[This is a review of Under the Dome season 2, episode 3. There will be SPOILERS.]
Under the Dome reached new levels of camp with 'Force Majeure', an episode that was so eager to prove it had looked up the definition of its title, it had to bring in another entirely new character played by Dwight Yoakam. The show was forced to do this because it was more reasonable to suggest that Lyle the creepy barber had been lurking somewhere in the background this whole time than to believe any of the other characters knew what force majeure means.
Only a show as self-serious as this would dedicate so much of its time to explaining things of relatively little importance, especially when it could be focusing on matters of actual consequence or giving its characters personalities that go beyond what they hurriedly begin believing for the sake of this week's plotline. Moreover, since it's suddenly so interested in Rebecca Pine and her steely pragmatism, perhaps the show could answer the question of who is running the human resources department at the Chester's Mill high school, so as to explain how someone as clearly psychotic and just generally awful as she is could be afforded an opportunity to mold young minds and be woefully underpaid to do so.
Yes, it's true: an exposé on the clearly ineffectual hiring policies of the Chester's Mill high school would be far more interesting than anything else to have occurred so far this season. That includes the Dollar Store version of a plague of locusts – enacted by the town's sworn enemy: the dreaded caterpillar – as well as the "blood" that inexplicably comes raining down on the town and its residents, cementing the notion that Under the Dome season 2 is actually going forward with its plan to pit faith-based ideologies against the indomitable will of Rebecca Pine and her near limitless scientific prowess and access to resources – resources she really wants to limit everyone else's access to.
'Force Majeure' does little more than set things up and attempt to deepen some of the new mysteries that have managed to pop up with the same relative frequency as Chester's Mill residents who had previously gone unseen. For a pretty clear reason, Big Jim finds himself willing to listen to Rebecca's plans for determining who gets a cut of the town's diminishing food supply and other resources, while Barbie – for no other reason than it creates an arid conflict between him and Julia – is also willing to hear Ms. Pine out.
Meanwhile, in the midst of some product placement, Joe, Norrie, and the mysterious Melanie Cross discover a "crack" or "wormhole" in the dome that allows them to briefly get Internet access, so that Norrie can get caught up on Twitter, and Junior's mom can send him a link to a video she made, suggesting a shady conspiracy between her, Lyle, and his uncle Sam. Being caught in the dome for so long, Junior throws caution to the wind and clicks on what is almost certainly a phishing scam, but comes up a big winner because he finds out his mom's not dead, and only bothered to tell him once a giant, indestructible dome had descended on the town she'd left behind, cutting off all forms of communication in the process. As unbelievable as it is to say this, it looks like Big Jim might actually be the better parent in this case.
At any rate, the kids discover that Melanie is actually a teenager from the past, and that she once had the same locker as the recently departed Angie, which is a plot development only slightly more interesting than the red rain that's so easily vanquished and ultimately means about as much as the scourge of the caterpillars from last week.
So far, Under the Dome is cooking up some campy madness, but it's not doing much to convince those watching that it's enjoying (or even aware of) the kitschy extremes of its storylines. Which is too bad, because, if it did, it might be a lot more fun visiting Chester's Mill week-in and week-out.
Under the Dome continues next Monday with 'Revelation' @10pm on CBS.