Under the Dome – “Speak of the Devil”
Chester’s Mill is a place like any other. But the Dome, the Dome has a mind of its own, and that mind has developed about as much as a whiny 14 year-old’s. In tonight’s episode, the Dome kicks up a bitchin’ storm and calls on the Smoke Monster from Lost to teach those darn kids a lesson. It’s an episode solidly in the “bonkers” camp, with flying lawn furniture, questionable medical procedures, and lots of Linda being really terrible at her job. Sounds like fun!
We begin the morning after the kids unlocked the Egg’s secret planetarium star map. Somehow, despite the fact that all four of them must have their hands on the dome at all times for the map to be open (I guess?), the kids have painted the star map all over the walls and roof of the barn, drawing in the constellations. They all assume the Dome is trying to send them a message, with Joe assuming that four random stars on the wall must represent them, since they’re not part of any constellation. This is obviously very stupid, since constellations are a man-made construct, but whatever, this is Joe, the only person allowed to curse in the Dome, so he gets a pass. The chrysalis inside the Mini-Dome has become clear, drawing out the most boring reveal in the show yet another episode, and there’s lots of dumb talk about being galactic guardians and keeping the Mini-Dome a secret. Apparently the Dome “trusts” Julia, so they decide to send Joe to find her. I’m not totally sure why it’s Joe, maybe they hope his billowing shirt and one use of “What the hell?!” an episode will convince her to help out.
And if you were worried that Junior’s days as Creepy Andy Samberg were over, fear no more! While Angie and Junior have the barn to themselves, Junior gets to lay on more of his crap about fate and soulmates and the Dome bringing Angie and him together. Angie tells him that no, she don’t want no scrub, a scrub is a guy that can’t get no love from her, and Junior leaves, right as that bitchin’ storm mentioned above starts a-brewin’
At the police station, Big Jim has kept his word and come to hash things out with Linda. He does his best Walter White impression, trying to convince Linda that his evils are all for the greater good and that Barbie is the real danger in town. (I gave serious consideration to working an “I am the Dome-ger!” pun into this recap. Very seriously.) Now, this sounds preposterous. We know Barbie is an anti-hero, and the audience does know a bit more about Big Jim’s crimes than Linda, but c’mon. This is a guy who just confessed to enabling some sort of drug empire to crop up in Chester’s Mill and already almost started an unnecessary war over water the town didn’t need. At best, every word of his should be taken with an entire salt lick. But Big Jim throws around some circumstantial evidence linking Barbie to Peter Shumway’s death (the fact that it’s true is irrelevant), says he’s “an open book,” and Linda is completely convinced.
At the Shumway residence, Barbie’s in the doghouse (killing your lover’s husband can do that), but things are still pretty cool between him and Julia. She wants to see Peter’s grave, but that’s really just a roadblock stopping the two of them from bumpin’ uglies again. But before they go, Max shows up to make a mess of things. Natalie Zea delivers a sick burn (Julia: “Can I help you?” Max: “Right now, you can’t even help yourself.”) and shoots Julia in the chest. Barbie calls Linda for help, but she’s already up to her eyes in Big Jim’s Big Bullshit. Things just aren’t great for Barbie right now. Fortunately, Joe arrives, and though he only has his learner’s permit (what?), agrees to drive Julia to the Clinic.
As Linda drives very casually to the home of a person she seemed to become close friends with last week who has just been shot, she realizes that, whoops, she’s out of gas. Turns out, when you’re trapped under a giant Dome, it really hammers home the whole point about fossil fuels being a non-renewable resource. Lucky for her, Phil (you know, that radio station guy that disappeared for a few weeks) is right behind her. He’s also very nonplussed about Julia’s shooting, but agrees to give Linda a ride to Julia’s house anyway. They arrive to an empty house, and Linda and Phil immediately assume Barbie killed Julia and dragged her away. This is a really illogical decision, but I’m convinced that being around Phil makes everyone exponentially dumber, and Linda didn’t have much to spare in the first place.
At the Clinic, Barbie and Joe take notice of the bitchin’ storm and hide from Ole Smokey inside. The Clinic has been picked clean, and with no available nurses, Barbie must help Julia himself. What follows is a lot of vaguely questionable medical procedure, involving Barbie stabbing an empty pen into Julia’s side and manually sucking out the extra air himself. But wait! Before he can even begin, the Dome sends a tree branch through the window, using plants to attack the humans, just like the Whomping Willow at Hogwarts or that pot plant from Scary Movie 2.
Barbie saves Julia, which means it’s time for Joe to go. Remember how last week Barbie was Knight of the Dome? Well, now Joe is convinced he’s Savior of the Dome, the Monarch the Dome keeps telling them about, and he plans to spread the good word. Barbie leaves too, running into Big Jim on the way. They trade unpleasantries, Barbie outlining how different they are, Big Jim posturing that he’s the town’s natural leader, but the two agree to set aside their differences for the time being to take out Max at the Cement Factory, home of Dome Fight Club.
