Is it time for the emergency baby delivery episode already? As a plot device, this is a long-running television staple, but usually the mother is an established character and the pregnancy has been an ongoing story element for weeks, if not months. (Or maybe even seasons; TV time is funny that way.) On Under The Dome, however, we meet mother-to-be Harriet early in tonight’s episode, as she drops by to borrow a cup of sugar...er, yogurt from Julia, fresh from a between-episodes roll in the hay with Barbie. We learn that the dome has the power to make people hallucinate their loved ones, as well as induce labor. (Also, the dome apparently runs down the middle of the street right outside Julia’s house, which...did we know that? Aren’t the people who live across the street also in Chester’s Mill? Make sense, show!)
This storyline hits all the well-worn clichés along the way, right down to the cord being wrapped around the baby’s neck (I’m not sure how common this is in the real world, but it seems to be a problem in at least 75 percent of TV pregnancies) and the baby being delivered by one of our regulars (in this case Barbie, taking over when Alice becomes incapacitated). Harriet names the baby Alice, a sure-fire sign that Dr. Alice has approximately five minutes to live. But we already knew that, because she appeared to Joe and Norrie when they touched the mini-dome in the woods (and because Samantha Mathis has been listed as a guest star in the credits all season).
About that mini-dome: Because Joe and Norrie are apparently the only people in Chester’s Mill with any curiosity at all about the dome, they continue to experiment with it. When making out while leaning against it doesn’t seem to have any effect (on the dome, anyway; Joe’s hormones are another matter), they decide to find the center of the sphere in hopes there’s a nucleus of some sort powering the force-field. Indeed there is: a smaller dome with a sort of egg inside. I’m guessing this object becomes the equivalent of the hatch from Lost’s first season: Only a few people will know about it, and their efforts to open the mini-dome will drag on for some time. Any dynamite left in Chester’s Mill?
Maybe not, but propane blows up pretty good, too. The power struggle between Big Jim and keeper of the water Famer Ollie (Leon Rippy of Deadwood) heats up when Ollie commandeers Big Jim’s propane storage facility and puts a red-shirt named Boomer in charge of guarding it. Boomer proves to be aptly named when Big Jim gets his drink on and decides to reclaim his property by shooting at Boomer in his truck filled with explosive gas. Don’t mess with Big Jim.
And don’t give the world’s biggest gun to Junior and then tell him the people you’re planning to arrest tried to rape Angie. It’s not an episode of Under The Dome until one of the characters does something incredibly stupid, and this week Linda wins the prize. True, she doesn’t know about Junior’s recent history and that he’s not quite right in the head, but still...it’s Junior. He’s been a deputy for about five minutes. No need to arm him like he’s a member of SEAL Team Six.
“Imperfect Circles” is another middling episode of Under The Dome; not the worst by any means, but only fitfully intriguing or exciting and weighed down by too much hacky or flat-out dumb material. We learn a little more about the dome, which is something that interests me even if the residents of Chester’s Mill can’t be bothered. And the dynamics of life in a town sealed off from the rest of civilization aren’t completely ignored: Ollie’s big power grab isn’t particularly well-engineered, but he’s still in control of most of the town’s water and a sizable chunk of the future food supply as well. But why spend much time on a potentially interesting storyline like that when we could be enjoying the Very Special Birth Episode? It still has its moments, but too often, Under The Dome settles for mediocrity.
- The mini-dome does not respond to voice commands, of course. It would have been a little anticlimactic if all you had to do was tell the dome to turn itself off.
- “Lucky I paid attention in trig class!” Could Joe be a bigger dork?
- Yeah, we decided to just leave Rose’s body in the diner’s kitchen, because that’s a sanitary thing to do.