The worst thing about watching Under the Dome is that it makes you feel a lot like that unfortunate cow from the pilot, the one that got sliced clean in half revealing its rather too compact innards. UTD metaphorically splits you down the middle, with one half of you wanting to stop watching the series (that’s the sane half) and the other half – the cow half that stayed mushed against the outside of the dome – is strangely glued to the series, sucked in by it’s dragged out story and compelled to keep watching. This uncanny phenomenon is what we call ‘The Cow Effect’. Akin to the ‘Lost Effect’, it’s probably not dangerous to your health but that’s not to say that it won’t drive you insane.
Whilst Outbreak was a minor improvement on last week’s episode, we still haven’t got the foggiest idea as to what the dome is or why it has settled on Chester’s Mill. The one thing we do know, however, is that the dome is a certified cliché magnet. It gets more predictable by the minute and Outbreak, which sees the town hit by a wave of meningitis, is played out like a bad epidemic movie or the worst episode of ER you never saw.
Clearly as bored with the dome as we are, the military, who’ve been stationed outside the dome since the pilot, retreat from the scene, leaving the people trapped inside feeling abandoned. Angered by the military’s lack of acknowledgement that they even exist, the usually placid townsfolk finally start to show some emotion by letting loose with graffiti on the invisible force field. It’s not as exciting as it sounds but at least people are acting like they care – a progression from the last few weeks. The hillbilly protest doesn’t last long though, as new Sheriff Linda comes along, waving her gun around like a white flag and causing everyone to quite literally take a step back. We all know what happens when you start firing shots near the dome. Thank goodness Big Jim is watching from his Mafioso car and manages to calm the situation within seconds. He’s like Yoda.
One moment Big Jim is giving yet another of his superb speeches and the next, Linda is collapsing. When he takes her to the hospital, he realises that she isn’t an isolated case and the entire town seem to be coming down with severe flu-like symptoms. Worse still, they’re running low on doctors, what with Peter Shumway decomposing in the woods and it’s the age old, too many patients not enough doctors syndrome. So they call upon Dr. Alice, who just so happens to already be at the hospital running tests on her daughter, Norrie, and Joe after their joint seizure (it’s all so conveniently set up). Alice, who’s actually a psychologist, takes on the role of diagnosing and treating the sick, only they’ve run out of medicine.
Whilst at the hospital, Big Jim runs into Junior who’s getting his hand patched up after an altercation with Angie and a pair of scissors. In the one-hundredth illogical scenario of the series, Angie’s attempt to seduce Junior before stabbing him was horribly unsuccessful. Little Ange continues to be frustratingly dumb; Junior has made it very clear that he’ll free her when she’s back to how she was before (i.e. loving him again), so all she needed to do was pretend a little longer until Junior released her and THEN she could have stabbed him. It probably wouldn’t have been that easy but it would’ve been better than her failed assassination attempt. As a result, Junior tightens the chains on Angie’s ankles and leaves her locked up again. Never one to give our ears a break from her shrieking, Angie attempts to shout for help but ends up breaking a pipe, which sends water pouring into the bunker and Angie unconscious on the floor. If you were hoping that this might be the end of blondie, you’re out of luck.
This whole pantomime continues to go on, jumping from scenes at the hospital, where Junior is given the job of stopping people from leaving (with a shot gun as back up), to scenes of Angie stomping around as the water rises and then back to scenes of ailing people at the hospital, where an increasingly sick Julia flees to investigate the cabin where Peter died and Junior takes a leaf out of his daddy’s book and gives an inspiring speech to the crowd. It went something along the lines of ‘We’re all in this together. We can do zzzzzzz’. Sorry, I think I nodded off through that bit.
As we pogo from character to character, Big Jim and Barbie head on over to suspect number one’s house after the pharmacy is looted. Rev. Coggins is busy burning the stolen medicine stock, as you do when you’re stuck in a dome, until Barbie tackles him to the ground in the least convincing take down of the year. They collect the drugs and take them to the hospital, where almost everyone is miraculously cured. Phew. We were almost starting to get worried…
Somewhere amidst his drug filled madness, the Rev. seems to have found his conscience and, after preaching about God’s will, he later turns up at Big Jim’s house and hands over his share of the money they earned from their previous dodgy dealings. It’s clear that Big Jim isn’t happy about being the only one with dirty hands but he allows Coggins to walk away. For now. And it’s here that we get to the good bit, the end.
The semi-big turning point in this episode was where Julia found out that her husband was heavy in debt before he disappeared and that Barbie was hired to retrieve money from him – thus ending their newfound friendship. She still doesn’t know that Peter is dead but it’s only a matter of time. Not content with giving us just one revelation, they hit us with Big Jim finding Angie in the bunker just before the credits role. Angie’s face is a treat; she looks more terrified of Big Jim than she ever did of Junior. The question is, will he free her? Surely he’s not going to leave the poor girl locked up in his bunker, but letting her go could have dire repercussions for the Rennie family. We’ll have to wait until next week to find out how far Big Jim will go to save his own skin.
Whilst Outbreak gave us a modicum of progression, with a mild bout of pandemonium, the storyline is still being milked, the script continues to bore, and the characters are as bland and one-dimensional as ever. Julia should be the main driving force, being an investigative reporter, but Rachelle Lefevre seems unable to bring the required go-getting nature to the role. The only characters worth watching, and have been from the very beginning, are Big Jim and Junior, because you’re never quite sure what their motives are. You hate them one moment, like them the next, and that’s the best type of character there is – the ones that don’t fit into one box but rather jump in and out of all of them.
Pink stars still haven’t fallen in lines but Joe’s ‘shhhhh’ to the camera during his second joint seizure with Norrie made for hysterical viewing. Evidently unable to deliver on the sci-fi front, the creators of Under the Dome have apparently turned to comedy. And so ‘The Cow Effect’ continues.