After such a strong premiere and concept, Under the Dome has followed it up with two disappointing hours.
I gave the series the benefit of the doubt with the slow development in the second episode. I hoped that once we were introduced to the characters and community dynamics that the story of the dome and its effect on the town would pick up.
Instead, "Manhunt" continued on a path that almost entirely ignored that the dome even existed. The Chester Mills residents went about their lives as usual with a few inconveniences.
They went for walks through town. The teens were partying it up at the skate park and then at Joe's house. The biggest complaint about resources was that bacon was going to run out. Why aren't the townspeople more concerned about the Dome? Shouldn't they be activating some sort of emergency preparedness plan? As much as Big Jim wants to be seen as a leader, he is failing. He should be putting together a task force to account for the town's resources, not demeaning his son and covering up his secrets.
After the fire that took out Duke's house and Freddy's killing, the folks showed up at the Sheriff's Office to make sure Paul would pay for what he did. Why aren't they demanding answers about the Dome, itself? It's only been three days, but with all that has happened it's surprising that Junior is the only one looking for a way out. And, he's only doing it out of some deranged belief that getting away from the Dome will make Angie's love for him return.
The mysteries behind Barbie, Big Jim and the Reverend, and Angie's kidnapping aren't what I was expecting to be the core of the show. Those stories could be told on any small town series and aren't unique to a closed society situation. I was drawn to Under the Dome to see how a society would adapt to living within a fish bowl with limited resources and no ability to leave. There should at least be a better balance between the two.
In "Manhunt," we didn't learn anything new about the Dome. It was already known that it penetrated the ground, so the blockage of the tunnel was no surprise. And, the flashlight battery exploding only confirmed how and why Duke died when he touched the Dome. One benefit of the Dome was that the search team knew that Paul couldn't leave the town.
On the personal side, Big Jim revealed his motivation and true self to Barbie through his high school football story. After hating to be called "Big Jim," he seems to embrace it now. While he hated to be ridiculed with the name as a teenager, it didn't prevent him from bullying his own son. His use of "Junior" clearly affects his son just as much as "Big Jim" did previously. And, his comment "Let the grownups do their jobs. Drink your milk, Junior." was extremely demeaning.
Even when Jim apologized to Linda and made her Sheriff he had a snide tone to his words. He's a criminal, a bully, selfish, and overall appears to be a pretty awful man. Will he be able to put all that aside and step up and be an effective leader for Chester's Mill? At this point, that seems unlikely. Though, I'm not sure that either Barbie, Julia, or even Linda will fill that role either.
At first, I thought Barbie and Julia would partner up and be a strong force for the town. Now that Junior has put doubts in her mind and she found the mysterious map marked with a "PB" I'm not sure. And, the DJ, Phil, seems to be involved somehow. Do they know each other? Barbie definitely didn't want Phil to see him and Julia noticed that as well. Out of all the mysteries, I'm most intrigued by Barbie and why he was in Chester's Mill in the first place.
Lastly, I have to mention Joe and Norrie's episode. It was freaky when they each had a seizure and recited the same phrase, but their simultaneous seizures was super freaky. While Angie's "lost love" for Junior is undoubtedly unrelated to the Dome, the seizures are certainly connected. When Joe and Norrie touched hands, they created a spark and immediately fell to the ground. The spark could explain the seizures, but that definitely doesn't explain them both repeating "Pink stars are falling." in unison. Scary!
I had high hopes for this series and haven't given that up ... yet. It's still early in the season and with each episode covering one day under the dome, the slow pace is expected. Going forward, I'd like to see more of the immediate ramifications of the Dome and the town preparing for the long term. The mysteries will reveal themselves slowly, but they shouldn't dominant the story.
What are you enjoying most about the show? Should Julia trust Barbie? What is going on with the seizures?