The dome kicks up a dust storm while Barbie, Sam, and Junior explore a tunnel; trouble and resolution follows.

By Chancellor Agard
August 05, 2014 at 01:44 PM EDT
Brownie Harris/CBS
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If you’re going to end an episode “Locke and Jack staring down into the hatch on Lost” style, what comes next better be compelling. Last week’s episode ended with Sam, Junior, and Rebecca peering down a hole they found in the mysterious locker. As to be expected from this show, “In the Dark” fumbled the follow-through and what lay in the hole was rather disappointing. Even more disheartening was the fact that this week’s episode resurrected a past plot element we all hoped would stay dead and featured yet another half-baked crisis of the week. If there’s one good thing to be said about “In the Dark,” it’s that it seems as though the god awful Norrie-Joe-Melanie love triangle has finally been put to rest.

This week’s episode picked up right here “Reconciliation” left off. In his never-ending quest to bring the wrong man—Lyle—to justice for Angie’s murder, Junior, accompanied by Sam who’s there just to cover his own ass, descends into the tunnel. No longer a woman of action, Rebecca decides to stay above ground as she begs the guys to reconsider their decision because Lyle is dangerous. She eventually calls newly minted Sheriff Barbie for help, and he comes and joins the guy’s down in the tunnel. (Is this Chester’s Mill’s first semi-qualified law enforcement official since the original sheriff?).

While down in the tunnel, Junior comes across his mother’s notebook. Impulsively, he rushes to pick it up, trips on a trip wire, and sets off an explosion that causes a cave-in and cuts him off from Barbie and Sam. While Junior returns to the surface to seek medical aid, Barbie and Sam continue forward into the underground tunnel and come to the edge of a cliff.

The cave-in’s main function is to force the two men to interact and to deal with their issues by confining them to one location (read: cliché). The writers’ hoped that the questions answered in Sam and Barbie’s exchange would make-up for the fact that the tunnel underneath the school is rather underwhelming. What we get instead is a lot of pointless arguing as Sam complains he’s tired of being called a liar and Barbie continues to grill Sam about why he didn’t admit to knowing Melanie and finding the egg 25 years ago.

As Sam whines about all the pain he endures from life and the Dome, he reveals that it was Lyle who killed Melanie 25 years ago. After Melanie picked up the egg, it started to scream and cause Pauline pain. Ever devoted to his love, Lyle pushed Melanie to make the egg’s screaming stop, effectively killing her. Pauline begged Sam to help cover up Melanie’s murder—this was the secret Lyle and Sam were cryptically talking about a couple weeks back.

If there’s one good thing to come out of this exchange, it’s that Barbie sees the scratch marks on Sam’s shoulder and figures out that Sam killed Angie. Before Barbie can arrest Sam and serve him up to Junior from some Junior Justice (trademark pending), Sam decides to jump off the cliff to escape the misery that is the Dome and the town of Chester’s Mill. Unfortunately, whether or not he actually died is anyone’s guess. Judging from next week’s promo, Barbie will investigate this bottomless pit further.

NEXT: The winds are a-blowing

Raise your hand if you knew that Julia would make a terrible town leader.

Tonight, Julia makes several bad decisions—as expected. First, she foolishly tells Big Jim of her plan to hold elections for town leader. Big Jim, who briefly assumes the voice of reason this week, points out how stupid this decision is and how inconsistent the townspeople are, and calls Julia’s intelligence into question (he’s very late to the party—we’ve been doing that for a season and a half already). He hilariously says to Julia,  “That’s interesting. You’re gonna put a town on the brink in the hands of scared and desperate people. Is there a brain under that hair?”

This week’s crisis involves a dust storm, or as the promos for “In the Dark” called it, “the deadliest storm” to hit Chester’s Mill. Early on in the episode, Rebecca explains that the dust storm has the potential to cut off the town’s air supply by clogging the Dome walls. The dust storm’s main purpose here is to setup Big Jim’s eventual usurping of power from Julia. After the cave-in, Julia makes her second bad decision and rushes off to the school to check on her dearly beloved, leaving Big Jim to handle the crisis. Ever the schemer, Big Jim uses Julia’s departure to show how she cares more about Barbie than the town’s safety and thus begins to earn back some of the people’s support. It’s really a fickle group.

As in past weeks, Rebecca’s proposes a ridiculous, “scientific” solution: building a giant windmill that will disperse mist into the air and unclog the Dome’s wall. Somehow Big Jim and the townspeople actually manage to build the giant windmill in little to no time and save the town.

While Big Jim is busy currying favor with the people of Chester’s Mill, Julia is having some precious one-on-one time with Rebecca as the two of them work on clearing the debris from the tunnel. Their time together is filled with snarky comments from Julia and we learn that Rebecca was supposed to attend Cornell, but had to give up on that dream after her father got sick. They decide to use explosives to clear away the rubble and save Barbie.

NEXT: More star-crossed lovers. 

At the beginning of “In the Dark,” Joe and Norrie are still arguing about Joe kissing Melanie, and Norrie tells Joe that she doesn’t love him—which actually makes sense since they’ve only known each other for two weeks. However, by the end of the episode, they have made up and Norrie is telling Joe she loves him because (a) the threat of Lyle trying to kill them brings them closer together (ugh!) and (b) Melanie has moved onto hitting on Junior because she’s very desperate and “wants to feel normal.” (Since she’s technically his mother’s age, does that make her a cougar?) C’mon Norrie, you were one of the few sensible characters under the dome!

After Junior is cut off from Barbie and Sam, he and Melanie run to find Norrie and Joe. They eventually find the two lovebirds and decide that the best thing to do is to retrieve the egg from the lake because Melanie’s connection may give them answers. The Four Find-Outers head out onto the lake, hold their hands over the water and feel really hard until the egg rises from the lake. Once home, they all place their hands on the egg and falling pink stars fill the room. And in those pink stars, we see the obelisk from Junior’s dream in the season premiere, which we learn is from Melanie and Barbie’s hometown Zenith. What does this mean? Who knows?

“In the Dark” might not have featured much of Under the Dome‘s patented ridiculousness, but it was also rather boring. With each passing episode, the crises of the week get less and less threatening, and this week’s dust storm came across as a minor annoyance. For a serialized drama, Under the Dome really lacks suspense. The Barbie/Sam and Julia/Rebecca pairings could have been compelling, but the exchanges introduced very little new information. The same can be said of the reintroduction of the egg. After a season and a half, we still don’t know exactly what it is and what its purpose is apart from teaching our characters the difference between ascending and descending.

Dome-thoughts:

–It’s clear to everyone except for the characters that the tunnel leads to a portal to the outside world, right? Also, Sam definitely isn’t dead.

–Does the egg remind anyone else of the Veritas/Kandor orb from the seventh and ninth seasons of Smallville?

–”How many ways do you know how to kill people?” Julia asks Rebecca.

–Why does Julia keep insisting that The Dome is benevolent? Has she not been paying attention for the past two weeks? The Dome threatens their survival everyday with a new catastrophe.

 

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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seasons
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  • 06/24/13
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