“Under the Dome” (Season 3): We’re Domed! We’re All Domed!

Under the Dome Move On  But I'm Not 13

So, when we last left the residents of Chester’s Mill, they were (mostly) all headed on a path seemingly out from “Under the Dome” and at long last, into the real world once and for all. Now, as we head into the third (!) season of the show…yeah, they’re still trapped under the dome. To quote Homer Simpson: “D’ome!”

I enjoyed the first season of the show, no doubt about it. I’m a longtime Stephen King fan, and as hardcore fans of his know, sometimes he can fail to stick the landing, as it were. Don’t get me wrong- his premises are often great, he creates characters you feel like you know within a page or two, and no one does horror in particular like him. But those endings, though…often leave something to be desired.

So, when the show-runners announced that they would be changing the ending, and with King’s blessing, I was completely onboard. After all, why not? Especially since King himself often fumbles such things. Why not let someone else take a crack at it, least of all with such a ripe premise at hand? Besides, could it be any worse than the one already in the book? Hell, there was a distinct possibility that it might even be better, if we’re being honest. Just look at the devastating ending filmmaker Frank Darabont came up with for “The Mist,” which was not only better than the one in the source material, but alarmingly even darker than the one put forth by the master himself.

Unfortunately, at this point, I’m beginning to wonder if they even have an ending in mind for the show version. As it flounders on, I can’t help but wonder if we’re in for something like the whole “Lost” letdown, only admittedly on a much smaller scale. To be fair, with all the balls in the air that “Lost” had going at the time of its ending, it would have been nearly impossible to resolve everything, short of an “Architect”-style scene, a la “The Matrix Revolutions,” in which someone, perhaps Ben, laid out the answers to everything we wanted to know, one by one. And did anyone really want that?

So, “Lost” went for the emotionally resonant ending, and I remember thinking in the moment, “Yeah, that seems about right.” It wasn’t until I had time to think about it that the whole “morning after” regret thing set in, and all it took was a quick trip to the internet to find a whole lot of people that were right there with me. Is it even possible that they could have possibly resolved everything that needed- or that we at least wanted- to be resolved? Probably not, so they did what they could, especially as I think we all know by now that they were clearly making all of it up as they went along, as is the case with most shows.

The truth is, until one knows that they need an end game, they don’t tend to think about one, especially in TV Land. There, it’s all about those ratings, and as long as people are tuning in, those in charge are going to keep prolonging the inevitable as long as they can, until enough people call “foul!”- or stop tuning in. Then, and only then, do they tend to start to thinking about where everything is headed in earnest. With “Lost” they opted to ignore all the mysteries, and go for the emotional ending, which is one way to go with it.

That said, that’s not the way I think “Under the Dome” should go with it. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely want there to be a scene near the end where our most beloved characters get out from under the dome, and hug one another and cry and thank their respective Gods (or whatever) and so on. This is, of course, what we sort of got on the premiere of the show this season- only for it to be proven to be that old chestnut of it being “all a dream,” more or less, and have the proverbial rug pulled out from under us.

Oh, I know it was a little more involved than that- there were cocoons and alternate realities and so forth, which even the show itself acknowledged within the dialogue was a thinly-veiled rip-off of the aforementioned “Matrix” films. (Note to writers: just because you bring up the source you ripped something off from doesn’t mean it renders it null and void- it merely calls that much more attention to it.) Though the show managed to avoid mentioning the “L” word, as in “Lost,” which it may as well have, under the circumstances, having already let the cat out of the bag with “The Matrix” thing, as if most everyone weren’t aware of it in the first place.

But I suppose if they had gone there, they might as well start calling themselves “Under the Dome: We Can Do Meta if ‘Scream: The TV Series’ Can!” Using pop culture references as short-hand does not a clever show make, if you know what I mean, and I think that you do. So, what can be done about this? Can anything be done about it?

Well, first and foremost, I think they simply need to announce sooner than later that the show will be ending, and when. If they do the latter, surely those who bailed on the show will at least tune in for the ending, just as I know some people who didn’t even watch “Lost” at all- or gave up on it at some point- tuned in to the last one, if only to see what the hell all of that was about. I’m guessing most of them were thoroughly confused, or at the very least, came away with a highly simplified interpretation which, ironically enough, was exactly what the show-runners claimed wasn’t the actual explanation behind things. Spoiler alert for those who don’t know- “It wasn’t purgatory!” Sort of. Kind of. Oh, who the hell knows anymore? I miss “Lost.” 🙁

But still, they did tune in, knowing it was the last one, and that would be a smart move for “Under the Dome,” not in the least because they seem to be running out of original ideas. Barring that, I would at least recommend aiming for something completely left-of-center that no one would expect and differs both from the source material and what they’ve done so far. As to what that could be, I have no idea, but it definitely needs to go beyond ripping off “The Matrix” and “Lost,” that’s for sure.

So far, the show-runners, in absence of announcing this will be the final season, have at least acknowledged that they’ve heard the frustration a lot of viewers have and swear that “all will be revealed” this season, in which we’ll supposedly find out why the dome came down when it did, what those responsible are really up to, and so forth. We shall see, but the premiere wasn’t exactly reassuring, even while I acknowledge it may have been a necessary evil. I mean, if they’re no longer under the dome, it doesn’t seem right to keep calling the show “Under the Dome,” does it?

But that said, I certainly hope they have something better planned than what we’ve seen thus far, which is material brazenly ripped-off from the aforementioned sources, and little else. There are some glimmers of hope: I’ve always liked Marg Helgenberger, so she’s certainly a welcome presence (even if they’re pushing it a bit to be introducing yet more new characters this far into the proceedings); I like the prospect of the former enemies Julia and Big Jim pairing off together to combat said newbies, even if the turn-around was a bit abrupt; and ripped-off though the sources of inspiration might be, there are some indications that maybe, just maybe, they have some idea of how to go beyond it. One can only hope. If not, then one thing is certain: we’re all domed.