If nothing else, Bryan K. Vaughan can really write a pilot. Under The Dome fired off plot threads relentlessly over the course of its first hour, and it’s already pretty promising as a limited series.
The good pretty heavily outweighed the bad, although if I’ve got a complaint, it’s that Junior Rennie goes from lovesick puppy to total lunatic practically within a few scenes. By the end of the episode, he’s constantly playing with a knife, having semi-threatening conversations with our nominal hero Dale Barbara, and locking his girlfriend in a fallout shelter. Really all he needs is some lotion and a basket and he’s Buffalo Bill. Similarly, the multiracial lesbian couple with the drug addict daughter could be an interesting plotline, or it could be pretty cringe-inducing: So far, the jury’s out.
Beyond that, though, Vaughan and director Niels Arden Oplev introduce a lot of characters, and complications, brisky and effectively. Dale opens the episode burying a corpse in the woods, and ends it by finding out who, exactly, that corpse is. Big Jim Rennie is no longer a fundamentalist cartoon, but he’s still all too eager to start grabbing power, which the show cleverly demonstrates about halfway through. Then there’s the matter of just what the heck all that propane is for…
Also of note is just how funny this episode actually is; the dome slicing a cow in half is just the most obvious example. Probably the best joke in the entire episode is Junior’s veiled threats to Barbie: Since Barbie literally has no idea who Junior is or just what the hell he’s even talking about, he just gets more and more confused as the conversation goes on.
Whether the show will be able to keep this up for all thirteen episodes is an open question; there’s a lot of meat here to chew over, but also some gristle to cut away. But either way, it’s a great start, and we’ll be curious to see where it goes next.