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You can probably tell from the way I’ve been posting these Under the Dome reviews on Thursdays that I’ve been getting slightly burnt out on reviewing every episode. On that score, I’m a bit relieved to be churning out my final season 1 review for the CBS Summer series. This finale gave me some mixed emotions. You can read my thoughts below but be warned SPOILERS WITHIN

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The monarch (butterfly) emerged from its cocoon in the beginning of Monday night’s season finale. And I was as confused as ever. For the most part this season, I’ve been content with the mystery of the series and the way it’s played out. I grew slightly tired of the “Oh, the monarch is a butterfly” thing but overall I thought it was a decent progression of information doled out over the 13 episodes.

Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 2.10.07 AMThen the butterfly hatched and blotted out the Dome. In the first quarter of the episode, I found myself becoming annoyed with the show’s central mystery. The kids intuitively know that the monarch is important and that there is a king in Chester’s Mill who will be important to the town’s survival. They also know they, apparently, have to kill Big Jim. What I instantly grew tired of was the piling on of mysteries.

The big Dome was then blotted out and plunged Chester’s Mill into darkness. Following this development, the kids instinctively know that they need to do something to protect the butterfly in the minidome because blah blah blah. What I struggled with here was the extreme vagueness of the monarch butterfly’s importance. There was so much vaguely absurd mystery piled onto the minidome in such a short amount of time that it was hard to buy into the mystery’s supposed importance.

Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 2.09.53 AMThe thing I keep coming back to is how the minidome is essentially Under the Dome’s “hatch.” I don’t like comparing this series with Lost but I feel like it’s warranted one final time. In 7 episodes the minidome has exhibited a ton of wildly vague and mysterious developments. The hatch in Lost essentially follows the progression of “they found it, they hid it, tried to open it, saw a light and blew it up.” That was all there was to the hatch and Lost’s inaugural season ran for 24 episodes.

Would Under the Dome have been better served with just the general mystery of the minidome’s existence and none of the monarch nonsense? It’s hard to say. Let’s not get ourselves worked up over one plot device, however. So how was the rest of the finale?

Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 2.10.59 AMAs the episode played, I got more and more comfortable with the story unfolding. I had my issues (not a single Chester’s Miller thought to demand due process for Barbie after hearing him plea not guilty?!) but overall it was engaging. As always, watching Dean Norris work is mesmerizing. I still think he toes the line between politician and evildoer perfectly.

Seeing Junior struggle between following his father and following the Dome’s commands was surprisingly interesting and reasonably well acted by Alexander Koch. If the show plays its cards right, the evolution of Junior could become something impressive in the long run,

The church scene was interesting in both a good and a bad way. Had the show played up the religious element of the town from day one, it would have be far more believable that the town would be accepting of the construction of gallows and a public execution.

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I have to repeat myself here because I don’t like giving this plot element only one sentence: Seriously, not a single Chester’s Miller thought to demand due process for Barbie after hearing him plea not guilty?! I understand the town is distraught and in crisis, but I didn’t feel like there was anything in this episode, or this season, to make an entire town stare in silence as a man who publicly denied the charges against him was about to be hanged. I would go so far as to say it was the most ridiculous thing the series has done.

Screen shot 2013-09-19 at 2.07.17 AMLet’s move on to slightly better things, though. The apparition of Norrie’s mother revealed far more about the Dome and the beings responsible for the Dome than I expected her to. Not Norrie’s mom said something to the effect of “We’ve been struggling to communicate with you.” The particular phrasing of this, leads me to think the things in control of the Dome are aliens. If that proves to be the case, then I am quite satisfied with the way it was revealed and I must give kudos to the writers for throwing us that big juicy bone.

There was also the ominous warning that the Dome was placed over Chester’s Mill to protect it. This was a huge development in the story and a massive answer doled out to us by the wordslingers at the helm of this series. What is Chester’s Mill being protected from? Is the apparition telling the truth? My best guess is that, given the military’s eagerness to try the MOAB approach to bringing down the Dome, the world surrounding Chester’s Mill is going to experience some kind of radical change.  Will it be due to the Dome’s placement? Is the Dome being placed over the town to protect it a self-fulfilling prophecy?

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Hopefully we’ll find out more next year in a more consistently entertaining and engaging season of Under the Dome. I’ll be sure to write all about it next summer. I hope you enjoyed these reviews and hope you return next year! In the meantime, check out the rest of The Obsessive Viewer Blog and subscribe to The Obsessive Viewer Podcast on iTunes.

Parting Thoughts

  • Blotting out the Dome and plunging the town into darkness reminded me of Mr. Burns’ plan to block out the sun in The Simpsons.
  • I loved Barbie’s “you’re a politician” retort to Big Jim’s suggestion that he’s a criminal. I wouldn’t be surprised if whoever was responsible for that line was the one who pitched Barbie’s “you’re a used car salesman” line a few weeks back.
  • So because a butterfly flies near you, you’re automatically the monarch of Chester’s Mill? Okay.
  • Ending the season with a cliffhanger was a bad move, in my opinion. It didn’t feel like a cliffhanger. It felt like an incomplete episode.

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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