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There are only two episodes left of Under the Dome this season, and it really, really shows. There’s no show on television more guilty of stretching out plot to keep the big twists for the end of the season, and this week we got a prime example. The big news of the week? It’s cold! Very cold under that dome! Why’s it so cold? Oh, something about “inverted altitude” and the dome sinking deeper into the ground. It is honestly offensive when this show pulls a trick like this — where the dome decides to move down for a week and make things cold, just to give us an excuse for some Chester’s Mill hijinks. We know by the end of the episode the status quo will be restored, because the only real plot movement can come at the end of the season.

Think about it. They find a locker leading to Zenith, but it only exists to get a couple new characters on board before it gets closed up again. Pauline paints visions of the future, but only when it helps move things along — otherwise her power is conked out. Melanie the Egg Girl is a walking flashback device who turns on and off as capriciously as the glowing egg itself, which might as well be a chunk of Avatar’s unobtanium or a glowing suitcase labeled “MACGUFFIN” for how shamelessly it serves the plot. Does something need to happen? Just throw the egg at it, that’ll sort everything out.

Same goes for the dome. This week it moves down and gets chilly; at the end of the episode it starts moving in, contracting our heroes closer and closer together. It’d be great if it just contracted all the way into a dot, and turned everyone into goo. Maybe that’s what the glowing egg is! Just a previous dome, which squashed a city into pink slime and now zaps around causing havoc for new towns. Now that’d be a twist.

This show wouldn’t know a good twist if a military functionary wrote it on a laptop and held the screen up for it to read. I know that was a complicated reference, but probably the funniest moment of the episode came from Hacker-Man talking through the dome-glass, via Leftovers-style pen and paper, to the military. About a glowing pink egg. It’s times like that you just have to exult in how terribly seriously this show takes itself. The DomeTeens get mad at Hacker-Man for betraying their trust, but he’s obviously already on their side, and he’s trying to throw the military off the scent. Good rule of thumb to follow: the DomeTeens’ instincts are terrible. They usually form the wrong first impression.

That is about the most exciting thing that happened this week. Our central plot saw Barbie and Julia trapped in a tipped-over ambulance as the permafrost descends upon Chester’s Mill, because Julia’s leg gets impaled on some metal. The show thinks this is the tensest, most heartbreaking situation possible. Barbie has to leave Julia to freeze and die so he can save himself, but he can’t bring himself to do it. What romance! What fortitude of spirit! But this means the whole episode is basically the two of them breathing icicles into each other’s faces and promising they won’t let go. It was so boring, I’d actually rather watch Julia make decisions and run the town.

The other big plot was about how Big Jim is maybe turning a corner and becoming good? Or maybe not. He definitely rescues Lyle, who has finally appeared back in the town after a looong trip through the Zenith-vortex, and he assures Pauline that everything he did, he did for his family. Only problem: this is patently untrue. Most of the things he did, he did for power and money. And control. Not really his family. Once in a while, he’d help Junior out, I suppose, but that’s about it.

I’d get more worked up if things weren’t obviously in a holding pattern for whatever the final gambit is. I’m too cynical to think Under the Dome is actually wrapping up, but it will surely at least make some movement in its final two episodes. This was a forgettable affair for everyone involved, and, of course, it saw Julia surviving her latest peril. That’s enough to get a thumbs down from me. 

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