CBS‘ Under the Dome Go Now TV Show Review. Under the Dome: Season 2, Episode 13: ‘Go Now’ lived up to its title in ways I’m certain the showrunners hadn’t intended. Stay tuned for the post-review rant.
With the Dome still contracting, and Magical Melanie (Grace Victoria Cox) having been sucked down a hole – seemingly summoned by her last minute resuscitation – there was a whole lot of shaking, under foot, for the remaining Dome-estics. Going the extra mile, by shaking some of the background foliage, would’ve added to the doomy atmosphere; but it is what it is, with this show. Lightening, repeatedly striking the same location, was a good reason for Barbie (Mike Vogel) & Julia (Rachelle Lefevre) to leave the town’s Scooby Gang at the hole, unsupervised; but Barbie did warn them not to do anything stupid, so it was all settled.
For reasons unknown, a farmhouse was attracting the lightening, while a little boy tried to get his dad out from under a rotor-till. Well, the lightening solved the father problem, so Barbie & Julia only had one relatively light kid to drag back to the final huddle.
I have no idea what purpose this scene was meant to have, other than introducing a new character – perhaps as a foot in the doorway, at the thought of the show not being renewed. If anyone cares to do the math, comparing the odds of being struck by lightning – indoors – versus being trapped under a massive invisible dome, knock yourself out. I think I’ve just about used up all my snark points, for this series.
Being teenagers, I guess, Joe (Colin Ford), Norrie (Mackenzie Lintz), and Hunter (Max Ehrich) elected to promptly disregard Barbie’s warning, and go spelunking for the greater good. Not quite Legend of Zelda, but a quest is quest (I guess, I guess); and this one had the most convincing subterranean set this side of a Power Rangers episode. Well, nothing like “a little butterfly told me” news about a way out, to get out of a scolding; so the Dome Scooby Gang earned its keep for another episode.
“Oh, BTW, Norrie, you’re mom’s back.”
“Who cares? Life’s gonna suck after all this.”
The other principal development, setting up the finale, was Lyle’s go-out-on-a-high-note plot. That involved killing Pauline (Sherry Stringfield), and then committing suicide-by-Big Jim (Dean Norris). He got to their final destination first. As Barbie & Julia prepped the town folk for evacuation, through the not entirely explored escape hole, Big Jim, Sam (Eddie Cahill), and Rebecca (Karla Crome) tended to Pauline. It was during this stretch that the falling apart fell into place.
Pauline officially endorsed Julia’s papacy, and by the time Junior (Alexander Koch) discovered the fate Pauline had predicted for herself, it was already too late. While Big Jim was away, looking for an assigned miracle measure, Pauline talked an unsupervised Rebecca into easing her passing. She also declared Junior the most important person under the Dome, so clearly there were limits to her wisdom. That had better been mother’s love talking, because Junior has been very much… not that, since the series began. Still, it was too bad Pauline didn’t foresee the fallout.
This is going to be long review (fair warning), so I’ll forgo the nuanced details. I will say this: Big Jim reverting to his earlier, villainous form – besides being more convincing than Anakin Skywalker’s conversion to the darkside – did underscore two sad truths about the series. No one will remember Rebecca, and the cult of the Dome was utter bullocks.
To put it simply, Jim demanded a miracle resurrection from the Dome, otherwise he was going to kill all of the Dome’s supposed agents & executors of its will. So either the Dome never had any divine power/ purpose, Jim was never chosen, and he was about to go on a killing spree based on rationalized disappointment, or he truly believed the Dome had the power to bring back Pauline, but would do so on his command, otherwise allowing him to ruin its grand plan. Never mind that Junior was a part of that plan, then. Irrational grief I get, but Jim’s logic was just stupid. Not insane – stupid. I won’t attempt to rationalize the character any further (but the creative forces, behind the show, get very stern looks).
Another Under the Dumb moment: Julia running off on her own, without telling anyone else; but that was what it took to get her face to face with acolyte killer Jim. Does the Dome want her dead? After another senseless killing, to show that Jim meant business, it was Woman-in-jeopardy time; so naturally, Julia passes on an opportunity to fatally injure Jim, just so the chase could continue (just now at a slower pace, for both of them).
This was Junior’s cue to break his father’s sword. With a mortally wounded Jim barred from the Exodus, the Chosen One, and The Most Important Man Under the Dome, were bringing up the rear of the pilgrimage. So naturally, a narrow chasm widened – just in time to leave Julia stranded. Maybe the Dome does want her dead.
