Under the Dome "Let the Games Begin" Review: Bloodsport for Toilet Paper

By Tim Surette

Aug 27, 2013

Under the Dome S01E10: "Let the Games Begin"

Under the Dome is just making stuff up now, and that's quite all right with me. Say what you want to about "Let the Games Begin," which could include "Boy, that was terrible!" or "Why do I keep doing this to myself?," but I was profoundly entertained by every single second of this mess. However, my favorite three things in the world are underground fighting rings, planetariums, and real-estate transactions, so this pretty much crushed the sweet spot of my Venn Diagram of things that are awesome. 

I've already wasted too much of your time with an introduction, so let's dive straight into things (with our hands tied while some bald dude drives away in a boat leaving us to drown). You're damn right I'm starting with Barbie and Big Jim's plans to get back at Maxine, the sexy puppeteer of Chester's Mill who is turning the town into the coolest place ever. These two dopes are buried underneath their secrets, which Maxine is threatening to expose—in case you missed that bit of info that she announced 739 times already—and their only way to dig their way out is to expose whatever secret-releasing program she has created in case of her untimely death. Her "insurance policy" against them murdering her, as they say.

Lucky for them, the writers just pulled the fact that Maxine owned a hugely successful real-estate business that operates in Chester's Mill out of their butts, giving BJ and Barbie somewhere to start their hooey investigation. They went to the town clerk's office and found out her biz bought dozens of houses around the C.M. and flipped 'em all except for one gigantic spread on Bird Island (ha ha Bird Island).

You may ask yourself, "Why would Maxine need to resort to a life of crime when she has a successful business with a cool name (the Osiris Corporation) that affords her random island mansions in towns across the Northeast United States?" Well those kinds of questions have no place around here, so just erase them from your mind! "But why would Maxine spend eight days in an abandoned house when she already owns a majestic estate in Chester's Mill?" I said stop it! "How did she quickly arrange a well-organized underground fight club in just over a week if she's been laying low?" Shush! I haven't even gotten to that part yet!

Big Jim's plan? To go to Maxine's house, which is HUGE, and look through desk drawers for this "insurance plan" because maybe she wrote their secrets in her diary. But when he got to the giant mansion, the only person there was Agatha, the friendly caretaker of the house. She said the owner of the house, some guy with the fakest name of all fake names named Oliver Luckland, wasn't around. But that all turned out to be the Under the Dome equivalent of some guy pretending to throw a tennis ball while playing with a dog, because it was all a pointless ruse. So-called sweet mansion florist "Agatha" was actually gun-toting Claire, a former classmate of Big Jim's from high school... and Maxine's mom!

Then she went on some tirade about how she got pregnant with Maxine in high school through some huge "scandal" (which was never explained, but was obviously just her whorish ways) and everyone made fun of her for being a slut so then she turned to a life of prostitution and I was like why is this woman telling us all this stuff? What in the world is going on here? What is the point of all this? It really sounded like a very bad case of sour grapes for some terrible decisions she made as a teenager. Listen lady, if you didn't want to become a pariah then maybe you shouldn't have f*cked half the guys in Chester's Mill. You dug your own hole, moron. This plot was infectiously stupid. Everyone who watched it can no longer tie their own shoes.

But Big Jim, after cleverly getting Claire to tell him Barbie's secrets ("So uhhh... I guess Maxine told you about Barbie's secrets too?" *wrings hands, waits for her to spill the beans*), did that thing in movies where the person without the gun says the person with the gun doesn't have the guts to actually pull the trigger, and then he slapped the gun out of her hand and took control of the situation Rennie-style. Fact: this works 100 percent of the time. Try it next time you are being mugged. And just when you thought this whole Claire story was going nowhere, the greatest thing all summer happened as they were boating back from Bird Island (ha ha, Bird Island):

Yup! She fell off the boat! She stood up and maybe there was a strong gust of wind or a seaquake or something, because she just went woman overboard. And since her hands were tied she was like "Help!" but Big Jim had his (Breaking Bad spoiler!) Walter White moment and Claire had her Jane-choking-on-heroin-vomit moment. Or Big Jim had his (Orphan Black spoiler!) Allison Hendrix moment and Claire had her Aynsley getting-choked-by-a-garbage-disposal moment. Whichever one of those far superior shows you choose, just know that Big Jim left Claire to die and boated away whistling nonchalantly. 

While Big Jim was passively murdering liars with awful backstories, Barbie headed out with Maxine to the underground fight club she set up at the place where everything interesting takes place in Chester's Mill, the old abandoned cement factory. Excuse me, what? Yes, Maxine has already established bare-knuckle brawls as a form of entertainment less than two weeks after the dome came down. According to Under the Dome, when people don't have Internet or television they'll start punching each other in the face for fun. But that's not all, these people were gambling and fighting each other for toilet paper and two-liter bottles of soda while Maxine skimmed off the top (so what, she takes a few plies of TP and a sip of Pepsi?). What the fuck is wrong with the citizens of Chester's Mill? These people really need to brush up on their crisis-management skills! If they're beating each other up for sport less than a fortnight into a town emergency, they'll be eating each other by week three. And Maxine will be there to sell them steak sauce.

