‘Outbreak’ was hands down the best episode of Under the Dome to date. So. Much. Happened.

The town of Chester’s Mill suffered an ‘outbreak’ of what they believe to be meningitis (of course, how the outbreak started, or more specifically, who it started with is unknown). As various townspeople fell ill with a high fever and hallucinations, Big Jim (Dean Norris) and Barbie (Mike Vogel) went to get antibiotics for everyone, leaving Junior (Alexander Koch) in charge of keeping everybody in the hospital where they were so as not to infect the entire town. Great plan, right? Hell NO! Big Jim hands Junior a huge shotgun and gives him a responsibility only the audience (and poor Angie) knows he can’t handle. The image of Junior grabbing the gun was terrifying and excellent. Junior may be crazy, but he sure is fun to watch. (Note: this is in no small part due to the beautiful Alexander Koch).

The sudden outbreak brought up a lot of important questions for the show, namely, how the city will survive if they never find a way around the dome. Time moves slowly in Under the Dome, but I was beginning to wonder when they would address the town’s dwindling resources. For the first time in the series, characters were at risk of dying because of the town’s sudden isolation, not because a deputy went crazy or the electric current shocked anybody who got too close to the dome. Of course, I kept waiting for huge fights to break out amongst the sick and their families over who would get the first doses of antibiotics, but I believe this episode planted the seed for that kind of chaotic/survival of the fittest violence to occur in later episodes.

Other things I liked in this episode include: nobody gasped in awe at the idea of a lesbian couple with a daughter (the exaggerated disbelief, ‘you have two moms?’ became way too repetitive during last week’s episode), and Joe (Colin Ford) finally wondered where his sister was, even though he seemed to accept Junior’s answer way too easily when Junior told Joe that he had seen his sister ‘around’. Really, Joe? You don’t think that’s a super shady answer worthy of a little bit of investigating? You are willing to give yourself and Norrie (Mackenzie Lintz) seizures in the name of discovery, but you’re not willing to, I don’t know, follow Junior around for a few hours after he gives you such a ridiculous answer? But, I digress.

Thankfully, the writers of Under the Dome seem to understand that this whole "Angie (Britt Robertson) locked inside an underground bomb shelter thing" can’t last much longer before it becomes the most annoying story line on television this summer, and the episode ended with the best cliffhanger: Big Jim finding Angie huddled up alone in the locked room, helpless and chained to the bed.

When Under the Dome started, I thought Big Jim was just an annoying, power-hungry, self-important jerk, but now he’s quickly becoming one of my favorite characters. His constant willingness to take on responsibility for the town is endearing, even if he clearly doesn’t feel that same willingness to take responsibility for his disturbed son. But, even with his goodness, Big Jim remains stern and calculating – he’s the most ambiguous character on the show. So, when the episode ended with him staring at Angie, his hand on the door, my heart started pounding. Is he going to let her out or is he going to close the door and pretend he never saw her (for his son’s sake)? On the one hand, I can’t imagine that Big Jim would do anything so cruel. On the other, I could definitely see him helping Junior keep her prisoner (if not in the bomb shelter, then in the house) so that the family wouldn’t be humiliated and judged.

Hopefully we’ll find out next week! I also hope that Julia Shumway (Rachelle Lefevre) realizes she unfairly judged good-guy Barbie after finding out her husband was a lying scumbag with a serious gambling problem (I am so sick of self-righteous Julia, and I really hope she quiets down next week), and that Barbie ends up bunking with Joe after being kicked out of Julia’s – just think of all the mystery-solving those two could do together!

What did you think of ‘Outbreak’? Are you excited for next week's episode? Under the Dome airs Mondays at 10 P.M. on CBS.

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