CBS‘ Under the Dome Awakening TV Show Review. Under the Dome: Season 2, Episode 8: ‘Awakening’ could have just as easily been about Lyle’s (Dwight Yoakam) return, as a contributing character, or any number of characters who just came to their senses – if only a little – for what seemed like a collective “you are here” moment for season two.
For Barbie (Mike Vogel), “here” was his home town of Zenith, where a reunion with his estranged father, Don (Brett Cullen), brought mixed blessings. With major military contractor pull, Don had the resources that possibly meant a way back to Julia (Rachelle Lefevre) – her being left at the mercy of Big Jim (Dean Norris), Barbie’s concern – but it turned out he had a secret agenda. This was made clear by new player, Hunter (Max Ehrich), a super hacker that turned out to be an inside man on this agenda (and a much more convenient valuable resource). With a new perspective on his “here” point, Barbie’s destination point, back under the Dome, took on a new urgency.
Pauline (Sherry Stringfield) had wrangled Sam (Eddie Cahill) into chemically restoring Lyle’s wits, only to find no real answers. Apparently, Lyle had no insight, regarding the Chester’s Mill portal, and was intent on suicide, same as Sam (only Lyle thought there’d be purpose to his death). What Lyle did contribute was reassurance to the audience that there was still one more Pauline post-card prediction to come. So now the question is whether the Red Door reveal will be closing out the season, closing out the series, or Pauline’s contribution to a story without any plans to end soon.
Back under the Dome, Julia (Rachelle Lefevre) wasn’t taking Barbie’s apparent death (as she had clearly shrugged off the encouraging drone footage, from last episode) very well. In fact, she was in such a funk, that not even the Four Hands booster squad could raise her hopes. One reason for them to try was the timely restoration of internet service – just long enough for an e-mail from Barbie to come through. Of course, it was a doctored by Don, as part of the beyond the Dome conspiracy, but that wasn’t the reason Julia rejected it. No, after the better part of two seasons, taking everything at face value (like a reporter should), Julia had resorted to a cynical rejection of things too good to be true. Thanks to Barbie’s new asset (along with his dad taking his stall tactic at face value, and another timely internet connection), however, Julia had a reason to expect a reunion.
Of course, Big Jim was too busy being the instrument of the Dome’s will to be cynical about the appearances of things. Barbie was dead, and the town accepted his authority again, so taking over as Sheriff was a logical step, for him. His awakening came with a reminder that he still had enemies. So many, in fact, that he felt the need to bring Rebecca (Karla Crome) & Junior (Alexander Koch) in on his holy cause to shepherd the town, by first finding the latest enemy to surface.
While I admit to a degree of schadenfreude, at Rebecca & the two Jims working over a list of Big Jim enemies, it seemed they were working their way from his oldest to his newest – and gave up way short. I find it hard to believe that Big Jim (having taken the time to caress the office bible & gun, then briefly noting the plaques on the wall) didn’t give any real thought to his predecessors – save for a reminder that he was still capitalizing on Barbie’s apparent death. The fact that the culprit was the very last person Jim threw under the bus was a pretty big swing-and-a-miss; but it was really the lead-in to, and the action after, the big reveal that was almost laughable.
Among the first acts of reprisal was the tearing down of the Miracle Mill (y’know, the water dispersing wind mill the town folk put together, in record time, that not only did away with air borne dust, but also the wind driving it). Never mind how fast it was put together, our culprit apparently tore it down (single handed, until further notice) in a night – with no one noticing. When stumbled upon, in the act of doling out some direct payback to Big Jim, the resulting scuffle was overshadowed by the visible seams to its construction. Never mind the clunky choreography, obvious stunt-double was obvious – the ‘highlight’ of the action being the quick “I’m not a stunt-double” close up, before our culprit took the TKO hit.
Frankly, I think the the identity of this week’s Big Jim hunter meant the writers (probably in response to viewer questions) were more mindful of the fate of a former reoccurring character than the main characters once interacted with. Short attention span theater has been making the Dome-icile seem like a bowl full of goldfish.
Back in the bigger pond, Barbie put his new asset to use, getting credentials to make it past the outermost checkpoint, outside the Dome. He had to hitch a ride, the rest of the way, but only because the Spec Ops honcho couldn’t recognize a fellow SF professional under glasses and a hoodie. Professional or not, Barbie still gave himself away, and was hauled off in the midst of his Dome surface scribble session, with Julia.
I know there are viewers who would consider a mushy reunion a form of fan service; but Barbie getting dragged off before finishing the more important message should say something about getting priorities straight. Can’t wait to see how convoluted the guessing game, as to what he was trying to say to her, turns out.
As for Big Jim: well, he hadn’t really done much, after the “Oh, no – Big Jim knows Barbie’s dead!” moment; so let’s see if anything comes of the “Oh, no – Big Jim knows Barbie’s alive!” moment, this time around.
The conspiracy/ childhood pact storyline, taking place outside the Dome, has been more interesting than events under the Dome; I find myself more interested in the original Four Hands than the current band members (but just the back story around the three that survived first contact); and the writers seem to be running out of ideas on how to keep events under the Dome from being little more than breaks in the plot/ action on the outside.
As the current course seems set on protecting the contents of the Dome (residents, some of their secrets, and one incredible, inedible egg) from outside forces – even as some would-be protectors are on the outside, trying to get in, there may be enough material to actual pull a decent conclusion to the season (if not series). Even so, the execution can still sink this season (if not series). Here’s to hoping that the more interesting elements introduced, outside the Dome, will be having a lasting impact on Under the Dome.
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