'Under the Dome': Welcome to Barbie Falls

[This is a review of Under the Dome season 2, episode 7. There will be SPOILERS.]


When the entertainment value of a show like Under the Dome is based entirely on the theory that its weird terribleness is its only real asset, an episode like 'Going Home' lends all kinds of new credibility to that premise.

In the last few episodes, several people in Chester's Mill have become decidedly less concerned with the dome that has trapped them for 17 days (thanks for keeping us informed, handy Zenith billboard!), as all of their attention is now on a tunnel and giant gaping hole underneath the town's high school. After dropping a bunch of stuff down it (as incredibly bored people and small children are wont to do), and then remarking over and over again that they were unable to hear whatever object they dropped hit the ground, they decide it must have some significance.

Joe is convinced the dome dug the tunnel and therefore is probably responsible for the dark abyss everyone wants to hang out on the edge of. While it's unfortunate that Joe has now been saddled with the task of underlining the actions of technically inanimate objects (which sort of covers every character on this show, actually), at least he doesn't have to spend the episode trying to convince everyone else he might be right. In fact, everyone is so eager to explore the pit they're practically jumping in without a second thought.

There is one holdout, however, and that, unsurprisingly, turns out to be Junior, who simply can't believe that his uncle killed Angie and then tossed himself into everyone's favorite chasm. Thankfully, Sheriff Barbie knows exactly what to do: go down into the bottomless pit, recover Sam's horribly broken body and show Junior the scratches on his chest that reveal Sam to be the murderer of the girl Junior once almost killed. Let it never be said that law enforcement in Chester's Mill does not go the extra mile for the son of the town villain.

But because the dome is all-powerful and television contracts are more binding than the One Ring, when characters fling themselves into the darkness of a never-ending void, they don't disappear or die or show up on new shows, they wake up on a playground in the city of Zenith – the hometown of Barbie and the recently resurrected Melanie. While Barbie is back home, catching up with some old friends and his dad, the egg is filling Norrie and the rest of the Teenage Hand Club in on the importance of the Zenith obelisk, which they all decide, "…must mean something." That's great work, kids!

And yet the big reveal of the week isn't that Barbie and Sam survived their fall, or that Big Jim is still a bully. It's not even that Lyle is in a trance-like state at the same hospital as Pauline, or that the Chester's Mill high school has enough science projects and technology-based clubs to make NASA a little envious. Instead, it's that Barbie's dad is the owner of Aktaion Energy, which, thanks to some shadowy dialogue from dear old dad, and some graffiti on one of the company's billboards, seems to suggest that Aktaion has something to do with the dome. That notion is furthered when Barbie and his father walk past a vegetation-covered red door with a signature handprint still visible on the outside.

In the end, you have to hand it to Under the Dome; it's adamant that there is an interesting layer of mythology buried somewhere in its narrative, and its not going to let something like half-baked storytelling foil its attempts to uncover it.

Under the Dome continues next Monday with 'Awakening' @10pm on CBS. Check out a preview below:

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