The death of a character helps slow down the show's pace.

By Chancellor Agard
July 08, 2014 at 06:10 AM EDT
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Well that was an improvement over last week. Under the Dome‘s second season premiere did a fairly poor job of resolving all the dangling first season questions and of setting up what was to come in the new season. Thankfully tonight’s episode “Infestation” makes up for where the season premiere failed because there are moments that do a fairly good job of setting up this season’s conflicts and viewer expectations.

Tonight we said goodbye to an actual beloved character. While on a mission to open up the school for Rebecca Pine, who wants to start classes again, Junior finds Angie’s dead body covered in monarch butterflies in the high school hallway. Needless to say he and Joe are distraught. Both boys deal with their grief by seeking vengeance on those who killed Angie. Junior’s first guess is his father because Big Jim has murdered before and Angie was planning on killing him. But following a confrontation with his father, Junior begins to wonder whether or not he, himself, was capable of killing Angie: The night Angie died, Junior got drunk in the police station and blacked out.

Throughout the episode, Joe is consumed with a desire for vengeance and promises to make the person who killed Angie pay. He immediately rules Big Jim out as a suspect because he saw Big Jim passed out on the couch in his living room the night Angie was murdered. Joe and Norrie’s top suspect is the mystery girl from the river. Their suspicion is further supported by the fact that Phil—the town’s new and severely under-qualified sheriff—found a bloody shoe print at the scene of the crime that matches the mystery girl’s shoe.  Once Joe brings Junior over to his side, Junior then manipulates Joe into contemplating murder. Junior says that the girl deserves what Angie got and asks Joe, “Don’t you want that for your sister?”

The two of them, accompanied by Norrie, head over to the police station and confront the mystery girl at gunpoint. Junior hesitates to pull the trigger, so Joe takes the gun from him, but Julia and Barbie rush in at the last moment and save the day (of course). Good thing because mystery girl didn’t actually kill Angie.

Overall, Under the Dome handled Angie’s death a lot better than it handled Linda’s death last week because her death actually has an effect on the characters. The show skated Linda’s death. Although the character is not greatly missed, it would still have been nice to see how her death affected each of the characters. This week, however, the writers let Angie’s death slow down the show’s erratic pacing. There was still a crisis that needed to be handled, but the writers did not let this crisis overshadow Angie’s death, and we actually got to see how the people of Chester’s Mill responded to the loss of one of their own.

(I would hate to come off as an Under the Dome apologist, but the argument could be made that the death of a young person resonated with the characters more than that of an incompetent sheriff because, in general, people are predisposed to care about the death of a child.)

NEXT: The caterpillars are coming

Following the events in last week’s episode, Big Jim has been viewed as the town’s savior. The people of Chester’s Mill believe that Big Jim’s willingness to sacrifice is the only reason the town is still standing after the Dome’s Magneto impression. Needless to say, this week’s crisis only does more to feed Big Jim’s hero complex.

Early on in tonight’s episode, Rebecca notices that the caterpillar population under the dome has increased substantially.  She immediately tells Big Jim about the situation, which builds on the connection made between the two characters at the end of the season premiere. According to Rebecca, something under the dome has caused the butterflies’ reproductive cycle to accelerate and they are creating more caterpillars, and these new caterpillars have started eating the town’s crops. If they don’t find a way to kill of the caterpillars, their food supply will be in jeopardy.

Big Jim, who found faith after the events in last week’s episode,  immediately thinks that this new problem is another test from the Dome. He thinks that the Dome is looking for another sacrifice and immediately jumps on board with Rebecca’s plan to burn half of the town’s crops to kill  the infestation. However, Barbie talks him down and Big Jim comes up with a better idea: someone needs to get in a plane that will disperse pesticide over the infected areas. (As you may recall, the last person who flew inside the Dome died.) Big Jim volunteers to fly the plane, but at the last minute, Barbie—ever the hero—jumps in the plane and goes on the mission to kill the caterpillar population.

While in the air, the plane starts to run out of fuel and Barbie starts to fall out of the sky. Big Jim, however, saves Barbie’s life by telling him about the emergency tank fuel, which allows Barbie to level the plane out and land safely. The town is saved, for the time being.

NEXT: The season’s conflicts start to take shape.

After Barbie, Big Jim, and Rebecca save the town from the dreaded attack of the caterpillars, the town gets together to mourn the death of Angie, Linda, and the other people who have died.

While Big Jim is standing outside greeting people, Rebecca comes up to him and expresses her annoyance with the fact that Barbie is getting all the credit for solving the town’s problems. She tells Big Jim, “Heroes leave behind a great story, but a great leader leaves a legacy,” and says that while she may not believe that the Dome chose Big Jim, she does believe that the people of Chester’s Mill have chosen him to lead. Clearly, Rebecca Pine has started sipping the Big Jim Kool-Aid.

During the church service, Big Jim addresses the people of Chester’s Mill and emphasizes the need for them to put aside their differences and work together to survive under the dome. He says that prior to the Dome’s arrival, he didn’t believe in anything. However, after seeing what the Dome can do, he has started to believe in something bigger than himself. He then asks the congregation what they believe in, and everyone, save Barbie and Julia, responds that they believe in him. In that moment, it becomes clear what the main conflict of the season will be: the Big Jim believers and the skeptics. Although this is a variation on the Big Jim versus Barbie conflict from the first season, the stakes feel relatively higher this time around because, as we find out at the end of the episode, the town is running out of resources and cannot support everyone under the dome. Whether or not the writers will follow through on the implications of this latest plot development remains to be seen.

DomeWatch: 

–Dome people change their minds easily: A day ago in Under the Dome time the townspeople were yelling for Barbie to be hung from the gallows, now they’re cheering him on.

–Blah, blah, Barbie and Julia are having boring relationship issues.

–Why do people keep letting Rebecca come up with plans? First a giant magnet and now burn all the crops? If she’s worried about the town’s resources, maybe she should stop wasting them.

–At this point does anybody care about Big Jim’s brother-in-law Sam?

Episode Recaps

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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  • TV Show
seasons
  • 2
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  • 06/24/13
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  • In Season
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