Credit: Brownie Harris/CBS

We could tell you that Under the Dome‘s dramatic third season (premiering on CBS on Thursday night) will involve an important guest turn from CSI alum Marg Helgenberger as an enigmatic queen-bee leader, or that the townspeople will finally get a chance to spend more time (gasp!) outside the dome.

But Dean Norris would like you to know something first: answers are coming.

“We reboot the show every year, but this year in particular,” Norris explains. “At the end of last season, they were trying to go through a tunnel to get out [of the dome]. Some people make it — though Big Jim doesn’t. So there’ll be some interaction with the people outside the dome and inside the dome.”

Adds Norris, “I can tell you that we’re definitely going to find the answers to the dome this year, which is good.”

Indeed — but what will Big Jim be doing amid all this? “We still kick off right where we left off,” Norris says of his character. “Big Jim’s lost everything, so it’s him against the world. And he’s going to work to save us all from an even meaner evil, if you can believe it.”

Dome fan can also expect Big Jim to continue evolve this season — and perhaps learn to like him again. “Season 1, he was more manipulative and trying to gain power for his own good,” Norris says. “Season 2, I don’t know, he kind of went back and forth. He was trying to deal with his wife’s death and some other emotional stuff.”

“This season, though, he’s definitely like Big Jim Superhero. He may not be the guy you want as your neighbor, but he’s definitely the guy you want on your side when you’re fighting the bad guys. Anybody he kills — and I’m not saying he will — but if he does, it’ll be for good reason.”

“So he’s darker, but it’s a fun dark,” Norris continues. “The writers brought a lot of the wit back to Big Jim — he’s got great one-liners. They really nailed the black humor.”

And in an effort to make up for his rough season 2, the character is even getting a new friend — one of the canine persuasion. That’s right: he’s getting a doggie.

“It’s an effort to rehabilitate Big Jim’s image,” Norris says with a chuckle. “It helps, having a dog with you! The dog’s a stray that keeps following Big Jim, and at first he’s not into it. He’s like, ‘Get away! Get out of here, you dumb dog!’ But eventually he grows on him, and they end up being best buddies.”

The dog’s name is Indy, he adds, and Norris had a hand in picking the pooch himself: “I didn’t want it to be the obvious German Shepherd or something mean, or the obvious opposite, like a French Poodle. I wanted to get a mutt—and he’s just a lovable dog. He’s a rescue dog from Mexico, it turns out. He’s a great dog — I love him. I wish I could take him with me, but I don’t think they’ll let me.”

Episode Recaps

Under the Dome
Chester’s Mill residents suddenly find themselves cut off from the rest of the world by a mysterious, impenetrable barrier, which surrounds the town in this Stephen King adaptation.
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