Back at the head of the hole expedition, Norrie was complaining about the latest underground passage not living up to expectations. Frankly, I was hoping the admin guys from Cabin in the Woods would pop out to provide answers. What they did get, after one last strategically placed hand, was Melanie, looking like she had just popped out of the lake, again, welcoming them home. That’s your ending, folks.
So what’s left for this series? Seriously – I’m asking, here. The Lady of the Lake takes them to Avalon, Crowns Julia, Knights Barbie (now Barbarossa), and sends him questing after the Egg? Big Jim stumbles across a pool of bubbling Dome essence, heals himself, pulls on a zipper mouthed burlap mask – with button eyes – and goes hunting Barbarossa’s Knight breed, in his absence? Shucks, I’d actually watch that ridiculousness!
No, Under the Dome began running out of ideas pretty much from the moment it was decided to stretch it beyond its original mini-series commitment. It was based on a single volume Steven King book, and not a very broadly themed one, at that. The initial episodes reflected some of the more familiar King touches: stranger comes to town with sinister past/ agenda; mysterious phenomenon traps/ forces small town folk together; extremes of their individual/ group think personalities surface, they turn on each other, then start hunting scapegoats/ sacrificial lambs; one or more predators within the flock.
For the mini-series, that all worked. The mitigating factors of Barbie’s act of murder, contrasted against his obvious good nature, made for good tension – particularly after he got involved with the victim’s wife. A more conflicted & nuanced Sleeping with the Enemy scenario. Even more tension was generated by the stop-gap authority figure’s son going psycho stalker, and imprisoning the subject of his obsession right under daddy’s nose. The Dome, for all its mystery, merely served as a catalyst; forcing its inhabitants to deal with their situations, rise above them, or act out because of them. Under the Dome held my interest for just that.
Then something odd happened. Both Barbie & Junior were busted, but nothing happened. By then, Julia had seen enough to know that Barbie was the better man, so he got off with a reprimand, for having lied about her husband. Big Jim was well on his way to filling the town’s power vacuum, so upon finding Angie, chained in his bomb shelter by his son, his first reaction was to bury the matter. A sinister (albeit, somewhat expected) twist to the Misery element. What came next, however, was the harbinger moment. In the midst of the first Dome-doom moment, Jim frees Angie, the two of them talk, then confront a suitably irate Junior with… a deal. Junior keeps away from her, she keeps the whole matter to herself. The writing was on the wall, from that moment. This was when the Under the Dumb moments started settling in. The initial tension gone, Julia & Barbie became the town power couple, while Junior was earmarked for redemption & hero status. Big Jim went from sinister to villainous; but then found religion, so his earlier murders where forgotten. The initial Dome-doom became part of a routine, and everyone just started acting up, or acting out, so they’d have something to do. The turn on your neighbor theme became a go-to plot device of convenience. The logistics of their collective situation (provisions, infrastructure… science) had to be casually ignored. The question of who was the Dome’s chosen took some pressure off the need for answers about the Dome. The Egg became less of a deepening to the Dome mystery, than just an excuse to validate keeping certain characters around.
– Or not. By season two, it seemed some actors saw the doldrums setting in, and wanted out; and even a cherished member of the Four Hands savior band had to be replaced. How do you introduce new characters to a small town in a fish bowl? Just do it – if anyone asks, they were in with the extras. No answer to the Dome mystery? Make it about a conspiracy beyond the Dome; and so on, and some such….
This is what happens when you over extend beyond your source material; you wind up having to make stuff up, but without the talent behind the source material. It’s a problem fans of long running Manga based Anime know all too well. Fillers kill series momentum, man. When a series becomes nothing but filler, it just kills the series.
The point is, the show has long passed the point of clutching at plot straws, to justify its continuation. ‘Go Now,’ for all its faults, had the makings of an out for the series. Unfortunately, it’s the one straw the showrunners will likely not reach for. Given the lengths they have gone through, to keep it on the shelf this long past expiration, I don’t see them acknowledging a reason to quit now. I call it Smallville Syndrome.
I’m not one to pride himself on just how snarky his criticisms can be. Whatever future the powers behind the Dome has in store for the show, I’d just as soon shake my head at second hand revelations, than sit through another season Under the Dumb. The one thing the second season finale got right was its title – as good a song cue of resignation as any. Take the out, guys.
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