Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Under the Dome

Under the Dome
Episode 11: Speak of the Devil
By: Carlos Uribe

Under the Dome is a series about a small town that is trapped under a literal dome.

Spoilers Ahoy!

There are two things I hate most about being a viewer: when I'm bored and when I'm frustrated. Under the Dome is rarely boring but it can be extremely frustrating. This week is an excellent example where multiple characters do stupid stuff in the name of the plot. The biggest gripe has to come in the Maxine plot. Big Jim and Barbie realize that Maxine has to go. She shot Julia and threatened to kill Junior. She is hoping that threatening the lives of the people that the two care about will ensure their loyalty. Of course, it only unites both of them against her. Barbie is going to be angry that his girlfriend got shot while Big Jim knows there will be no coming back for him when Maxine finds out he killed her mother. It's all pretty basic actually but it's all to build-up to some pretty stupid decision making. The first is when Barbie decides to tell Big Jim that their no longer going to co-exist peacefully. Barbie agrees to help Big Jim with this one problem but then threatens to depose him once their done. This is quite possibly the most insane thing to do. If you're going to make a powerful enemy in the town, don't tell them to their face beforehand. Don't let someone know you are going to be a threat until you have enough influence to withstand the blowback. It's such a dense move for the character that removes any sense that he's a smart character. He might be able to save lives in the emergency room but he can't handle basic logic when it comes to intrigue. I mean, come on. What's even stupider is when he trusts Big Jim, you know the guy he just admitted he couldn't trust. Barbie should have realized that giving Big Jim the gun was only going to invite an execution. This inevitably leads to Big Jim basically framing Barbie for the death of Maxine, her business associate, her mother, and the attempted murders of Julia and Big Jim. So not only did Barbie basically put a target on his back but he basically allowed himself to be framed for a lot of death. As for the deputy, she should have seen through Big Jim's lies when she learned that he had been lying to the whole town. That kind of guy isn't the most trustworthy. What's more inexplicable is how it took forever to get anywhere. It's like she was operating on a different timeline than the rest of the show. Did she like have to stop every block to go the bathroom? None of the other characters had that issue.

The power struggle over Chester's Mill was frothing with stupidity but the episode had more than that going on. There is a huge storm that the dome is creating for some reason. We're given two possibilities but it doesn't confirm which. Joe thinks it has to do with Julia getting shot. When Julia gets shot, Barbie has to find a way to get her to the clinic. He asks the sheriff for help but Linda doesn't arrive in time to help. I understand her police car losing all of it's gas but she does commander a car like right after. Anyways, Joe arrives because I guess his house is within walking distance or something because he makes a big deal about how he only has a learner's permit. They take her to the clinic but the nurse has to leave to go help someone else. This gives the writers a chance to show Barbie's military skills when he's able to save Julia. He has to run off once she's stable but she's going to live. I guess Big Jim is hoping Julia won't wake up until after they kill Barbie off but what's his long-term plan when people find out he lied about the attempted murder charge? The storm ends right after Barbie has saved Julia's life. Joe becomes convinced that Barbie is supposed to be the new monarch. I guess he could arrive at this conclusion but I surely hope the dome has a more intelligent character in mind. You know, one whose able to keep his true intentions a secret from an enemy? The whole Julia getting shot thing serves multiple purposes but it had very little tension since there was little question she would survive. She's the main female protagonist at this point. Her death would actually be a big surprise but it's a bit sad it would have minimal emotional impact.

It's sad that the other reason for the storm is not only stupid but pointless. Junior is convinced that being a part of this group will bring Angie and him back together because it's fate. Angie, like hopefully every viewer, doesn't agree with that. Only she makes the mistake of telling him that she'll be long gone when the dome goes down. Wait, what? You just told the guy whose madly in love with you that you'll be leaving when the dome is gone? The guy who is so crazy he kidnapped you to stop you from leaving him? It's no surprise when Junior's motivation changes from helping the group to letting the dome stay forever. The only reason he was helping in the first place was to get close to her. She should have realized this considering how often he kept trying to use the dome as a way to stay with her. Junior decides to leave the group, the storm starts, and Angie realizes she has to talk him to rejoin without giving him any chance of getting back together. She's able to do this and the storm subsequently ends. There were no surprises here. There's no way the show was going to actually allow Junior to leave the group. They need his fourth hand in order to advance the plot. That would stall the narrative momentum as it approaches the end of the season. It would simply be foolish. So Angie talking him back was the obvious approach. It's too bad the dome couldn't have just replaced his hand with a character I could actually like. Letting Junior leave the group and then killing him through the storm would have made my day. Once Junior is back in the group, the characters realize they need to touch the big dome at a certain spot. They do this and the dome basically tells them they have to kill Big Jim. Which, okay, yeah is an interesting plot development but I'm not sure why they jump to the conclusion that this is the way to bring the dome down. If Barbie is the monarch, then removing this threat from his rise to power is the way to go. I guess they don't know Big Jim is the threat but he is the man in charge. Junior does run off to his dad.

Speak of the Devil is a pretty entertaining episode of Under the Dome. I had a lot of fun watching this show as it becomes a guilty pleasure. It's just not a very good show but it is entertaining. The stupid decisions of the characters make watching a bit frustrated but I've started to expect it. The narrative momentum is chugging along but it's insistence on concentrating on the power struggle rather than the mythology is separating Under the Dome. I'm hoping the kill Big Jim plot means that they will finally be combined because it's hard for a series to focus when it has two unrelated components. The first season of Under the Dome has two episodes left....and it's starting to build up to what is hopefully an entertaining encounter between Big Jim and Barbie.

Other Notes:

Dodee learns that the military is looking for Barbie. This is presumed to be a negative thing but they could easily just be looking for him for good reasons.

Big Jim can't figure out why Barbie would add an alarm clock to a power generator. There's no smart characters on this show.

Julia wanted to see the dead body of her husband because she thinks it will help her move on with his killer. Is the dome meant to kill off the stupidest people on the planet?

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