In the penultimate episode of Under the Dome season 1, Big Jim Rennie confirmed his place on the dark side with more cold-blooded murder and infinite lies. This week his unlucky victim was Dodee but she wasn’t the only one who felt the full effect of Big Jim’s shameless acts, though she was the only one who didn’t live to tell the tale. Whether directly or inadvertently, nobody escaped unhurt in Exigent Circumstances, giving a glimmer of hope for a semi-exciting finale.
With an unconscious Julia being the only person who could exonerate him, Barbie was on the run as the people of Chester’s Mill hunted him down. Using Barbie’s escape as ammunition, Big Jim fuelled the town with one of his trademark speeches, convincing them that catching Barbie and bringing him to justice was the only way forward. At this point Jim could weave just about any lie and the townsfolk would go along with it; they trust him so implicitly. And so the idea of door-to-door house searches was conceived, putting the contents of the MacAllister barn in serious jeopardy.
At the radio station, Dodee continued to plug into the outside military frequency, where she learnt that they were also searching for Barbie and tracking a mystery object within the dome, which revived her latent memory of the mini-dome encased egg. The military revealed that Barbie was the only person with the “necessary expertise” to deal with the egg, something Dodee was trying to decipher the meaning off when Big Jim rained on her parade. Overhearing more military chatter, which stated that Big Jim had killed Rev. Coggins, Dodee unwittingly made herself Jim’s next target. He simply couldn’t let her go when she knew the truth.
So Big Jim shot Dodee and set fire to the radio station, destroying all methods of communication with the outside and framing Barbie for yet another murder. With much of the town distracted searching houses for him, Barbie went to Angie for help which she offered willingly, being another member of the Big Jim hate-club. Angie lured Junior away from his assigned post of guarding Julia at the clinic whilst Barbie snuck his comatose love into an ambulance. Junior soon realised that Angie’s advances were merely a ploy (duh!) and he raced after Barbie, where the two had a sloppy brawl outside the clinic. On Barbie’s orders, Angie escaped with Julia, leaving Barbie to surrender to Sheriff Linda, and get an almighty kick in the face from Phil who was grieving over Dodee. Ouch.
Big Jim immediately went to the MacAllister barn in search of the egg but it was nowhere to be found. Joe and Norrie had moved it, prompting a furious Jim to lock them up at the police station, forgetting or rather ignoring the fact that they’re only minors. Human rights… What human rights? I’ve always liked BJR – he feels like the ultimate anti-hero amidst a series of weak characters – but over the last few weeks he’s turned from mildly bad to positively Satan-like, making it impossible to root for him any longer.
Meanwhile, Julia woke up to find herself in the clinic storage room, with Angie having doubled back to the place she thought nobody would look for them. Julia reassured Angie that Barbie didn’t shoot her but the two continued to hide out anyway, knowing that Big Jim wouldn’t hesitate to kill Julia if he knew she’d woken up. Finally Angie became valuable and Julia, well, she wasn’t quite so grating when she was semi-conscious.
After trying to goad Joe and Norrie into revealing the whereabouts of the egg, and Norrie responding by trying to stab him, Big Jim persuaded Barbie to admit to all the murders in return for the release of the teenagers and Angie and Julia’s safety. Barbie reluctantly agreed, prompting Jim to release Joe and Norrie, only for Barbie to go back on his word and plead not guilty to the makeshift town jury. If he can’t condemn Barbie to death, Big Jim will have to think of a new plan before Julia blows his lies wide open.
The annoyance of the episode came in the form of gullible Sheriff Linda, whose point in the series seems increasingly vague. Having followed Norrie, Joe and Carolyn to Ben’s house where they’d hidden the egg, Linda became the next person to unearth the “dome’s heart”. With all this stress under the dome it seemed not even the egg could handle it and, with a lot of glowing and shrieking, the butterfly chrysalis starting shaking ready for the monarch to reveal itself in next week’s episode. The question is, will it or won’t it?
Following some stinking episodes over the last few weeks, the penultimate at least managed some spot on pacing – with plenty happening to keep things interesting. The dialogue was still cringing, the action scenes limp, but I’ve almost become immune to the awfulness now, like someone becomes used to a constantly bad smell. With just one episode to go and this week having restored a smidgen of my faith in the series, we had better prepare ourselves for the cliff-hanger we all know is coming.