Under the Dome (Season 3): Are We Looking Into the Dome, or Is the Dome Looking Into Us?

Under the Dome Ejecta Season 3 Episode 7

Currently, the show “Pretty Little Liars” is declaring its present run of shows as the “Summer of Answers,” which remains to be seen, but over on “Under the Dome,” damned if they aren’t doing just that.

At their recent Comic-Con appearance, the show-runners insisted that answers were finally coming, once and for all, no more stalling. Insofar as I can tell, they were not joking despite the eyebrow-raising inclusion of several new characters, notably Christine, played by Marg Helgenberger, of “CSI” and more tellingly, the Stephen King TV miniseries adaptation of “The Tommyknockers,” which can’t be a coincidence.

As some will recall, that book/miniseries revolved around the excavating of an alien object from underground that at first seemed to be helping the residents of a small town, but was eventually exposed as doing more harm than good. Sound familiar?

Here, what was instead exposed was that an alien race that had faced a so-called catastrophic event called “The Great Destruction” on their home planet had come here to escape with what was left of their people. However, they somehow knew that a similar event was coming to Earth that would likewise cause great calamity, aka the “Sixth Extinction” of man that Lyle Chumley (Dwight Yoakam) predicted in the last season.

On last night’s episode, said event seemingly happened, as a series of “shooting stars” a la the fabled “pink stars falling in lines” quote from back in Season One, rained down from the sky, hitting the dome-but not penetrating it, of course. Then things got worse, as enormous meteors began to hit the dome as well, and walls of flame appeared in the distance as they crashed down elsewhere, at one point taking out a group of innocents trapped outside the dome clamoring to get in.

Meanwhile, we discovered within the dome over the last few weeks that the aliens’ plan was to take over the humans inside the dome with a sort of “hive mind” sort of thing- think “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”– with a few chosen leaders, led by Christine, who we also discovered was the first to be affected by the “egg” when she dug it up and was “possessed” by it, so to speak, setting everything else into motion, including bringing down the dome itself, as well as the “mini-dome” to protect the egg.

Also supposed to be onboard as co-leaders were Barbie, Sam, Joe and another newcomer, Eva (Kylie Bunbury, “Twisted”), Christine’s research assistant, who was with her when she discovered the egg. Christine was originally an operative working for the nefarious Aktaion, aka the same company Barbie’s father worked for that were looking for the egg and already had pieces of another found egg in their possession. When this egg was discovered in Alaska, the person who found it killed themselves, and then everyone else in the vicinity did the same, since, as it turns out, as goes the leader, so goes the followers.

In Chester’s Mill, Christine was overwhelmed by the egg’s power and the aliens encased her and Eva within a cocoon-like enclosure to “heal,” while meanwhile trying to “recruit” new leaders outside of the cave where it was holding court. As far as I can tell, the plan was to get everyone down to the caves, so as to encase them all in similar cocoons, while keeping them sated with a drug that caused fake memories, a la “The Matrix,” of events that had never happened, like them getting out from under the dome and living new lives, as we saw at the beginning of the season. Melanie was chosen to doing the recruiting and was successful in pulling off her plan, with only a few notable exceptions: Julia and Big Jim, among them.

Eventually, the townspeople were all freed, but were all now “infected” with the alien fluids that made them more susceptible to leader Christine’s subtle demands. However, some were less susceptible than others, such as Barbie, Sam and Joe, and were able to resist the alien influence. This was because they are strong-willed individuals, and it takes heavy emotional resistance to go against the aliens. It was Christine’s job as a leader to get them back in line with the others, but she has only had moderate success with certain people, while reducing others to sheep-like followers who obey her every request.

Unfortunately for her- and by extension, the aliens- Sam got wind of her driving girlfriend Abby (Bess Rous, “Murder in the First”) to suicide and stabbed Christine in return, nearly killing her. Junior was able to get her back to the cave to help save her life, but it was clear that the power it took to revive her was taking its toll on the aliens, as their power source- a series of jewel-like rocks Christine calls “amethysts”- burn out with excessive use, and without the townspeople to “feed” on anymore, that power is rapidly dwindling.

