Saturday, September 12, 2015

Under the Dome, Season 3, Episode 13: The Enemy Within

The new Queen is rallying her troops (and is totally disrespecting the last Queen). Step 2 is bringing down the Dome. Step 1 is defeating the enemy within.

Joe, Norrie and Jim are looking at bringing down the Dome though Norrie has angst – which is all irrelevant because lots of Drones with guns appear

Meanwhile Barbie and Julia are burying the body of doctor-don’t-pretend-you-remember-her-name-she-had-like-4-lines-before-she-was-killed-and-no-I’m-not-looking-it-up because it proves they’re better than the Kinship (it also proves they’re vastly less practical since they’re low on time and resources and taking a time out to get all tired grave digging). Julie tries to talk about feelings and Barbie’s last hope to cure his daughter – when a crowd of Drones arrive (they’re both far too exhausted to fight because grave digging and bad decisions), led by Daughter Queen. Daddy-daughter reunion!

Then we have a smoking crater and a stunned, bleeding Junior staggering to his feet. He’s just discovered the truth about Christine

Anyway, the Resistance is all put in a gaol cell and Queen – Dawn – has no time for Barbie’s attempt at sympathy or emotion with Barbie. She has no place for love or parents, people only exist to serve a purpose. Their purpose, as Jim points out, is to be leverage to make Joe obey

She goes to Joe to threaten him and Joe decides to hold his ground and co-operate so long, as Dawn “doesn’t hurt them until the Dome comes down” uh, Joe, can we talk about the time limit you decided to put on that condition?

Anyway since Joe was podded, Dawn points out he’s also Kinship, even if he’s asymptomatic. For now.

In prison Barbie realises they’re doomed because either a) the Dome stays up and they all die or b) they unleash Alien awfulness on the world. Julia suggests murdering Dawn and Barbie has a “no my daughter!” moment. Somehow missing the fact that, as a Black woman, Dawn already has a count-down to death clock ticking away on Under the Dome.

Dawn decides to release everyone but the uninfected– Jim and Julia. And Barbie is still determined to connect to the non-existent humanity in his daughter.

Junior returns – and Sam tries to convince Dawn that he is the super Alpha. She’s not convinced so he warns her that the Dome is surrounded by troops who will swoop in and destroy every last one of them except those who get to be experimented on. Something Christine neglected to mention. Sam tells her about the cement factory tunnels which they can use to escape – and kisses him. Junior watches and jealousy begins

Joe sets up his Dome shattering device and Norrie is there to reassure him that of course an Earth teenager has completely figured out alien technology – don’t be silly!

Sam and Junior fight over Dawn and Junior stabs Sam. Dawn, your kinship is terrible and falling apart.

And Barbie tries to convince Dawn to be a decent person. Dawn just kills people and points out that she’s just like her daddy like that. Also because killing her drones is such a good idea (at least the whole “we’re running out of oxygen” thing has magically disappeared). Good ideas and this show don’t go together. Of course now Sam has been killed he can’t carry out Dawn’s orders of preparing their escape.

Dawn does release her dad for more angst in the future. Junior joins the new queen to tell her how much he wants to be alpha and he has proven this by murdering her useful servants! YAY UNDER THE DOME DECISION MAKING! Dawn decides this makes him a worthy follower so reveals her true plan – this whole Dome has been a disaster with the shattered egg. They need to find one of the other eggs out there, set up a new Dome and do it properly. Of course that means they have a whole load of people they don’t need but they’re useful sacrifices (also, all are infected with Under the Dome decision making so must be stopped for the sake of humanity)

Meanwhile Julia and Jim escape because the guard is even more stupid than they are. And that is impressive. They go and get Jim’s stash of guns – the guard again tries to stop them and Jim brutally beats him to death (yes, it’s another dead person of colour, this should surprise no-one).

Time to bring down the Dome only it seems the 7 Amethysts and Joe’s invention are only part of the puzzle. They also need Norrie because she was one of the Four Hands way back in season-no-one-cares when we still had butterflies and pink stars and the Dome deciding to randomly magnetise itself or rotate or kill fish or whatever funsie thing it did that no longer makes even the slightest sense. Using Norrie this way will also turn her into a full drone (uh, Joe was also one of the Four Hands. So was Junior. Surely Junior would be more co-operative?). Of course Norrie kisses Joe and offers to sacrifice herself.

But Joe rushes in to sacrifice himself because he is a Four Hands. JHe does his thing, we get a light show and the Dome comes down. The Death Of All Intelligence is Unleashed.

Julia and Jim are preparing to snipe Dawn as soon as the Dome comes down – but they’re distracted by the light show and don’t notice Junior sneaking up on them.

With the Dome down the military moves in, complete with gas masks, and grabs Norrie and many drones. And Jim manages to stab Junior – Jim begs him not to make him stab his son again – but Junior won’t stop and I’m cheering in desperate hope and, yes, Jim stabs his son.

Am I supposed to be even slightly sad?

Dawn flees to the edge of the Dome and finds Barbie standing over a board bridge across the rift left by the Dome. She tries to play the daddy card but he’s very firm with his “you shall not pass.” She raises the daddy card and Barbie destroys the board, dropping them both in the pit – only he’s the one who sensibly had a tether prepared

Barbie and Julia celebrate the death of Dawn-who-hasn’t-left-a-body-but-is-totally-dead-honest, before they’re also captured by the military. As is Jim who is weepy and sad about his dead son.

So everyone is in a military facility with Barbie being interviewed – apparently this has been going on for some time. This is terrible, that poor investigator has to speak to the damn fools from under the dome SEVERAL TIMES. That’s just cruel. He recaps what happened while we see brief summation of everyone being taken to the facility and locked up (and bodies, like Junior’s, disposed of).

