‘Under the Dome’ Series Finale Recap: “There’s No Way to Win This One”

It’s over! Hallelujah, ‘Under the Dome’ is over! The dome is dead. Long live the dome.

Despite what the network may claim, there’s no way this episode was intended to be a series finale. Although the dome itself comes down (sorry, we’ll get to that in a minute), the show ends on a cliffhanger and doesn’t have much sense of resolution or closure. The writers and producers obviously expected to get a fourth season out of this fiasco.

A lot of nonsense happens in the finale, called ‘The Enemy Within’. Let’s boil it down to the essentials.

Barbie’s daughter is a day old and fully matured. She looks just like her mommy, aside from the blonde wig. She goes by the name “Dawn” – as in, the butterfly aliens represent a new day dawning on Earth. Isn’t that, like, sooooooooooooooooo freakin’ deep? OMG, the symbolism is just mind-blowing (assuming that your mind has been totally addled from watching ‘Under the Dome’ for three seasons, of course).

Dawn announces herself as new Queen of the Butterflies and has all the remaining members of the Resistance (Barbie, Julia, Jim and company) locked up in the town jail. Science genius Joe insists that he won’t work on his dome-buster gadget unless she releases them, especially Norrie. Dawn agrees to let everyone go except Julia and Jim, and Joe is cool with that. Jim busts himself and Julia out later anyway with the help of his magic dog.

Junior and Sam quarrel over which of them will be a better mate for Dawn. Dudes, she’s literally one day old. That’s so gross. Oblivious to their own pedophilia, the two fight to the death until Junior impales Sam on a metal rod and kills him.

Dawn makes Barbie haul the seven broken pieces of the giant amethyst out to a field. Then she whistles at them, causing them to glow pink and hum. Joe turns on his dome-busting amplifier, but nothing happens at first. Dawn explains that they need an eighth note, which has to be Norrie because she was one of the “Hands” in an earlier season. No, none of this makes a damn bit of sense.

Norrie agrees to step into the circle of crystals to save the town, but doing so means she’ll become a Pod Person again. Joe shoves her out of the way and sacrifices himself instead, which is fine because he was also one of the Hands. This was apparently Dawn’s plan all along. I think. I don’t know. It’s too stupid to follow.

Pink lights fly upwards all over the place and the dome suddenly vanishes.

R.I.P. Dome. You may have been an invisible and (mostly) inanimate object, but you were the most interesting and intelligent character on this show by far.

Now that the dome’s gone, Jim tries to snipe Dawn with a rifle, but Junior stops him and they have a big fight in the woods. Jim doesn’t want to, but has to stab his son in the chest to save his own life. Junior dies. Jim cries. A lot. He’ll get over it.

The military from outside the dome rush into town and round everyone up. Dawn tries to escape through a tunnel at the old cement factory that Sam had told her about, but Barbie blocks her exit and tricks her into standing on a rickety plank over a bottomless pit. (Yup, not joking.)

Dawn rather ridiculously tries to convince Barbie into letting her pass by pleading, “I love you, daddy.” She’s such a terrible actress that even big dope Barbie doesn’t buy it. For some reason, he steps out onto the plank with her and smashes it, causing them both to fall into the pit. Julia screams, but Barbie climbs out of the pit on a chain that I guess was tied to his leg or something (except that we definitely didn’t see it until just now). Whatever. This is so idiotic it’s not even worth complaining about.

Soldiers grab Barbie and Julia as well. Everyone is taken into custody. Dawn is apparently dead. (I swear, we see her body being zipped up in a body bag. Unless, maybe that was supposed to be Eva?)

Barbie, Julia and Jim are debriefed. The military is going to cover up the existence of aliens and blame the whole dome incident on a failed Aktaion experiment perpetrated by the late Hektor Martin. The colonel or general or whatever in charge makes them sign confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements in exchange for their freedom. Jim has a better idea. He offers to be the official public spokesman for the cover story. He’ll expect some compensation for that, of course.

Flash-Forward: One Year Later

Hunter works for the NSA now. He detects something and calls his girlfriend Lily. He tells her to notify her boss right away.

Norrie has joined the Army and wears a horrendously fake-looking dark haired wig. Her skill at popping caps into the foreheads of teenage girls has prepared her well to be an expert marksman.

