Thursday, August 8, 2013

Under the Dome, Season 1, Episode 7: Imperfect Circles

Norrie rousts Joe from his bed so they can go play with the potentially dangerous Dome and see if they can make it do shiny things. They start by experimenting on the edge of the Dome (and, by experimenting, I mean making out against it) before Joe suggests going to the centre of the Dome to see if they can do anything there.

A more pleasant awakening greets Julia and Barbie, naked in bed together and prepared to continue the night before’s activities but are interrupted by Julia’s neighbour – Harriet – a heavily pregnant woman who can only eat yoghurt. Barbie runs away – err, leaves to see if anyone needs his help.

As Harriet leaves she sees her husband – who should be away with the military and definitely not in the Dome – she goes to him and reaches to touch his hand. And touches the Dome – her husband, Greg, wasn’t really there. Her waters break and she goes into labour, though it’s too early.

At Big Jim’s Jim frogmarches his son out of the house away from Angie – where he is to say. Junior is all embarrassed at Jim manhandling in front of the woman he stalked, kidnapped and imprisoned and Jim points out the foolishness of that, following it up with a good slap when Junior claims Angie was “sick” because of the Dome and he had to lock her up. He calls Junior sick – which he objects to – and kicks Junior out and orders him never to go near Angie again under dire threat. With Junior kicked out Jim offers to let Angie stay – but she wants to go home to her brother. But first she wants to pay her last respects to Rose, whose body is kept in the Diner kitchen while the mortuary is full (Jim owns the Diner after repeatedly loaning Rose money to keep it open).

In the police station, Junior is the only deputy to arrive – so Linda puts Barbie on patrol while she and Junior go seeking the Dundees – the guys who murdered Rose (initially she was going to take Barbie, but Junior knows the Dundees and hopes to talk them down peacefully). This also means giving Junior a big automatic weapon – showing that, yes, Linda can make a worse decision than giving him a badge.

Angie, while paying her respects to Rose, meets up with Ben and, after a brief understanding with a knife, learns that Joe is ok. At Ollie’s well, half the town is getting water and Jim shows up to make peace with his old friend (yeah, why do I not trust this?) But this time it looks like Ollie has done some plotting of his own – and questions Jim whether he still owns the propane he thinks he owns. Following up on that cryptic comment, Jim finds that Ollie has cut the lock on Jim’s propane stores and has put a big guard with a shot gun on them. When Jim tries to get past, the man hits him.

All the people I hate are getting smacked this episode.

Junior asks Linda exactly what they’re going to do with the Dundees when they arrest them, since the court is outside of the Dome. This question is shelved when Linda tells Junior that the two Dundees planned to rape Angie and Barbie saved her.

Barbie finds the Dundees looting petrol and follows them – to where they’ve set up a road block and are using it to hold people at gun point and steal their fuel. Julia and Harriet (in labour) are stopped by the Dundees and Barbie smacks them down, again. Yes, this is an episode of righteous smacking. Harriet is still in labour (unsurprisingly) but the clinic is closed so they decide to drag the pregnant lady to see Alice (the town’s only doctor) at the McAllister’s farm (right on the edge of town, as I recall).

At the McAllisters, Carolyn is caring for Alice, worried about her insulin while Alice protests the fussing. They dance instead and have a beautiful, moving moment after Carolyn apologises for bringing them to Chester’s Mill and Alice denies it’s Carolyn’s fault. It’s very real and it’s very loving.

Which is when Barbie, Julia and Harriet arrive. Everyone has bad timing this episode. Time for the classic labour scene only with Harriet wondering at the point of bringing a baby into this world (it’s coming Harriet, you can’t exactly change your mind at this point) with Alice and Julia struggling to reassure her.

Linda and Junior drive to where Junior thinks the Dundees will be and Junior looks forward to kicking their teeth in – Linda strenuously objects. They’re police, not vigilantes, they don’t beat people up (my cynical snort goes here).

They catch up with the Dundees and disarm them at gun point. Of course they fight and manage to disrupt the simple arrest. One brother shoots at Linda and gets gunned down. The other runs, chased by Junior until he trips. On the ground he begs Junior, promising to come quietly. Junior shoots him. Twice.

Norrie and Joe continue to look for Dome central and Norrie wonders why them – Joe likes that it chose them. The first time something like this has happened and it’s happening to them (of course, he doesn’t have a diabetic parent gasping for insulin at this moment). Also, of course, it let him meet her. Awwwww. Their dog also acts up – sure sign of spooky stuff ahead. They keep moving to the centre of the Dome until they find a mound of leaves – that shocks them. Clearing away the leaves reveals another Dome – a mini Dome. Inside the mini dome is an egg. Ok, I think that thing hatching could be a very very bad thing.

They try to command the Minidome to turn off or stop and even try talking to it – which doesn’t work. They both touch the Minidome and Alice appears. Norrie removes her hands and Alice vanishes again – it’s another Dome image. Norries decides she has to find her mother and sets off running while Joe buries the Minidome again

At the McAllisters, Harriet’s labour continues but Barbie takes over telling Harriet to push because Alice suddenly feels faint. But she struggles on because there’s a problem – the umbilical cord is wrapped around the baby’s neck. She guides Barbie through what he needs to do.