Before he left, Big Jim showed Junior his bunker full of guns and ammo, handed him a rifle, and demanded he stay indoors. Of course Angie shows up immediately, leading to a hilarious zoom-in on Junior indoors with the rifle as Angie screams. (I watched this scene approximately seven times. Always funny.) She’s there to talk business. Obviously this bitchin’ storm is only happening because the Dome is upset, and Angie knows the only way to stop the Dome’s tantrum is for Junior to rejoin Alien 4-H Club. Junior agrees, but only after he makes Angie beg for his return and promise they’ll be together (the kid is basically Robin Thicke), and as they leave the house to return to the barn, the Dome and Ole Smokey throw a porch swing through the air, right at Angie. Junior shoves her out of the way, and the bitchin’ storm begins to subside.
Back at the barn, the kids meet up, and Joe tells the rest that Barbie is the Monarch. Junior’s convinced that he’s the monarch, though, but Angie tells them both to shut the hell up and they go out to the Dome, together for the first time, in search of answers.
At the Cement Factory, Max and one of her cronies are already waiting for Barbie and Big Jim. She found her mom’s body in the shallow water at the beach, and somehow realized it was Big Jim that did her in. At this point, Max switches from Mustache Twirler to Generic Crazy Woman, and the three take turns insulting each other. But Barbie thought ahead, setting up an alarm to turn off the lights after 10 minutes, and he and Big Jim use the dark to overtake Max and her thug. Barbie tells her it’s over, but as he walks away, Big Jim shoots both Max and her thug in the head. Big Jim is in the business of tying up loose ends, and takes aim at Barbie next. Barbie pulls out some krav maga and gets the gun, turning it on Big Jim instead.
Now wouldn’t you know it, Linda has also made it to the Cement Factory, and though she’s close enough to pull her gun on Barbie immediately after he takes Big Jim’s, she apparently missed all action proceeding that exact moment, and is convinced that Barbie killed Max and her thug. With Linda holding a gun on him, and Big Jim accusing Barbie of the crimes he himself committed, Barbie takes to the woods. Because if Max taught us anything in her short time in Domeland, it’s that you can totally hide out in a contained space with limited resources for almost two weeks without being found.
Dodee, who suffered Convenient Amnesia last week, shows up to work her technobabble magic, because the lightning somehow makes it easier for her to pick up the radio waves outside. What she hears is that the military outside have seen Barbie, know him by name, and have been looking for him. Wait, there’s still military outside the Dome? Haven’t they all been gone since they MOAB’d the Dome? No matter, their message about Barbie is just ominous enough cause Dodee to gasp in disbelief. After the Cement Factory shootout, Big Jim visits her for some reason, where she shares this info, giving him the impetus to make a PSA warning the town of Barbie, the Dome’s most dangerous man.
At the edge of the Dome, the four kids all touch the Dome together, and are treated to sights that wouldn’t be out of place in a much spookier show (American Horror Story and Carnivàle both come to mind). They see Big Jim, and as he stands before them, blood seeps out of chest, forming several distinct wounds, and blood pours from his nose. (Dean Norris wiping that blood away was a genuinely very creepy moment.) They each look into their hands, where they’re holding butterfly knives with bloody tips, ostensibly from stabbing this vision of Big Jim. The image proves too much for Junior, who bails, but Angie and Norrie are convinced that it’s a message from the Dome: the kids have to kill Big Jim before the Dome comes down.
So it seems the Dome is recruiting a murder cult to take out Big Jim, Barbie’s on the run from a town convinced he’s a killer, Max is dead, and some stuff about the military? Sounds about right. At this point, I really have no freakin’ idea where this is all going, but if the rest of the season keeps the level of insanity this high, Under the Dome might make it out as the secret trashy hit of the summer.
- Lots of weird parallels to Breaking Bad in this episode. Aside from Big Jim’s Walter White-esque monologue early in the episode, he also refers to Max as “the Devil,” and the yellow shirt the Big Jim Vision was wearing is highly reminiscent of one you’d see on Walter recently. This is all already weird, made much weirder by the fact that all of these involve Dean Norris.
- In a show full of characters who change personalities and motivations at any given moment depending on what the plot needs, it seems Junior will be our biggest offender. Which is fine, really, because Junior is already a worthless character, so any excuse to shove off any more of the show’s bad qualities onto him is a blessing.
- I don’t know much about the physics of water and how waves work, but I find it hard to believe that the tiny portion of the lake under the Dome would have waves. Maybe they’re there because of the storm? Sure, we’ll say that.
- Same goes for Barbie’s bizarre treatment for Julia. I’ve seen emergency trachs before, but never something like this, and while it may have been medically accurate (this is a huuuuuuuuuge maybe), it was still very weird.
- Poor Natalie Zea, once again being completely useless on a show then dying a highly undignified, pretty hilariously dumb death. But good for Natalie Zea for not having to appear in this thing anymore.