‘Under The Dome’ Gets Cheesy With ‘The Fourth Hand’

Under The Dome continues to be one of the most frustrating shows on TV. And this episode really epitomizes that, mixing some of its best tendencies and worst habits.

First off, it turns out that Barbie and Big Jim, always an uneasy team, are about to get much more uneasy now that they have a mutual enemy, Max, the implausibly attractive crime boss who apparently has spent the last week hiding in somebody’s house, watching the show, and getting everything lined up to start running this town. Oh, and she and Barbie used to knock boots. Natalie Zea, from Justified, is an amusing ball-buster but so far that’s the limit of her character.

It’s a nice touch in the sense that Barbie and Big Jim are forced into an uneasy alliance, and the show’s always at its best when Dean Norris and Mike Vogel get to play off each other. On the other hand, yet again a plot twist shows up before the opening credits out of nowhere, and this is the most implausible yet, implausible enough that I’m left wondering if it’s not the dome jerking Barbie and Big Jim around.

Equally abrupt, Deputy Linda stumbles across Big Jim’s drug operation, courtesy of a conveniently wasted junkie babbling about “Rapture” and an equally convenient security camera. Meanwhile, the show decides to simultaneously keep the Dome plotline going and try to rehabilitate Junior in the eyes of the audience.

Which is kind of infuriating because you do not come back from locking a woman in a bomb shelter to keep her from leaving you, first of all. And secondly, while the show drops a hint that this dome was a long time in coming, Junior’s insistence that he was right to act like a complete nutjob really grates. No, Junior, you were not right, you psycho.

All of this leads up to a reveal, namely that they need to find the fourth hand to unlock the mini-dome and unleash whatever’s in the egg, that’s a bit obvious. Apparently the show’s going to milk that for all its worth, too, before we find out that it’s Junior who’s the fourth key.

At this point, I’m torn about the show. Whenever Barbie and/or Big Jim is on screen, it’s a compelling small-town crime drama. Whenever they’re not, it’s yet another argument against adapting Stephen King. On the other hand, next week sees Barbie in a fight club and Dodee getting Dome-punched, so it might not be all bad.

A few thoughts:

  • The dialogue gets really specific about the time frame, at the cost of sounding like something real people say. Norrie and Joe in particular have a pretty serious Exposition Disease problem.
  • As I said, I’m not entirely sure the Dome isn’t screwing with Big Jim and Barbie. It would be nice if the show tied together all its plotlines, especially after picking up some hanging threads in this episode.
  • Big Jim once again does the right thing for the wrong reasons; he may have been collecting guns on orders, but considering this town’s propensity for shooting at each other, it was probably a good idea.
  • Poor Truman, sniffing around and being a dog, and then getting yelled at for it.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.