‘Under the Dome’ 1.05 Recap: “Today is a New Day”

There are a couple moments of unbelievable stupidity and just plain bad TV writing in Episode 5 of ‘Under the Dome’ (titled ‘Blue on Blue’), but thanks to some solid direction by Jack Bender (also one of the executive producers on the series), this turned out to be my favorite episode to date. After a shaky beginning, the series is on an upswing – which can only mean good things for the show, as it’s still dominating Monday night ratings for CBS.

When we last saw the citizens of Chester’s Mill, Big Jim Rennie had finally discovered that his son had chained up Angie in the family bomb shelter. As Epsiode 5 begins, some time has passed (Jim is wearing a different shirt, so it’s at least the next morning), and he still hasn’t decided if he’s going to let Angie go or not. This is the first groaner moment of the episode, as it’s silly to try and make Big Jim as crazy as his son Junior. Big Jim is a man of questionable morals, but we’ve seen nothing in his character so far to indicate that he does evil just for the sake of doing evil. There always seems to be a reason (albeit selfish) for his actions.

When he exits the bomb shelter, Rennie is paid another visit by Reverend Coggins, who claims that he’s heard the voice of God in his hearing aid, and God is calling Chester’s Mills “Moab,” a reference to the Biblical city. Coggins believes that only through repentance will they be able to save the town.

Joe and Norrie discover thousands of butterflies gathering on the other side of the dome. They also notice that busloads of familiar people are being brought in. Along with Barbie, they figure out that the military on the outside is providing those trapped in the dome with a “Visitor’s Day.”

The town gathers at a predetermined location to see relatives and friends on the other side of the dome. Linda has Barbie put up police tape so that no one will come in contact with the dome (and accidently cause an explosion, should they be wearing or carrying an electronic device). Linda gets to once again say hello to her boyfriend on the other side, but she also has to tell him about his brother, the deputy who was killed by the ricocheted bullet back in Episode 2.

Norrie notices a man holding up a message with her name on it, only to discover that it’s her birth father, who her moms had told her was an anonymous donor and couldn’t be found. Norrie is so upset that she storms away. After the visitors leave, Barbie makes contact with a soldier on the other side of the dome by showing him a medal or badge indicating that he was part of a Special Forces unit. The soldier indicates to him that there will be a military strike on the dome at 1:15 PM the following day. Barbie, who has heard about the Moab reference from Coggins, now realizes the Reverend’s hearing aid must have picked up military chatter. “MOAB” actually stands for “Mother of All Bombs.”

When Julia finds out this news, she gets on the radio station and asks all the townspeople to gather underground at the cement factory, as this is believed to be the safest place if there’s a missile strike. Big Jim also decides that if there’s a good chance they’re all going to die, there’s no reason to keep Angie chained up anymore, so he frees her. When Junior returns home, Rennie confronts his son about Angie, but Junior jumps back in his police cruiser (remember, he was deputized by Linda) and takes off.

Now we get to the second groan-worthy moment of this episode, as Angie goes running straight back to her house where – surprise! – Junior is waiting to take her hostage once again. Just when you had a sigh of relief that the show’s silliest storyline was finally over, it begins once again in another location. Maybe the military blowing up the down isn’t such a bad idea after all.

Anyway, Phil Bushey, the radio station’s DJ, has preprogramed the station to play one last song before 1:15, and it’s none other than Skeeter Davis’ “End of the World.” So Episode 5 begins wrapping up with this wonderful montage of music and tension, as the missile heads towards the dome and explodes harmlessly (well, not so harmlessly for the area outside it!). The final scene has Rennie looking at the damage on the other side of the dome. He’s approached once again by Rev. Coggins, who believes that God has spared the town. Rennie presses Coggins’ head up against the dome, which causes his hearing aid to explode and kill him instantly. See, Rennie needs a reason to do evil.

Despite the annoyance of the Junior/Angie storyline, I really liked Episode 5. It feels like the cast is finally coming to understand who their characters are. Dean Norris continues to be the strongpoint of this series, even though (or perhaps because) his character is so conflicted. Sometimes he seems to care greatly about the well-being of Chester’s Mill, but then he kills someone arbitrarily. I hope the writers keep his character like that going forward, as he’s much more three-dimensional the way he’s being played now than if he was just a total villain like his son.

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