After two weeks of not-so-bad episodes, Under the Dome has something of a little streak going, which may help propel the series into the second half of its season on a positive note. That is, of course, as long as everyone involved can remember that first and foremost this is a show about an entire town trapped under an enormous dome of supposedly unknown origins. So, to its credit, 'Blue on Blue' winds up being the first episode since the pilot that seems to suggest the series has actually remembered its own conceit.
Last week's 'Outbreak' slowed the diversion of interpersonal storylines overriding the larger, more pressing concerns of the dome's existence and the threat it posed to the people trapped inside, by creating a scenario in which the residents of Chester's Mill were faced with a hazard that could potentially affect them all – you know, sort of like the concept for the whole series. But the episode also included some semblance of progression, in that certain subplots that had been hanging and threatening to go nowhere, or be drawn out for who knows how long, were moved ahead.
In that regard, 'Blue on Blue' takes those plusses that were seen last week and uses them as a sort of paint-by-numbers approach to making a better episode. Sure, there were still plenty of the same problems the series has been struggling with, but, for the most part, things moved along at a fairly nice clip. For one thing, Angie finally got out of the plot-sink that is the Rennie Family Bomb Shelter, only to wind up comforting Junior while waiting out a bomb strike from the government (let's just hope it's later revealed to be temporary insanity or Stockholm syndrome that brought about this reaction in Angie to her former captor).
But as the episode intimated some change in regard to the series, there was also the suggestion of change in Junior. Sure, he's still a massive weirdo, and anytime he gets around his father, Dean Norris is compelled to hiss at him like a supervillain, but seeing an extra dimension (no matter how small) being exhibited by what is essentially the most aggravating character on the show, then things are looking up. Besides, by the episode's end, Big Jim manages to off the second most irritating character on the show by holding Reverend Lester's head against the dome until the hearing aid he believes is transmitting a message from God fried his brain. In essence, Rev. Lester's death was a simple bit of necessary housekeeping that also helped to paint Big Jim in a more wicked light.
Before he was terminated, however, Rev. Lester did provide one last service to the show, by helping to make the looming bomb strike from the government feel a little more ominous – even if the warning came from the ramblings of a drug-addled preacher. Lester's proselytizing the now-concerned citizens of Chester's Mill during what at first appeared to be a visiting day granted by the government helped transition the somewhat schmaltzy encounters of the trapped residents with their family and friends into one of fear and isolation without forcing the episode to make a drastic about-face.
Frankly, though, the news that a "M.O.A.B. – Mother of All Bombs" was going to be unleashed on the dome could have come a bit sooner, as the revelation that Norrie's dad wasn't some anonymous donor, but instead was something of a fame-seeking sponge who only became interested in his biological offspring now that she'd achieved some level of indirect fame became yet another example of Under the Dome's mishandling of story elements in terms of the level of interest they provide to the overall plot. For that matter, it's hard to imagine either of the show's main teenaged characters (i.e., Joe and Norrie, as Ben, thankfully, only appears for a few seconds) offering much beyond the mystery of their simultaneous seizures and what they mean in terms of dome's origin or larger purpose.
Sure, there was no way the bomb would have obliterated Chester's Mill, or even harmed anyone inside the dome, so there was deliberately little tension generated from waiting for the strike to happen. But what 'Blue on Blue' did manage to do was get the show and all of its characters thinking about the one reason people are watching. It's too early to say that the writers have turned the show around, but at least there's some evidence to suggest that, despite the many shortcomings that have emerged since the pilot episode, Under the Dome has the potential to display a few positive aspects as well.
Under the Dome continues next Monday with 'The Endless Thirst' @10pm on CBS. Check out a preview below:
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