Recurring Cast: Mike Vogel, Rachelle Lefevre, Natalie Martinez, Colin Ford, Britt Robertson, Mackenzie Lintz, Alexander Koch, Samantha Mathis and Dean Norris
Under the Dome is the kind of idea that sounds good on paper, but no one really expects it to be any good. We tried the community trapped off from the outside world before with ‘Jericho’ and it soon descended into mediocrity. It begins well, but after a while, we get tired of the same characters and community trapped inside this struggling story. However, ‘Under the Dome’, for the most part, keeps the premise fresh from week to week and becomes a very enjoyable addition to our TV schedule.
The most interesting thing about this show are the characters. The show does well to avoid painting everyone as a black and white stereotype. I could go into a separate debate about each. The lead is Mike Vogel’s Dale Barbara, physically everything we expect from a hero figure. He is muscular, handsome, a military background: Vogel comes across as a checklist for the iconic hero figure. However, this is harshly juxtaposed by the fact that the opening shots show him murder and bury a man in cold blood. No matter how positive a character he goes on to be, quickly saving several people from the Dome, we never forget that he has one of the darkest secrets out of the cast. Next up we have Big Jim Rennie, played by Man of the Season, Dean Norris (Did you know there’s no such thing as evolution; only a list of animals that Dean Norris has allowed to live?). He is the town leader, who pretty much spends the first handful of episodes saving the town from near death. He rallies them, makes them stronger and whenever something bad happens, you want the character to show up and sort the bad guys out. However, as the season progresses, he begins to get drunk on power and becomes the kind of hero you need, but do not entirely trust.
They also handle the teen figures very well. The plot goes down the road where the answers lie in the hands of the youngest cast members. This would usually be the breaking point of any season, but the writers make sure that Colin Ford’s Joe McAlister and new girl in town, Mackenzie Lintz’s Laurie, aren’t annoying to spend time with. Sure, Laurie is typical rebellious teenage girl and Joe is the awkward American Pie figure, when we are introduced to them. However, when the mystery deepens, they pull themselves together and become valuable, useful characters. For the younger generation watching the show, I imagine Joe and Laurie are very relatable as heroes. I also thought Junior was an interesting character, even if it took me a while to come around to Alexander Koch’s acting style. Junior is very important to the American climate right now, coming across as the self-acclaimed hero. You can see in his eyes and dreamy tone of voice that he believes that he is the lead in his own action movie (or romance movie, when he is aside Angie, his reluctant love interest). The dialogue bestowed upon the character is paraphrasing the script from a generic Stallone movie, yet there is a twisted, distorted appeal to the lines, as we know that Junior is accidentally when one of the main antagonists in the story. Even if Alexander Koch isn’t always strong enough to pull the role off, the character is so compelling, we want to see more of him. There are so many characters to portray well, yet the season always has time for the less important characters. Phil the DJ only occasionally pops up, but he has his own devastating character arc and we really feel for the character. This is one element I want to see improved in later seasons of the show.
The season does lose its way midway through the season. The community pulling together gets old and the show decides it needs a human villain. Enter Max Seagrave, played by Natalie Zea, totally different from how we saw her in ‘The Following’ earlier this year. The problem with her character is that the writers cannot decide what type of villain they want her to be. Is she cold and calculating? Is she the drug-runner that just wants to watch the world burn? Or is she the villain haunted by a deep love for Dale Barbara, twisted into doing bad things? The show goes for all three and no one ever has a chance to figure her out. But that doesn’t matter, because she is just there to keep the show ticking over, until the finale can come into play. At least Leon Rippy’s villain, trying to take over as leader of Chester’s Mill, made sense as a mid-season bad guy. He brought out several characteristics in the characters and made for an interesting look at society in a crumbling scenario.
The show does pull itself together for the end. All of these characters get built up and used to their best abilities. While the final episode brings up more questions than it does answers, you expect this kind of behaviour from this premise. I cannot wait for the next season to see where the writers are going to take this show. It looks like my predictions are going to be proven wrong, but at least that means I am attached to the show with a burning desire to find out what happens.
Final Verdict: It slows down midway through the season, but there are so many interesting characters and ideas thrown into the pot, you are hooked nonetheless.