CBS‘ Under the Dome Redux TV Show Review. Under the Dome: Season 3, Episode 3: ‘Redux’ was, in some ways, true to its title; but still amounted to “same as the old boss,” in some others. What it amounted to was doing the same thing in different ways, and for different reasons, as the town folk re-emerged – from what was a subterranean virtual post-Dome life – back under the Dome.
For Barbie (Mike Vogel), this meant dealing with the falsehoods of his brief turn as the chosen one, as well as squaring away his virtual love-life – without Julia (Rachelle Lefevre) – with their real life reunion. Julia, in turn, was compelled to force a confrontation on the matter, once Barbie’s virtual love-life crossed over to the real world. Joe, Norrie, and Hunter (Colin Ford, MacKenzie Lintz, Max Ehrich) needed to sort themselves out, as Norrie found new outlets for her emo renewal, with Hunter as her predatory enabler, and Joe playing the role of fulcrum. Unless you count his old man (more on him, later), it seems the biggest loser, of the transition, was Junior (Alexander Koch). As the townie (Barbie don’t count) who had ‘progressed’ the farthest, back in the virtual world, he was particularly devastated by having to be back where he had left off. This state, typically enough, would leave him susceptible to the power of yet another woman’s suggestions. By the time this was made clear, new characters were established, old characters continued to be written off, and the show was pretty much redefined.
Yeah, I’ve seen this movie before. Season 2 started with something of a character dump, and major breaks with established arcs, along with “What? I’ve been here all along!” additions to the Dome-icile. This time around, the honor goes to Christine (Marg Helgenberger) & Eva (Kylie Bunbury); with Christine as virtual town shrink turned real world mastermind, and Eva as virtual Barbie love interest turned real world romantic threat (to Julia), and Christine co-conspirator. Yes, they’ve been in Chester’s Mill from day one, but likely to be remembered (Rebecca who?) as being responsible for the Dome going up.
As for the arc break… well, Barbie didn’t need a back story, involving his dad, and some resurrection chick, anyhow….
Despite being quickly sidelined by Barbie & Julia (but still not punished), Big Jim (Dean Norris) had a bigger problem in the form of Christine, who wasted no time leveraging her virtual role into real world authority. Worse, the returning Dome-estics left him with the biggest case of you-can-never-go-home-again syndrome, ironically enough. Nothing like a clear cut baddie, to make us forget about Jim’s transgressions; so Christine promptly spelled out Melanie’s (Grace Victoria Cox) place, in the grand scheme of things, relative to her own.
For those of you keeping track, that made Christine the new spokesperson for the Dome, with Melanie downgraded to lobby check-out girl, and ‘Monarch’ Julia scheduled for unceremonious check-out, altogether. Adding injury to insult, Melanie would suffer a further, more substantial demotion (in a worst-case-of-head-stepping-self-promotion sort of way), by Christine. How substantial?
… Well, Barbie didn’t need a back story, involving his dad, and some resurrection chick, anyhow….
Another wide mood swing for the Dome; but at least this time it came early, and will likely stick around. Problem is, I’m not sure I want the needle stuck at this number for a protracted period – it’s set to ‘really annoy.’
Little annoying character turns, from the previous two episodes, have followed on to their real world confinement. Understandable, given that there was a whole other life that went into getting to those points, and the rude awakening was bound to result in a measure of crankiness. The reality check, however, also came with a doubling down; so now the odd ducks of ‘The Matrix’ (memo to staff: having your characters own up to it – after the fact – doesn’t make it any less blatant a rip-off) face the prospect of being odd sitting ducks, once everyone else’s acting out is marshalled against them. Basically, expect more small town pitch forks-and-torches rallies, but only with a real sense of purpose to them (he should have said ironically, but sadly didn’t).
Clearly, some wrinkles have to be worked out of the details, as some of these character leaps still just kinda face-planted. Junior follows up, on claims to being stronger, by wembling on suicide; last season’s super hacker reinvented as homewrecker; the Dome-estics barely reacting to Sam (Eddie Cahill) & Jim being in their midst, again; a question of whether Barbie forgot the part where Julia was targeted for murder, and left her alone, or just didn’t believe her, in the first place; and the first time Big Jim resorts to reason, instead of force – after all that menace, murder, and love-for-this-town mouthing off – comes when Junior sets fire to his house… and then he abandons the town, altogether.
Sure, he got spooked – he got the goods on what the new girls have been into (thanks, in part, to his ability to hide behind trees narrower than himself) – but this had to be the biggest reversal of principle in the show’s short, but sour, lifespan. A reversal warranted, it seems, by an apparent commitment to a new series direction.
It seems arcane metaphors, messianic/ apocalyptic divination, and killing jar crucible has given way to a straightforward invasion scenario; the life-under-versus-life-beyond-the-Dome dynamic replaced by real-life-back-under-versus-virtual-life-free-of-the-Dome; and mob mentality replaced by group think – if not hive mind. Of course, the more things change, the more the annoyance factor of some of these characters stays the same.
Frankly, if you hadn’t figured out where they were going with all this, by the catharsis break, at Andrea’s, then you’ve probably just settled into hating (at least some of) these characters, anyway.
The good news is that after a season & a half, UTD now has a definitive reason for its characters breaking logic, breaking character, and just generally being annoying/ unpleasant. I don’t know how long Christine can keep up her ‘Needful Things’ act, before people start to notice the ‘Tommyknocker’ styled id rampage (or Big Jim goes for reclaiming the town tyrant title); but the show has provided itself with an out to that problem. I’d make a reference to M-O-O-N, but the Stephen King sourcing has been getting downright soupy-thick. He’s still attached to this show (for some reason) – we get it.
Even watching train wrecks all day can get boring. UTD’s ‘Redux’ may have given me a new reason to keep watching; but strictly in a train wreck from another direction sort of way.
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