Biggest shock of this weeks’ Under the Dome episode? It was actually watchable. “Going Home” avoided the played-out crisis of the week format and helped to propel the story forward with a focus on mythology. And while this made for a relatively stronger episode, the episode was still hurt by (a) the show’s weird tendency toward answering while not really answering lingering questions, (b) the gratuitous amounts of exposition, and (c) the six weak episodes that came before it.
We asked for answers, and this episode gave us answers. What’s at the bottom of the cliff? Where did Lyle go? Where is Pauline’s mother, and what has she been up to? But it feels like a bit of a cheat. Yes, we learned new information, but the long-term questions received little attention. What is up with the Dome? What was up with the Dome assuming the form of Norrie’s dead mother last season? The episode barely managed to satiate my desire for knowledge—albeit, what little there is.
But anyway, shall we dig into tonight’s episode?
Surprise, jumping off of the cliff under the school does not lead to your death. Instead, it takes you to the mysterious town of Zenith, i.e. Barbie and Melanie’s hometown. We found this out tonight when Barbie goes over the cliff to retrieve Sam’s body in order to prove that it was Sam, not Lyle, who killed Angie. As he’s making his way down the cliff, something starts to pull him down (Oooh magnetism!). Julia and Rebecca, who are down in the tunnel with him, try to grab onto his rope and pull him backup, but whatever is pulling Barbie down is too strong and starts to pull the two women over the edge. In order to save them, Barbie, ignoring Julia’s pleas not to, cuts his rope and appears to fall to his death, leaving Julia sobbing in Rebecca’s arms at the edge of the cliff.
Following his fall, Barbie wakes up in a playground in Zenith, and for some odd reason isn’t surrounded by people wondering where this man with several injuries—who appeared out of nowhere—came from. As he walks around town, the camera makes a point of lingering a bit too long on a sign for Aktaion Energy (more on this later). He returns to his apartment and is busy cleaning his wounds up when three big men with guns bust in and tie him to a chair. Apparently, before the Dome came down, Barbie was supposed to finish up his work for Maxine, return to Zenith, and run a job with this guy named Rick involving Aktaion Energy. Rick is now insisting that Barbie do the job today or face further beating.
The job in question: breaking into the owner of Aktaion Energy’s home, who we learn is Barbie’s father Don Barbara (played by Lost‘s Brett Cullen), after Barbie double crosses Rick and purposefully sets off the alarm to get Rick out of the way.
Don and Barbie’s reunion is rather tense and exposition filled. Turns out that Don, who’s a big businessman, hasn’t seen his son in two years and took issue with his son’s decision to join the army. When Barbie’s mother got sick, Don conceded to her pleas and used his connections with the government to bring Barbie home from war. Barbie, on the other hand, is upset with his father for always choosing business over family and gets upset again in their conversation when his father refuses to use his government connections to get Barbie back to the Dome.
NEXT: Started from the bottom now the whole Verdreaux family is in Zenith
While Barbie is making up for lost time with his father, Sam is attempting to reunite with his not dead but possibly psychic sister Pauline, who’s teaching art therapy at the Davidson Psychiatric Division.
The problem with Sam and Pauline’s first scenes together is most of them are spent reviewing information the audience already knows. Oh Pauline, Big Jim thought you were crazy? Knew that. Oh, you left Chester’s Mill because you hoped the Dome would follow you? Knew that already, too. But amid all of this information repetition, we do learn a few new things: She told Big Jim about the Dome before it came (is that why he was stockpiling oil last season?), she chose to confide in crazypants Lyle because, well, he was crazy, and said crazy man made it to Zenith.
Pauline takes Sam to Lyle, who has gone further off his rocker since coming through the underground portal. The police found Lyle in the middle of the town repeating Melanie’s name in different intonations and brought him to this mental hospital. He doesn’t recognize Sam or Pauline, and all his does is sit in his chair, eat, and repeat Melanie’s name. Lyle’s constant repetition of Melanie’s name leads Sam to tell a confused Pauline that the Dome brought Melanie back to life.
After Barbie apparently falls to his death, Julia tells Rebecca that she can’t tell anyone because she’s worried that she’ll lose her already tenuous hold on power. Unfortunately for her, Big Jim, who was already suspicious after running into Barbie collecting climbing gear from the police station, is already on their trail after he finds out from Junior that Sam killed Angie. When Big Jim confronts them at the school, the women lie and say that Barbie is still below retrieving Sam’s body.
Big Jim later confronts Rebecca in her home, clearly angry, and calls her out for lying to him. He says it was a mistake to ever trust her because she always doubted his position as the Dome’s chosen one. She finally confesses to him that Barbie is “dead.” This leads to Big Jim making another move to consolidate his power by holding a memorial service for Barbie in the diner without Julia’s presence because he claims no one could find her and he didn’t want to wait to honor the man who once stood between the town and disaster. We are way past the point where Big Jim needs to do something that doesn’t involve him constantly repeating that the Dome chose him.
While Big Jim is undermining her power, Julia is grieving and working with Joe and Norrie to find out what exactly is at the bottom of the tunnel, which wasn’t there two weeks ago. For most of tonight’s episode, Joe is at his most annoying as he continues to state the obvious. (But at least we don’t have to deal with any relationship drama this week). He does, however, have the bright idea to send a helicopter with a videocamera down the cliff to see what’s at the bottom. After the helicopter goes through the portal, they quickly lose the video feed, however, not before being able to make out a playground and Zenith’s obelisk. Later on, Melanie and Joe bring the egg down into the tunnel, and once down there, the egg starts to glow and projects an image of the town of Zenith over the cliff. This gives all of them hope that Barbie is still alive.
The episode ends with Don reluctantly agreeing to get Barbie back to the Dome basically because of love. According to Don, his son has changed since the last time he saw him and he believes it is because of the woman that Barbie is trying to get back to the Dome to see. As they make their way through Don’s backyard, they pass by what looks like to be a red door in the ground with a painted hand print. Odds are this will probably turn out to be the same door in Pauline’s painting.
Under the Dome has it’s work cut out for it after tonight’s episode. By providing the people of Chester’s Mill with a way out of the Dome, the show has to find a reason for the people of Chester’s Mill to stay under the dome. The writers will have to work hard to reinvest us in the mystery of the Dome now that there’s a way out.
–Does Barbie’s father know more about the Dome than he’s letting on?
–Julia doesn’t have trouble believing that the Dome has a will and that it brought Melanie back from the dead, but she does have a problem with Sam’s belief that Pauline’s drawings were prophetic? Okay.
–Junior initially refuses to believe Barbie about Sam because Barbie “doesn’t know his uncle.” But really, does Junior know his uncle? He hasn’t seen him in ages because he’s been living in the woods.
–Was anyone other than Junior surprised that Big Jim made Sam’s death about himself?