In order to maintain the full head of steam that has made it an unstoppable summer sensation and the television show we'll be talking about for generations to come, CBS's Under the Dome needed to follow its spectacular Season 2 debut with something incredibly strong and compelling. So imagine my surprise when "Infestation" brought out the caterpillar "infestation" storyline, the same story that was used in Breaking Bad's third season, The Sopranos' fourth season, The Wire's fourth season—all the greats, basically. If Under the Dome is breaking this gem out in only Season 2, then we must already be in its golden age? Slow down, Under the Dome! Save some content for Season 46!
"Infestation" was a much more focused episode than "Heads Will Roll," at least by Dome standards. And by that I mean it wasn't just random words coming out of characters' mouths, ghost sightings, and facts about the effects of magnets on human brains. This was a bona fide crisis-of-the-week episode, with man's natural enemy, the caterpillar, looming. The hour had it all: caterpillars, pre-cocoon butterflies, post-cocoon butterflies, dead butterflies, more caterpillars, Danaus Plexippus, and winged monarch crowners. But there was also a major storytelling development to show us that Under the Dome is maturing beyond just a series about a dome. There's an axe murderer on the loose, guys. And everyone is a suspect. Even the caterpillars. Especially the caterpillars.
Things got off to a hot start as "Infestation" began with Under the Dome's specialty, the steamy energy of its two romantic leads. Nothing portrays the sexiness of wet sheets and thigh cramps like the emanation of post-coital bliss from Julia Shumway the journalist and Dale Barbara the drifter/husband killer/Lothario.
But they were not alone! Dozens of hundreds of perverted butterflies were getting a clinic in one-way romance.
Julia acted like this kind of animal attraction happened everyday, like she's Snow White or something, but I would've been scared like a little girl. The first thing I'd do in her situation? Tape up the windows for fear of being asphyxiated in a sleeping bag made out of magnetic butterflies (that's my worst nightmare). Where did these butterflies come from, anyway? In Season 1 they were outside the dome, but now they're inside the dome? Monarch butterflies are migratory, annually flying thousands of miles to Meh-Hee-Co to lay eggs and party. But now they're in Chester's Mill, which means either they were always here, which they weren't, or they found a way into the dome, which they haven't. Something to think about, writers. I'm over butterflies, honestly. This show has made me hate butterflies. And domes.
While Barbie and Julia spent the day rolling around in bed and unfairly getting Julia's hopes up that they'll get married one day and not doing anything about the many problems plaguing the town, Rebecca the Science Teacher noticed something was amiss with her garden.
In jail/Junior's apartment, Big Jim told Junior to open up the school because Rebecca the Science Teacher was going to start classes again, teaching "things that matter, things that will help the town get back on its feet." Like Domes 101, Dome Math, Caterpillar Genocide, How to Put Out a Fire with a Tractor, and Latin.
It meant that Junior would come across Angie's corpse, which made me giddy with anticipation because Junior is a love-obsessed psychopath with a gun and a badge. What could go wrong?
Angie's body was covered in butterflies for some reason. Was she the real monarch? Or are we overthinking this and butterflies just like snacking on hot chicks? Or did Under the Dome not want to pay Britt Robertson another episode appearance fee so it decided to cover her in butterflies? This show will surely take some of these mysteries to its grave.
Back at the diner, it was coffee time! One rogue Under the Dome writer is having a field day with this coffee business. I'm on to your personal inside joke, you prankster!
What the heck is going on at this diner? It's still operating like there isn't a dome overhead or that supplies are still coming in. The place had better be selling Denver omelets for a thousand bucks a pop. This place is ALWAYS full and only one person works there. And when Angie died, Big Jim dropped everything and filled in. Say what you will about his murderous tendencies, propane stealing, and drug manufacturing, but Big Jim gets shit done.
Rebecca the Science Teacher was busy spreading the word about the dangerous caterpillars and warned Big Jim that by her estimation, more than half the town's crops were already eaten by the striped worms. She got all sciencey. [ACTUAL DIALOGUE] "I don't know if it's because of our isolated ecosystem or the magnetic fluctuations, but something has caused our butterfly reproduction cycle to accelerate," she said. "Killer butterflies, huh?" Big Jim responded. *snip* *edit* *submit to Emmys*
But then Captain Buzzkill showed up with some bad news:
I almost forgot that Big Jim made DJ Phil (to be known as DJ Officer Phil from now on) a police officer after Officer Linda got squished by an SUV. Do you realize what this means? It means that all the cops in Chester's Mill now weren't cops when Under the Dome debuted. One was a mentally ill maniac and the other was playing psychedelic afro-jazz on the radio. Now they're cops. Let that sink in for a bit. And the two original cops who weren't Linda were shot by other cops. I don't mean to criticize Chester's Mill's men in blue but there are probably better police forces out there.
Using his incredible police skills, a flashlight, and standard human eyesight, DJ Officer Phil noticed a bloody footprint on the ground and the race to find the murderer was on. Between the bloody footprint and a bloody handprint on a locker, it was like some bad '90s performance art in the school hallway.
