Thursday, August 29, 2013

Under the Dome, Season 1, Episode 10: Let the Games Begin

In the barn, the Children-of-the-Dome (hereby forever known as COD), Angie, Joe and Norrie wake up to find that there’s a caterpillar in the Minidome – a Monarch Butterfly caterpillar (also Norrie is engaging in inept bondage to stop Joe sleep walking).  The CODs talk about whether or not to trust Julia again (not) and check again that they do need the fourth hand print – there is another COD out there!

Dodee has been following the CODs because… the script says so, because I can’t think of any other reason. When they leave the barn she goes in and finds the Minidome! She takes pictures – then touches the Minidome and is thrown across the room, unconscious. The COD hurry back from wherever they went (I don’t think they went anywhere, I think the script just said “leave Dodee alone with Dome for REASONS”) to find her unconscious and with a burned hand from where she touched the Dome.

She has failed the Children of the Dome test.

They hurry her to the clinic and she doesn’t remember anything – just electricity. They seize on the explanation of the generator and hand her over to a nurse. Angie takes the chance to ask Nurse Adams if anyone else has had seizures and she says “not since your 10th grade dance.”         

This causes Angie to storm angrily. Why? Because that seizure was Junior’s. Junior is the 4th hand, the remaining COD – damn it Under the Dome, why? You’re going to have the story force Angie and Junior together?

Angie tells Joe and Norrie about Junior kidnapping her – which causes Joe to announce he’ll kill Junior and Angie to counter that she’s the one who gets to kill him. Alas, this kill Junior tag team stops because Norrie returns them to the 4th hand. Oh Norrie, you can cut off his hand after you kill him.

Elsewhere, Barbie consults with Jim about Max – the enemy of my enemy and all that. To stop her they need to find her little insurance dirt and they brainstorm Osiris properties – a legitimate estate company she owns that owns property in the area. Of course they still don’t trust each other. They go to the town hall to find an isolated property on an island in the middle of methane lake which may be the best place to check. And Max comes in with a shopping list she expects Jim to fill.

Seriously Max? You’re going to use your blackmail material to humiliate them with menial tasks? It’s not like Jim is a man with a temper, a predilection to violence and a Napoleon complex so pathologically strong it drives him to maim and murder for the sake of saving face… oh wait?

Julia goes looking for Barbie at the police station and finds a troubled Linda going through a pile of files. Linda asks Julia about being told by Ms. Grinnel about the propane warehouse and shows Julia the footage of Duke meeting with Max (behold, Julia is shoe-horned into another storyline!) and tells her about the drug production. After brainstorming, Linda remembers the hat that was oh-so-special to Duke and finds a key to a safety deposit box in the brim – a box in Chester’s Mill Bank

Wait, hold on now, you’re telling me Barbie and Jim are looking for where Max has stashed her blackmail material in abandon properties when there’s a bank in town with safety deposit boxes?

Speaking of, Jim is heading to that island – with a gun. There he finds a big, beautiful house and a working generator. There he runs into the caretaker, Agatha, who likes him (she doesn’t know him beyond his adverts) and knows nothing about Max – she thinks the house is owned by an Oliver Luckland..

Alas, it seems we have to catch up with Junior, driving around with all the authority of the law (oh dear). A guy sees his car and runs which looks a little suspicious so Junior grabs him – he’s been shoplifting salt. Why salt? Because apparently it will get you into the cement factory. I’m… not entirely sure why one would want to get into a cement factory or why table condiments are replacing currency so quickly. Having taken the purloined salt, Junior heads to the cement factory but he’s not welcomed since he’s a cop (ish)

Apparently the cement factory is where Max runs various illicit entertainment operations to keep the bored people of Chester’s Mill amused (but not prostitution, that’s a hard line for her). Instead she has bare knuckle fighting, gambling etc all set up to ensure Max lives in luxury for as long as possible. And of course she wants Barbie to be one of her fighters against a man who Barbie once forced to pay up gambling debts (to Max) at gunpoint, which ruined his life. The fight begins. It goes on for a while and Barbie gets the upper hand but seeing Max’s pleasure he then throws the fight. But Max was one step ahead of him – while everyone bet on Barbie, she bet on his opponent because she knew he’d throw the fight to try and spite her.

While Barbie fights, Jim snoops around the house and finds a picture of a younger Max with Agatha – just as Agatha emerges with a gun. She’s Max’s mother. She’s also a resident of Chester’s Mill who went to school with Jim – but got pregnant at 16 with Max and then was shunned by the town. To support herself she turned to prostitution and was further shamed by the men who were happy to pay for her services. She hates the town – and in her rant spills Barbie’s murderous secret to Jim as well. She also takes a pot shot at Junior being “as crazy as his mom” to which Jim surges to his feet and asked if she could actually murder someone because he knows he can. She hesitates and he takes her gun off her.

