It’s kind of fun how Under The Dome is just randomly picking and choosing from various horror and sci-fi thrillers this season. Joe out-and-out calls the alternate reality “The Matrix,” and now, as Scott Von Doviak pointed out last week (he’s on a two-week break; I’m just subbing temporarily), we’ve entered the Body Snatchers zone. The gooey substance from the cocoon lets Queen Bee Christine exhibit mind control over all her poor pod subjects. If she’s worried about them cracking, she goes in and delivers positive moral support in person. As of last week, she has some control over the moon or something as well. Her plan can’t lose! But what overlord is she talking to in that “voice recorder”?

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And let’s also throw in some Prisoner, while we’re at it, as Big Jim gets attacked by burly men in white suits. He then offers some helpful exposition: “Well well well, if it isn’t my old buddy Malick from outside the dome,” who now works in a lab trying to get ahold of the frickin’ purple egg that controls us all. Jim destroyed the egg, but in doing so unleashed something—something terrible. Big Jim being Big Jim, of course he gets away.

Unfortunately for us all, the only people not brainwashed by Queen Christine are Julia, Big Jim, and Joe (and Nori by the end of the episode). Under The Dome’s stretch of three weeks across three years only adds to the ludicrousness of, well, everything: For example, Julia and Barbie snip and whine at each other like an old married couple, when they’ve only been together a few weeks tops.

Let’s give Under The Dome the slightest of breaks here and assume that the show is trying to claw at something deeper: What makes us ourselves, and subsequently not ourselves? Christine’s apparent power is palpable, so much so that when Joe spouts her claptrap to Julia about forgiving the man who killed his sister with an axe ten or so days ago, Julia knows it rings false. Fortunately, Sam standing him up at the diner is enough to bring Joe back to his real, clueless self. Then Joe savvily realizes that Nori is “back” when she’s no longer a cheerful sorority girl (who honestly seemed to be having a cute time with Hunter), and her usual scowl returns. Barbie has anger problems, sure, but his real self would not punch his hand through a wall; maybe the pod versions highlight everyone’s worst traits and weaknesses? Poor Junior will just follow around anyone who calls him competent, even if it’s a creepy probable-lizard lady. And Big Jim is starting to make sense, so you know something’s not right.

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Because Jim and his dog know that the pod people have taken over, helped along by Christine and her sticky stuff. But by the end of the episode, only Julia seems to care, as the rest of Chester’s Mill gets busy getting busy. Drunk-again Sam and Abby; Joe (“Does this mean I’ll need a condom?” What did they teach in health class at that high school?) and Nori in their gleeful reunion after a day or so of separation; probably Barbie and Eva, which will be fun because it should make Julia’s head explode; and, most disturbing of all, Junior and Christine in that dusty, dirty, clammy cave. Bawm-chicka-wow-wah.

There’s also something here about herd mentality, as Queen Christine appears able to lead whole crowds around, as they’re easier to direct the more they resemble actual sheep. But there’s also the overwhelming feeling that Under The Dome itself is just leading us astray, yet again. Since people actually got out of the dome last season and then got back in, that should have been a tipoff. But this company conglomerate conspiracy that Julia and Big Jim are trying to piece together is about as riveting as the “Initiative” on Revenge a few years ago: A red herring that we know will lead us nowhere. Under The Dome is so frustrating because at this point, with its three weeks stretched across several years, we’ve progressed literally nowhere, and we are stumped to think of anything that could reasonably explain this all away.

Stray observations

  • Tent fire! The only people who jump in to help, of course, are Barbie, Julia, and Eva. They’re good people.
  • Dubious promises from Hunter: “If you want to talk or whatever, I can do that too.”
  • Julia just sitting on the bedspread sketching Aktiaon Energy logos, like you do.
  • Big Jim stating the obvious, even though that’s usually Joe’s job: “You killed your own man.” “Yes. For the egg. Where is it?” That’s Random Roles participant Frank Whaley in the role of head lab guy or whatever.
  • Upside: No evil butterflies this episode!
  • “They’re really trying to X-Files the crap out of that.” Quote from my husband, who barely looked up from his phone during this whole viewing hour. Probably the weird whistling guy tipped him off. My family—like many families across the country, I’m sure—likes to call this show Under The Dumb.
  • Next week’s episode is called “Alaska,” for whatever that’s worth. See you then.

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