Since its stellar premiere three weeks ago, CBS’s summer drama Under the Dome has experienced an unfortunate trend. Each episode has gotten less interesting and while last week’s episode managed to save itself in its second half hour, this week’s episode was downright boring.
Many fans have complained that the show strays too much from the Stephen King novel it was based on, but I can’t speak on that since I haven’t read the book. My main issue with the show is how much of a background character the dome is. In my review of the pilot, I questioned why more people weren’t freaking out and once again, I’m wondering the same thing.
“Manhunt” got its title from the fact that Paul (aka Deputy Crazy) escaped from his jail cell early in the episode by tricking Linda into coming inside to check on him. He grabbed a rifle and headed out to do his thing so Big Jim came and rescued Linda and then organized a small search party to go find and presumably kill him to send a message that order must be followed.
It’s the premise for a great episode, but the execution fell completely flat. The manhunt was mostly an excuse to get Big Jim and Barbie alone together so Big Jim could let the newcomer know that he was in charge and he didn’t trust him. We also got to hear some of Big Jim’s backstory and his personal daddy issues (his father was a bully; he didn’t like being called ‘Big Jim’, blah, blah).
But apparently Big Jim inherited all those terrible qualities because he had less than zero sympathy for Junior when his son told him that Barbie punched him for no reason. Big Jim accused him of hiding behind his mother’s skirt, even though she’d been dead for years and more or less told him to ‘man up’ and get over it. However, later in the episode when Junior again expressed his desire to help, Big Jim told him to ‘drink his milk’ and stay out of the way (No wonder Junior has crazy eyes).
When Junior wasn’t with his father, he was down in the shelter with Angie. She seemed ready to play his game and get their love back and suggested that someone could go under the dome via some underground tunnels. Junior headed to check them out and Julia followed him inside. Needless to say, the dome wasn’t letting them out so Junior and Julia talked. He told her that Barbie beat him up and she told a story of how she’s a terrible journalist and got fired from her old job (seriously, verifying sources is Journalism 101).
But as dull as all of this was, it was the interesting part of the episode. A good chunk of the show was overrun with teenagers (get off my lawn!), who were determined to party it up at Joe’s place since he had electricity and they could charge their stuff there. Even Norrie showed up because her iPod was dead. These scenes went on for a long time, but here’s what I got out of them: a bully was mean to Joe, the teenagers left the second the power went out and then Joe and Norrie held hands and had a joint seizure.
We also learned that small town = prejudice because no one was interested in helping Norrie’s black, lesbian mother find her daughter (which she eventually did right before she went into her seizure and started chanting about the pink stars again). Big Jim and the reverend snarled at each other some more, each blaming the other for his actions. Paul showed up in the middle of Big Jim’s story and while he and Barbie pointed guns at one another, Linda arrived and shot and killed Paul (I’d be very scared if I were her since a cop has died in each episode).
Finally, Julia and Barbie were chilling at her house after a long day in crazy town and her reporter’s instincts were tingling. She questioned him about why he was in town and he gave her the ‘just passing through’ line. But as soon as he went into the shower, she searched his bag and found a map of Chester’s Mill with a location written on it.
Again, while all of this was happening, no one seemed even the tiniest bit concerned that they’re trapped under a dome! The writers went out of their way to make sure that some of the citizens seem small minded given their reaction to Norrie’s moms, but wouldn’t these same small minds be freaking out that there’s a dome over their heads and they’re trapped with these lesbians that they hate for no reason other than ignorance? Nope; they’re perfectly content to sit at the diner and eat their lunches.
Speaking of the diner, the lady who runs it (Sabrina’s aunt), mentioned that Angie usually worked the lunch crowd, but she’s nowhere to be found. Shouldn’t that raise someone’s suspicions? They know Angie was alive after the dome came down; why wouldn’t anyone question where she’s been since then? If people are going about their lives, shouldn’t someone question why this girl hasn’t been coming to work?
I still have high hopes for this show that it will turn itself around and return to the captivating plots that the pilot offered. The previews for next week referenced a medicine shortage so maybe that will get the townspeople to start questioning their future and how long they can live under a dome.