‘Under the Dome’ Season 1, Episode 3 Review – Getting To Know You

Published 2 years ago by

Britt Robertson and Alexander Koch in Under the Dome Manhunt Under the Dome Season 1, Episode 3 Review – Getting To Know You

After a flawed but fun premiere, Under the Dome stumbled somewhat in its second outing, leaving many to conclude (or hope) that it may have just been second episode jitters or a case of too much heavy lifting left over from the series’ start. But with episode three, it becomes clear that brief stumble might turn into a full-on plummet, as ‘Manhunt’ begins to exhibit signs that the writers aren’t moving the show away from what hasn’t worked early on, but rather they are shining the spotlight directly on those negative aspects.

That aforementioned spotlight is on the overall acceptance of the dome and the circumstances that have ostensibly imprisoned the citizens of Chester’s Mill - and, possibly, completely cut them off from things they’ll need to survive once all the bacon has finally been scarfed by the two old guys casually hanging out in the diner, giving strangers-in-need a hard time about their lifestyle. Although it’s only been about a day and a half (according to Ben), the manner in which most have reacted to the enormous, indestructible dome suddenly appearing over their town has been somewhat baffling. It’s almost as though the writers haven’t spent any time around real people, witnessing their reactions to even the slightest delay. Perhaps a field trip to watch people losing their cool in traffic, or while waiting in line would help even things out in that regard.

On one hand, it is not entirely necessary to see large crowds of people amassing in the street to demand answers or just to express the panic one might think would overtake the general public soon after realizing they’re trapped, but the fact that folks are just carrying on, walking their dogs or hitting up the diner for some coffee and chit-chat feels more than a little bit off. In fact, it seems like the only thing that can arouse these townspeople is the prospect of forming a lynch mob to enact a little vigilante justice on Paul Randolph, after he inadvertently killed his fellow officer and subsequently went nuts, repeatedly blaming all of his and the towns’ woes on the existence of the dome.

Dean Norris and Natalie Martinez in Under the Dome Manhunt Under the Dome Season 1, Episode 3 Review – Getting To Know You

Paul’s storyline this episode was completely overwrought, but at least his character was capable of acknowledging the presence of the dome and thinking of it as something other than a mild inconvenience. If anything, the meltdown exhibited by Paul can be looked at as an indication of things to come, as the storyline progresses and the townspeople’s perception of their situation shifts from placid acceptance to something more akin to genuine concern, anger or even outrage.

Maybe it’s an unfortunate side effect of each episode consisting of a single day, but just three episodes in, the story is already starting to feel like it is dragging its feet. It’s fine to think there needs to be some sort of set-up, and that we need to spend some time with these characters before things inside the dome begin to fall apart, but, as with ‘The Fire,’ too much time is devoted to characters like Junior, Norrie and the increasingly insufferable Ben. And the trouble is that the other characters who could potentially get the narrative rolling are being forced to spend time with this lot and just allow the plot to sink – or, in the case of Big Jim when he’s alone with his son, become an outlandish exaggeration of big bad swagger.

Mike Vogel and Rachelle Lefevre in Under the Dome Manhunt Under the Dome Season 1, Episode 3 Review – Getting To Know You

In a way, ‘Manhunt’ felt as though it was still picking up the pieces left behind by the pilot, as so much of the episode was devoted to characters sharing bits and pieces about their past with individuals who seem tailor-made to later become their adversary. As such, Paul’s ill-fated escape to nowhere was less about discovering what (if anything) had truly set Paul off and more as a means to set up Big Jim’s tale of maiming a fellow football player who’d taken to using Jim’s nickname pejoratively. Similarly, Junior’s attempt to escape via the cement factory tunnels wound up going about as well as Paul’s escape, but it did grant Julia an opportunity to divulge more of her background and describe how she’d been disgraced as a journalist and wound up in Chester’s Mill.

It is essential that the audience gets to know these characters better, but for it to happen in a series of long, static information drops only heightens the sense that this show is slowing down at the precise moment it needs to be ramping up the tension and pressure inside the dome. Under the Dome started with an interesting foundation, but what’s been built on top has so far been underwhelming. With any luck the coming weeks will see the tinderbox that is Chester’s Mill come a little closer to a story containing some much-needed fire.


Under the Dome continues next Monday with ‘Outbreak’ @10pm on CBS. Check out a preview below:

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  1. ok so one thing … why do they want to leave ? they live there so …. why ( they are being pathetic )

  2. I love how everyone has a different reaction to this show. It’s not just the old some people hate it, some love it thing; it’s vastly unique opinions.

    As for how people are reacting, honestly, people are really good about being in denial over the most obvious things. If these were real people, they probably would accept that they themselves could do very little in a short amount of time, and would wait around for the government/military to fix the problem. Panic will probably set in once the reality of them not being able to get out/dwindling resources sets in. I think that’s a fair representation in the show so far.

    The rest of the issues, I’m not sure if it’s deliberate or just questionable writing. Seems to me like the dome is influencing peoples’ psyche and drawing out extreme versions of their own personalities. I don’t really dig Big Jim’s dialogue, and the reporter lady JUST ANNOYS ME SO MUCH.

    TL;DR: Some of the problems people have with the show, I think, are deliberate portrayals, and it may be worthwhile to stick around and figure them out.

    • Like Kevin said, spend a little time around people and you’ll see just how unrealistic the portrayal of the townspeople are. Maybe they are pushing some romanticized image of small-town humility, but people have more of a tendency toward initially unreasonably flipping out than meek acceptance.

