh air to me. It’s the best use of plotting, story structure and set ups and payoffs that the show has had yet.

I think it I’m very excited to see where the last two episodes go with Barbie on the run and Big Jim (presumably) rising to power.

Screen shot 2013-09-05 at 11.27.34 AMI saved the kids’ storyline this week for the end of this review. It started off sloppy with Junior explaining to Angie that…you know what? I’m not going to bother going into details with his dialogue because it’s the same lovestruck, puppy dog, borderline psychotic crap we’ve been hit over the head with all season. It’s just not working for me.

Junior decides that if he can’t be with Angie, he’s not going to be in their little club. The Dome doesn’t like this idea and threatens the town with a possible tornado strike on Chester’s Mill. To the show’s credit, they seemed to shell out some decent money for the special effects of the funnel cloud. Considering it’s network television (and a limited run season at that) I was impressed.

Screen shot 2013-09-03 at 2.57.18 AMThe episode ended with the Dome kids touching the Dome. They see a vision of Big Jim on the outside of the Dome. Blood begins seeping from several wounds in Jim’s chest and abdomen. The kids all suddenly hold bloody knives in their hands.

I wanted to end this week’s review with a description of the scene. It was my favorite part of the episode and may rival the “town awaits MOAB strike” scene as my favorite moment of the season. The four kids united by a mysterious object that shows them a vision of something horrible they must do is the most “Stephen King” thing the series has done.

If the show keeps it up, it may turn into a consistently high quality series in season 2.

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Parting Thoughts

  • It was nice seeing Phil Bushey. He needs to be around more. Dodee too.
  • The Dome nearly brought a tornado upon Chester’s Mill to keep Junior in line. Unfortunately, not a single character in this episode said the word “Torna-Dome.” Lame.
  • What was the deal with Mike Vogel and Dean Norris’ acting in the scene where they agree to team up? The dialogue was extremely on the nose and I feel like the actors delivered the lines equally badly as a statement against shitty writing.
  • Joe developing a weird man-crush on Barbie after watching him save Julia made me laugh. It also made me happy that he finally realized the “Monarch” is king/ruler.
  • This may be my favorite episode yet.

You can find the rest of my Under the Dome reviews here. 

Season 1 will be released on November 5th on DVDBlu-Ray and a collector’s edition Blu-Ray set.

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