'Under The Dome' TV Review: The Dome Secrets Begin To Come Out, But The Character Development Is Still Lacking
“Imperfect Circles,” the most recent episode of CBS’ Under the Dome, exposed a new supernatural facet of the dome, and failed in the development of some of its main characters.
Under the Dome is currently transitioning from telling a story of adjustment to telling a story of survival. While the first half of the summer season focused on the townspeople of Chester’s Mill acclimating to their new existence inside the dome, the second half seems to be moving more towards a Lost-like fight for survival in this new, unpredictable and dangerous environment. “Imperfect Circles” did a good job moving things along – setting a faster, yet not too fast, pace for how the mysteries of the dome will be exposed and explored in the future.
We learned a lot about the dome, thanks to Joe (Colin Ford) and Norrie (Mackenzie Lintz), who found a mini-dome nucleus, we learned that the dome could make people see things that weren’t there – and that the visions are not specific to one person, but can appear to multiple people at the same time (remember, Joe is actually the one who spots the vision of Alice (Samantha Mathis) in the woods). We also learned that the dome has specific intentions – for example, it showed Alice to Norrie so that Norrie would go home and see her mother before she died. And, for some reason, the dome wanted Julia’s neighbor to have her baby immediately. Why? Who knows, and, honestly, I doubt we’ll ever find out.
Still, as the show begins to explore the mythology of the dome a bit more concretely, I find myself much more interested in the show. Yes, some of the characters are still frustratingly ignorant of everything going on around them (I’m looking at you, Angie (Britt Robertson) and Linda (Natalie Martinez)), but it makes Joe and Norrie infinitely more interesting and overall raises the level of the show.
I have loved watching Norrie’s character develop from, to put it bluntly, a one-dimension troubled tween to a real girl with vulnerabilities, and the dome mythology plays a big part in that transformation.
Joe and Norrie should really replace Barbie (Mike Vogel) and Julia (Rachelle Lefevre) as the central couple of the show. While Norrie and Joe get more fascinating every episode, Barbie and Julia become infinitely less interesting. Barbie is way under-explored as a character. He has so much potential — he's an army vet traumatized by the war, with a dark, terrible secret — and yet, his whole character is being compressed into his romantic relationship with Julia (who is the most boring character on the show – the only thing about her that has changed since the pilot is who she's sleeping with).
Under the Dome has been constantly plagued by the show’s inability to exploit the majority of their characters effectively. Barbie and Linda, in particular, are always given the beginnings of potentially awesome storylines (hints of PTSD, a finacé on the other side) without any follow through.
Other than Joe and Norrie, the most successful character continues to be Big Jim, but he's getting crazier by the second. (Really, why would he kick Junior (Alexander Koch) out of his home for kidnapping Angie, but not have a problem with Linda handing Junior a gun every day?)
Under the Dome’s character flaws, coupled with the story’s movement towards the dome’s mythology makes me wonder how the show can go on for more than one season, and still be watchable. I realize that I just stated my excitement at the prospect of learning more about the dome, but how many mysterious dome powers can be revealed until they start feeling forced?
I’m starting to think the show would have been better served as a mini-series. That said, there’s still a good chunk of the season to go, so Under the Dome could still prove itself to be a show worth keeping around for another season.
Next week, Under the Dome showcases another town riot on “Thicker Than Water,” airing Monday at 10 P.M. on CBS.
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