      Being in denial works with things like death or infidelity; it’s a way of dealing with an issue or avoiding an uncomfortable truth. Involuntary containment, on the other hand?

      A human being may not want to leave town for any reason but, the very minute you tell them they can’t, people suddenly *want* out. The masses can barely handle a traffic jam, and they certainly don’t accept that they could do little about it. Getting locked in one’s basement by an unknown assailant certainly doesn’t breed complicity initially. Hold the line up at the mart, and the issue isn’t being held up but that someone / something is holding up. You won’t hear “oh, it’ll only be a few more minutes”; it’s all huffing and “Oh, come on!”

      It would have been better served with an initial freak out, then some tacit acceptance, and then build the power-keg. That would have been far more realistic and the audience would have probably identified with it better. “Golly Gee, we’re under a dome… Oh, well” certainly doesn’t resonate.

  3. In the shows defense, there is that one guy who keeps screaming about the dome.

  4. I have no quarrels with the show but hoping junior will get revealed for what he is.

  5. I think this is a Extraterrestrial experiment to see if humans could maintain there sanity in colonization atmosphere .. ” bubble ” limited space

  6. I’ve only seen the first two episodes, but have been listening to the book in my truck going down the road……Really two different stories completely. Other than the dome and most of the characters names the same there’s not much alike between the two, and frankly I’m not too excited about the book…I think the King is dead when it comes to his keep you turning pages writing of the past. I don’t know if that’s why they decided to basically make it a different story in the series, but if the series is getting bad now too, then I guees it’s all a miss. I’ll check it out on the DVR when I get back, but if it’s sliding then I’ll have no problem leaving it alone.

  7. Well, I tried…
    I was willing to give the show one last shot and I started this episode but during a commercial break about half way through I changed the channel but never went back.
    Happy watching to those who like it but I’m moving on…

  8. Wow, that just SUCKED! I am truly relieved to see what people have written here in disparaging this weak show. I was wary after the second episode that we were not seeing evidence of the show becoming good and cohesive and compelling. Five minutes into this third ep and I was nearly certain I would never see another ep. I sat through the awful third ep, sputtering my indignation at the dwindling entertainment value and culminating stupidity, all the while hoping that this typically mainstream mediocrity would recieve the rapid cancellation it deserves. We are supposed to LIKE these characters? Which ones? These people SUCK, are not interesting, are not likable, and have no brains in their heads. They killed off the Lawnmower man and failed to make the Breaking Bad guy interesting at all, then they spend the whole ep getting to know the soap opera world of the Highschool freshmen dating scene under the dome, (W. T. F. ? ? ?) and catching up with the paper thin personalities of the reporter and the kidnapper (who could each easily suck their way through their very own horrendous tv series.).

    Speaking of the reporter/kidnapper duo… That was the dumbest tv scene I have witnessed since every scene of Defiance. Idiocy and nonsense! Neither person had ANY idea how to get back out of the tunnel? Good thing the awful woman knew some old mineshaft tricks about igniting matches to detect airflow and cause illumination! Too bad she didn’t know anything about explosive gas pockets, the oxygen eliminating properties of fire, or most importantly in this case: night vision. Your eyes adjust to the darkness very slowly, and a flash of light such as a matchstick can instantly blind you, leaving your vision ineffective for as much as 20 minutes of readjusting slowly to the darkness. Walking in the tiny glow of matchsticks is utter idiocy, and you might think one of them would know that even if all the mineshaft wisdom absurdity wasn’t an issue. However, going on the stupid assumption that the matches were a good tunnel escaping survival tool, why did they use them so casually and carelessly? Most of all, when the guy learns that they are using their very last precious matchstick, and they are about to find themselves groping fearfully in the dark with little hope of finding any exit, why do they spend that final flame on a pointless moment of face to face conversation and standing around? Did it bother no writers, actors of director type folks that the underground scene tension is then simply discontinued as the match fizzles and they realize in the sudden darkness that they are standing RIGHT AT THE EXIT? Everyone associated with that sequence should be ashamed. I know I won’t be quick to admit to anyone that I ever watched a show that was this bad. My compliments to those of you who are as unimpressed with this junk as I am. Gotta let people know that this level of effort and quality will not be rewarded.

  9. I gave the show 3 episodes, mostly because I’m a King fan, but my patience has run out. Not only is this show chock full of paper-thin cartoon characters but the most obvious plot device is essentially being ignored; the dome itself. I suppose the purpose of this little experiment was to watch how a town of “regular” folk would react to being cut off from society, but that experiment was flawed from the get go.

    Cut off from leaving? Yes. Cut off from communication? No. Even though the dome has cut off all forms of electronic communication, it is still transparent. So why isn’t anyone writing notes to and from the outside? Why isn’t NASA, the FBI, MIT, the NSF and every other scientific and security organization in the country investigating this thing and letting the town know they are doing everything they can? Nope, just the town fire department that luckily got called out to a 10 second fire at the most opportune moment.

    The real story, if there is one, is in the mystery of the dome and this show all but ignores the dome and would rather talk about lame high school football stories and a second-rate reporter. And if there was a secondary story, it would be how long would the town’s supplies hold out. Water, food, medicines. These things won’t last forever and yet we see people just casually having a pancake breakfast and using up their fuel running around in circles and charging useless cell phones. You don’t have to be dumb to watch this show, but if you watch it enough, it will likely make you dumb.