Recurring Cast: Mike Vogel, Rachelle Lefevre, Colin Ford, Mackenzie Lintz, Alexander Koch, Eddie Cahill, Karla Crome, Grace Victoria Cox and Dean Norris
Under the Dome clearly means business. The returning episode quickly slaughters two of its lead characters, throws a few mind-blowing twists into the mix and charges head-first into a brand new season. Sadly, it still cannot quite shake the flaws that are holding it back from embracing its true potential.
There are two elements to Under the Dome and the show does a good job of balancing the two. The more interesting (in my opinion at the very least), is the social commentary side of things. The dome imprisons all of these strong characters in an enclosed space and as each new problem arises, these characters are often bouncing off of each other. It is always interesting, seeing how each person will react to certain scenarios. The characters are carefully constructed, so no one is 100% in the right or in the wrong. Big Jim Rennie might be more villain than protagonist with his stubborn attitude and destructive hero complex, but sometimes he is just too useful to write off completely, especially when it comes to the political side of things. Julia means well, but almost gives a terrified and hasty population voting privileges, when Rennie understands that sometimes you need to make decisions for people. It is a strong moment that suggests that sometimes we need bad guys in politics. Another great addition to the show is Karla Crome’s Rebecca, the town’s scientist. She is one of the more useful and helpful people around town, making her a good ally to have. When the Dome begins evolving, she is usually the one who can step back and come up with a scientifically grounded solution to the crisis at hand (a refreshing change of pace when the supernatural element to Under the Dome gets too bizarre). However, Rebecca’s black and white way of coming up with answers does mean that she is more willing to sacrifice others. Yes, she might be saving the town, but one of your favourite characters might end up dead because of it. These are the two best examples, but almost every character has a similar quirk. You don’t want anyone to hold too much power, because they might accidentally destroy the population. It makes every episode fresh and exciting, proving that the Dome might not be the biggest danger out there.
The other element of the show is the necessary evil of explaining what the Dome is. There are clear connections with Lost, as we get more and more questions thrown at us, answers being too few and far between. It is really hard to review any of these moments, because in all honesty, I don’t know how well the mystery is written, until we learn the end result in however many seasons time. For the moment, we have to bite the bullet and struggle to wrap our head around the twists the show throws at us. The outside world comes into play and while after a few episodes this new development settles, the few episodes where it explains a safe passage out of the Dome might get a little too mystical. I am willing to get on board with Grace Victoria Cox’s Melanie. She is the big new player thrown into the mix and the mystery surrounding her is one of the more gripping parts of the show. I just struggle to enjoy the show whenever the words ‘chosen one’ are brought up. I guess that Under the Dome isn’t really my kind of show and I am wandering out of my comfort zone to enjoy it. It has enough promise to keep me intrigued, and I must admit that I am hooked until the end, so it must be doing its job to some degree.
In the end, Under the Dome’s problems are just those moments of silliness that crop up every now and again. I like to call this the stupidest smart show on TV. Usually these small moment are something I can breeze over in a TV show. Arrow has its fair share of face-palm moments, but that comes with the cheesy territory. Under the Dome spends half of its time spewing scientific lessons and then the other half doing something dumb. When the show asks the audience to embrace these moments of intelligent talk, it feels like a slap in the face when the show then goes and writes a doozy of a line. The characters might be well created, but they often have the worst dialogue to get through. Sometimes something really convenient happens that you cannot help but roll your eyes at (“We are running out of food? Well, it just so happens I have been hoarding supplies for a while now and I didn’t tell anyone. Help yourselves!”) It makes moments like the hypothermia scene sceptical. I don’t know enough about medicine to know how possible that scene was, but because I know that the show has dropped the ball before, I saw it as a cheap writing trick out of a dead end, rather than a clever epiphany from Barbie. Under the Dome is a good show, but when it keeps tripping itself up, it becomes harder to convince people of that.
Final Verdict: Season Two of Under the Dome might stretch credibility at times, but interesting characters keep it watchable. By this point, we are too hooked to turn away.