Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Under The Dome: “Speak Of The Devil”

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“The dome owes us some answers.” Indeed it does, but nobody ever said the answers had to make sense. “Speak Of The Devil” opens with the usual flurry of exposition, reminding the audience that the pink stars arranged themselves into constellations, the caterpillar is about to hatch into a Monarch butterfly, and Junior is still the most annoying character on American television. But the episode takes a sudden (and somewhat inexplicable) turn when Julia answers her door only to get shot in the chest by Maxine.

At that very moment, Big Jim is across town being grilled by Linda about his secret propane stash. He takes the opportunity to paint Barbie as a threat to Chester’s Mill, so when Barbie calls in the shooting seconds later, the seeds of doubt are planted in the mind of our not-entirely-brilliant chief of police. It doesn’t really make any sense: Why would Barbie call in a shooting he’d just committed? And if he’d planned to kill Julia, why rush her to the hospital? But by the end of the hour, enough circumstantial evidence has accumulated to pave over the gaps in logic.

The show must have blown its extras budget with last week’s fight club extravaganza, as this week it seems like there are only about eight people in Chester’s Mill. There’s Dodee out at the radio station, where a gathering electrical storm allows her to receive a signal from the outside, conveniently at the very moment the military is discussing the fact that Dale Barbara is inside the dome and “he’s the one we’ve been looking for.” There are the Four Hands, briefly split apart due to one of Junior’s snit fits, a turn of events that makes the dome very angry. Said anger manifests itself in a pretty cool swirling cloud o’ doom, convincing Junior to return to the group for a trek to the maxi-dome.

Natalie Zea’s arc comes to an end in pretty disappointing fashion. Somehow, the ruthless businesswoman of the past two episodes turns out to be a lovesick puppy dog, so smitten with Barbie that she barely bothers to grieve her dead mother. (Mare Winningham returns this week just to wash up on the shore as a corpse, which is nice work if you can get it, I guess.) After giving his noble speech about taking Maxine alive, Barbie somehow doesn’t know that Big Jim will shoot her as soon as he turns his back, even though I knew it, you knew it, and people who don’t even watch the show knew it. In yet another bit of convenient timing, Linda shows up just in time to see Maxine and her henchman dead on the ground and Barbie holding the gun that shot them on Big Jim. Now Barbie’s on the run but, you know, under a dome, so he’s not running far.

Joe has gotten the impression that Barbie is the Monarch they’re waiting for, but Big Jim seems the more likely candidate, what with Barbie’s talk about knocking him off his throne. Further evidence mounts when the fearsome foursome place their hands on the big barrier and share a creepy vision of Big Jim walking towards them from outside the dome, bleeding from several wounds. Given that they each envision holding a knife, we can piece this together, but why bother when Norrie is there to spell it all out for us? If Big Jim is the Monarch, they’re his assassins… or at least, that’s What The Dome Wants.

“Speak Of The Devil” is a typically muddled episode of Under The Dome: a couple of cool effects and some potentially interesting revelations wrapped in a whole bunch of dumb. With two episodes left in the season, the stage is set for a showdown between Big Jim and Barbie, and at this point, it’s hard to see how both characters can continue to co-exist. But odds are the show will find a way, and it will be a way that leaves us scratching our heads.


Stray observations:

  • About halfway through this episode, I found myself wondering whether Angie could just cut off Junior’s hand and use that as the fourth. But no, Junior remains attached to it.
  • People like Phil are still out driving around as if the pumps haven’t run dry yet, which seems unlikely. At least Barbie has a hybrid.
  • “Who was that?” “The devil.” But I thought Mr. White was the devil?