Anyway, interrogator would rather not have stories of Pink Stars and aliens released – so instead they feed their version of events to the Domeys in some kind of clumsy cover up which also, basically, has most of the town dead: any of those still showing Kinship pod-peopleness. Those kinship people will be locked up while a curse is searched for (honest)

Jim refuses to sign his copy because he’s always looking for a way to advantage himself. He puts himself forward as a spokesman, someone to sell their version of events who actually lived through it. He’d also want lots of money for this.

One year later

Lily and Hunter now have very high power jobs, Lily laying down the law to congress delegations and Hunter working for the NSA. Norrie is a soldier and sneaking around looking or stuff. Julia and Barbie are on a motorbike and talking marriage and camping. Yay romance. I guess.

The men in black then show up delivering Jim who drags them in to his shiny new office. Yes, Jim is a congressman and even this probably doesn’t make him the most repellent man in government. Lily and Hunter basically work for him. The team is back together because Dawn isn’t dead

I’m sure we’re all shocked by this revelation. At least Jim realised that “no body = not dead.”

While Norrie has sneaked into the facility where all the kinship people are locked up – including Joe. She tells him how she intends to rescue him.

Dawn is a school teacher whose kids have found the egg she needs on a field trip.

And so ends the third and last season of Under the Dome and my prevailing thought is “this show owes the writers of Falling Skies a fruit basket.” Because, normally I would have ranted so much about what a terrible show this has been. I mean, a really really really awful show that makes me despair of humanity every single episode. The only reason I haven’t is that Falling Skies has been on at the same time and that show is even worse.

But I bring up Falling Skies not only to repeat yet again what a terrible terrible show that was (and ye gods it was) but because both Falling Skies and Under the Dome are terrible for the same reasons.

The shows don’t work. They’re incoherent, broken, lack any kind of planning, direction or decent causation or development. To try and drag out anything resembling a plot line, both shows resorted to having their cast make ridiculous decisions over and over again. Repeatedly, this is the only way the plot could move forwards. Julia, Big Jim, Barbie et al had to do things that made no sense at al. Coherent decision making could not possibly advance a coherent plot

Like Falling Skies we also had repeated abandoned mini plots serving as filler. It screams a complete lack of plan, with the writers madlibbing new random elements rather than actually creating a solid narrative. This season alone we’ve had random food shortages, the apocalypse that wasn’t, Hunter consuming too many pain killers then apparently not needing them, the search for the cure that lasted all of two episodes, Acteon appearing and then dying for… reasons. Sam and his girlfriend and alcoholism – endless random elements that didn’t go anywhere or mean anything following two entire seasons of the same.

Which also, (again, like Falling Skies) covers the utterly broken canon. So the show finally settled on “aliens” for the reason behind the Dome. Fine. So why did they magnetise it? Why send everyone to sleep? Why rotate the Dome? Why do all the random ridiculous Dome-of-the-week nonsense that pretty much defined the first two seasons? It doesn’t fit the canon, it doesn’t come close to forming a coherent narrative. Why did we have Melanie back from the dead? Why the magical door to Zenith? How did Junior’s mother have visions of pink stars? How do the “four hands” fit into anything? None of this fits – there was never a coherent plot and the writers never had any compulsion about retconning or ignoring past events. Remember when Junior kidnapped a girl and kept her in his basement? Because no-one else seemed to! There’s a random plot line that was not only ignored, but offensively so.

Even though this show has been cancelled (thank you whatever deity wishes to claim responsibility) but I’m still debating adding “Under the Dome Decision Making” to the Lexicon. This is different from the Clary Award because it’s not just one person who constantly makes terrible decisions. It’s everyone. There is not one single person on this entire show who ever convinced me was capable of a rational thought process. Sure Julia and Big Jim stumbled around being especially terrible and unable to use the squishy masses in their heads imitating brains, but no member of the cast was immune.

In addition to the show being drek, it has a terrible record when it comes to minority characters. It has had its own T-Dog chain with POC dying in a row to be rapidly replaced becoming almost a running joke. Lily is the only POC on this show who has managed to live – and no POC actually managed to be truly involved in the plot after the death of Linda (Rebecca was more of a foil so Julia could be proved so special and right). The complete lack of characterisation of Dodee, Lilly and Phil was all glaring. Hector had potential but he repeatedly gave up his power before being sacrificed before any kind of development.  Carolyn was so completely ignored from the first season – completely absent from her owns daughter’s story – that they had to have a marginalised Swan Song not just to characterise her, but to remind us she even existed right before the killed her (and that following some really nasty homophobia). Of course Alice was dead and forgotten 2 seasons before because the whole town couldn’t muster THREE DAYS of insulin.

And Eva? She wasn’t a person, she was a plot device. Her romance with Barbie was never about her – she was a speedbump on Julia and Barbie’s road to a Happily Ever After, she was a plot device. She was never even a fully realised member of the Kinship – not like Sam or Junior – no, she was a womb, an incubator for Dawn who we only saw for one episode. There was no reason to kill Eva, there was no reason to make her role so completely focused on sex and reproduction – but there was no attempt to make this woman a character. From the moment she appeared we knew what would happen – she was Julia’s competition and another link in that T-Dog Chain and, inevitably, doomed to die.

The closest Under the Dome came to a decent portrayal of any minority was of Hunter as a disabled man – but even that pretty much rests on one episode. And “disabled guy who is good computer support” isn’t exactly original or that involved

In the end I’m left with one good thing to say about this show. It’s over and with that the average quality of the world's media got a little higher