Under the Dome Season 1 Review “Outbreak”

This week’s edition of Under the Dome finally saw the denizens of Chester’s Mill confront some harsh realities. Well, some of them. When the show began with a legitimate crisis (too much meningitis, not enough medication), I had hopes the show could start to capitalize on some of the promise it showed in the pilot. Unfortunately, the show took a good premise for an episode set in this world and drug it down by doubling (tripling?) down on problematic characters and problematic storylines. An episode that started with some of the mass hysteria I thought would fit the situation ended with a pretty boring thud.

The meningitis outbreak sounded promising because it dealt with the very real issue of dwindling supplies. However, it became just another distraction from the real issue: There’s a (expletive) dome covering the entire town! With the major issue of the meningitis outbreak being how to find the creepy reverend, it turned the entire issue into one of the lower stakes games they could play. This week’s issue probably ranks above the house fire, but it’s a lot closer than you may think.

The masses in Chester’s Mill continue to disappoint. They start to get riled up in certain situations only to turn their behavior on a dime. At the beginning of the episode, Big Jim talks down an entire mob of people who were set to tear apart an armed police officer. Later, Junior is given a shotgun and control of a hospital quarantine. Never mind the idiocy behind him brandishing a shotgun without telling anyone what’s going on. My biggest problem was him talking down a trapped angry mob by telling them a story about some cornbread he ate. That sentence is not an exaggeration or simplification. That is something that happened. It seems as though every time the crowd starts to get riled, they can be easily pacified by anyone named Rennie. Maybe it’s a little early to go whole hog into a full-fledged angry mob, but the overall lack of urgency from the people in the town doesn’t pass the eye test.

While we’re left to enjoy the acting stylings of Junior Rennie and the Reverend, the show continues to have trouble writing for its most promising characters. Barbie finally had to confront a small piece of his reason for being in Chester’s Mill, but he still feels like the guy who’s always around. His mystery should help drive story. Instead, it’s an afterthought to his latest bout of heroism. Mike Vogel is doing all he can with what he’s given, but he isn’t being given much. Barbie is in the same boat as Big Jim. Big Jim has been given a lot more to do than Barbie, but Dean Norris just isn’t getting put in chances for himself to really succeed like he is on Breaking Bad. The show will probably continue to get better as the stories tighten down and start to intersect more, but the show will have spent most, if not all, of it’s creative forgiveness.

Once again, an episode of Under the Dome clunks. At least this episode had a few things to tantalize you before ultimately coming crashing back down to earth.