Maxine didn't bring Barbie there to play ring girl. Nope, he was the involuntary main event. Once again, she hung those secrets over him and pushed him into the middle of the ring. Barbie was one step ahead of her though, and after beating the crap out of his opponent, he took a dive and threw the fight just so Maxine wouldn't win. Silly Barbie! Maxine knew he would throw the fight so she bet against him!

Barbie was so upset with Maxine that he only let her straddle him a little bit, and then he ran off and told her he was done. Done with what? Losing fights on purpose?

No one cares about Officer Linda but I would be irresponsible if I didn't update you on her little adventures. Instead of keeping the peace, providing order, being of some use to the town, and, I dunno, breaking up illegal underground fight clubs?, Officer Linda was still busy chasing the mystery behind Duke and his shady transactions while Julia tagged along. There was a point where they hit a roadblock in searching for clues that Duke may have left behind, so Officer Linda searched Duke's hat–his hat–and found a secret compartment holding a safe-deposit-box key. Off to the Bank of Chester's Mill! 

What I'm about to tell you next may be the most unbelievable part of the entire series. Officer Linda and Julia arrived at the ransacked bank, and there were bundles of cash and open till drawers full of money everywhere. It's been less than a week and a half, and Chester's Mill has already lost interest in money? People are kicking each other's asses for paper towels and Squirt but no one wants to take thousands of dollars in cash just in case the dome lifts? Weren't people eating at the diner for several days after the dome dropped? I think I saw someone drinking coffee there last week. Are they paying for their meals in batteries? Why would the show go out of its way to show us that money was left behind instead of just avoiding it altogether? Why, dome, why? 

Anyway, they opened some boxes and found Duke's confession that he was selling large amounts of propane to Maxine so she could make her drugs in exchange for her not selling drugs in Chester's Mill because Duke's daughter died from drugs. Drugs outside of Chester's Mill and ruining the lives of others? That's fine with Duke. Just don't bring those drugs in here. Julia also happened to stumble upon her husband's life insurance policy, which would explain a lot.

Barbie and Julia met up at their love shack, Julia patiently waiting on the stairs for Barbie to come home like she was his puppy dog. He was about to come clean about killing her husband because Maxine will tell everyone anyway, but Julia cut him off and said it was okay because she already knew and everything was cool. Then she started plotting their future together as a couple? Ummm, lady, this guy killed your husband and all you could say was, "In the future there can be no more lies"? How about, "In the future, please try to not kill my loved ones" and then work your way up to lies? It's basic Coupling 101. Julia is so horny for Barbie that she's letting him off with murder. I guess when you marry a total dweebus like Peter Shumway and then a rugged handsome outsider like Barbie rolls into town, you get so horny for him that it rewrites your idea of basic human rights. He is handsome, though.

Though the rest of town doesn't care, let's not forget that this show is supposedly about a dome and there are four curious kids who want to get to the bottom of it. The big news revealed here was a caterpillar inside the mini-dome. It was very exciting. After some dome-touching, Joe, Norrie, and Angie went looking for Junior because they thought he was the fourth hand after a doctor told them about a seizure he had years ago. There was a slight detour to Mama Rennie's art studio to show us everything they showed us last week, but it was totally worth it because we got to see that sweet art Junior's mom made when she was four years old again. Junior magically showed up after the adults wouldn't let him join their underground fighting games, but he should be thanking his lucky pink stars because the kids' table is a sweet mini-dome that lights up when you touch it. If we're being honest here, I would eat a pound of Chester's Mill finest marijuana and just touch the mini-dome and stare at the glowing purple egg all day because that thing is awesome. It's basically the most amazing lava lamp ever. And when all four people touch it? It becomes a totally psychedelic mini-planetarium!

Everyone meet at the barn at 4:20, bro! You bring some Bob Marley cassettes and I'll bring the Pringles! Unfortunately, these kids were stone sober and couldn't appreciate the true value of this pothead treasure. Angie could only say, "It's beautiful!" and Junior the buzzkill said, "But... what does it mean?" Oh really? NOW you're asking what things mean? It doesn't mean anything, Junior. Nothing means anything in this show.

This was probably my favorite episode of Under the Dome ever.


– Dodee was not the Chosen One! She got zapped by the mini-dome and flew back and it was awesome. Later she forgot about what happened. OR DID SHE? What was the point of Dodee touching the dome and getting zapped? It is one of television's greatest mysteries.