Barbie and Julia are travelin’ the country on a motorcycle like hippies, camping in the woods. Barbie tries to propose to Julia when they’re rudely interrupted by government vehicles. It’s Big Jim. He’s parlayed his fame from the dome experience into becoming a Congressman (!).

Jim brings Barbie and Julia to his office. Lily is his Chief of Staff. (Why would she ever want to work for him?) Hunter explains that Dawn was spotted alive on surveillance footage from Omaha. What?? The footage is a couple weeks old and Dawn could be anywhere by now. Jim needs to keep this under wraps, so nobody outside the room can know about it.

Norrie steals an access card from her commanding officer and sneaks into a secret detention cell where all the Pod People from Chester’s Mill are being held. She finds Joe and promises to get him out of there. He reacts like he doesn’t know who she is.

Cut to: Somewhere in Middle America. Dawn is working as a school teacher, I guess? Some of her kids find an alien egg sitting on the ground. She thanks them but tells them to leave it there.

“We’ll come back another time.”

Get it? She’s talking about the butterfly aliens coming back. Was that too subtle to pick up on?


I expected this finale to be stupid and lame, but man, this is just pathetic. The attempted cliffhanger makes no sense and falls completely flat. It’s not clever or suspenseful. The episode is just all-around awful, even by this show’s low standards.

I seem to recall that, back during Season 1 (when the show was supposed to be a one-season-only Limited Series), Stephen King gave his blessing to the show-runners’ plan for an ending, which he claimed was even better than the novel’s. Now, longtime fans of the author know very well that he has a serious problem coming up with endings for his stories, so that wasn’t exactly saying much. However, I’m left to wonder exactly what the original plan was. The series changed show-runners after the first season, and it was pretty obvious how much this season in particular tried to ret-con new explanations for the pink stars and other parts of the narrative.

Were the butterfly aliens always part of the game plan? How was the first season supposed to end before CBS decided to renew it? Even the current show-runner has said that he wanted to go five seasons in all, so this clearly wasn’t his expected stopping point. What did he want to do? Were the even-more-evil aliens Christine kept talking about supposed to show up at some point?

I guess we’ll never find out, and frankly I’m OK with that. This show is so bad that I’m just grateful it’s over. Of all the TV shows I’ve ever hate-watched, I truly regret sticking with this one through to its inevitable bitter end.

Assuming that this is the end, I should say. It seems that all the networks are keen to revive their once-popular TV shows these days (’24’, ‘Heroes’, ‘The X-Files’, ‘Prison Break’, etc.). It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if, a few years from now, CBS greenlit a return to Chester’s Mill. If that happens, I will try my damnedest to stop myself from watching it.


  1. Shannon T. Nutt

    I’ve only seen the first three episodes of this final season and literally could not make heads or tails of reading the above…it’s amazing how far the show went off the rails and got sidetracked from its original premise. Yeah, it was never great, but it just got crazy this year with all the pod people stuff (which has ZERO to do with King’s novel by the way).


    Just because they canceled “Under the Dome,” doesn’t mean they’re not secretly writing the follow up “Escape from the Dome” or “The Next Dome” or “Dome 2.0” or some other crap BS that will be on next summers schedule to surprise us.

    • Shannon T. Nutt

      CBS has the luxury of having some of the highest-rated dramas on TV. If “Dome” were on NBC, I fear we might be subjected to seven or eight seasons of it.

  3. Margaret matthewman

    I’ve absolutely enjoyed Under The Dome. I was gutted 2 c the time changed. Last episode was bril. It’s left me with a cliffhanger. …grrrrrrr. Hope it comes bk .👍👍

  4. Vanessa Beck

    If I remember correctly the original story’s big reveal was that the dome was basically and alien ant farm. The aliens who trapped the town under the dome treat the humans like ants are generally treated by kids. A telepathic connection is established with one of the alien children and the humans plead their case to set free. The alien child is moved to then help the town’s people by convincing the other aliens that they should let the town’s people go, which they do. I always looked at the story as a tables turned circumstance, people being treated with same disregard that humans treat most animals and insects. Think about it, if you had an ant farm once you got bored with it what did you do with the ants.

  5. I kind of liked Under the Dome even though the ending was kind of strange I still liked it and wondered why it was cancelled. I read why it was cancelled and I just finished watching it again because I didn’t get a chance to watch the last two seasons before it got cancelled so I watched the last two seasons and I thought they should have made a season four in order to see where the rest of the kinship people would do or get a better ending.

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