The people of Chester's Mill make one more attempt to escape from under the Dome.
Credit: CBS

Act, Dean, act. That phrase was repeated several times in my notes for tonight’s episode. Honestly, it’s the best description of Under the Dome‘s season finale, which was carried, for the most part, by Dean Norris’ performance. As has been said in these recaps multiple times this season, Norris really commits to whatever he’s given and acts the hell out of it. But alas, one strong performance does not a good episode make. Although “Go Now” ends on a note that puts Under the Dome in an interesting position for a yet-to-be-ordered third season, the road to that ending highlights this season’s lack of coherence.

We pick up right where last week’s episode left off: everyone’s standing around the crater with their mouths agape. Carrying Pauline, Big Jim comes running back to the group and asks for their help getting her to the school. Before being loaded into Julia’s Prius, Pauline tells her that she had another vision that show the Dome had chosen Julia and an unknown man to lead people to safety. After Rebecca, Sam, Junior, and Big Jim drive off with Pauline, the Dome starts contracting again, and thank God Joe is still there to state the obvious. He’s convinced the Dome is shutting down.

They rush Pauline into the school, get her onto a bed, and go into Grey’s Anatomy mode as they try to diagnose her injuries trauma surgeon style—except, after diagnosing her injuries, Sam says there isn’t much he can do because he isn’t a surgeon. All they can do now is give her morphine. Big Jim insists there must be something they can do as his family was chosen (Act, Dean, act). Sam sends Big Jim out to get more saline for Pauline. In a conversation that’s clearly a good-bye to everyone except Junior, Pauline asks Junior to go get her art stuff from her studio because she thinks she might be able to paint their way out of the Dome.

While all of this is happening, Barbie and Julia fail at saving a guy who’s trapped under a big machine. Before they can get him out, he gets struck by lightning. They do manage to save his son, though. Why this scene was included is anyone’s guess.

Back at the crater, the kids try to get an internet signal, but fail. This discourages Norrie, who thinks their world is ending and that maybe it’s a good time to check in with her mother. Joe convinces her that Chester’s Mill is her town, too, and that the only logical plan is to descend into the crater to see what’s below. And like that, Norrie is back on board with the “save Chester’s Mill plan.” Once the three of them go down there, they find a tunnel similar to the one under the school, except this one has purple glowing things around it. As they explore it, they find a fork in the road. Thankfully, a monarch butterfly shows them which route to take. The earthquakes keep coming, so they decide to rush back—in slow motion for some reason—to tell Barbie what they found.

Believing that the Dome is done with her, but mostly because she’s in a lot of pain, Pauline asks Rebecca to give her a morphine overdose and to let her die peacefully. Obviously, this moment is supposed to make us remember Rebecca’s mass murder plan from the beginning of the season. At first, it seems as though Rebecca isn’t the same woman she was then, but after Pauline asks her a second time, and calls her Maggie and Sweet Sweet child, it’s clear that Rebecca has made her decision.

NEXT: Someone tries to make a deal with the Dome again.

“What part of ‘don’t do anything stupid’ do you not understand?” says Barbie when he runs into the kids as they are climbing out of the crater. His anger disappears quickly once they tell him they think they’ve found an exit. At this point, the time between the Dome’s contractions is getting shorter, so Barbie wastes no time in getting the town ready to leave. As he and Julia are informing everyone of the plan, Norrie’s mood swings again and she’s back to being sad and wants to give up. However, Joe’s there once again to cheer her up. Next time we see her, she’s arguing with her mother who is rightfully not okay with Norrie staying back to save the town.

After finding saline, Big Jim returns to the school to find Pauline is dying. Pauline says her good-byes to Big Jim, Junior, and Sam, and dies. However there is very little time to mourn her death because Big Jim notices the syringe in Rebecca’s hand and immediately puts two and two together. Why is Rebecca still holding the syringe, you ask, when she’s smart enough to know the first rule of murder is getting rid of the weapon? Well, it’s because the show needed a reason for Big Jim to get pissed off and go on a killing spree. Big Jim knocks Sam out, picks up a hammer, and kills Rebecca will a single blow to the head. (Anyone else feel like they were watching Breaking Bad instead of a CBS show there?) Does Rebecca’s death mean that science has lost and the whole science versus fate is done?

When Junior arrives, he wakes up Sam, who clues the kid cop in on what happened. This convinces Junior that there’s no more “talking to” Big Jim, there’s only “dealing with him.” This moment would’ve landed better if Junior hadn’t gotten to this point with his dad before.

