Saturday, August 8, 2015

Under the Dome, Season 3, Episode 8: Breaking Point

Under the Dome used to air just a day apart from The Messengers with it’s opening line “prove that humanity is still worth saving.” It amused me that that would be said after the renewal of Under the Dome proved that no, we are not worth saving and even the most merciful god would put us out of our misery and bring on the apocalypse.

So we open with the reminder that the “resistance” include Jim who is the worst person ever who reminds us of this by calling Hunter a “cripple” and contemplating killing everyone

Though, to be fair, if I lived in Chester’s Mill I’d contemplate that as well.

Hunter and Jim stay behind to try and crack Christine’s convenient confession log – because every supervillain needs to record her guilt for the good guys to find.

In the caves Christine emerges from her Pod where James is holding Sam and she’s still convinced she can get Sam on side. She plans to lock him up and reprogram him, but not everything has gone her way. She isn’t fully healed  and drained most of the happy drug and energy to heal herself.

Barbie and Eva celebrate the end of Maine the world with sex. In the mirror, Eva still looks like a CGI pointillist painting while Barbie looks his normal self. By Eva’s disappointment I think this means he isn’t a pod person  - especially when he’s distracted by a weird light effect, the Dome is flashing, changing from opaque and cloudy (the sky blocked out by the clouds of dust and dirt) to a normal blue sky.

Julia and her sidekicks, Norrie and Joe also see this and realise that the Dome is flashing from a fake image to a real one (looks like Maine the world didn’t end last episode). They follow happy pod people to where they pull a healed Christine from the tunnels and she confesses that the potentially interesting apocalypse was all an illusion and sensible people who shouldn’t all be strangled in their sleep still exist out there. It also proves the pod people are completely mesmerised including Barbie and Carolyn (yes! She still exists!) Christine is using her minions to bring up the glowy amethysts

Julia remembers Christine’s weird schematic in her office of conveniently-discarded-incriminating-evidence and realises the crystals are part of it. She sends the minions off to go get that design while she keeps spying.

Christine elaborates on how she used the illusion of Mainedeath to bring the town together tells Barbie and Eva that she’s bringing the amethysts to the surface to try and charge them up. Barbie seems completely fine with this as a pod person – or as a person who learns that the unpowered Dome calcifies and stops letting air pass through (would that make it brittle and breakable?) though he also demands Christine arm herself for her own protection. Christine is also super happy Barbie and Eva have had sex – but Eva isn’t convince Barbie is 100% podded.

Barbie leads the mining and spots Julia lurking around. She uses the walkie-talkie to try and talk to him from a distance while he draws a gun. Of course rather than talk about humanity and lies she instead talks relationships – and Barbie decides not to tell Eva that Julia is out there and walks back to the mining with her.

Over to imprisoned Sam who has been chained down in James’s little kidnap bunker where he used to stash Angie – he tries to appeal to James’s sense of family. Yeah that doesn’t work since he’s a full Kinship podperson. Christine then starts draining Sam’s blood then transfusing her own into him to make him a kinship podperson. She also tries to break down his sense of self and worth – especially since he, rather vainly, clings to the idea that he helps people (which, it has to be said, he hasn’t done a whole lot of). With his insecurities poked, she unchains him and leaves.

Meanwhile Hunter and Jim also realise the Dome was lying about the Mainedeath and manage to make contact with the outside – specifically with a woman called Lilly who is working for Acteon, possibly in Hunter’s old job. She knows who Jim is and extrapolates some of what he’s done by the missing Acteon people – though Jim does what Jim does best – lie and try to manipulate the situation to his advantage. He wants a care package. One that goes boom.

After a brief check in with Julia about everything that just happened and some threats for Hunter over his dog he arranges to meet up with her annoyingness. At the school he shows her his new shiny collection of explosives and his plan to blow up the mines. He warns her there will be civilian casualties – and she accepts this “this is war.”

Can they kill James, please? Wait… civilian casualties? On Under the Dome? And Carolyn is starting to talk and Eva is in direct competition with Julia? Oh shit… Black ladies, run! The chain is claiming more victims! Wait, Carolyn disappeared for episodes at a time and now she’s talking? It’s a Marginalised Swan Song!

Norrie and Joe find the alien plan – but they’re also alone with Carolyn which convinces Norrie they have a chance to bring her back to reality. Norrie desperately tries to appeal to Carolyn’s emotions as a mother… which fails. So instead she preys on her grief and pain and guilt over the death of Alice – and even adds that she’s Norrie’s “real mother” unlike Carolyn. Norrie continues to try and provoke Carolyn – but she just whistles and summons the rest of the kinship and has them taken to the tunnels.

