‘Under the Dome': Big Jim – Too Bad, Too Soon?

Published 2 years ago by

Mike Vogel and Britt Robertson in Under the Dome Exigent Circumstances Under the Dome: Big Jim   Too Bad, Too Soon?

Like most shows of its kind, Under the Dome works a whole lot better when the characters have something requiring their immediate attention, typically something dire or otherwise life-threatening. Generally, this means that they’re so preoccupied with the task (or tasks, if the writers are feeling particularly frisky) at hand they don’t have much time to whip out that magical expository dialogue they’re so fond of.

In the penultimate episode, ‘Exigent Circumstances,’ the particular task at hand is tracking down one Dale ‘Barbie’ Barbara, who has become the most wanted man in and out of the dome, as tech genius Dodee overhears the military suggesting their man Dale is the only one who can deal with the black egg hanging out in the barn behind Joe and Angie’s house.

As nice as it is to be thought of as “the one,” Barbie’s stuck dealing with a five-star wanted level, courtesy of Big Jim’s sudden uptick in murders intended to keep his stranglehold on Chester’s Mill as firm as possible. This time around, Jim manages to be sitting in front of Dodee’s radio equipment at the exact moment the military on the outside just casually mention they saw him murder Reverend Coggins. Clearly that means its curtains for Dodee, and to add insult to injury, Big Jim destroys all of her equipment and burns down the radio station, casually pinning it all on Barbie because the townsfolk are so easily swayed in their opinion (these are the people who just shrugged and went along with a fight club to exchange bags of salt for D batteries, mind you), Jim could have convinced them an expired can of SPAM was responsible for all the mayhem.

Mike Vogel and Alexander Koch in Under the Dome Exigent Circumstances Under the Dome: Big Jim   Too Bad, Too Soon?

But Jim needs a scapegoat, so he targets Joe and Norrie to use against Barbie after Dodee spills the beans about the black egg, surmising that it’s likely the dome’s power source. By this point in the episode any major character without an ounce of real power is completely on to Big Jim’s scheme; namely, the Four Hands (Junior seems to come around by episode’s end) and Norrie’s mom, whose only recourse is to invoke all sorts of rights Big Jim couldn’t care less about at this point. In the end, Barbie is captured by Linda (and kicked in the face by a very angry Phil in skinny jeans) and coerced into confessing to all the murders Big Jim’s committed.

‘Exigent Circumstances’ leaves things on a relatively exciting cliffhanger that could pull any number of characters into the fray, as things careen toward the finale. It’s somewhat surprising and slightly commendable that the series has burned off the characters it has and managed to raise the stakes to such a degree before the season ends. Of course, having pushed Big Jim from the realm of mildly bad dude to full on murderous psychopath, Under the Dome has some character elements and arcs to consider (reconsider?) with regard to its biggest star, Dean Norris. It would have been one thing had this been a miniseries as originally planned, but now that this is an ongoing series, keeping the Big Jim arc interesting just became considerably more difficult.


Under the Dome concludes its first season next Monday with ‘Curtains’ @10pm on CBS. Check out a preview below:

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  1. Hey I have an idea, lets film a TV show based on Under The Dome. Then change it, that way we can milk 10 or 12 seasons out of it.

    • I love your idea! That was such a mediocre book! It is totally sustainable as a TV show that will run season after season with no end game!

      Here’s a bunch of money, let me know if you have any other bad to “so-so” books you feel like milking!

  2. Have the writers decided it’s all a dream yet (like Lost)?

  3. Contrary to Big Jim becoming too villainous, too soon, I believe that this arc of his was a long time coming. I’ve been whining to my friends about this show all summer – the way Big Jim seems to genuinely care for the town, the way Junior’s kind of a nice guy (despite his random acts of sociopathy), the way there’s so much focus on the supernatural aspect and so little on the sociological, etc. This episode is a turning point for me – for the first time, I liked an episode instead of just shrugging and saying “they’re doing their best.” It took them a long time, but Rennie is finally being what he was meant to be: a diabolical despot who is always planning three steps ahead to maintain control of the town.

    As for future plot points, I hope season 2 focuses more on the shifting political dynamic of the town: Rennie’s thug police, curfews enacted, rationing, forced labour, destruction of religious institutions… the possibilites for stories are endless.

    • Yeah, I felt this was definitely the best episode so far.

  4. “It would have been one thing had this been a miniseries as originally planned, but now that this is an ongoing series, keeping the Big Jim arc interesting just became considerably more difficult.”

    Completely agree. It’s definitely picked up as the season’s gone on, especially the past few weeks, but I have a hard time seeing how they’re gonna keep it interesting beyond the first season. There’s only so many places you can take the story before it starts getting repetitive, and there’s only so many characters you can kill off before the whole town goes extinct.

  5. When the series started I felt it was a good type of mini series but now that it’s becoming a full blown series I just don’t see it surviving. I’ve already lost interest in the show and I was a huge fan of the show at the beginning. Too bad. Big Hank hopefully will end up in something better that will compare to a Breaking Bad type of show