This episode of Under the Dome was busier than a bee on Tax Day! It was like five episodes of Mini Under the Dome all up in each other like a mini-dome under a regular-sized dome. It was like a set-up episode for a set-up episode. When we look back on "The Fourth Hand," we'll remember it as the episode about a new designer drug, and the episode about gun control, and the episode about the mini-dome needing a fourth hand to unlock it, and the episode about Mama Rennie's amazing art, and the episode about Joe chasing chickens, and the episode that made us wish Natalie Zea had stayed put on Justified.
But since "The Fourth Hand" had such a huge to-do list, it sped along at lightning speed, hitting so many different micro-plots that it never spent enough time with any of them. A month ago Under the Dome would have devoted an entire episode to the arrival of a new drug in town, or tearing up the Second Amendment, or the search for the mini-dome, but in "The Fourth Hand" these stories were all crushed together into visual bullet points and we were the bloody mess left behind. If you're like me and you want to see this show go completely bonkers, this episode was exactly what we need more of. Go nuts, you weird show!
Let's start with our new gorgeous criminal overlord Maxine, played by the awesome Natalie Zea, who I love very much. Maxine's been chillin' in Chester's Mill ever since she got stuck there on her way to visit Big Jim, as she told us in some of the most exposition-y exposition that was ever expositioned. You gotta have guest-stars come appear on this show as people from existing characters' pasts, and if that means they show up after weeks of hiding out and watching Monk reruns in an abandoned home they stumbled upon once the dome came down, then so be it. Smooth entry, Maxine. "I'll just sit here until the dome disappears or until it's my turn to come out," said every future guest star, somewhere in an empty home in Chester's Mill.
Maxine is more then eye candy, though, she's into nose candy! Or however one self-administers a new drug called Rapture that was sweeping across Chester's Mill this week thanks to Maxine. (I love it when shows make up new drugs, as if that's all of a sudden going to change people's minds about trying alternative substances. "Heroin? That's dangerous! But I'll definitely give this new superdrug a shot since it has a really cool name.") Rapture is the drug the crazy reverend was not only always geeked-out on, but the drug he was cooking up between embalming appointments. And it makes you happy like Druggy Larry!
Plus, like with all good drugs, Rapture's secret ingredient is something highly combustible, toxic, and used for BBQs. Pro-motherf'ing-pane! Thus all the pieces began to fit together, and the realization of the great conspiracy of Chester's Mill suddenly washed over us like a shower with no water pressure. Big Jim was hoarding propane to give to Maxine so she could make her superdrug Rapture, I guess. To put the situation in Breaking Bad terms, Big Jim is Lydia in Season 5a, the propane is methylamine, Maxine is Heisenberg, and based on his lack of mental stability, Junior has to be Tuco.
But Maxine had bigger plans for Chester's Mill than just selling its citizens on huffing some Blue Rhino... she wanted to turn the place into her own Circus Circus with booze, gambling, and Rapture for all! And if the previews for next week's episode are any indication, that includes underground fight clubs. Underground Fight Clubs!!! I repeat: Under the Dome is getting into underground fight clubs. I cannot wait for this! To put the situation in The Walking Dead terms, Maxine is the Governor, Chester's Mill is Woodbury, Big Jim is Shane, Barbie is Rick, and based on his inexplicable behavior, Junior has to be Andrea.
Anyway, with everyone already uppity over being trapped beneath a membrane, you can't have Raptured-out druggies running around town. Wait, that's not right, we want to have addicts going crazy all over the place. What we can't have are people with guns shooting at the druggies and defending their families, because it'd be bad for business. Yup, that was Maxine's logic, and because Maxine had her hand so far up Big Jim's butt because she had dirt on him (the secret of his propane stockpile and proof of his involvement in the drug trade), she had Big Jim call on the people to voluntarily hand over their firearms in exchange for other supplies, under the guise that Chester's Mill would be safer if regular folks didn't have guns. Remember, Big Jim is a used-car salesman. He can sell a block of ice to an Eskimo, so naturally everyone in town thought that handing over their weapons was a great idea, despite all the crazies and looting going on in this state of emergency.
And boy did Chester's Mill have some guns! Based on the yahoos we saw toting around the NRA's wet dream at Big Jim's Gun Rodeo, there are three guns for every citizen of Chester's Mill. This place could easily defend itself against a North Korean invasion. Do British people watching Under the Dome think that this is what America is like? Well, I can confirm that it is, and we will shoot all of you if you say "aluminium" one more damn time! I'm actually writing this review with a pistol in one hand and a bazooka in the other.
