Now That Everyone’s Leaving, Things Sure Are Dull 'Under the Dome'

What good is a dome if no one's there to be under it anymore? 

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Last week, CBS’s hit summer show Under the Dome slowly started inching away from its premise. No longer would it be a show about a bunch of people trapped under some dome. No, instead it would be a more expansive, dull affair about a bunch of people who did various things, like talk to their distant dads, or draw pictures of snow globes with glitter glue on construction paper. Yes, a dome exists, and yes, it blocks the people of Chester’s Mill from doing certain things, but it can be circumvented. What’s that? You think the show might lack dramatic tension now that the Dome’s terrible power has been undone? Well, can I interest you in some tension over who gets to wear a Sheriff’s badge?

Okay, okay, I’ll cut the heavy sarcasm. [EDITOR'S NOTE: Aw! — JR] But it is mind-boggling how quickly the life has been sucked out of the already-ridiculous Dome in the last couple of weeks. I thought it was bad enough when everyone pretended that the dome didn’t exist; now that it’s basically just a detour, it is hard to fathom why any scenes of the characters in Chester’s Mill are even being shown anymore. There’s all kinds of business going on in the town, but this information should be consigned to some newsletter distributed only to uber-fans. Maybe if the egg opened up and contained a concise explanation of what’s happening under the dome, I’d be interested, but I do not care who is in charge of the town’s skeleton police force at this point.

By the way, it’s Big Jim. Remember a couple weeks back when the town almost executed him by hanging? But then Julia let him live for some reason, and he decided the dome had spared him? And then Julia was in charge for a hot second? Well, apparently that’s all been forgotten, since Jim seized power this week in the laziest coup d’état imaginable. He basically just meandered into the police office, grabbed some walkie talkies, and started bossing everyone around. Rebecca’s there too, mostly being mopey, but Jim’s running the show now, and muttering about how the dome is speaking to him and giving him signs. Even Junior thinks he’s crazy, that’s how loony Jim has gotten.

But at the same time, what else is he supposed to do? Julia’s off moping about the departed Barbie, trying to get a wi-fi signal to pick up some of his emails. No one’s really in charge of these yokels anymore! So what if Jim is a psychotic murderer with a God delusion? At least when he’s in charge the trains run on time (by “trains,” I mean “cars,” and by “run on time,” I mean “burst into flames for mysterious reasons”). Yeah, things go pretty smoothly for about half a day there, before Jim gets handcuffed to a prison cell by the last Sherriff, but for Dome that’s pretty good.

I don’t even want to talk about the DomeTeens (who have taken up vlogging) or Julia (who refuses to believe the tunnel-cliff goes anywhere even though that got proved last week. So let’s focus on the antics in Zenith, where Sam (who I have never cared much for) made the most impressive decision anyone on this show has ever made. He’s gotten out from Chester’s Mill, and his reaction is…great! Let me get out of here and start my life over! But no, there’s Pauline, grabbing his arm and saying she wants to save Lyle (driven catatonic by his journey back to Zenith, I guess?) and go get Junior.

Oh, Sam. He breaks into a hospital to bring Lyle back to reality, accomplishing exactly nothing. I have to say, after all this talk of Pauline being a crazy painting prophet, she’s just as boring as everyone else on this show. Watching her interact with Sam the fanatical axe murderer should not be as boring as it is. Of course, when Dwight Yoakam is onscreen with them as Lyle, things become incredibly poetic and moving, since it’s so easy to imagine their lives together in high school.

And what’s Barbie doing? Well, he met a nerdy hacker! No, this isn’t a crossover with future CBS hit Scorpion. This is some bespectacled young gentleman who works for Barbie’s dad’s company and shows him, using the power of c o m p u t e r h a c k i n g that his dad has ulterior motives. He wants Julia! And he wants that egg! He will harness its alien egg power! For evil egg purposes! Oh, thank God for hackers!

This show makes me feel punchy and mean. But I really feel that it used to have more of a sense of purpose. There was the dome to solve, and the DomeTeens were going to solve it while the DomeAdults fought amongst each other. But as CBS drags things out, and the show hunts for another season renewal, even the original campy thread has long run out. Everyone, please, leave the dome and go on and live peaceful, normal, boring lives. And live those lives far away from my television screen.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.