UNDER THE DOME
Dale 'Barbie' Barbara - Mike Vogel
Jim Rennie - Dean Norris
Julia Shumway - Rachelle LeFevre
Deputy Esquivel - Natalie Martinez
Junior Rennie - Alex Koch
Angie McAllister - Britt Robertson
OTHER UNDER THE DOME SEASONS
OTHER STEPHEN KING SHOWS
Salem's Lot '79
Salem's Lot '04
Nightmares and Dreamscapes
Bag Of Bones
The small town of Chester's Mill is a typical community, seemingly bucolic, but with its own share of secrets bubbling under the surface. Chester's Mill, though, has bigger problems as a giant invisible dome is lowered over the town.
A small community melting down to self-destruction is a common theme in the work of Stephen King, but the reason for that meltdown has rarely been as bizarre as the dome lowered over the town in this story. The effects of the dome (cows cut in half, bloody handprints in the air, trucks' front ends folding up against nothing) are all uniformly impressive, which is more than can be said for the cast of characters we are introduced to.
The town of Chester's Mill is filled with stock characters and the actors aren't up to the task of filling in the depth that isn't there in the script. There's the flawed hero (he's ex-army, so he must be a hero), the obviously evil mayor, the spunky young girl who just wants to get away, the East coast intellectuals caught up just passing through, the screw up, the psycopath... The list goes on. This is only the first episode, so there is time for the characters to grow and deepen.
As for the plot -there isn't one. This is the introduction to the cast with hints of backstory that will eventually become main story, hints of the secrets that must eventually come to light. That's enough for now, just about.Top
In the wake of the sheriff's death, Rennie has to reclaim documents surrounding the secret of the propane gas, documents that reside in the house that the sheriff's will has left to his favourite deputy.
The town is slowly waking up to its plight, but only very slowly. Nobody seems overly interested in making contact with the outside world. Certainly the Mayor is only interested in his secret scheme being revealed whilst Junior goes after the man he thinks has slept with his girl. Barbie wants his dog tags back and the town comes together to rather unconvincingly put out a fire. Priorities don't seem to be where they ought to be.
Few of the characters are any deeper than they were at the start of the show and few are worthy of sympathy. Hopefully, things will improve and hopefully that improvement will come soon.Top
The deputy who accidentally shot his colleague escapes and goes on the run. Everyone else goes after him, except Julia who follows Junior into some dangerous tunnels.
This is another pulpy episode that focuses on the manhunt and the trip through the tunnels and does nothing with the much larger issues surrounding the dome. True, the trip into the tunnel ends with information about how far the dome goes underground, but it is more about Julia and Junior spending some quality time together.
Sadly, none of this is giving any depth to the characters and all the heartfelt stories that they keep telling each other don't illuminate those thin characters any more either.Top
The townsfolk of Chester's Mill are suddenly getting sick, a form of meningitis. It can be cured by timely doses of antibiotics, but they have apparently all gone missing.
Leaving aside the apparently phony nature of both the illness and the cure (it could be that they are both genuine, but they feel phony in the extreme), the increasingly soapy nature of the show is getting worrying. Julia finds out about her husband's gambling, which brings her closer to Barbie's secret and Big Jim finally learns who is his guest in the bomb shelter.
But the real problem is the soapy stuff, the dialogue that quite literally stinks at times and plotting that introduces a minor character for the sole purpose of giving a major one something to feel sad about.
At least the show came up with one surprise in how Junior dealt with the hostile crowd situation.Top
Blue On Blue
A 'meet the relatives' day is set up for the inmates of Chester's Mill, but Barbie works out that this is because the military are planning to hit the dome with the biggest bomb they have and nobody inside is going to survive.
Now here's a question. The relatives all bring paper and tablets and the like so that they can talk to each other through the dome, but nobody in authority outside has been talking in a similar way to those inside. Why not? What's that about? It makes no sense.
On the other hand, the imminence of death makes for an interesting backdrop to the evolving relationships within the town. A few people bond and make decisions about the little time that they have left.
Of course, the outcome is never in any doubt, but the show manages to make it feel a bit like it was.Top
The Endless Thirst
An accident wipes out the town's water supply, triggering a panic that sees shops and the diner being looted. Big Jim makes a deal with Angie for her freedom, but finds that he might have been outmanoeuvred by an old adversary.