They work in the mines and when lunch break is called everyone leaves – except Norrie and Joe and Carolyn

Jim and Julia launch their attack on the mine while it is deserted for lunch – after Jim challenges Julia again about killing people, specifically about how Barbie was going to come after them and she better be ready to kill him if needed. After Julia lures off two guards (pod people who focus on one task and are nearly mindless turn out to be surprisingly distractable), Jim kills another and plants his bombs

But Barbie also notices the distraction and him and James go to investigate. Jim manages to evade Barbie – but on leaving the tunnel runs into his son. Rather than kill James, Jim tries to reason with him (is this where I am supposed to gasp at the irony that Jim warned Julia not to get mushy and here he is getting mushy? It’s a bit on the nose isn’t it?). Jim tries for an emotional apology. Unsurprisingly it doesn’t work – and Jim knocks James out and drags his body clear of the blast.

Julia runs into Eva in them woods and they both pull guns. Julia talks about Barbie not loving Eva and how their relationship is built on a lie. While Eva says how aliens don’t need love. Julia lowers her gun because she knows she’s won because true love conquers all. Eva shoots at Julia (please have hit! Please!). Julia manages to run.

In the caves, Barbie finds a bomb and disarms it – only to realise it’s one of many. He runs telling everyone to clear out of the caves. Carolyn, Joe and Norrie run.

The bomb explodes and Barbie manages to get out. Norrie and Joe and Carolyn don’t. Norrie and Joe manages to get to cover… Carolyn doesn’t, managing to get Norrie to safety but not get clear herself. She comes to herself buried under rubble, no longer a pod person but trapped and dying… she manages to make a poignant goodbye for Norrie and tell Joe to keep her safe before telling them both to run. And then the tunnels collapse. I’m just too angry to be sad about this, I can’t even be smug about being so right

Norrie and Joe run from the mine before Norrie collapsing, despairing that she has lost both her mothers. Norrie despairs as the podpeople move in – but they’re rescued by Jim and Julia.

At the dock Jim is convinced they should give up on everyone because emotion doesn’t work – but Norrie objects, she reached Carolyn. Of course they also realised Jim and Julia set the bombs – Joe objects but Jim says “there’s no regrets in war.”

While everyone deals with the aftermath, Hunter and Lily nerd bond over his hidden files when alarms sound – at Lily’s end. She doesn’t seem surprised saying only, ominously “they’re here” and sending Hunter some files “for safe keeping” before wiping the drive and drawing a gun.

Now the caves are destroyed, the Dome begins to calcify. It’s also revealed that Christine just returned Sam’s own blood – it was another mind trick to convert him. Even if they do have Sam onside, they only have one amethyst. On that note on lies – Eva also tells Barbie that Julia tried to kill her. Christine now declares war on the resistance.

Just once, just ONE DAMN TIME, I’d appreciate it if my cynical sarcasm wasn’t a psychic prediction! I was snarking about Carolyn dying but she did – of course she did. Over and over again we see the same Marginalised Swan Song. A minority character is completely ignored, stuffed in the plot box and generally misused and suddenly they start speaking, they start being part of the plot again… and death. Inevitably it’s a last ditch effort to humanise a minority before killing them off. It’s terrible, it’s common and at this point it is almost comically predictable. The minute I saw Carolyn being more active, I knew this was one Black lesbian who was singing her last. Especially with the advent of Lily – ah, the T-dog chain lives on.

I am also past done with the Eva vs Julia storyline. Eva, for all her qualifications and potential has had one role in this season and in the kinship – seducer of Barbie. Even James gets more to do as Christine’s lacky – but no, Eva’s sole purpose in life is to seduce Barbie. That’s it. And even then she is doomed to fail because this Black lady who doesn’t understand love because she’s alien is set up in direct competition with white Julia, Barbie’s REAL love. Julia was right about lowering the gun – because there’s no damn way Eva could ever win this. Frankly it’ll be a miracle if she lives out the season.

Norrie and Carolyn. No. Oh hell no. That scene was disgusting. It was disgusting that the already often ignored and neglected relationship between Norrie and her mother was yet further degraded by not having that motherhood cause enough emotion to break the podpeopleness – OR have Carolyn’s grief over her wife do it either (Joe’s grief for Angie breaks him through but not Carolyn’s for Alice)

But then that vile attack on her not being Norrie’s real mother because Alice was her birth mother? Trying to hurt her in that way, even if it was to provoke a pod-people reaction was horrifyingly out of line (and all the more so that it didn’t provoke a reaction). It was an attack on adoptive families in general and a specifically vicious attack against same-sex families, painting one or both parents always, inherently, as lesser; a meme that is still being pushed to deny family rights and protections to LGBT families. It was also a rather racist contrast of setting up Norrie’s white mother as superior to her black mother.

This would have been gross, offensive and terrible on any show – but on a show that has so devalued Carolyn as a mother, that has so completely removed her as anything like a meaningful character it is extra awful. There was no need or excuse to include this.