However, there was one guy who didn't turn in his 40 or so guns so Big Jim and Barbie went to unarm him by any means necessary ("any means" being a huge sniper rifle with laser scope) because he didn't cooperate with their VOLUNTARY program. Look, I'm just going to be straight with you. This sequence was dumb. But I'm going to talk about it anyway. Apparently this Ted guy lost his wife and kid when they drove their car straight into the dome. To put the situation in The Walking Dead terms, Ted was Morgan from the episode "Clear." Ted's loss was our entertainment though, because seeing those cars crash into the dome were super cool. Anyway, Ted said he had already lost enough, so he didn't want to give up his guns, but for some reason he was perfectly okay with trying to blow himself up with a grenade. Because when you want to commit suicide and you have plenty of guns around the house, it's best to choose the most imprecise option possible. Why definitely commit suicide with a shotgun blast to the back of the throat when you can maybe just blow up both your arms instead? Nice thinking, Ted. Ted pulled the pin, then Big Jim bellyflopped on him and put the pin back and this incredibly tense situation was diffused. Phew. No, you do not get those four minutes of your life back. They belong to Under the Dome now and forever.
While Big Jim was handling the guns, Officer Linda was snooping around the propane stockade and learning that Sheriff Duke wasn't the good guy he was made out to be. My favorite part was when she came upon a locked shed full of pressurized and very explodable propane tanks and did this:
Okay, so it didn't blow up, but it could have. Watch it, Linda. Your Darwin Award is just around the corner, and I can't wait. Linda is the worst character on this show (it's a tie with everyone else except for Junior) and there's really no reason to keep her around. Certainly not for her acting.
While the adults were out collecting guns and nearly getting themselves killed, the children, and those with the mental capacity of children (looking at you, Julia), went searching for answers to the dome. Junior reunited with Angie in the diner, and before Angie could say "Not again!" she said, "The pink stars are falling" while twerking on the ground in a seizure. Then Junior took her to his mom's art studio to show her how they were connected to everything, but before we get to that we have to take a look at Mama Rennie's art. This is a woman who has her own art studio, so she should be a pretty good artist, right? Let's take a look at some of her fine pieces:
Wow! Someone call 1-800-THE-LOUVRE because the world needs to see this stuff, said the sarcastic art dealer. A drunk baby could paint better than this.
That final piece of art had pink stars on it, so Junior figured that his mom was a psychic and that Angie must be a psychic and that he's part of "it" because he's in the picture and none of that really makes any sense. ANYWAY.
Joe chased some chickens with all the grace of a club-footed walrus:
Come on, Joe, you just fell over in that last one. And this was Norrie's reaction:
But soon they were hunting for the mini-dome. After some pointless and time-filling tail-chasing—Julia asked Dodee to borrow the yagi but it was broken, and the mini-dome moved because Joe carried it while sleepwalking—something cool actually happened, and it only took 58 minutes to get there. Angie, Norrie, and Joe found the mini-dome and the Purple Egg in a barn and put their hands on it because these people can't keep their hands off domes. And hey! Look at what happened!
An handprint appeared on the mini-dome, the obvious answer being they need a fourth epileptic to put their hand on it! But who can the fourth hand (oh now I get the episode title) belong to? Better host a Japanese anime party and find out, Joe. I didn't much care about Maxine, the guns, or the drugs, but this mini-dome business? Count me in!
And that wrapped up a super hectic episode of Under the Dome, which is still doing silly things. But it's also finally kinda getting interesting? Too bad that overall, the show is moving at the pace of a geriatric snail.
– Formal apology to Dodee, who last week I said was probably playing Sarah MacLachlan in Phil's absence. She is still kicking out psych jamz for Chester's Mill to rip bong hits to.
– Jeez, the score was so inappropriately out of control this week. It didn't matter what was going on in the episode; as long as it was about to cut to a commercial, the violins went nuts. Right before break numero dos, Barbie said, "I'm gonna stay close to him and find out what he's up to." Then the music was all like, "WHEEEEEEEEEE BOOOOOM!" as if that was some HUGE revelation.
– I'm a little worried about Zea's career trajectory. In recent years she's been on FX's amazing Justified, but left that for Fox's The Following and now she's on Under the Dome?
– How about that great explanation of Carolyn's absence so the show can save some money by leaving the actress off the call sheet? Norrie said she needs some time alone, still. This woman is a TERRIBLE mother.
– "Because Norrie and I have had that exact same seizure," Joe said.
– "This whole time I have been holding onto the belief that there's an explanation for why this is happening. After today, I don't know. Maybe we'll never understand. Maybe it's better to just say, 'Screw it.' To stop looking for answers we'll never get. Be grateful for things we do have." Julia, speaking for all of us.