By Guest Contributor Olivia Richards
Tonight’s episode of Under the Dome is entitled “Outbreak,” referring to a sudden strain of meningitis that infects the townspeople. However, the illness was not the only thing running rampant in Chester’s Mill. Stupid escape strategies, poorly written dialogue, and ambiguous characterization plagued the inhabitants just as much, if not more so, than the actual meningitis epidemic.
The show finally addresses the limited supplies in the isolated town. Because the Dome cuts Chester’s Mill off from the rest of the world, the inhabitants must now ration the food and medical supplies until the Dome is lifted. Several characters voice a firm belief that this will happen soon, reassuring themselves and their loved ones that all will be well amongst widespread panic and chaos.
In my mind, the most frustrating and cringe worthy moments took place within Angie’s storyline. She was given a HUGE opportunity to manipulate Junior into letting her go, convincing him that she’s the “old Angie before the Dome” that he wants her to be. What does she do instead? She tries to stab him. She’s had days, presumably, to plan her escape and THAT’S what she came up with? If that wasn’t bad enough, she then attempts call for help through the vent. What does she use to support her weight? The rusty metal pipe. Surprise! It bursts, flooding the basement, knocking her unconscious, and leaving her in even more trouble than before.
On top of all that, the writers are now trying to mix in a religious aspect to the Dome’s appearance. Reverend Lester Coggins is shown burning the antibiotics needed to cure the ailing townspeople because he believes it’s “God’s will” that the Dome is trapping everyone. That’s what this show was missing: a religious fanatic trying to frame the Dome as its own spiritual entity.
Junior’s character development is another concern of mine. We know him to be a violent, impulsive, and dangerous psychopath. I think you successfully earn that title when you lock a girl in your basement until she conforms to your standards and ideals. In the episode, however, he is put in charge of keeping anyone from escaping the quarantined hospital…with the help of a large shotgun.
As the chaos and panic rises, he gets to have his beautiful, inspiring pep talk that reassures and calms the crowd. So, are we to believe that he’s a deceptive sociopath, hiding behind his charm and charisma? This Jekyll and Hyde-esque approach to his personality is very confusing.
Norrie and Joe’s storyline carried the episode for me. In order to understand the cause of their seizures, they decide to film themselves touching hands to confirm that their physical contact is, in fact, the catalyst. When they watch the footage, they are proven correct in their suspicions. They both begin seizing, whispering the same cryptic words from before. On top of this, Joe sits up, looks at the camera, and whispers, “Shhhhh” with his index finger to his lips. After seeing this, Joe states that maybe the Dome doesn’t want anyone to know what’s happening to them.
Are we now going the direction of Lost now? Will the Dome serve as its own separate character as opposed to just being set as a physical boundary in the plot? I worry that this turn in the plot could become too busy, tired, and preachy as the show progresses, leaving the audience scratching their heads and rolling their eyes.
I got sucked into Under the Dome because of its fantastic premise from the great mind of Stephen King. The opportunity for strong characters, chilling storylines, and juicy conflict was all there. However, what we seem to getting are one-dimensional characters, flat storylines, and sluggish, almost laughable conflict. Right now, the series seems to be trapped under its own dome of mediocrity.