Thursday, September 19, 2013

Under the Dome, Season 1, Episode 13: Curtains

At the noisy Minidome, the chrysalis hatches and Linda freaks out about the Minidome even existing, lots of explaining follows. Linda decides it’s police property but everyone ignores Jim’s lackey because the butterfly in the Minidome touches the edges and blackness starts covering the dome.

Jim has his predictable tantrum over Barbie pleading not guilty; but Barbie points out that Julia’s out there and she knows the truth. Well, sort of - she knows Barbie didn’t shoot her. Barbie knows better than to trust Jim

And Junior is being both creepy and tortured against the Dome and asking why it wants him to kill his dad, Jim. What, you want a list?

In the Minidome, the butterfly creates several black spots before it falls to the floor, weak. The big Dome also darkens – huge black spots appearing then spreading to cover the Dome until it’s black and opaque, blocking all light. This causes more than a little consternation. Norrie and Joe discuss what they can do to free the butterfly – they need the COD. And Linda decides to call all available units to the house.

Because a large group of police will achieve… what exactly? Her message is heard by Julia and Angie and Junior – and, of course, Jim. Who she specifically says needs to see this – because she has every reason to trust Jim, right?

Meanwhile she tells Joe and Norrie to stop it making its horrible noise – they say they may be able to stop it by touching it. She refuses – it’s police property, she will do the Dome groping round here! And just like Dodee, she gets zapped across the room by the very angry Dome. Junior bursts into the room all pouty because Angie is helping Julia and Barbie and Barbie is a murderer – except, Joe saw Barbie save Julia’s life so that doesn’t really work for the gang. With Jim arriving, Junior helps them move the Minidome (awww, can’t you let Jim touch it at least once?) By the time Jim arrives, there’s just a waking Linda who tells him it may be their best shot of getting out of here! Being the crack detective she is, she completely misses Jim’s “oh shit” look.

Julia and Angie are staggering along to the police station to rescue Barbie (what, you thought they were going to clear his name by publicly declaring that he didn’t shoot Julia, therefore removing any chance of Jim silencing Julia? Hah, that would make sense! There is no sense under the dome!)  They free Barbie but run into a policeman (who Angie clonks with  fire extinguisher) and Phil (who is kicked into unconsciousness by a still handcuffed Barbie).

Over the police radio Joe tells Angie to meet them where they hid when they broke their mother’s mirror – to hide that she means the cement factory. They gather there and Junior points a gun at Barbie because, of course, he believes everything his dad says to a point where he’s sceptical when Julia says Barbie didn’t shoot her and it couldn’t possibly have been his dad’s friend Maxine (the same woman who even Jim warned Junior about. Junior is not the brightest spark, is he?)  

Junior settles down when the Minidome produces glowing red hand prints, a subtle hint to get on with it. They touch the prints and the Minidome flares a bright, brilliant white before shattering into dust and soil. The Minidome is open. For a moment they think the Monarch butterfly is dead but when Norrie touches it it moves. It flies around the room before buzzing around Barbie. Joe happily declares him the monarch.

I’d complain if I were you Barbie, other monarchs get jewels and crowns and stuff.

Outside, Jim and Linda learn that Barbie has escaped so Linda scarpers off and Jim finds the whole town gathering in the church for some fervent prayer before the end times. Personally if I thought the end of the world was nigh it’d be orgies and booze, but each to their own I guess. Seeing a crowd gathered, Jim decides to get up and speak – it’s almost a compulsion, he sees an audience, he has to stand up in front of it.

Back in the cement factory, Barbie isn’t behind the whole choosing rulers by insect method of deciding leadership and the egg begins to shake and glow. As the room begins to shake and possibly collapse, everyone runs except Julia who seems mesmerised by the pretty light (keep her away from lightbulbs she could be a danger to herself). She picks up the egg, it stops glowing and the shaking stops – the butterfly lands on the egg. Barbie declares that Julia is the monarch (despite his contempt for insect-based leadership and the fact that Julia is the least interesting person on the entire planet).

Meanwhile Jim is wants Phil to gather some workers to make a gallows in order to maintain the peace – Phil actually agrees. Jim’s other lackey, Linda, is at Joe’s barn and tells Jim that the gang aren’t there. She tells him about the pink stars painted on the walls and asks what “the pink stars are falling in lines” mean – which causes Jim to have one of his guppy mouth-open moments. Of course, he recognises the phrase from his wife’s problems.

He takes Linda to his wife’s studio and shows Linda her painting – a black egg surrounded by pink stars. Jim realises his wife may not have been sick and Linda urges him to stay strong – for us because his family is important. And he’s important! Ye gods, really? Really really? That’s it, seal the Dome, don’t let any of them out, there’s no hope left.

Back at the cement factory, Junior wants to hand everything to Jim who both Angie and Barbie call a monster and he pulls a gun on them – adding that Julia is a liar as well, bringing up her last job. Can someone kill him already? He demands she hand it over but she throws it to Angie and the handcuffed Barbie tackles Junior while everyone runs.

