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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Under The Dome: “Incandescence”

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We are gathered here today on this, the most solemn and somber of occasions, to commemorate the impending demise of Under The Dome. It came as a shock to all of us; here we were, once again, about to tear down the dome for real. Then it turns out that CBS is doing it for us. Although it was still the no. 2 scripted series on broadcast television for the summer, ratings were far from what they were at the series’ popularity peak in 2013. So next week the dome comes down, in every way possible.

You would think that the penultimate episode would build some momentum toward the series finale, but it just wouldn’t be the Dome then, would it? Fortunately, we get some classic Dome idiocy to (almost) go out on. Barbie, it turns out, has deep paternal feelings that make him a father-of-the-year candidate, as he races after his infant alien girl. Julia: “I know how you feel.” Since no one has ever had a baby that gestated in only three days from an alien before, pretty sure that no one knows how that feels, Julia. Barbie’s insane take on fatherhood has him running all over Chester’s Mill and particularly focused on Christine, until he is forced to admit at the end that his baby is the queen of a monstrous alien race that wants to wipe out all humans. Things get even weirder when the cocooned baby almost immediately grows up to be basically be a reincarnation of Eva, in a blond wig yet! And we learn who Christine was talking to on that recorder: this future queen, who helpfully was born with all sorts of knowledge about dome life intact. In a neat bit of trickery, Christine actually gets absorbed into the dome by the queen, which was satisfying to witness, even though she turned into a nice person at the end there.

She even saved a kid from drowning in the lake! Leave it to Junior to line up children for their watery deaths, as the dome is calcifying and everyone is running around trying to come up with ways to save oxygen. Except for Hektor, who just wants everyone to die in the dome, saving humanity from this infected alien race. He kind of has a point, but we know that Chester’s Millians would never let anything like selfless logic stop them. Big Jim in particular. So Hektor goes down, and a few guards, and the doctor research lady who we know is a scientist because she’s still wearing her lab coat and has pens in her coat pocket.

Norrie proves to know her way around a firearm and saves Joe, who, it turns out, is the brains of the operation, lining up seven amethyst boulders in a manner that will somehow save us all. Dean Norris deserves the lifetime achievement Emmy for being able to get this line out about Joe without choking: “He’s a pain in the ass, but smart as a whip, that kid.”

Due to the massive amounts of gunfire, Joe still hasn’t pulled off his amethyst hat trick by the end of the episode, but the queen has emerged from her cocoon (I peeked ahead: Her name is Dawn, naturally), which will stop the dome from calcifying? Oh, and we get a satisfying beatdown of idiot Junior by Barbie and Julia both. But there are still a ton of remaining questions to wrap up in the series’ final hour.

When Under The Dome started in 2013, the showrunners left it open as to whether or not it would run for longer than a season, depending how it was received. Leave it to the tumbleweed-worthy state of summer television, but Under The Dome did so well at first that it paved the way for fantasy summer series like Wayward Pines and Zoo. The dome had a baffling but simple premise (Mysterious dome drops on town. And… go.), and as the series went on, it seemed to be less sure of where it was headed (call it the Lost syndrome). There were carnivorous butterflies. Julia was the monarch. Falling pink stars from the sky. Angie trapped in Junior’s underground bunker. Mysterious postcards from Junior’s not-dead mom. Barbie’s sister suspended in time.


As we spun off into red herrings like Bird Island and the purple egg and the dome’s ridiculous four-week timeframe, it became almost impossible to take the show seriously. None of the players helped much in this regard, although Dean Norris always seemed game for whatever the show threw at him, and Marg Helgenberger made the most of an impossible part: an archeologist possessed by the queen of an alien race. And yet, the series often offered just enough to possibly keep us drawn in until the following week. The dome turning black? A meteor that crashes into it? A series of plagues? All said, the Matrix/Body Snatchers kinship was probably one of the best twists the showrunners could have come up with. Unfortunately, any inspired plot advances were usually accompanied by clunky dialogue, lackadaisical performances, and insane leaps of logic all around.

So R.I.P., Under The Dome. You didn’t make sense all the time, and often you were downright maddening. But sometimes—like when everyone went off into their alternate universes at the beginning of this season—there was a brief glimmer of what the show could have been, like a pink star inexplicably falling from the sky.


Stray observations

  • Remember when the dome was magnetized? Good stuff.
  • It’s so uncomfortable when Junior and his uncle Sam fight over the same woman.
  • “We need the umbilical cord from the baby that was just born to make a serum that could cure the alien infection.” “Consider it done.” WHAT?
  • “What happened? There’s blood dripping from the ceiling.”
  • Did you know that Rachelle Lefevre has a blog called Pass The Butter? This has upped my opinion of her considerably.
  • What if the finale happened and the dome didn’t come down and the series ended with Barbie, Julia, Big Jim, etc. stuck in the dome forever? I would never stop laughing. Like, I would wake up in the middle of the night as an octogenarian and laugh about it.
  • At a crucial time like this one, there are so many people to thank. The Dallas Cowboys, for pre-empting regular broadcast schedules so that I would have to sub for Scott Von Doviak. To Scott Von Doviak for letting me sub. But mostly, everyone who came here to comment every week, which literally never failed to crack me up. Even those who never watched the show at all and just came here to comment. “Classic dome” = never not funny. And I hope people still post “CUT MY COW IN TWO PIECES” just randomly somewhere. Hopefully we will all meet up again when we eventually find a show that’s as amusing to watch and poke fun at as this one, but how can that ever be possible? They were under a dome.
  • Here’s how upset Dean Norris is: