As it turns out, last week’s episode may very well go down as the best that Season 2 of ‘Under the Dome’ has to offer. This week’s entry is definitely a step down, if not for the storyline itself, certainly for some of the over-the-top melodramatics coming from the actors – particularly Sherry Stringfield and (sadly!) Dean Norris.
I think one of the major problems this week (an episode directed by Stringfield’s former ‘ER’ costar Eriq La Salle) is that all our regulars who were outside the dome are now back inside, meaning that all the action takes place inside the dome as well. What made the last several episodes so interesting is that viewers finally got a chance to see what was developing on the other side. Now it seems (especially after this week’s ending) that the outside activities will once again be placed on the back burner for a while.
Things pick up this week right where they left off, with Big Jim confronting Pauline. After getting over the shock of her resurrection, Jim can’t help but start yelling at her and blaming her for abandoning the family. However, in their very next scene together, Jim apologizes and tells his wife that he’s going to try to be a better man (not to mention hatching – pardon the egg pun – a plan to get Pauline, Junior and himself out from under the dome). This, by the way, isn’t bad writing… it’s just typical male behavior.
If you remember last week’s episode, Barbie made a point of instructing those who had returned to the dome with him to keep a low profile. I chastised Pauline for immediately ignoring this edict, but what’s the first thing Barbie does this week? He walks right up to Julia (who’s been talking about the sudden season change and temperature drop in the town with Rebecca, the effects of which we’ll see in next week’s episode) and gives her a big hug. After telling them both his story about how he got outside the dome by jumping over the cliff in the high school basement, they come up with a plan that Julia should go to Zenith and negotiate a deal where the townspeople can be released in exchange for the egg.
Speaking of which, the egg is still (somewhat) safe and secure in the Rennie’s bomb shelter. Junior and Melanie have placed it down there, and the younger Rennie gets a big sloppy kiss from Melanie before she heads back outside. Junior also has a vision of his dead ex, Angie, while down in the shelter. She’ll pop up again before this week’s episode wraps up.
Norrie is the first to realize that the egg is missing, so she and Joe go off searching for it. They run into Hunter, who quickly bonds with Joe since they’re both computer geeks. (I’m actually shocked that Norrie didn’t get jealous again, like she did when Melanie first popped up.) Joe believes that if he can get his hands on a radar gun, they can adapt it and use it to find the egg. However, once they get the device functioning, Joe and Norrie decide that Hunter shouldn’t be allowed to come with them, as they don’t quite trust him yet.
During a meeting at the Sweetbriar diner, Julia, Rebecca and Barbie talk to two representatives of the town. One of them is on board with their plan, but the other – the frequently seen Andrea – wants to know what Big Jim’s opinion is before she agrees to anything. After the two townsfolk leave, Big Jim arrives and tells them that he should be the one to take the egg to Zenith. Surprisingly, Barbie agrees, but under the condition that Jim leave Pauline and Junior behind – knowing that he’ll have a reason to negotiate if his family is still trapped under the dome.
Jim returns to his house to find Pauline freaking out about a high-pitched sound coming from the egg. She has created a new painting. Viewers only catch a glimpse of it, but it appears to be her, Junior and Big Jim circling a large fire, with some shattered windows above them. Big Jim tracks the noise to find the egg down in the bomb shelter. However, when he goes to pick it up, a huge blast of energy throws him against the wall and knocks him out. Not long afterwards, Norrie and Joe arrive and Norrie is able to pick up the egg. Jim recovers and pulls his gun on Joe – telling Norrie that he’ll shoot the boy unless they all take the egg to the cliff in the high school.
Once they make it to the cliff, Jim tells Norrie to throw the egg over the edge. She refuses, but Jim knocks it out of her hand and sends it flying into the abyss. Shortly thereafter, an earthquake hits and the three run in an attempt to escape. Norrie slips and starts to fall when attempting to get back up out of the cave, but Hunter is there to save her, and everyone (Jim has already made it out ahead of them) makes it to safety.
Elsewhere, the egg leaving the dome has caused Melanie to pass out. Barbie and Julia rush her to Sam’s cabin, where Sam has just recovered from a beat-down from Junior. Junior arrived there planning to kill him, but another vision from Angie (who claimed that Junior never really loved her) convinced him not to do it. After giving Melanie a shot, she wakes up, but immediately knows that the egg is no longer inside the dome.
The earthquake also manages to free ex-DJ and ex-sheriff Phil Bushey from his jail cell. Earlier, he overheard Joe and Norrie talk about escaping Chester’s Mill via the cliff at the high school. This week’s episode ends with him making a mad dash for the cliff. Barbie, Julia and a few of the others see him there and go chasing after him, but when they make it to the cliff’s edge, it’s obvious that Phil has already jumped. Unfortunately, there’s one problem – the egg leaving the dome has also sealed up the passageway to Zenith, and Phil Bushey has impaled himself on a stalagmite below. Phil is dead, and everyone is trapped inside the dome with no apparent exit once again.
You’ve got to feel sorry for actor Nicholas Strong (who played Phil). The character had a decent-sized storyline (albeit a very different one than we saw here) in Stephen King’s original ‘Under the Dome’ novel, so when Strong got hired for the show, he probably thought that he was going to be one of the main leads. However, over the past two seasons, the writers gave his character virtually nothing to do – eventually turning him into an unstable villain (while he was that in the novel as well, the character was far more interesting there) who barely got any dialogue in his final appearance on the show.
There are only three more episodes this season. Although a Season 3 hasn’t yet been officially announced, it’s almost certainly a sure thing, as ‘Under the Dome’ is consistently one of the most-watched Monday night shows and is almost always one of the Top 10 watched network series each week. Of course, that’s no guarantee the show will be coming back, but I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet at this point.