By: Rikki McKernan, Contributor
This season of UNDER THE DOME starts, not with a bang, but with a flash. The masterful Stephen King wrote the first episode of the season, which proves to be just what the show needs in its sophomore season. We pick up right where we left off last season. Big Jim Rennie (Dean Norris) has taken the reins of the town that has been trapped under a microscope-like dome for the last two weeks. He has framed the chronically misunderstood Barbie (Mike Vogel) for the murder of Dodee which Big Jim committed last season. Big Jim’s son Junior (Alexander Koch) is just about to pull the lever on the guillotine when a sudden flash of light saves Barbie but knocks out part of the town’s population. The pulse of light has made the dome magnetic and soon enough all the metal objects in town are pulled toward the dome, including Barbie in his handcuffs. Straight arrow cop Linda tries to save him but is crushed by Big Jim’s truck just as Barbie is freed, marking the first death of the season at 5 minutes in.
(Source: IB Times)
Meanwhile, the town’s journalist, Julia (Rachelle Lefevre), has just come ashore after having dropped the mysterious egg in the lake when a girl appears in the exact same spot. Julia expertly saves the girl from drowning just as a mysterious new character, Sam (Eddie Cahill), shows up to offer her a place to dry off. Julia still thinks Barbie’s been hanged, so I’m seeing a love triangle forming here. She could do worse.
After punching out Big Jim, Barbie goes off to do some good and meets the high school science teacher, Rebecca (Karla Crome), who says the electromagnetic field from the dome is messing with people’s heads. They find Joe, Angie and Norrie just in time to save them from flying knives, nails, and frying pans before their entire house collapses under the magnetic pressure from the dome. Joe does get “nailed” by an errant nail, which is pulled straight through his palm through the awesome power of the dome. It’s pretty sick. Just as they’re freed, Big Jim gets trapped in his underground gun storage bunker, which seems to be poetic justice after he and Junior both locked Angie in the same bunker to keep her quiet. While he’s down there, he hallucinates the ghost of Dodee who lectures him about how selfish he’s been and that it will be Junior who pays the ultimate price. Someone had to say it, right?
As Barbie, Rebecca, and the kids are hatching a plan to de-magnetize the dome using a giant magnet, Angie takes Barbie aside to explain that she thinks the dome is retaliating because they didn’t kill Big Jim. Barbie’s pretty reluctant to kill Big Jim, even if he is a killer and all around bad guy, which cements Barbie as the voice of reason and “good guy” of the show. Surprisingly, when Angie runs in to Junior as she’s searching for a gun to kill Big Jim, he tells her that he’s on her side and he’ll even provide her with the gun. He won’t be getting the Son of the Year award this year. As for Big Jim, he’s still hallucinating but he uses his ingenuity to blow himself out of the bunker, so he’s free once again to terrorize the town.
(Source: IB Times)
Barbie’s team has successfully gotten the giant magnet up and running somehow but the next pulse that comes through knocks out everyone around except for Barbie. Luckily, this is the time that Julia happens upon him and they share a lovely and tender moment…while everyone around them is passed out. While Junior’s down for the count, he dream/hallucinates his mom who is really happy to see him after having been dead for the last 9 years. Just then, Big Jim finds Junior passed out and begs the dome for a sign. Ghost Linda shows up to tell reinforce the selfishness angle and tells him to make a sacrifice…he’s gotta off himself. He hops into the noose that was meant for Barbie just as Barbie and Julia show up. Big Jim can’t reach the lever, so Julia volunteers but chickens out at the last minute, prompting Jim to kick his way through the floor. Luckily for him, Julia saves him at the last second. Either way, Jim’s sacrifice pleases the dome gods and the town goes back to normal, at least for now.
Back in town, teacher Rebecca thanks Barbie for his help, believing that the magnet saved them. Again, there’s another love triangle brewing here as Julia gives Rebecca some pretty amazing side eye. We also get a long awaited (albeit brief) Stephen King cameo in the coffee shop before Sam bursts in looking for the mysterious drowning girl. We also get the minor shocker that Sam is really Junior’s uncle, his mom’s brother, who (surprise, surprise) Big Jim doesn’t like very much. We also get glimpses of Big Jim being an actual nice guy for once, which I don’t expect to last beyond this episode. Junior tells Jim about his hallucination/dream, which Jim dismisses immediately. We, however, get a bit more info here as we see Junior’s mom in her painting studio – alive and well outside of the dome! There’s no way to know if this is really real or just one of those Stephen King tricks but, either way, it adds to the dome mystery.
As Angie locks up the cafe by herself, she sees and follows the drowning girl to the school where she disappears. Angie does a little investigating and finds something mysterious in a locker, only to be immediately attacked by someone with an axe. Thus ends the episode with a possible second major character meeting her maker.
This season premiere episode served to remind us, not only that Stephen King is the master of suspense, but also of what the series could be. It has all the mystery and intrigue of “Lost” but with more answers than we ever got from that series. We get a glimpse of the power of the dome but we also can see that the people inside aren’t completely powerless themselves. Clearly, King is just the man to infuse life back into a show that had a shaky first season.
Next week, it looks like Angie’s done for but as we’ve seen before, everything is not always as it seems.
In Rikki’s perfect world, she’s Queen of Westeros, best friends with Mindy Kaling, and her other car is a TARDIS…a girl can dream, right?