Under The Dome needs to stop screwing around and just make every episode about Dean Norris’ Big Jim. This episode in particular really underlined that Big Jim is morally complex, interesting, and compelling in a way that everybody else isn’t.
The a-plot in this episode, introduced in an accidentally hilarious way in the form of a pregnant lady cockblocking Julia and Barbie after a night of bad decisions, isn’t the weakest one the show’s unfurled, but it’s a bit cliched, especially when we get to the actual childbirth. It does actually help the show in some ways; the lesbian couple gets an actually sweet and touching moment, and the dome is revealed to be passive-aggressive in its dickery in a moment that’s simultaneously funny and face-slappingly dumb.
Actually, this episode marks the first time the show has actually bothered to get into what’s actually going on with the Dome. It only took seven episodes! It’s being generated by a little black egg! That also has a Dome! But at least we’re starting to see an endgame take shape here. Oh, and Hipster Glasses dies, thanks to diabetes, in a scene that will give you diabetes.
The b-plots are more interesting, especially Big Jim slapping Junior around, revealing his grip on the town runs fairly deep, and finally, getting drunk and kicking some ass. Sadly, he does not give Ollie the douchebag farmer the summary execution he so richly deserves, but it’s coming if the trailer for the next episode is any indication.
And that’s really the thing. Big Jim may be a monster, and he may want control of the town, but Ollie is such a miserably petty jackass that you can’t help but root for Big Jim. Keep in mind, Ollie is being this petty because Big Jim ruled against him in a land dispute a decade and a half before the dome dropped. Not even the show is pretending Ollie is anything other than a moustache-twirling villain, but it makes for a nice contrast between somebody who’s just a selfish ass and somebody who, even if they’re doing it for the wrong reasons, is trying to do the right thing.
The Big Jim plotlines are complex and engaging, partially thanks to Dean Norris, that the rest of this show pales in comparison. That said, we are seeing more and more momentum on this show, and if the writing staff can step up its game, or just winnow out all the plots and focus on Big Jim, we might have a better time of it on the back half.
A few notes:
- Truman finally turns up again. He’s not Horace the Corgi, but it’s nice to see he hasn’t been completely forgotten about.
- Linda once again demonstrates that she’s pretty much completely ineffectual in this episode, which makes you wonder how she managed to make it this long.
- The show tries to give Junior a moment of character growth. This goes every bit as terribly wrong as you’d expect considering he’s a psycho. But Bennie, AKA Stoner Friend, stands up to him in a nice moment.
Any thoughts? Let us know in the comments.