Whew! That’s a lot to unpack, obviously, but you certainly can’t say the show isn’t giving us the answers we have been clamoring for throughout the course of two seasons. Indeed, I was shocked that they even went as far back as the first to tie up some loose ends from there as well, like the “pink stars” thing. Now, did the showrunners have all of this planned all along? Probably not, I’m guessing, but I’ve got to give it up to them for putting forth the effort to tie it all together. It may not have always been planned this way, but it works nonetheless, and better yet, in a way that makes sense within the confines of the story at hand. That’s the good news.

The bad news? As reported in my last discussion of the show, that doesn’t exactly get the show off the hook for borrowing heavily from a multitude of other sources. As I mentioned, just because you acknowledge those sources within the script of the show itself doesn’t make it any better that you’re ripping them off. All it does is bring attention to it. So, in other words, by actually using the terms “The Matrix” and “pod people,” all they’re doing is drawing attention to the fact that the story isn’t all that original.

The other good news? On the other hand, while the lack of original ideas was a negative in the ones mentioned, I did like the more subtle influences that you didn’t pick up on until they revealed themselves. For instance, casting Helgenberger was a much more subtle nod to die-hard King fans, who would certainly be aware of “The Tommyknockers” where others might not be, and thus tipped off to where all this might be headed. It also dovetails nicely with King’s own propensity to tie things in together in his own novels, as if he were actually telling one big story, rather a bunch of separate entities. Might this one be an extension of “The Tommyknockers” in disguise, which is only now revealing itself? Maybe so, and if so, nicely done.

I also liked the latest twist very much, where it proved that maybe the dome wasn’t so much keeping the residents of Chester’s Mill held hostage as it was keeping them safe from the outside world, where some heavy-duty stuff was about to go down. Technically, of course, what is really going on is that the aliens are protecting themselves from said catastrophe, but still, a neat twist, nonetheless, in a “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me” sort of way. The aliens have been down this road before, but damned if they are falling for it again!

The question now becomes: what now? Is the world outside the dome completely destroyed? If not, what will the fall-out be, literally and figuratively? Will Barbie successfully lead people out of the dome via the “red door” he knows about? Should he? Will Julia and Jim and company successfully stage a coup against the “pod people” opposition? Will Christine come back ten times stronger and fiercer? What will her next move be?

Now that all our burning questions have more or less been answered, we now have all-new ones to contend with, and that’s a pretty cool trick considering how much house-cleaning the show did to get all of that stuff out of the way to make room for the new questions. It’s also a smart move, considering viewership is already down, mostly because they were tired of waiting on said answers. By throwing a new wrench into the proceedings and essentially rebooting the series mid-season, things just got a lot more interesting.

But will anyone still tune in, now that their main questions have been answered? We shall see in the weeks to come. Hopefully, they will quit while they’re ahead and find a way to bring things to a satisfying conclusion. I know the idea is to sustain a premise for as long as possible on a network show, to keep people tuning in and coming back for more, but that ship may have sailed, if the shrinking ratings are any indication. By continuing on the path they are on and ending strong, they could ensure themselves a sustainable and long-lasting shelf life on streaming and home video that will serve them well on the binge-watching front, which a show like this was made for.

And that’s not too shabby when you think about it.

What do you think of the third season so far? Are you happy with the answers you’ve gotten thus far? Do you wish it were a little more original, or is it just original enough to get a pass for the derivative parts? Did you like the big twists on the most recent episode? Where do you think they’ll go from here? Do you think they might even directly tie this show in to King’s other work in a more dramatic fashion than they already have? Let me know what you think and give me your predictions down below, and I’ll see you for the post-finale wrap-up!