[This is a review of Under the Dome season 2, episode 4. There will be SPOILERS.]
Normally, Under the Dome comes off as a goofy, half-baked hour of television that features dialogue and plot devices so hackneyed and contrived they have actually become the primary reasons for watching. But during 'Revelation' the show drops a truth bomb on its unsuspecting audience that opens up the world of the dome in such a way one can't help but think this seemingly insignificant nugget of harsh reality is what the show has been striving towards since episode 1.
Early in the episode, amidst all the lingering questions about the dome itself, Angie's murder, Surface tablet Wi-Fi capabilities, and the crayon-scribbled post cards of Junior's mom, supposed teenager-in-mourning Joe effectively shuts down any argument on whether or not Melanie Cross is a resurrected teenager from the '80s or just a delusional teen who fits right in with the rest of the town's population, by telling Norrie, "yearbooks don't lie." That's an incredibly compelling statement and I for one am happy Joe finally found his place on the show as the one guy who has his head screwed on straight. With any luck, Joe's battle against the yearbook deniers will feature prominently in the rest of the season, and Under the Dome will finally be able to deliver the epic storyline it has been promising viewers for so long.
But there's more to 'Revelation' than Joe's demonstration of his intellectual superiority and steadfast belief in the innate veracity of high school yearbooks. Chester's Mill is now essentially forced to be a self-sustaining ecosystem complete with pigs, bifurcated cows, and crops that are mighty tasty to caterpillars, and yet it's not enough to feed the town's entire population that seems to fluctuate anywhere between 20 to 500 people, depending on whether or not there's going to be a public execution or funeral service. (Basically, if it involves death, the people of Chester's Mill will turn out in droves - otherwise, they've got better things to do.) To solve this problem, World's Greatest Science Teacher Rebecca Pine decides the only thing to do is unleash swine flu on the townspeople and not look back – just like Joe did when he unleashed the truth about yearbooks and left Norrie to wallow in the kind of shame only non-believers feel.
Rebecca's hard-line position on population control and her unfeeling, science-y demeanor creates a longing for a spin-off show in which Ms. Pine conducts a series of parent-teacher conferences that inevitably end with her convincing her student's parents that the true test of their child's fundamental worth is whether or not he or she can survive being exposed to a particularly virulent strain of swine flu. One would have to believe she'd be a convincing lead, since it takes her all of three minutes to get Big Jim committed to the idea of wiping out 25 percent of the town's population.
But 'Revelation' doesn't stop there, it also reveals further evidence of a conspiracy involving Sam, Lyle, Melanie, and Pauline (Jim's wife who was previously believed to have killed herself) and their mid-'80s discovery of a meteorite containing the egg that may or may not be the key to the dome and everything else that's been going on. The disclosure also hints at the mysterious town of Zenith – which so happens to be Barbie's hometown – and paints Lyle or Sam (probably Sam) as a homicidal maniac who killed Melanie decades earlier and then came out of retirement to kill Angie – the motive for which may or may not have something to do with a high school locker that can dramatically improve the Surface tablet's Wi-Fi reception.
In the end, even with all the supposed suspense and intrigue, it seems like every character is actively campaigning to be the worst thing on Under the Dome. Perhaps this is the show's form of population control: making everyone so unlikable that, in the event of his or her demise, the inevitable response will be not unlike Rebecca's chilly matter-of-factness. If they've gotta go, they've gotta go.
Under the Dome continues next Monday with 'Reconciliation' @10pm on CBS. Check out a preview below: