'Under the Dome' TV Review: Increased Subtlety Helps Round Out The Sci-Fi Thriller
Under the Dome continues to slowly create a more complete picture of Chester’s Mill as the season moved forward with ‘The Endless Thirst.’ Romantic relationships were fleshed out, and the townspeople became more vulnerable in an episode that focused more on the humanity of the characters than the mysteries surrounding them.
First, the good news: Barbie (Mike Vogel) and Julia (Rachelle Lefevre) finally kissed! I’m not totally buying the chemistry between the potential couple – personally I just don’t feel the chemistry as strongly as I do, say, the chemistry between Joe (Colin Ford) and Norrie (Mackenzie Lintz), or that between Big Jim (Dean Norris) and pretty much any other character on the show (seriously, Norris could be acting in a scene with a metal pole and it would still be riveting). Still, the romantic kiss under the rain was sweet, and I’m willing to let myself be swept up by the Barbie/Julia relationship.
In other couple news, Joe and Norrie continued to be adorably loyal to each other, and Junior (Alexander Koch) continued to be not so adorably obsessed with Angie (Britt Robertson). Junior’s actions are getting more and more suspect, making me think that a showdown between Big Jim and Junior could happen soon. Big Jim is such a strong and powerful character, it would surely be excellent television watching him go toe to toe with his crazy son.
I’ve criticized Under the Dome for lazy writing before, but I have to say that ‘The Endless Thirst’ had some really well written character moments. The dialogue might not be completely there yet, but the show delivered when it came to Big Jim and Rose (Beth Broderick). The two were rarely onscreen together for more than a minute, but since the pilot they have been established as a flirty almost couple. They even held hands last week when they thought they were going to die together. Under the Dome played Rose’s untimely death perfectly – with Big Jim finding out just as he managed to get his hands on escaped prisoner Angie. Norris gave Big Jim a moment of mourning and then it disappeared. In that moment, you could see that Big Jim was experiencing a great loss, and also maybe realizing that Angie was the last person with Rose before she died. It was a touching moment, and finally truly gave the viewers the impression that life in Chester’s Mill goes beyond the scope of the show.
Another effective aspect of ‘The Endless Thirst’ was the clear, yet subtle parallel put forth between Norrie’s desperate attempt to heal her mother by stealing insulin and the townspeople’s need to resort to looting. It was smart to separate Norrie's journey (which the audience empathizes with) from the irrational journey of the looters, instead of making Norrie another angry looter herself while giving her a back-story and justifying her actions. Keeping the two storylines parallel, yet apart emphasizes an anti-violence message instead of communicating to the audience that violence, in extreme cases, is necessary. Norrie never crossed paths with the looters, and it was one of the most carefully constructed storylines on the show so far.
If only Under the Dome treated all its subjects with such care. It’s surprising how little the show has exploited the separation of Linda (Natalie Martinez) from her fireman fiancé – a tragic love story that could really add some dimension to the show. Under the Dome has plenty of time to explore all of Chester’s Mill’s complicated inhabitants; the show was recently picked up for a second summer season by CBS.
Under the Dome airs Mondays at 10 P.M. on CBS.
– Olivia Truffaut-Wong
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