‘Under the Dome’ producer and cast talk about the possibility of escape

(CBR) CBS”s summer hit “Under the Dome” returned to San Diego”s Comic-Con International for a second time, upgrading to the bigger Ballroom 20 with a near-capacity crowd of 4,000.

Stars Mike Vogel (Barbie), Dean Norris (Big Jim), Rachelle Lefevre (Julia), Alexander Koch (Junior), Colin Ford (Joe) and Eddie Cahill (Sam) joined executive producer Neal Baer on stage for a discussion moderated by “The Insider” host Kevin Frazier.

The panel began with a five-minute clip from the seventh episode of Season 2, showing Vogel”s character Barbie as he explores a deep cavern beneath Chester”s Mill, only to fall into it.

“Is there anything you want to tell us, Neal?” Frazier asked.

“It”s been nice knowing you,” Baer joked, looking at Vogel.

Noting that “Under the Dome” seems to have no problem killing off characters, Frazier asked whether viewers will see the departures of more characters this season. “No one is safe under the dome,” Baer replied. “Last year I think we had 16 [characters killed off]. On the ceiling in our office, we have what we call “heaven,” and we have everybody up there. We have Dodee and we have Angie and we have Linda and we have Reverend Coggins, and we have a few more that are coming up this season. We have kind of kept the body count down this season at the beginning so we can rev it up for the end.”

Koch said it”s difficult for the actors to read a script and see that someone is getting killed off. “It”s tough. You grow so close to that person. You love them. Especially with Britt [Robertson]. I was the only one she was working with for five or six episodes, and we developed a close bond. When reading the script for the first episode this season, I was like, ‘This is really happening. She”s going to be gone.” So you never know when someone”s going to go and you never know when they”re going to … come around again,” he said, using Jolene Purdy as an example of someone who came back for an episode, despite being killed last season.

Baer hinted that some of the actors may be back. “Jolene came back as Dodee to haunt Big Jim, so when you”re dead – you”re dead,” he said. “But it doesn”t mean that you can”t be an avatar and come back. There are no set rules. We said goodbye to Angie and Linda, but there are certainly possibilities that one of them may be back.”

He also hinted that one of the characters may be getting out of the dome this year. Vogel liked that idea, saying, “People often ask how do you maintain a show under a dome year after year after year. They”ve come up with a very exciting and interesting way of broadening the scope of our world and everyone is in for a treat once that happens.”

Lefevre said she doesn”t think it will hurt the show once someone leaves, either. “The writers have done a good job conveying that for a lot of these characters, the dome is not their biggest problem,” she said. “It becomes a case of wherever you go, there you are. Whether you are under the dome or you find a way out, the problems and difficulties of the relationships you have will follow you wherever you go. Wherever the show may go, you”ll want to watch those characters wrestle with the demons and wrestle with those relationships.”

Baer said a lot of the questions posed in the season premiere, such as what Angie saw in the locker, and who killed her, will be answered this season. “Just like last year when we answered why Big Jim had the propane and why Barbie killed Julia”s husband, we gave all the answers and we set up new mysteries,” he said. “We will definitely find out what”s in the locker this year.”

Norris laughed when he was asked whether Big Jim and Junior will ever see eye to eye. “I”ll keep trying, but he”s a tough kid to raise,” he said. ” That”s part of our story – the difficulties of trying to raise a psychopath. He loves him but knows he”s got some problems. Big Jim has some issues too, though.”

He said he”s glad to have the involvement of author Stephen King, who wrote the novel on which the series is based. “He”s an icon and a legend. It”s great to have him on the set. It”s great to know that he has a voice in what happens and that he helps to guide the show,” he said.

Baer said King will continue to have an imprint on “Under the Dome”, even though the show has moved past the book in many ways. “He wrote the first episode of this season,” Baer noted. “The book is only the first week under the dome. We are about a month under the dome on the show. We wanted Stephen to write the first episode so that he could lay the groundwork for this season. He reads every script. He loves it when we kill a character. He wants us to kill more. He was very happy by the end of the season.”

Baer says that he has at least three to five seasons” worth of story material for Under the Dome. “We have great adventures ahead. We”ve set it up so we can keep going and we have a lot of stories left to tell,” he said, noting that the caverns the audience was shown in the clip lead to many story possibilities.

“Under the Dome” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.