The problem with Under The Dome… well, one of the many problems with Under The Dome is that it fancies itself a complex 21st-century serialized adventure with a rich mythology when it should just embrace the fact that it’s a dumb, goofy throwback to the high-concept science fiction/fantasy shows of the ’70s and ’80s. For example, every show back then had the cave-in episode, where our hero and his enemy are trapped and forced to work together to survive, reluctantly coming to some understanding of each other in the process. I recall the short-lived Planet Of The Apes TV series staging an episode nearly identical to “In The Dark,” but without all mumbo-jumbo about magical eggs and visionary paintings in secret journals meant to convince us that the series as a whole has a meaningful arc.
“In The Dark” is a particularly dispiriting episode because it’s such a rote, low-energy recycling of elements the show has already done to death so far. It lacks the forehead-slapping moments of out-of-nowhere nonsense that make Under The Dome at its worst so watchably terrible. Yes, the episode did feature a bottomless pit, the miracle construction of a gigantic windmill out of old roadsigns, and the extremely non-triumphant return of Skater Dude, but it also saddled us with the continuation of the Melanie/Joe/Norrie love triangle and so much terrible dialogue about the egg that I feel the need to present a Top Three list:
3. “Why am I even here? Because I’m connected to some egg?”
2. “The egg started screaming.”
1. “The egg knows we’re here.”
Ah yes, the egg is back. It seems like only six episodes ago that it was so important to get rid of the egg that Julia dumped it in the lake, but the dome is over it now, so the Four Hands v 2.0 (with Melanie replacing Angie) set out in a boat, put their hands together, and raise the magic egg from its watery grave. Later the egg shows them the pink stars again (remember those?) and an image of the obelisk from Zenith, the mystery town where Melanie is from and Junior’s mother is currently hanging out.
The crisis of the week involves a dust storm that threatens to cut off the air supply and suffocate everyone under the dome. Rebecca supplies her usual science-y explanation (somehow it’s related to the red rain from a couple weeks ago) and a possibly solution (using a giant windmill for mist dispersal), and when Julia goes AWOL to help Barbie at the high school, Big Jim once again sees the opportunity to win back the hearts and minds of Chester’s Mill. That’s not difficult because, as we’ve established, none of the townspeople can remember anything for more than 24 hours, and they always support whoever spoke to them last. It’s gotten so very tiresome.
While Jim is saving everyone from the dust, Barbie and Uncle Sam are investigating a system of tunnels they’ve discovered after a cave-in cuts them off from the high school basement. They happen upon a seemingly bottomless pit (which would appear to contradict the theory that the dome is a sphere surrounding them on all sides) and engage in a lot of accusatory macho banter. Sam saves Barbie’s life at least twice, but Barbie still won’t let up, especially once he’s spotted the scratches on Sam’s neck. Sam reveals that, yes, he’s the one who killed Angie and he plans to kill the rest of the Hands if it means bringing the dome down. It’s weird: Sam talks like this has been going on for many years and he’s so very tired of it, but it’s not like he’s been trapped under the dome since finding the egg in 1988. There was a big stretch of time when presumably not a whole hell of a lot was going on in Chester’s Mill. Still, he’s had enough and steps over the edge into oblivion.
In the end, Barbie is rescued by more Rebecca science (well, improvised explosives, anyway), and it appears an investigation into the bottomless pit is on tap for next week. Here’s hoping for Sleestaks or an army of apes on horseback or anything else more interesting that than stupid glowing egg.
- “Do you hit on literally everyone?” If Melanie’s hitting on Junior, then the answer has to be yes.
- Rebecca and Julia seem to have bonded, which means they’ll be arch-enemies again in an episode and a half.
- Big Jim sure worked up some sweaty pits building that windmill.
- The woman who owns the diner… she’s going to turn out to be an alien, isn’t she? That’s the only explanation I can come up with for her consistently odd demeanor.