Under the Dome's second season welcomes back the citizens of Chester Mill with a few new faces

Welcome back to Chester’s Mill, the town that’s trapped under a dome and yet still nothing interesting happens. The first season of Under the Dome ended with what the writers hoped was a cliffhanger that would have viewers begging for a second season. Big Jim (Dean Norris) was yelling at Junior (Alexander Koch) to hang Dale “Barbie” Barbara (Mike Vogel) as the Dome turned from pitch black to opaque white and blinded everyone.

Those who tuned in tonight hoping for an Under the Dome that was less silly and provided more answers, less questions were probably disappointed by the episode’s end. Under the Dome remains just as ridiculous (not in an endearing way) as ever—in its second season premiere, a lead character is killed off, new mysteries are introduced (because that’s exactly what we need) along with new characters, and several pages out of Lost‘s playbook come into play.

The episode opens with a man, who we later find out is Big Jim’s brother-in-law Sam Verdreaux (Eddie Cahill), living in a cabin in the woods and looking out his window as he reacts to the Dome’s groaning and bright light. We then return to the town square where the Dome’s antics cause people to lose consciousness. Big Jim tries to continue with the execution but is stopped by both Junior and Sheriff Linda (Natalie Martinez) who insist that the Dome is trying to tell them something, so obviously they pay it a visit… and that’s when the Dome takes a tragic turn: Linda is crushed by a car while trying to uncuff Barbie, who was stuck to the Dome because the Dome suddenly became magnetic and was drawing all metal objects toward it. Still following? It’s not exactly sad to see Linda go as her incompetence was only matched by The Following‘s version of the FBI and because the show’s first season did a poor job of making us care about her character.

Next: The Dome is angry again and Big Jim offers himself as tribute.

The major focus of the episode is demagnetizing the Dome to prevent further harm to the unfortunate inhabitants of Chester’s Mill. Two solutions are proposed which, in true Lost fashion, result in the classic science versus faith in an inanimate object that seems animate.

The first solution is offered by newcomer Rebecca Pine (Karla Crome), a high school science teacher who has been studying the Dome since its appearance. She thinks that the Dome can manipulate electromagnetic fields (insert collective groan here) and that these fields are interfering with people’s brainwaves. If they don’t find a way to counteract the Dome’s electromagnetism, the people of Chester’s Mill won’t just be unconscious, they’ll be dead (like how [spoiler if you never watched Lost] Charlotte died in the fifth season of Lost except without awesome time travel and temporal displacement). Her great solution: build a giant magnet in the center of town using the town’s copper wire.

The second solution can basically be summed up as: believe the Dome is angry and has a will to which everyone in town must submit or risk losing more than a church bell and an incompetent sheriff. Everyone who is still conscious and doesn’t think this is the best time for a community-building project realizes that the Dome is pissed off with Big Jim for murdering people. Throughout the episode, the Dome, doing its best impression of the Man in Black, appears to Big Jim as characters who have died—Dodee and Linda—and tells him that he needs to make a sacrifice and abandon his quest for power or risk losing his son. It’s not until Junior faints in the town square that Big Jim does what needs to be done. He goes over to the gallows and tries to hang himself, but is stopped by Julia, who cuts the noose before it can hang Jim. Luckily, his willingness to sacrifice himself is all the Dome needs to stop trying to kill everyone.

The show conveniently chooses to ignore the fact that the Dome put everyone’s lives in danger even though the first season finale led to the conclusion that it was there to protect them. But hey, it’s Under the Dome where everything’s made up as the show goes along and continuity doesn’t matter.

Thanks to Dean Norris, Big Jim’s A Christmas Carol-like plot in this episode is only slightly more interesting than the “let’s build a giant magnet” story line. The Breaking Bad actor continues to give the best performance of the cast as he commits fully to cheesy lines like, “See you sweetheart. Go back to the Twilight zone; I’ve got to work to do,” and “Shut up and be dead. I’ve got work to do.” If we at EW gave out a “hardest working man in TV” award, Norris would definitely earn it for his work in tonight’s episode.

NEXT: Big Jim isn’t the only one taking to ghosts.

For most of the episode, Julia is off in the woods in her own uninteresting story and isn’t relevant to the main story line until it’s time to save Big Jim from killing himself.

After Julia dropped the egg in the water, a young girl magically appears. Julia swims out to help her, and when the two females make it back to shore they are greeted by Sam Verdreaux, who appears to recognize the young girl and takes them back to his cabin to patch them up. From his conversation with Julia (who doesn’t know who he is) we learn that he used to be an EMT, but hit some hard times after his sister Pauline, Big Jim’s wife and Junior’s mother, committed suicide and was fired for being drunk on the job. After Julia returns to town, Sam opens a book of Pauline’s old sketches and finds one of the girl. While he’s doing this, the girl runs away from him. Sam eventually makes his way into town looking for the girl and runs into Junior and Big Jim at Rose’s diner, both of whom are surprised and worried by his sudden reappearance.

It just so happens that the day Sam reappears in town is the same day that Junior has a conversation with his dead mother. While passed out, Junior runs into his mother. Junior tells his father about this experience, but Big Jim says it was all in Junior’s head, despite his son’s insistence that it felt real. It must’ve been somewhat real because at the end of the episode we travel to a city somewhere outside of the Dome, and we see Pauline—very much alive—in an apartment painting prophetic paintings and watching the news coverage of the Dome. At this point, it’s all a bit hard to make sense of and maybe isn’t even worth the effort.

Even more confusing is the young girl from the lake. After running from Sam, she makes her way to Linda’s dead body where she cradles it and apologizes. From there, she runs into Angie (Brit Robertson) who follows her into the old high school and sees the girl looking in one of the lockers. When Angie calls out to her, the girl runs away and Angie goes over to the locker to investigate. As she peers inside, someone comes up with a fire axe and the last thing we see is blood being splattered on the lockers.

These two new mysteries—the mysterious girl and Junior’s mother—are introduced rather awkwardly and don’t seems very compelling. It’s hard to care for the characters we know, let alone new ones. Under the Dome‘s characters seem less like actual characters and more like plot devices that have a tendency to do stupid things, which causes the show to lose any imperative to solve all of these mysteries it’s introducing. Moreover, the new mysteries are both hard to make sense of because Under the Dome played it fast and loose with the rules of the show’s world in the first season, and it’s still not clear what’s possible under the Dome.

Well, here’s to a season of more silliness and Dome-related drama.

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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