Baby, it's cold under the dome.

By Chancellor Agard
September 09, 2014 at 05:11 AM EDT
Brownie Harris/CBS
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I sound like a broken record, but here goes: “Black Ice” felt like a major waste of an episode. Under the Dome‘s crises of the week never pay off because they are such low stakes—we know the crisis will be resolved by episode’s end and will have few lasting consequence (save the death of a random townsperson). And “Black Ice” didn’t pay off and suffered from little forward plot movement.

Good news: The egg made it to Zenith! Tonight’s episode opens in the park in Zenith, which is now cordoned off with biohazard tape as a man dressed in a hazmat suit attempts to pick up the egg with tongs. But the egg does not like to be touched, and it starts glowing bright white and sends the man flying back.

Bad News: Melanie’s connection to the egg transcends distance because she gets sicker whenever something happens to the egg. Sam and Junior drive her to the high school, where Rebecca has setup a triage center as the hospital was damaged in the earthquake. As always, things are not going well in Chester’s Mill: The temperature has dropped significantly and everyone is cold. And if it wasn’t clear how serious the temperature crisis was, Rebecca makes a point of saying that she can’t predict how many people will freeze to death. The situation is even more dire because they’re running out of fuel.

Everyone’s pissed off at Big Jim for dropping the egg and closing their only way out the town. Barbie’s ready to kill Big Jim, and Pauline stops pretending to care about him. Big Jim keeps insisting he did what he did to get his family back together, but Pauline is not hearing it. In what has become a recurring trend in recent episodes, Pauline is tonight’s “designated person who tells Big Jim he’s a narcissist.” It’s hard not to feel at least slightly sorry for Big Jim when Pauline says she came back for Junior and not him.

While on their way to the high school, Joe, Norrie, and Hunter notice that the Dome has started to freeze. Because Joe is Joe, he decides that touching the frozen Dome is a good idea. Surprise (not), he’s wrong. His hand gets stuck to the Dome’s surface and the Dome starts revolving, and he barely yanks his hand away in time. Rebecca suspects that the Dome’s revolutions are causing the drastic temperature drop.

Inside the triage center, Melanie is not looking any better. Pauline comes over and asks if Junior could give her and Melanie a moment to talk. The two friends reconnect for the first time in 25 years and it’s all rather dull. In their conversation, Pauline confesses that she didn’t only come back to save Junior. She also came back to Chester’s Mill to finish what she, Lyle, Sam, and Melanie started the night Melanie died 25 years ago. She foolishly promises that she’ll never leave Melanie’s side, which means she probably will leave her at some point. Right at that moment, Melanie has another attack of some sort, and Junior figures out someone must be doing something to the egg on the other and whatever happens to the Egg happens to Melanie.

NEXT: Life and death—just another day under the dome

Barbie and Julia decide to take the ambulance to the diner to retrieve the town’s remaining supplies. On their way, Barbie and Julia have a heart-to-heart because Barbie’s been a bit moody. For some reason Julia’s surprised to learn that Barbie has started to lose hope. (If I had a way out from under the dome and lost it, I’d be pretty hopeless, too.) Because this is Under the Dome and there is still a ton of time left in the episode at this point, we know the writers will contrive a life-and-death situation to preoccupy the lovers for the remaining 30 minutes. Right as Julia gets up to lock down the gurney that’s rolling around in the back, Barbie hits a stretch of black ice and the ambulance flips over.

The two lovebirds are stuck in the ambulance because, in the crash, a metal rod pierced through Julia and cut an artery. Things only get worse from there as the ambulance runs out of heat and the two are on the verge of freezing to death. While cuddling on the floor with Julia, Barbie decides that the best course of action is to let hypothermia set in on Julia because then her heart will stop pumping, which would allow him to remove the metal without her bleeding out and carry her to safety and warmth in the diner. The plan is dependent on Barbie’s ability to bring her back to life once they make it to the diner, and if recent TV history serves as an example, you can’t always bring people back.

Turns out Barbie’s far luckier than other TV characters, and he’s able to make it to the diner and revive Julia. Overall, this plotline falls flat because we knew nothing bad was going to happen to Barbie and Julia. Even with Barbie pleading with Julia to come back to life because he came back for her, the whole thing just felt like it was more concerned with giving Barbie and Julia something to do for this episode and less about developing and making us believe in Under the Dome‘s great love story.

While all of the ambulance drama is going on, Joe grows more suspicious of Hunter, who keeps asking questions about the egg. Joe goes through Hunter’s things and finds out that he’s been communicating with Don’s people about the Egg.

After the school loses power, Big Jim goes out to find more fuel, and finds both the fuel and Lyle thrashing about in the cold water. Big Jim saves him and gets an earful of Lyle’s apocalyptic ramblings. Lyle tells Big Jim that he had a vision of the whole world on fire: there were thousand-feet-high waves of fire and everything was destroyed. The best, and weirdest part, is that Lyle said it was beautiful. I don’t think that’s the adjective I’d use to describe the end of days, but to each his own. He tells Big Jim that he should start thinking about where he wants to be when it all ends because there’s nothing that he, Big Jim, can do to stop it.

Big Jim returns to the school with Lyle and the fuel, and the town makes it through the night. When they wake the next morning, the temperature has started to rise, and it seems like Pauline’s chilly attitude toward Jim has also started to thaw because he saved Lyle, who Pauline says she and the Dome need. Big Jim makes it clear that he saved Lyle for her because he wants his family back and that he’s willing to do anything for the people he loves.

Hunter sneaks out while all of this is happening and is followed by Joe and Norrie. They see him talking to some of Don’s security goons. Joe and Norrie confront him and he reveals that he was telling them to stop doing whatever it is they were doing to the egg because it was causing problems under the dome. At that moment the Dome starts screaming again, leading Melanie to wake up suddenly and say “It’s starting,” as The Dome has stops revolving and starts shrinking inward. Uh-oh!

Dome-thoughts: 

Can we go back to Zenith? Things were better there.

–Hunter is trying to steal Joe’s girl. I guess we’ll have to deal with another love triangle going into this season’s final two episodes.

–Is there something going on between Rebecca and Pauline? Related: Rebecca is not happy when Pauline calls her Becky.

–Who has it worse: The people stuck under the dome or the cast of Utopia?

–What’s the point of “Last week on Under the Dome” segments if the first act just consists of the characters recapping everything that happened in last week’s episode anyway?

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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  • 06/24/13
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