As the end of
Under the Dome's puzzlingly successful first season approaches, there's simply no time for complete nonsense. Fight clubs, stoned reverends, M.O.A.B.s, meningitis madness (Under the Dome episode topics, or 2014 Lollapalooza second-stage lineup?) are all a thing of the past, and the show is starting to get serious by working through actual story. Some people would call this a huge improvement for the series, while others would think back to that classic bit of Renaissance thinking, "same shit, different day." I'm in the latter camp, and while I recognize that "Exigent Circumstances" displayed a more competent approach to the whole "making a TV show" thing that Under the Dome is trying to accomplish, it was mostly the same shit on different day.
The gist of "Exigent Circumstances" was that Big Jim Rennie loves to kill people who get in his way of keeping control of Chester's Mill, as the dome has been trying to tell us all along. Big Jim had a big plan: Murder everyone who gets in his way, and blame it all on the handsome stranger who blew into town, Johnny Barbarino—or as he's affectionately known around town and among horny housewives, Barbie. And for the most part, it worked. Not in a television sense, goodness no, but with the mindless sheep of Chester's Mill.
Most of the episode involved Big Jim keeping his web of lies all sticky and tangled by blaming Barbie for everything he did. The deaths of Maxine's mom, Maxine, and Maxine's thug were all Barbie's mess now because Big Jim said so, and if anyone doubted Big Jim, he just told them again. Barbie did it! Barbie did it! Barbie did it! He's kind of like Fox News, and Barbie is his Obama. He just repeated himself until he broke people's wills and they believed him because thinking for themselves was wayyyyy too much work. Even Junior, who not too long ago wanted to kill his dad, and who should have serious questions about his father's earnestness, bought the "It was Barbie!" line. Twice! And you know what? Big Jim's big blame-a-thon was not very thrilling to watch. Especially after witnessing Dean Norris's excellent police work on Breaking Bad the night before. Big Jim is like the anti-Hank; Walter White would flay Big Jim in a battle of wits. (Though I'd totally watch that episode of Breaking the Dome.)
Just so we didn't forget that Big Jim was on a pretty substantial murder streak, he headed over to the radio station to get some information from Dodee about all the military chatter with regard to Barbie. See, the military was rappin' about hunting Barbie down. But the military was also chattin' about the egg! Whaaaaaaa!?!? How does the military know about the egg? And Barbie!?
But wait, there's more: The military also just so happened to be talking about Big Jim killing Reverend Druggiepants, and Dodee was there to hear that nugget of info. So KABLAMMO Big Jim shot Dodee deadee after Dodee accidentally told Big Jim everything she knew about the egg and called him on his prime load of horseshit.
(Warning: These next photos require a bad, fourth-grade sense of humor, feel free to skip.)
What's up with this military? Are they spying on the dome? Is this dome a real-life Truman Show experiment? Was Dodee actually eavesdropping on an Under the Dome fan podcast? Would anyone actually take the time to make an Under the Dome fan podcast? Anyway, Dodee is dead and that sucks. I loved her and her mistrust of teenagers who apply sentient properties to inanimate domes. To cover his tracks, Big Jim torched the joint. And then you'll never guess what happened next: He blamed it on Barbie!! Big Jim is officially out of control.
As for Barbie's role in all of this, he wasn't too dumb! He did a lot of hiding and denying Big Jim's accusations, and he realized that unconscious Julia—who got shot by Maxine last week but Big Jim blamed it on Barbie—was his ticket to prove that Big Jim was lying. If she could just stay alive and wake up to clear the air, then people would stop badgering Barbie and understand that Big Jim was a big fat liar. Is this show one tiny step above a bad soap opera, or what? Next up, Big Jim will blame his bad behavior on his evil twin, the one with the eye patch.
Big Jim knew that Julia needed to keep her pretty mouth shut for once, so he ordered Junior to stand guard and watch her. Luckily, Barbie had the assistance of Junior's catnip, Angie, and Angie whored herself out via a little makeout session with Junior to distract him while Barbie wheeled Julia out of the building and into an ambulance. Angie! Stop playing games with Junior, the boy is confused! After 683 more instances like this, he may stop being completely and madly in love with you!
