[This is a review for Under the Dome season 2, episode 5. There will be SPOILERS.]
You have to hand it to Under the Dome: only a show that goes full-throttle on the harebrained storylines as this one would take a week away from sending mixed biblical messages to the easily riled people trapped in a snow globe, so it can spin a quaint yarn about a power-mad DJ and how Hoyt's mom was married to a doomsday prepper. And then, to top of an episode that was more about spackling a plot hole than telling a compelling story, it ends with two people who conspired to commit mass murder being set free because Julia – the new leader of Chester's Mill – is all about forgiveness and moving forward and making sure psychopathic high school science teachers have the opportunity to work with troubled teens from the past.
While 'Reconciliation' tries to answer the question of how the people of Chester's Mill are going to eat for the rest of the season (and possibly beyond), it also wants to continue the Great Character Purge of Season 2 – since Melanie, Rebecca, Lyle, and Sam all seem to be considered less disposable than, say, DJ Phil. For his part, Phil has undergone quite the character arc since the series premiered last summer. He went from a mild-mannered local radio DJ (à la John Corbett's earthy Chris Stevens) to Big Jim disciple, to explosives expert and possible killer. And yet through it all, the most remarkable thing was he never really gave any indication that there was a real character buried somewhere deep within him.
As such, 'Reconciliation' puts Phil on the R.I.P. list, after a (not at all) tense standoff between him and Barbie that only stands out because the show suddenly remembered Aisha Hinds is also an actor on the show also. Instead of giving her character something to do, she gets the great honor of being an Under the Dome plot device, which basically means she's become a glorified extra.
Throughout the episode, when Julia's not second guessing her food storage decisions or apologizing to Barbie for thinking the guy who killed her deadbeat husband on his first day in town might be prone to making other bad decisions, 'Reconciliation' does its best to keep the mystery of Sam, Lyle, and the magic high school locker from being forgotten altogether. But this is an episode where not much related to the overarching story is actually allowed to happen. Whether that's because the idea of there actually being a plot is dubious at best, or because the show is biding its time for some push toward the second half of the season is unclear. Either way, what transpires involves Junior getting drunk with his uncle, who then contemplates smothering him with a sofa pillow.
One of two big surprises in the episode, then, is that Sam doesn't want to smother Junior simply because he's Junior, but because he believes that if the four hands all die, the dome will come down. Of course, Sam can't go through with it because Junior is just so darned lovable when he's blackout drunk. That doesn't mean Joe and Norrie aren't next on Sam's smother list, though, and who knows what he has in store for Melanie, since he may have already killed her once. Either way, facing Sam and his deadly throw pillow might be better for Joe than having to choose between the utterly magnetic presences of Norrie and Melanie. Sure, Joe's heart is big enough to love them both, but that's not they way things work in Domeville. And so, in the end, Joe winds up with no one at all. Maybe it's time to bring back Ben Drake, just so Joe will have someone to deliver all his exposition to.
The second big surprise comes in the form of a secret tunnel hidden behind the locker Angie and Melanie each once had. Where does it go? Can it be used to escape the dome? Is it filled with Morlocks? Who knows, but when your show chooses to fill the giant gaping hole that is its plot with a literal giant gaping hole, then maybe answering those questions isn't your biggest concern.
Under the Dome continues next Monday with 'In the Dark' @10pm on CBS. Check out a preview below: