The use of coincidence in storytelling is a tricky thing, and it’s typically something that’s better handled in small doses or by shows that seem to be doing it deliberately as part of the all around weird world that’s been created around the series. Usually, that means the weirder the show, the greater its capacity to pull off strange coincidences – without requiring a great leap of faith from the audience.
Despite its origins, Under the Dome is not that weird of a show. Sure, the idea of a town sealed in an indestructible dome is unquestionably kooky, but in terms of execution, the series has been generally straightforward – that is: these bizarre circumstances are ostensibly to be read as happening in the world where this is most definitely a precedent (though you wouldn’t know it to look at the fluctuating population of Chester’s Mill half the time). But after an episode like ‘Speak of the Devil,’ it’s become clear that the series is as addicted to easy coincidences, as it is to having its characters (usually Norrie and Joe) spew expository dialogue, to make sure the audience is aware the importance of certain unforgettable elements. (Pink stars, monarchs, and mini-domes – we get it; let’s move on.)
With only two episodes left after this, ‘Speak of the Devil’ has a lot of table setting to take care of. That means things have to move pretty quickly, and so we’re treated to inexplicable things like Max shooting Julia in her doorway before inexplicably wandering the beach and finding her mother’s body has washed ashore, or Dodee just happening to turn on her radio at the exact moment the military was talking about Barbie. And yes, all of this is intended to allow Big Jim to kill Max and pit Linda and the rest of Chester’s Mill against Barbie, but it’s all handled in such a lazy fashion, the intended surprise just comes off as being overly telegraphed and rather conventional.
That primarily puts the big revelation on the dome expressing itself through destructive weather patters and then telling a bunch of kids it wants them to stab Junior’s dad while he’s wearing a yellow shirt (though the yellow shirt thing may be optional, so long as the kids get stabby with Big Jim). The problem is: with two episodes left until the show goes on hiatus before continuing on for who knows how many seasons, what’s really at stake? It seems unlikely that Big Jim or Barbie will be making an exit anytime soon, so the series will have to find a way allow the characters to occupy the same dome for the foreseeable future. Is anyone willing to bet that a twist of fate or strange quirk will play a role in wrapping the season up?
Under the Dome continues next Monday with ‘Exigent Circumstances’ @10pm on CBS. Check out a preview below: