Under the Dome Season 1 Review “Imperfect Circles”

One week after the show put together some competent drama, Under the Dome was back to business as usual. While last week’s episode ended in one of the more mind-numbing contrivances in dome-based TV history, at least the episode told a worthwhile story with real stakes. Quickly realizing their mistake, the show decided to vault as far in the opposite direction as possible with tonight’s episode. What resulted was a mostly pointless hour of television that made me long for the good old days with Duke’s house fire.

The biggest loser of this aimless episode is Mike Vogel. At the beginning of the series, the role of Barbie looked like a tasty role filled with intrigue, action, and high-minded redheads. Instead, Barbie just gets embroiled in a series of mostly pointless tasks. Given what we were shown in the pilot, it’s shocking that Barbie isn’t a larger part of the action. It leads me to two doses of admittedly wild speculation. Either the people in the know watched the pilot and decided we needed less of Vogel and more of Dean Norris, or the show still wants Barbie to be the lead, but they can’t quite figure out how to do it yet. In any event, it’s pretty disappointing to watch a promising character (and actor) be reduced to a gun-toting midwife. While his midwifery certainly seems unparalleled in Chester’s Mill, it’s hard to understand the purpose for this entire story. The death of Alice could have happened in a quieter way that underscores the dire circumstances faced by a population lacking medication to treat serious illnesses. Instead, we get Julia’s neighbor, Harriet, who delightfully seems surprised to see Barbie at Julia’s house despite the fact he’s been staying there since the dome came down. There’s a decent chance we never see Harriet or Little Alice again. The new father in me appreciated the obligatory cute baby shots, but her character was a mere contrivance of plot. She didn’t need to exist for the end result to occur. That’s just a disappointment.

Barbie is merely one of the victims of the show’s small-time ADD. Everyone seems to be moving from one petty crisis to another while the larger crisis remains safe from being solved by anyone save for two teenagers who attempted to use making out as a tool for “shutting off” the dome. Not to beat a dead horse here, but the lack of attention paid to the dome seems particularly egregious given the events of last week. The people of Chester’s Mill saw their supplies threatened and anarchy broke out. That’s a real issue worth confronting. Barbie even makes a point of saying the riot was “not a fluke” at the beginning of the episode. That may be true, but the show’s handle on compelling drama certainly does seem to be a fluke. By constantly ignoring the central conceit of the entire series, the show makes its characters look foolish and short-sighted. The dome is still there, but it’s quickly becoming nothing more than decoration.