[This is a review of Under the Dome season 2, episode 2. There will be SPOILERS.]
As a surefire sign that Under the Dome is still figuring out what it's trying to do with the overarching narrative of Chester's Mill and its mysterious predicament (and how that particular predicament can be extended into a multi-season storyline), the second episode of season 2 sees the series drift back into a familiar setting by creating a temporary emergency. As usual, that emergency is only for a select group of characters to resolve, while others find themselves busied with the town's post-dome pastime of hastily forming small posses to enact some justice on the first person suspected of a major crime – which, in this case, is the death of Angie McAlister.
And so, 'Infestation' does its best to balance the urgency of finding the person responsible for Angie's murder, while making sure a helmeted Mike Vogel looks as goofy as possible when the storyline explores the various dramatic possibilities and visual excitement that can only be found in the majestic art of crop dusting.
At least by running the dual threads through the episode, the series is able to make further use of dead-eyed teacher Rebecca Pine and the reclusive weirdness of Sam Verdreaux. For her part, Rebecca has essentially become an acolyte of Big Jim's, encouraging him to be the leader the town needs by pushing him to take the proper kind of drastic action that's necessary to save its resources, which, in this case, are the crops being attacked by caterpillars. But these aren't any ordinary caterpillars; they've apparently been altered by the magnetism of the dome (magnets, is there anything they can't do?), so they can become a threat to the increasingly limited food supply of Chester's Mill. And Rebecca, thanks to her being good at science and apparently really bad at interpersonal communication, takes it upon herself to set fire to the town's crops without bothering to tell anyone first.
Despite Rebecca's poor communications skills and her almost sociopathic lack of empathy, first responders to the blaze manage to abstain from erecting the gallows right there on the spot and actually stop to listen to what she has to say. Naturally, the same can't be said for mysterious lake girl Melanie Cross (Grace Victoria Cox). Even though Melanie exhibits essentially the same remote personality as Rebecca – but with the added benefit of being mildly sympathetic – the town's people see her as a clear threat, and after Joe and Norrie match her shoe to the bloody print near Angie's body, Officer DJ Phil is more than eager to put her behind bars.
Thanks to some quick CSI work by Julia and Sam, though, it becomes clear that a man was responsible for Angie's death, with all clues pointing toward Junior and his apparent propensity for getting blackout drunk and maybe killing the young women he has been violently possessive with in the past. Junior may have come to the conclusion he's behind the young woman's death, but there's little chance in it being as cut and dry as that, so here's hoping the series can find something exciting to do with that mystery as quickly as possible.
Although it certainly tries, 'Infestation' doesn't really deliver much in terms of significance surrounding Angie's death. Perhaps that's because Big Jim has barely finished eulogizing the deceased when Rebecca sidles up to inform him the town's resources can't sustain the inhabitants – intimating that some form of population control could be necessary. This seems like the sort of storyline that could take the series where it wanted to go early in season 1. And while that particular conundrum could open up some interesting, morally complex avenues for the story to explore, Under the Dome hasn't demonstrated an ability to deliver on things like that yet, so we'll probably have to settle for more crop dusting.
Under the Dome continues next Monday with 'Force Majeure' @10pm on CBS.
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