– Future television writers repeat after me: "I will not use underground fighting in a television series again."

– Does anyone have a full map of Chester's Mill? Is this near the coast? Is Bird Island across a channel? Where was that lake that got ruined by methane and killed all those fish?

– Poor Natalie Zea. You could feel the energy drained from her when she had to announce the main event for her fight club. She so obviously knows how lame this is.

– Did you hear the way Julia read Duke's confession? Her voice was flatter than Kansas and even more monotonous. She should do a series of books on tape to solve the nation's problems with insomnia.

– Behold this actual sequence of dialogue from this episode. Junior: "Is that an egg?" Angie: "With a mini-dome around it." Norrie: "Hey look, the caterpillar is in a cocoon now!" Joe: "It's actually a chrysalis." Norrie: "He's a nerd."

– Do you realize that while you slave over your job just to make enough to pay the bills, someone got paid handsomely to come up with this story? 

  • Comments (354)
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  • Draper185 Sep 02, 2013

    I am shocked at how awful this show is. The stupid storylines, the lame acting - where does CBS find these people ?

    I keep thinking what a great concept this could been for a network like FX, HBO, etc. CBS is a joke network.

  • reklameguru Sep 01, 2013

    Thanks Tim! Reading your reviews is one of the highlights of the week. Could you start to link some music in the review? Some music that wil be appropriate to listen to, while reading.

    I only have one question for you. Why did you give up on Hell on Wheels? Amazing show, that is getting better and better.

  • lnaj87 Sep 01, 2013

    I watched the Mama Hobag falls into the water gif with Inner City's Big Fun playing in the background. It was perfect

  • terryknapp71 Aug 31, 2013

    This show is like a train wreck: you hate it but you can't look away. Who knew that the Dome would turn out to be Thunderdome?

  • alcyone7 Aug 31, 2013

    Tim - your review says "I see potential toilet paper" - didn't realise you were privy to the scripts as well.

  • Gislef Aug 30, 2013

    What strikes me as funny is that Dodee presumably set out from the radio station to check out the mini-Dome. However, she knew it was there.

    So now she doesn't remember doing that. So, with her memory gone from when she left the radio station, won't she do the same thing? Go to the mini-Dome, get zapped, forget, wake up at the clinic, get some treatment, then go back, get zapped, forget... over, and over and over?

  • Gislef Aug 30, 2013

    What I meant was, she had some suspicion that either the mini-Dome was in the barn, or that she followed Norrie and Joe there because she suspected them.

    Either way, she wouldn't forget that if she knew it before she got her memories wiped at the radio station. And she'd either go to the barn, or end up following Joe and Norrie to the barn.

  • alcyone7 Aug 31, 2013

    Seriously... you're focussing on this as the main plot hole? The plot and writing for this show is so far beyond irredeemable that you'd have more success getting a calculator to work out the square root of -4 than make ANY sense or find ANY solid plot development in this show.

    Hey, if you're insistent on an explanation - the egg causes a mini-fracture in space-time, transports her off-planet (just like the writers), selectively wipes her memory and then transports her back. She is now totally oblivious to the whole plot (just like the writers).

    Now go stand in a corner and recite 100 times - I will not analyse this drivel any more - trust me, you'll feel better afterward.

  • Gislef Sep 18, 2013

    I did think it was the funniest plot hole.

  • Gislef Aug 31, 2013

    I don't recall mentioning "main plot hole." I've noted several others throughout. I haven't bothered to rank them. :)

  • alcyone7 Sep 02, 2013

    Lol -- not sure how you'd even start to rank them from this episode, let alone the whole series to date.

  • dh4645 Aug 30, 2013

    this is the first of the UtD reviews to actually make me LOL. the others were funny, but this was great.

    i actually told my wife about these reviews the other day & i just shared the link with her so she can read it for herself.

  • aylaauel144 Aug 30, 2013

    Warning; do not read this review while drinking a beverage...
    After watching a show that's so bad it's almost good (does that make sense?), at least I always have these reviews to entertain me!

  • Placebo_obecalP Aug 30, 2013

    Try watching The Glades, the writing on that show makes The Dome look like Breaking Bad.

    Shame that Tim didn't even notice that whilst Agatha toted something akin to an M1 Garand she somehow did the whole pumping a shell into the chamber of a pump action shotgun sound, maybe she just did that with her mouth to try to persuade Fat (C'mon call him what he is) Jim that she was serious.

  • dh4645 Aug 30, 2013


  • Placebo_obecalP Aug 31, 2013

    Yeah read that, probably the first cancellation of a show I watch I was actually pleased about, relieved I don't have to watch that garbage anymore! Sure I could have stopped watching, but why should I quit just because the writing staff quit after the first season!

  • PelleLbergh Aug 30, 2013

    Tim Tourettes?

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