The baby is born – a baby girl. Harriet decides to call her Alice. But then adult Alice starts having trouble, gasping about her heart

A bruised Big Jim goes to the Diner for a drink straight from the whisky bottle – Angie and Ben have just finished burying Rose and Angie is starting to clean up the blood left behind; and didn’t need a tetchy and angry Jim to tell her to do it.

Jim goes to his office to drink and brood and Ollie arrives to rub some salt into those wounds. He has the well, he has the crops and now he has the propane. He doesn’t have to work with Jim and he’s taking over the town.

How about we just declare Linda supreme ruler of the town? She’s probably the best choice.

That night, the guard is loading up bottles of propane – and Jim shoots his truck with a rifle, hitting his fuel tank and starting a fire. In the truck loaded with propane. Boom.

In the Diner, Ben and Angie look over their work – they’ve cleaned all day and put it back together. She reflects on the past and being happy for working for once – and Junior appears. He wants to tell Angie something; he tries to get Ben to go home but, picking up on Angie’s fear, Ben refuses to leave her. Junior apologises to her. She isn’t impressed – he kidnapped her after all, shouldn’t you at least get a gift basket to go with that apology?

Norrie and Joe return to the McAllister house and Norrie goes up to see Alice. She’s had a heart attack. Norrie sits with her. She tells her she was warned by the Dome. Alice talks about the Dome showing Harriet her husband and bringing a new Alice into the world, then bringing Norrie to Alice’s side – she takes it as the Dome wanting her to go. She asks Carolyn and Norrie to look after each other. Alice dies. Norrie runs, leaving Carolyn’s arms and the house

Outside, Joe is sat looking sad when Angie and Ben arrive. It’s the first time siblings Joe and Angie have seen each other since the first episode. As they catch up, Norrie comes running out the house and Ben shouts after her. When she doesn’t answer, he goes after her. Norrie runs to the Dome and collapses, begging the Dome to bring Alice back. In one room Herriet pets her new baby, downstairs Julia and Barbie lie in each other’s arms while Carolyn, in another room, cries and grieves over Alice’s body

Norrie yells at the Dome to tell her what it wants and at the Minidome the egg lights up.

Ok, Alice’s death. I have mixed feelings about this. I’m not happy that Alice is dead, not happy that one of the 2 GBLT people on this show is dead and not happy that we have a same-sex relationship ending in tragedy. I never expected them to be more than side characters, and I feared it ever since the insulin ran out, but being side characters and being dead are vastly different things. On the positive side, she didn’t die BECAUSE of her sexuality which is a faint thread to cling to. Far better was the way her death was portrayed. It was tragic, it was painful – if anything there was even more outpouring of grief over her than Rose (though Angie and Jim did a good job of respecting Rose’s death) – the agony of her family were never in doubt, it wasn’t thrown away (at least, so far it hasn’t been, we shall see what the next episodes brings). However, there is a track record of minorities being "bigged up" before their death to make their deaths impactful.

But that closing scene? Carolyn’s agonising grief juxtaposed with straight Julia and Barbie cuddling and straight Harriet holding her new baby? I did not like that scene. I could definitely have done without that scene. That bothered me rather a lot. Straight HEA contrasting with lesbian grief will never fit well on the screen

And, of course, we have halved the show's GBLT representation and I can't imagine Carolyn will be a major character

On other issues – Jim’s fight for control of the town somewhat links back to the story he told Barbie about being bullied when he was at school for being a short man, a smaller man. Especially when he is beaten up by the guard who is much bigger than Jim. It can be simplified as a “Napolean complex” but it’s indicative of our culture of aggression and competition. To resist bullying as smaller, weaker, less manly, Jim fought back – and even then he fought back with one weapon; he may be smaller but he has less limits on his conscience (in his highschool story, he responded to the bullying by causing severe injuries). His determination to be the Alpha male and maintain his position drives him. We can even see this with how he treats Barbie and Linda (and, earlier, Duke) people who threaten his Alphaness, he’s willing to carefully step around them in ways that lets him keep an illusion of control. He doesn’t have to push against them because Barbie just wants to keep his head down and Linda is just concerned with maintaining the peace. Neither are self-promoters, neither want to move beyond their field. Neither overtly challenge Alpha Jim unless Alpha Jim crosses lines with them – which he’s careful to avoid or work passively past (like using Junior to recruit deputies).

But it is also reminiscent of class issues – especially since Ollie called Jim a “townie” and, as has been alluded to, Jim was certainly using his place on the town council in a way that disadvantaged Ollie (perhaps to Jim’s advancement). And we’ve definitely seen Jim use his status to his advantage. There’s a definite sense of resentment (justified or not) from Ollie and an implication that Jim, the townie, the Councillor, used his power and influence to control farmer Ollie – and the whole area.

Of course, we have the mystery of the Minidome – which is definitely curious. I am intrigued.