The rest of Chester’s Mill is unaware of what’s going on as they are being led by Barbie down the crater. Their journey is briefly interrupted when an earthquake widens a gap in the floor, making it necessary for the people of Chester’s Mill to jump to the other side.

Big Jim brings Pauline back to her studio and lays her down on her couch. He then gives the Dome a deal: The Dome can bring Pauline back in the next three seconds, or else Big Jim will kill every single one of the Dome’s little friends. He doesn’t stop there, though. He describes how he will kill each one: “I will slit Julia’s throat, shoot Barbie in the heart. I will burn those kids alive. Okay?” (Aside: Act, Dean, act some more). As always, the Dome does not respond. Thus, Big Jim begins his killing spree, which is supposed to be as emotionally moving as say Jack Bauer’s vengeful rampages in season eight of 24 and 24: Live Another Day; however, it just feels like more gratuitous violence. However, it does give Big Jim something to do other than repeat that he’s a changed man and/or the Dome has chosen him, which is always a good thing.

NEXT: Hammer vs. skillet and Man vs. wall

Julia remained on the surface to help Hunter organize the townspeople down the rope ladder. Andrea, the town’s hoarder, calls Julia over the phone requesting her help. Ever the do-gooder, Julia runs to her aid. When Julia arrives, her spidey-senses immediately start to go off because the door’s open. As she enters the home, she picks up a knife that was casually waiting outside of the home. She makes her way to the kitchen, where she finds Big Jim holding Andrea at gunpoint. Right at that moment, Sam calls her over the walkie-talkie to inform her of Jim’s recent behavior, but it’s obviously too late. Julia tries to talk Big Jim down, but it doesn’t work, and Big Jim casually shoots Andrea in the head. Big Jim then comes at her with a hammer, but Julia uses a nearby frying pan to block his attack and run away.

She finds cover behind some of Andrea’s junk and tries to make her exit through a back room, but Big Jim cuts her off. They struggle some more, and as Big Jim is about to kill her, Julia says, “The Dome doesn’t make deals with insects like you.” Before Big Jim can strike her, Julia uses the knife from earlier to stab him in the foot and run away.

Running through the forest as Big Jim fires off shots at her, Julia eventually runs into Sam and Junior. With the resolve from earlier, Junior tells Sam to take Julia to the crater and let him handle Big Jim once and for all. Junior finds his father and trains his gun on him. Big Jim, who’s seen just how fickle his son is, doesn’t believe Junior will actually pull the trigger, and starts to advance on his son. But Junior does it! He shoots his father right under his shoulder! This is supposed to be a great moment: son finally finding the courage to shoot his egomaniacal father. It’s one of those moments of the series to which the season has been building, but the moment doesn’t feel as earned as it should because of how often Junior’s feelings toward his father changed. Don’t worry, though, Junior did not fatally wound his father.

Anyway, Julia makes it down the crater with Sam and is reunited with Barbie. However, as soon they as are reunited, they are separated when another earthquake hits them and widens the gap even more. Because of her bad leg and the distance, Julia can’t make it across. Julia insists that Barbie continue on without her because of Pauline’s vision; she thinks Barbie is the man from the vision. Promising to come back for her, Barbie powers forward. She won’t be waiting alone, though, because Junior shows up beside her.

Barbie leads the townspeople down the path the monarch butterfly showed the kids earlier. They find a swarm of glowing butterflies, who immediately disperse to show them a wall. Yes, a wall. And in that moment everyone’s discouraged because they believe they’ve hit a dead end and this was their only hope. There’s more yelling at the Dome, this time from Norrie. One butterfly remains and directs Barbie forward toward the wall. Barbie touches the wall and it starts to glow and crumble. Behind the wall stands Melanie, surrounded by a bright white, who says to a confused Chester’s Mill, “Follow me, we’re going home.” And that’s where the season ends.

Where is Melanie taking them? Who knows. Although this has been a particularly rough season, I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to know where Melanie was taking them. Under the Dome has yet to be renewed for a third season, so for all we know this might turn out to be a series finale, which raises the question as to whether or not this could work as a series finale. On the one hand, no, because the series has failed to answer any questions related to the Dome apart from the fact that the egg is important. We still don’t know why the Dome is there and who sent it. On the other hand, if there’s one thing that’s clear, it’s that the show isn’t really interested in answering those questions, and by the end of tonight’s episode, I’m not really anxious to have those answered either. After spending 26 plus episodes in the unknown, it seems rather fitting that the show could end with the characters walking into yet more unknown. If the show receives a third season, it has the daunting task of justifying why Big Jim wasn’t killed off in the finale. There’s very little left to be done with the character.

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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