He ties her up and they both take the boat back to the mainland – but on the way, mid-rant, Agatha falls in the water. She gasps for help since her hands are tied and Jim… watches her. After a while he sets off again, leaving her in the middle of the lake to drown.

Back to the bank where Linda (and hanger on Julia explaining about her marital problems) walk past the vast amounts of abandoned cash and break into the safety deposit box room. In the box they find a badge Linda gave Duke with lots of sentimental value – and a letter. The letter is a confession about Duke losing his son to drug addiction and his promise to keep drugs out of Chester’s Mill – by buying Propane for Max to make drugs and ensuring drugs would never come to Chester’s Mill; he also fingers the Rev and Jim.

Awww, Duke did it for his town! Ok anyone in neighbouring towns or elsewhere is getting swamped with new drugs that he’s help covering up but yay he’s helping the town. Really? This man was that narrow minded and that obsessed with the town? The man is so worried about drugs and the harm they cause – they caused his family – that he’s going to facilitate their creation?

Julia checks her husband’s safety deposit box and finds a life insurance policy – for $1,000,000. She decides she has to talk to Barbie.

Angie takes the other CODs to Junior’s mother’s studio to show them the awful pink star painting and Norrie declares that it doesn’t matter what they want – which is when Junior arrives and Joe attacks him – which doesn’t work out for Joe. Junior then acts the wounded soul because zomg he trusted Angie and now she’s spilling all his secrets! How could she!

The fight over, Max again tries to turn Barbie into a willing participant in her enterprise – and a willing lover. She threatens to burn the town down if she doesn’t get what she wants – and Barbie walks out on her, telling her they’re finished.

That night, Linda confronts Jim and he weasels around for a delay until the next day – she expects him first thing.

And Julia and Barbie have an incredibly awkward conversation and Barbie confesses to what really happened with her husband – and she already has inferred some by the empty gun container she found in her bedroom closet.  She knew he pulled a gun on Barbie – but also knew he didn’t take any bullets. She also shows her the life insurance policy – he needed to be murdered since it would be void if he committed suicide. Barbie apologies – which may be the most inadequate apology ever. She tells him she’s seen him sacrifice himself for total strangers but “in the future there can be no more lies”. Which means she sees a future between them

Y’know, I kind of want to see Julia explaining to various authorities that her forming a relationship with the man who killed her husband who, in turn, left her a $1,000,000 life insurance policy was totally coincidental.

The CODs gather at the MiniDome complete with Junior who probably won’t make me happy by being fried by the nasty technology. And the caterpillar is now a chrysalis. Hmmm… hey, I know it’s shiny and all but is anyone considering whether messing with technology you don’t understand and may hatch is a good idea? Anyone? No?  Apparently not because they put their hands on the Minidome and Junior adds his hand. Alas it isn’t melted and he doesn’t withdraw a bloody stump.

The egg glows, shuts down the electricity in the barn – then surrounds them with glowing pink stars. It’s an alien strope light! ET will now arrive, disco-dancing! Or it may be a star chart since they form constellations.

A note on the chronology of the show. The Dome apparently came down 9 days ago.

Seriously? All this has happened in less than a fortnight? Shortages? People losing their shit? An underground economy? They’ve completely ignored the scads of cash just lying around the bank? They’ve so soon discarded currency as a useful commodity and decided they will never again get out? They’ve embraced bare knuckle fighting for fun? In 9 days? Are they particularly excitable in this town? I don’t buy it. The time line doesn’t work – maybe after a month or two, but too much has happened too soon.

I don’t rate Max as a villain, she’s shallow, she doesn’t make a lot of sense.  Why is she going to such lengths to ensure “luxury” when it’s apparent she is already owed enough favours and has enough resources to be pretty damn confident of living as luxuriously as anyone in the town? And why waste her powerful blackmail material on ridiculous power games with Jim and forcing Barbie into fights which are already successful? Is this really all about Agatha’s revenge on the town?

Just like Julia being hammered into storylines to keep her relevant (why create your main character with so few hooks to any storylines? It’s a terrible idea!) and the endless dramas on fastforward, the whole Max storyline feels like clumsy writing to make something happen that doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny.

At least there’s an attempt at characterisation with Agatha’s past and Max’s aversion to prostitution, along with a fairly decent swipe at the sheer hypocrisy of slut shaming and how the seeds of Max’s criminality lie in the ostracism she and her mother face. But before we get too analytical she ends up at the bottom of Lake Methane.

Speaking of things that make no damn sense, why is Norrie suddenly “the Dome wants X! It is the Dome’s will that matters!” to the point of defending and ignoring Joe’s kidnapping of Angie. Screw the Dome, beat Junior with heavy objects already. I really hate him being pushed into this storyline, I hate that Angie is being sacrificed for the greater command of the Dome and I loathe that this is going to be some kind of sick, twisted redemption arc.