I'm trying to think of a precise analogy for the annoyance, impatience and anger I've felt while watching season 1 of Under the Dome
. In many ways, it's like listening to someone go on and on about their dreams: it clearly means a great deal to them, but there's nothing there to spark my interest or empathy. In other ways, it's like watching a friend of a friend fall in with the wrong crowd and drop out of school: I kind of want to tell them that they're making bad choices and wasting their potential, but I'm not really all that close to them.
Ultimately, though, I think that for me, watching Under the Dome has most often been like attending a particularly out-there and yet still spectacularly boring cult meeting: Joe and his smiling dead-eyed friends certainly spout their share of logic-leaping convictions all on behalf of some preposterous supernatural system I neither believe in nor have much anthropological curiosity about, and I keep checking my watch and waiting for them to pass out the Kool-Aid and die already.
With all due respect to the Church of Pink Stars, of course, they can do whatever makes sense to them, but I am entirely ag-dome-stic. I'm a militant a-dome-ist, I now actively worship the Anti-dome. And having heard out the Gospel of Dome in good faith up to this point, I've found nothing during this week's cheap cliffhanger finale to convert me.
How to recap this episode? I guess I might as well just say what happens: the caterpillar in the mini-dome turns into a butterfly, then it paints the big dome black by touching spots on the little one. The Four Hands touch the mini-dome and break it, then it looks like the butterfly's dead but it isn't. The egg starts to glow, and Julia grabs it even though there's no reason to think it won't kill her, but luckily that fixes everything because she's the Monarch, whatever that means.
They talk to a vision of Norrie's dead mom in the woods who says that aliens are protecting Chester's Mill, but also they need to look after the egg or they'll die. Julia drops the egg in the lake and it makes pink stars go up into the sky, which makes everything bright. I can't even make jokes about this stuff, it's like trying to make fun of a finger-painting by a three-year-old: it's completely random, it means absolutely nothing, but I guess it's the best they could do so I hope they had fun.
Running parallel to this, we have the whole Big Jim vs. Barbie thing. Barbie runs around in handcuffs for awhile, leading to a laugh-out-loud idiotic action sequence in which he kicks people and runs into them, but Big Jim ultimately wrangles him back for a public execution. Along the way, Jim takes to thumping a Bible, because I guess that's what evil people do when you're a lazy Hollywood writer. How hypocritical of Jim to claim divine privilege while committing atrocities; how much better to take your instructions on who to murder from a magic fricking egg.
In the final moments of the episode, Barbie stands with a noose around his neck, making no effort to explain his innocence to the assembled masses. The sky erupts with the aforementioned pink stars, and Big Jim claims it's a blessing from God. He tells his son, Junior, to pull the lever and kill Barbie, and that's it. That's the season. If you care whether such a shallowly conceived character lives or dies, then tune in several months from now to find out whether egg drop butterfly sky magic can save him.
I did want to like this show, guys. I really did. Stephen King is a talented writer and the concept is interesting -- this could have been good. But while Under the Dome might have used its high concept mythology to tell a human story, it instead used stock characters to promote that mythology for its own sake.
All would be forgiven if that mythology was really good, but it just isn't -- I love puzzles, but if you hand me a bunch of Monopoly pieces, a sock, a horseradish and an iPod and say, "Figure that one out, genius," I'm not going to waste time trying to put it all together. I know the difference between a great puzzle and a random pile of BS, and CBS's Under the Dome
is decidedly the latter.
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