Out in the woods, Norrie and Joe were just trying to get away from all the madness and bud some teen romance, and Joe totally bunted his way on to first base by saving Norrie from a patch of poison ivy.
The power of their liplock killed a bunch of butterflies, which fell to the ground at their feet. It was apparent to me that the only way this infestation would end would be if Joe and Norrie weaponized their anti-butterfly sexual energy and had sex against the dome.
Dang! I guess not. (Classic Norrie, that tease.)
Just a few steps away, Joe and Norrie found Dome Girl (the girl who hatched from the mini-egg that Julia threw into the lake) taking a nap in a pile of leaves. A lot happened in just that small 10-square-foot area!
Things got really sad when Joe found out that his sister was split open by a raging axe murderer. Naturally the bad-news-breaking fell to Barbie, because this guy with the clutch "look away so I don't have to take responsibility" move definitely didn't want to do it:
Meanwhile, the accusations of who killed Angie were flying everywhere!
We had a real whodidit on our hands! The bloody footprint matched Dome Girl's shoe, so she could have done it. Angie told Big Jim that she would have killed him, so he had motive to do it. Junior was drunk and blacked out, and he woke up with Angie's bracelet, so he could have done it. And Sam is some strange guy who lives in a cabin, so he could have done it. Who do you think did it?
And let's not forget that caterpillars were terrorizing the countryside and eating all the crops that so far no one has done anything with at all on this show since the diner feeds everyone. Rebecca the Science Teacher had a plan.
After having his life saved by the dome and Julia Shumway after he tried to kill himself because the dome told him to via Ghost Officer Linda (?), Big Jim leapt to the conclusion that the dome was testing him. Maybe you've had too much coffee, Big Jim. But despite the obvious deterioration in his mental functioning, Big Jim still showed that he's cool under pressure, unlike Rebecca the Science Teacher whose first instinct was to burn everything to the ground. (However, I would love to say I'm really enjoying Rebecca as a character. She's got a lot of sass from whatever pole is lodged up her butt!)
Big Jim's plan was to rain pesticides down on those tubular menaces from a plane, but time was of the essence because these caterpillars were extra hungry. After a dick-wagging contest about who should fly the plane, Barbie got air and peed DDT all over the infested fields.
However! All was not easy flying a plane in an enclosed airspace and soon many problems arose! The last field that needed to be sprayed was too close to the dome's perimeter! Getting close to the dome could fry the plane's navigation system! The plane was running out of fuel! It was all too much! Barbie dropped the last batch of caterpillarcide but he was too close to the dome, like Icarus flying too close to the dome in the famous myth "Icarus and the Dome."
What happened next made no sense. Big Jim pondered for a while and then told Barbie to flip a switch but would not tell him what it would do. I had high hopes that it was an ejector seat switch and Barbie would be launched to freedom (before falling parachute-less to the ground), but Big Jim kept the meaning of the switch a secret. "Trust me," he said. Barbie flipped the switch and then the plane was fine. Because the switch opened up a reserve fuel tank.
Will we ever learn why Big Jim didn't say, "Flip the switch, it opens up a reserve tank of fuel" or understand why he didn't address the issue when the plane was running out of fuel earlier? No we will not.
With the crop-destroying larvae annihilated, we returned to the mystery of who killed Angie. Which meant lots of people hanging out around Angie's corpse because apparently the morgue was having an open house. Junior was there holding Angie's hand and possibly thinking about necrophilia.
Sam and Julia did some forensics and determined that the killer was a man! But no one told Joe and Junior, who were convinced that Dome Girl killed Angie so they went to shoot her in the face.
But Julia arrived just in the nick o' time to give the bloodthirsty boys a critical bit of information.
But this episode wasn't just about insect eggs eating away at the town's crops, it was about the eggs of doubt eating away at the strongest of two-week relationships. Barbie and Julia argued about whether it was better to believe in time-tested science (Barbie's argument) or that a magical dome could talk to people and pre-ordain people's destinies (Julia's argument). Julia didn't help her cause when she said this:
But life and the celebration of death must go on, so Angie's funeral was starting. Why is Angie is the only one who gets a funeral? What about Linda? She just died, too. But they just left her crushed corpse under an SUV by the dome. I'm calling racism.
Just outside the memorial service, this exchange happened and I'm not going to change the dialogue at all, so enjoy. Remember, this was at the scene of Angie's funeral.
WHOA INSENSITIVE! Way to hold a grudge, Rebecca the Science Teacher! Angie was chopped up by an axe yesterday, you're at her funeral, and the first thing you do is chastise her for playing hooky. Wow, I LOVE this woman. Will you marry me pleeeease Rebecca the Science Teacher?
So that's what happened in "Infestation," guys. It was a real thrill if you ask me.
Also, I'd like to thank Gislef for being of the same mind as me with some Dome-roasting in the comments section below. Get out of my head, dude!
What did you think of the episode?
AIRED ON 9/22/2014
Season 2 : Episode 13