The town goes mad, injecting some much needed action into the plot, but the suddeness of it feels artificial and and manufactured. It's just another crisis that is visited on the town in its turn, rather than developing naturally. Nobody is any closer to working out what is going on and it's hard to really care that much.Top
A strange object is discovered at the centre of the dome, a woman goes into labour, the medicine shortage claims another life and Big Jim strikes back.
The introduction of the pregnant woman gives this episode its crisis of the week, but that is undermined by the fact that we have no idea who she is and have no time to get to know her or care about her. That said, the show has nerve enough to take out someone fairly major.
The revelation of the dome within a dome and the egg-shaped thing that it contains at least suggests the story has decided to start progressing and it much more interesting that Big Jim getting all drunk and taking his revenge on those who wrong him. This is an odd reaction since he took out his old partner, the reverend, without the need for any alcohol in sight.Top
Thicker Than Water
Jim Rennie's command of Chester's Mill is being threatened by another man who takes over the water supply. Rennie wants control of the water himself, but Barbie has other ideas.
All out war starts in Chester's Mill and is over by the end of the episode. There is a limp attempt at a betrayal storyline, but it's so obvious that it fools nobody.
The show needs a very big kick in the pants if it is to come to anything worthwhile.Top
The Fourth Hand
The egg that powers the dome will respond to four hands. Three have been identified, but whose is the fourth. Jim Rennie finds his past coming back to haunt him.
OK, the egg that powers the dome is an interesting concept and the mystery at the heart of the show, but everything that is going on around it is just nonsense. The sudden arrival of a criminal kingpin out of thin air (she's been hiding for the past week to 'size up the situation'? Really?) is utter nonsense.
The story is spiralling out of control and credibility is fading fast.Top
Let The Games Begin
Max, the uber-gangster moll makes Barbie fight for his life whilst Rennie uncovers her secret weapon. The kids discover the identity of the fourth hand that the egg needs.
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. The villain who popped up last week has created a criminal empire overnight. The dome's been in place for a week or so and the people have descended into fight club and rampant booze and drug addiction. This is utter nonsense and so badly written.
The revelation that Max's 'insurance policy' is a living person is pretty neat, but the fact that it's her uber-gangster moll mother who was bullied as a child in Chester's MIll is just laughable. Any sense of reality that the show ever had just went out the window.Top
Speak Of The Devil
Jim and Barbie decide that it's time to bring down their common enemy, but have vastly differing plans and an enmity almost as strong as their common goal.
Well, there is certainly a lot going on in this episode as Jim and Barbie take on the evil queen of gangsters and Barbie realises the depth of Jim Rennie's duplicitous nature. The hero is too good for the situation and the villain becomes more pantomime with every passing episode. That the whole town can't see how bad he is just by looking at him is nonsensical.
As for the egg and butterfly thing, it creates a whole new vision that moves nothing along plotwise and really doesn't suggest we are any nearer to an explanation. Of course, if they want a second season then that isn't going to be forthcoming anyway.
The pace is fast enough and there are enough twists thrown in to stop the audience from thinking just how big the plot holes are.Top
Jim makes his move to take over the town, using Barbie as the bogeyman to frighten everyone into line. Meanwhile, the egg isn't happy about what is going on.
The pace remains relentlessly high to paper over the cracks in the plotting. Rennie is now caught up in the fact that the dome can never come down and is willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that his new kingdom is safe. The sheriff doesn't ask a single sensible question of anyone and the character is reduced to being Rennie's sidekick.
There is lots of running around and lots of threats being made by Rennie to various defenceless people, but if you stop to think about it, the whole deck of cards is likely to come down. Fortunately, the pace doesn't allow for that and enough is going on to keep it watchable.Top
The butterfly in the egg must be set free so that 'the monarch' can be crowned, whatever that means. In the meantime, Rennie sets up a scaffold so that he can see 'justice' is done to Barbie once and for all.
It's the final episode, but the fact that a second season has already been announced means that there is little chance that answers will be had and that proves to be the case. There is a good deal of incident, as there has been throughout the show, but to little actual effect. Yes, the dome turning black and the townsfolk turning into a rampaging mob is activity, but it makes little sense and is beyond the realms of believability.
Events with the egg have a good deal of significance. We know this because people keep speaking about the crowning of the monarch as if it is something momentous. When it happens, though, it turns out to be a major damp squib.
Nice cliffhanger, though.Top
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