Speaking of love, how romantical was Barbie's breathy "I love you" to his sleeping beauty? Another question you could ask after watching that scene is, why are those two in love? They haven't even known each other for two weeks, he killed her husband, he's a liar, she's got the personality of a doorjam, and they've probably only had time for one meaningful conversation amidst all this chaos. But there was that one time they kissed in the rain, so fine, they're in love. So in love that Barbie would get himself arrested so that Angie could speed off with Julia in the back of the ambulance.
With Barbie in the custody of Chester's Mill police force (i.e. Linda), Big Jim finally got his way and made a deal with Barbie: If Barbie publicly confessed to all the murders he didn't commit, then Big Jim would let Joe and Norrie out of jail (oh btw Big Jim threw Joe and Norrie in jail for illegal dome-hiding). Big Jim also wouldn't pin Julia's husband's murder on Julia, and he wouldn't make Angie an accessory to Barbie's non-crimes. Basically, Big Jim had such a strong approval rating that he could tell Chester's Mill that Barbie caused his baldness and they'd believe him. Barbie agreed to Big Jim's demands because he couldn't bear to see his honey-dip accused of murder, but when the angry mob was assembled and Big Jim said, "How do you plead to murdering all these people that I actually murdered?," Barbie stunned
everyone no one and said, "Unguilty!" And that was the big cliffhanger to end the hour and get us all excited for next week's season finale. Wait, THAT was the big cliffhanger to get us all excited for the season finale?
But the big get out of Big Jim's mission to keep his position as king in this game of domes was that the crazy guy actually doesn't want the dome to leave! He wants Chester's Mill to remain imprisoned, presumably so he can keep a better hold on the town. But you have to be one power-hungry moron to want to rule over an isolated town full of idiots. Is power really all that Big Jim is after? Is there something more to this that I'm missing? If Big Jim helped Chester's Mill get out from under the dome, wouldn't he be a lock for mayor or lord or whatever regal title they use? Wouldn't anyone rather be mayor of a town that has things like running water than the head honcho of the resource-free disaster that Chester's Mill is now? What's the prize here? Big Jim is a real dick with terrible political aspirations.
Elsewhere under the half-sphere, the children had to move the mini-half-sphere and the egg because Big Jim was snooping around (Big Jim was literally everywhere in this episode), so they put it in a Radio Flyer or something and took it over to Ben's house. And thank the Dome God they did, because finally it landed in the hands of someone who could actually appreciate it. BEN THE SKATEBOARDING IDIOT! Ben even called it a lava lamp like I did! I really want to go over to Ben's house with a fat sack and get stoned and domed with him while talking about our unmade Star Trek scripts or whatever while noshing on Doritos Locos Tacos and generally being a complete waste to society.
That sounds like a better way to spend time under the dome than going to Blame Barbie meetings like the rest of the townsfolk. Apparently the dome thought otherwise, because it started screaming and glowing red and the chrysalis was squirming because something big was about to happen! The mini-dome was finally about to do something!!! But not until next episode, at least.
So here we are with one episode left and where do we stand? Well, the mini-dome is about to explode, Barbie pleaded innocent, and Dodee is dead. "Exigent Circumstances" wasn't much more than the blame Barbie game, and without a ridiculous standalone story built around a silly plot it was more boring than usual. But it's trying harder to be watchable television and it at least showed us the light at the end of the tunnel, signaling that this disappointment is about to end. Until next summer.
– Good god did I hate the name of this episode!
– Wow that nurse at the hospital is the biggest bitch in the world. Relax, lady!
– Ben had a "Skate or Death" poster in his room. Sigh.
– If you're looking for answers on how the dome arrived in Chester's Mill or what it actually is, you'll probably have to wait until next summer.
– I hope Big Jim dies in the finale, more for Dean Norris's career than for the safety of the kids.
– Linda put out on APB on Julia. An APB in Chester's Mill amounts to sending Junior a text message? Are there any other cops left on this show?
AIRED ON 9/16/2013
Season 1 : Episode 13