The second episode of the Stephen King adaptation, Under The Dome, aired on Monday night and it saw one thing (other than a couple of drops of water) manage to escape through the apparently indestructible barrier – the series’ credibility. Whilst The Fire made pathetic attempts at keeping viewers on their toes, the shock and intrigue that filled the pilot episode was nowhere to be found. Instead, we were given an episode that neither advanced its storyline nor developed its characters. This, Mr. Vaughan, is not what we signed up for.
The terrible ‘here’s what happened last week’ voice-over greeted us as the episode opened, bumping up the cheese factor and suggesting a lack of faith in the viewer’s ability to remember what transpired seven days prior. After that particularly rocky start, the episode continued to tumble down hill as the residents of Chester’s Mill attempted to carry on as normal following the collective realisation that the dome probably isn’t going anywhere any time soon.
The fact that most of the characters, bar one or two, appear to be more miffed by the inconvenience that the dome has caused, rather than being in a state of sheer panic, seems to be the reason why this episode didn’t work. The characters, despite saying all the right lines, are taking this whole catastrophe alarmingly well. It doesn’t feel as if they’re in any particular danger, a bizarre scenario considering the situation. Had this happened in real life, a higher level of hysteria would surely have developed early on.
With this lack of emotion from the characters comes the viewer’s inability to empathize with them, a growing problem throughout the episode. You don’t feel as if you care about them or indeed what happens to them. Dean Norris’s Big Jim and his increasingly unhinged son Junior (Alexander Koch) were the only two characters to give it some real welly in the performance stakes, proving what we already knew from last week – these two are the ones to watch. Big J and Junior already seem to have substantial yet currently unrevealed back-stories and they act as a bigger threat than the dome itself. Meanwhile Barbie, Julia, Linda and co are yet to convince anyone that they don’t deserve the same fate that Sheriff Perkins (Jeff Fahay) met at the end of the pilot. RIP Duke, or Frank Lapidus for all us Lost fans.
Whilst Barbie wobbled on the line of boring this week, his character did provide us with flashbacks to the events that led to the death of Peter Shumway, the man he was burying at the beginning of the pilot, the man we now know to be Julia’s missing husband – though don’t tell her that, she seems to have taken a shine to the mysterious Barbs.
The big fire, caused by the untrustworthy and presumably dicey Rev. Coggins, was all too easily resolved, showing what a little teamwork, some buckets of water and a digger driven by Dean Norris can do. We were supposed to believe that the Chester’s Mill residents were in grave danger, though we always knew they weren’t…after all, if the dome exploded they wouldn’t have a series.
All in all, a disappointing second excursion under the dome. Let’s hope this is a fully intentional ploy to lure us into a false sense of security before shiz really does start hitting the fan.