Another episode of Under the Dome, another mixed reaction from me. As much as this series can do right (and I actually felt like they did a very good job with Alice’s death scene), there is so much overwhelmingly wrong with Under the Dome that prevents these few good moments from flourishing and making Under the Dome into an actually good show.
Last night, for example, we had the emotional death of Alice, who, even if we haven’t spent a large amount of time with her, we still feel somewhat connected to because of the show’s focus on Norrie and her importance in Under the Dome’s overall mythology. However, in order to get this emotionally affecting death, Under the Dome had to use the cheap plot device of the struggling woman in labor. Harriet, a character who we have never met before or even heard about and the life of her child suddenly became a crucial plot point, even though I could not have been anymore emotionally detached from the situation. This plot is a tired and overly used cliché that finds itself on almost all TV shows at one point, but the major mistake that Under the Dome made was not having the character that was pregnant be a prominent one, someone we had gotten to know over the past few episodes and therefore cared about whether she and her baby made it out alive.
And there’s Under the Dome’s biggest problem right there: character. No matter how many twisty or shocking plot points the show burns through in its first season, and whether it reveals that the dome itself is a scientific experiment gone wrong or some supernatural punishment inflected upon the citizens of Chester’s Mill by a god-like being, it really won’t matter that much to me, because people don’t watch television shows simply for concepts. We watch for connection, we watch for emotion, we watch characters that we can root for, and when it comes to people who are engaging and enjoyable to spend time with on a weekly basis, well, Under the Dome is in really short supply.
- Two big developments tonight came from Joe and Norrie. First, they discover that there’s a smaller dome, inside the large dome, that is protecting some sort of power source or generator. Then we also learn that the dome can somehow project images of the dead (or near-dead?) to their loved ones. All of these are intriguing concepts, but as I said in my rant above, Under the Dome needs to work on characters first and foremost. If you want to compare Under the Dome to something like Lost (which I don’t like to but it seems like everyone else out there does), no one had any idea what the smoke monster actually looked like till the first season finale, but what kept viewers watching and loving the series every week? Well-written character played by talented actors.
- Barbie and Julia slept together, which I’m good with. Barbie is the one of the few characters on this show that is played by a capable actor in Mike Vogel, and to be honest, Barbie’s just really freaking cool. He rocks.
- Junior continued to show his homicidal tendencies tonight, along with his continued obsession for Angie. Awesome man. Can’t Junior just go away forever and never return? Oh, and can he bring Joe’s friend Ben with him?
- Big Jim continues to show his evil side tonight, drunkenly shooting and blowing up a truck filled with propane when he is not able to get what he think he’s entitled to. This plot doesn’t really interest me much, but it reminded me of how much I love Dean Norris and that I can’t wait for Breaking Bad to come back this Sunday.