In the woods, they ask the egg what to do – and Hallucination Alice appears. Julia points out it’s probably not Alice (really?) Joe sees he’s been beaten in the stating-the-bloody-obvious-stakes and says it’s probably whoever sent the Dome. Angie, it’s your turn – point out it’s really dark, just in case we’ve missed it. Anyway, Dome!Alice tells them the Dome was sent to protect them from thing-she’s-not-going-to-tell-them-about-because-that-would-make-sense. And you want daylight? Well you’ve got to EARN that daylight, kiddies! And if you fail it’s death for all of you. (This is an interesting definition of “protect”) They earn, y’know, life by keeping the egg safe (next month we see what they have to do to earn oxygen). Julia asks how they protect it and who from – but cryptic revelation hour is over and Dome!Alice is gone.

Junior delivers Barbie to the authorities while the gallows are being built and more sparring and taunting from Jim and Barbie. Jim sends a message over the police radio that he’ll kill Barbie if she doesn’t deliver the egg (no choice, the egg has already threatened mass death. And is the whole town really reaching a point where they’ll hang someone on Jim’s say so? And does anyone in the town have the braincells to realise he’s just called Julia Barbie’s accomplice when YESTERDAY he was accusing him of her attempted murder?! This writing is so sloppy it would run off the page were it a book)

Junior warns his dad about the Dome assassination thing – that people say he murdered people! Jim talks about the paintings and destiny and how it’s totally ok that he killed people! And their super-special family are the chosen ones! Wow, there’s been a severe lowering of standards when it comes to the chosen one trope! Now they can be a great team, murdering together with no more secrets (just lots of bodies and kidnapped people!)

Julia, the Monarch, decides that since she is the Monarch she doesn’t need the kids any more – run along kiddies.

The hour passes and Barbie is lead out to the gallows, the whole town gathering to watch and quite happy with this complete lack of anything resembling due process.

Julia, on the lake, drops the egg into the water – it glows pink and pink lines rise up to the sky. Pink stars are raising in lines! Jim decides that this is proof that god blesses him for killing people. The stars reach the top of the Dome and it glows with bright, brilliant light – and Jim tells Junior to pull the lever on the trap door.


One of the saddest things when reviewing series is that occasional sense of relief when some of them end for the season – there can be no greater indication that you just haven’t had much fun.

The whole storyline is weak. Aside from a mystery that was sorely underdeveloped and needed considerably more revelations, we had a huge number of behaviours that made no damn sense. The Dome has been up for 2 weeks. 2 weeks.

In that time the US military felt threatened enough by it to throw their largest non-nuclear bomb at it (that was within 3 days!). The town had a water panic. The town had a meningitis outbreak. The town ran out of insulin, had a water shortage, had an apparent food shortage. People decided it was ok to invade a farm with guns and they had a small civil war. A woman moved in to set up a criminal kingdom for people who were desperate after this short period of time. The town was convinced to discarding all their human rights – allowing searches and seizures, children be arrested and, finally, a man hanged on no evidence at all.

All this happened in 2 weeks. It took 2 weeks for this town to lose their ever-loving minds. I don’t buy it.

And what happened to the characters? Because those same 2 weeks saw characters lose their ever loving minds. In 2 weeks Jim goes from the brusque, greedy, immoral town councilman to serial killing dictator! Linda goes from someone determined to help and protect the town, challenging illegalities and ethics, refusing to let Jim take over and make his own kingdom and outright attacking Jim over his repeated crossing the line and past drug dealing – then she suddenly forgets all that and becomes his chief lackey, next to Phil who goes from radio DJ to enforcer!

This show also had a severe problem with Minority Decay. We started with an impressively diverse cast – Linda, Carolyn, Dodee, Ben, Phil as well as some background characters were all POC. Carolyn and Alice were lesbians and had a family. Even with such a large cast it was a surprising number

And then? The plot box hit. Characters disappeared for episodes at a time. Phil and Dodee wandered in and out. Ben was forgotten for most of the series. Alice died, Dodee died. Carolyn Took To Her Bed for days. The only minority character who managed to cling to a decent amount of screen time was Linda – and she devolved into Jim’s puppet.

And the characters we did have hang around? Ugh, the most annoying and the most dull. Jim is a villain but he’s so badly written he’s almost cartoonish – as was Max (both fighting for control of this town without ever explaining WHY!). Julia and Barbie, our protagonists, are shoe-horned into storylines that don’t concern them constantly because they have no real plot hooks of their own. They’re boring. They’re bland. Their actors don’t pull in any great miracles with the little they have to work with beyond being blandly pretty. Norrie and Joe are marginally more interesting – but that’s by comparison more than actuality. We had interesting characters – but they were plot boxed.

And Angie and Junior? Junior is vile but constantly pushed back with his victim over and over again. How many times does Angie have to spend time with him? I think by the end Junior’s kidnapping of Angie is almost forgotten and he’s cast in almost a sympathetic light, victimised by his big mean father, conflicted and confused and haunted by his mother’s mental illness… awwwwww poor evil Junior. Someone put him out of my misery.

Especially considering the ending. If Barbie is alive (and, let’s face it, the chances of him being hanged are remote) it will be because junior defied his father, making Junior the good guy. Ye gods if that happens I will be hard pressed not to vomit on season 2.