Sunday, September 15, 2013

Under the Dome

Under the Dome
Episode 12: Exigent Circumstances
By: Carlos Uribe

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

Spoilers Ahoy!

There gets a point where a character loses any and all likeability that they might have had. This point came early on with Junior when he kidnapped and held Angie for the first half of the season. The writers mysteriously keep trying to making him a conflicted good guy but they've hopefully failed to get the audience to sympathize with him at all. His father is a little more tricky because he did start out somewhat likeable at the beginning of the season. He might have liked power and this set him at odds with some citizens but he did seem to be acting with our heroes. He could have been described as an anti-hero but the writers have dropped any pretense of him being a good guy. He is without a doubt a villain. He's killed multiple characters through the series run because they all posed a threat to him. Now I think he's been able to get away with this because the people he's killed were ones you weren't going to really side with to begin with. The minister might have threatened to expose him but he was also a drug addict who had destroyed a lot of the town's medical supplies. Maxine's mother did pull a gun on him and was on her daughter's side to extort the town. Maxine and her people were exploiting the dome for profit. The farmer, Ollie, was selfish and got into the war with Big Jim. The way Ollie planned to use water to gather power clearly meant he wasn't a person you wanted in charge. The biggest piece of evidence is when his own men left because they were only fighting to ensure their own crops got irrigated. It's different when he shot and killed Dodie. For one thing, I actually liked the character. She was a relatively normal person in Chester's Mill who just happened to hear the wrong thing. She didn't provide any immediate value to Big Jim because she miscalculated in assuming he would want the dome to go away. She wasn't an immediate threat, she wasn't an antagonist, she was just an innocent person at the wrong time. The moment Big Jim killed her is the moment I completely turned against him. There is no turning back for him now. It's good the series is committing to making him a full villain at this stage because I doubt a redemption arc would work at this point. I want him dead at this point.

Now in stories, there are moments where it looks like the antagonists have won. We're at this part of the story for the first season of Under the Dome. Big Jim has manipulated the town of Chester's Mill against Barbie. He leads a manhunt against him while having Junior keep an eye on Julie. Barbie realizes that when Julie wakes up, she'll unravel Big Jim's story, and that puts her in danger. He rescues her from the clinic but gets caught in the process. There's a moment where Big Jim threatens just about every protagonist on the show if Barbie doesn't plead guilty but doesn't give Barbie a reason to trust his word. Barbie realizes any threat to Big Jim is going to be in danger no matter what he does. He pleads Not Guilty in order to subvert Big Jim's case. Still, things aren't looking that good for him. He's still arrested and he has a herculean task convincing people their town leader is setting him up. Julie wakes up at the end of the episode but her condition is weak. She might not be able to exonerate Barbie. Right now, Big Jim has the power. He might not have it for long. His story about Barbie could easily fall apart in the finale. That doesn't matter: what matters is that it looks like Big Jim is going to come out on top. It's this part of the story. Now obviously, this is merely an obstacle for the actual climax where the protagonists are usually able to reclaim the upper hand. It's unlikely Julie is going to remain in a hospital bed for the entire finale and the egg plot could shift the direction of the narrative in a new place. I'm not sure if Big Jim is going to survive the finale but I wouldn't be surprised if he lives on in a new form for the second season. So basically in the penultimate episode: Big Jim kills Dodie, gains the upper hand against Barbie, but Barbie promises to fight him on the charges. That's effectively building the narrative momentum.

The mythology building was pretty mixed in that we didn't really learn anything new. The egg basically changed color from purple to red then started emitting a high-pitched noise. The cocoon within the dome is getting ready to break for the butterfly. That's basically it. We might not have learned anything of significance but the knowledge of the egg expanded. Dodie happened to pick up a military transmission that referenced the egg. They seemed to think it's an unidentified object which is just going to add to the whole “aliens did this” angle. Anyways, Dodie remembers that she saw the egg at Joe's barn. She rushes to tell Big Jim. He finds out about the egg and that it might be the key to bringing down the dome. Since he wants the dome to stay up so he can stay in power, he decides to find the egg before anybody else so he could hide it or something. I'm pretty sure he doesn't actually have a plan. He probably figures out he'll figure out what to do when he actually has it. He doesn't get it because our group moved the egg to the skater's house for safekeeping. Two other characters find out about the egg by the end of the episode: Norrie's mother and Linda. It'll be interesting to see what getting more characters in the know is going to do. How will it affect the show's dynamics? We might not have actually learned anything new about the egg itself but growing the circle kept the momentum going.

The penultimate episode of Under the Dome was just the right amount of fun and nowhere near as frustrating as other episodes. Big Jim killing Doddie has permanently made him a villain as it's doubtful he'll be able to come back from that. His capture of Barbie speaks to the point where he has the most control over our protagonist but the other good guys might allow the tables to shift. The mythology narrative builds up by introducing more people to the egg. Overall, a good way to build into the finale. I can't wait!

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