I got very excited this week when I saw that Episode 8 of ‘Under the Dome’ (titled ‘Thicker than Water’) would be directed by Jack Bender. Bender also helmed my favorite entry of the series so far (Episode 5). Alas, this episode isn’t quite as good, although it’s much better than last week’s pregnancy storyline.
This week’s story begins with Junior paying a late night visit to his dad, Big Jim – who naturally greets his son by pointing a gun at him. Junior seems to want to make up with his father, but the senior Rennie is having none of it, telling Junior, “You’re no son of mine!”.
The main focus this week is on the continuing showdown between Ollie (who controls the town’s water supply with apparently the only working well) and Big Jim. After another frustrating encounter where Rennie tries to bargain with Ollie and Ollie decides he really doesn’t need Big Jim’s propane after all, Rennie decides to use eminent domain as a way of seizing Ollie’s property. He gathers the remaining law enforcement (including Junior and Barbie) and heads back to Ollie’s, only to be greeted by a group of Ollie’s hired guns. One deputy gets shot in the kneecap, while Junior takes this opportunity to pledge his allegiance to Ollie and join his crew.
Meanwhile, Julia has learned from Joe about the mysterious mini-dome and egg in the center of Chester’s Mill, so she has him take her out to see it. While there, Julia puts her hands on the mini-dome and suddenly sees a second version of Joe, who says to her, “The monarch will be crowned.” Does this mean that all the monarch butterflies that have been hovering around the outside of the dome will be let inside and kill everyone? One can only hope. Seriously though, we find out in the last shot of this episode that Angie has a tattoo of a butterfly on her back. Is that just a red herring to throw us off, or does the message actually refer to Angie? And by “crowned,” does that mean she’ll get clocked over the head by Junior in another one of his crazy outbursts?
Speaking of Junior, he discovers from Ollie that his mother’s death in a car crash wasn’t an accident. As it turns out, she committed suicide – and now Junior wants nothing more than to kill his old man. Back in town, Big Jim puts together a much larger force of armed men (including Phil Bushey) to return to Ollie’s and take over both the well and the land surrounding it. However, Barbie has come up with a better idea, after he learns that blowing up the well will divert the water to a few other areas where they’ll have access to it. Barbie takes his plan to Rennie, but Big Jim says it’s too risky, as they might contaminate the entire supply with an explosion. Barbie decides to go off on his own to rig the explosion, while Big Jim takes his team to face off against Ollie’s men.
This leads to a shootout at Ollie’s, resulting in casualties on both sides – including Phil suffering a gunshot wound to his left shoulder. Barbie manages to blow up the well, which also ends the gunfight, as Ollie’s men realize they have nothing to defend anymore. Big Jim, however, is taken by gunpoint and, with Junior and Ollie looking on, is forced to confess to his son what really happened to Junior’s mother. After this confession, Ollie tries to encourage Junior to kill Big Jim. Failing that, he decides to take care of Rennie himself, but Junior shoots Ollie before he can pull the trigger. Another week, another murder by a member of the Rennie family.
This week’s episode provides one more clue from the dome and serves to wrap up the Ollie storyline. The most interesting developments are the new twists in the relationship between Big Jim and Junior. Is Junior’s mental instability inherited from his mother? Were Big Jim’s breakdown and confession to his son genuine, or just his way of bargaining for his life? It’s obvious that the writers want to make Junior a more sympathetic character with this episode, but after chaining a girl in a bomb shelter, it’s really hard to get the home audience to sympathize with the character.
The big question now is what the heck is going on outside the dome? Since the military’s missile a few episodes back, there’s been absolutely no action on the outside. Wouldn’t the government come to examine the damage or perform further tests on the dome? We’ve seen nothing for quite a while now. I keep hoping for an episode that will introduce us to characters on the other side working to get in. Perhaps that’s being saved for Season 2.