Under The Dome episode 9 review: The Fourth Hand
Under The Dome’s writers throw yet more plot-lines, secrets, and dodgy dialogue into the mix. Here’s Frances’ exasperated review…
This review contains spoilers.
1.9 The Fourth Hand
Somewhere in Under the Dome, suffocating underneath all the cretinous dialogue and logic-missing narrative leaps, are the germs of a probing story. When Big Jim asked whether Chester’s Mill was still part of America this week, a light bulb fizzed momentarily on in the recesses of my brain. ‘That’s interesting’ it said, with a note of dare-I-hope in its voice. ‘Society-building? There’s a story…’ Then? Off flicked the light and on went the dim-witted action.
This close to the finale, it’s a fool’s errand to wait for Under the Dome to transform into something it isn’t. The show set out its stall early with that cow-slicing whoomph extravaganza pilot, and hasn’t deviated from the small-on-brains, big-on-spectacle furrow it’s been ploughing ever since. Hoping it will suddenly turn into Ibsen is a path to disappointment, or worse, to madness (wasn’t that Einstein’s definition of insanity? Watching the same terrible TV show week after week and expecting different results?). No, the only sane thing to do is to breathe out slowly, relax, and try to enjoy what’s in front of you.
That was something I managed to achieve this week, though thanks largely to the consistent hilarity of what was in front of me. Maniacal giggling may not have been what the writers were aiming to evoke in their audience, but beggars can’t be choosers.
In this new spirit of enjoying myself with Under the Dome, Norrie is fast becoming my favourite character. Mackenzie Lintz’s dead-pan delivery of “Or we could use his NOSE” in reference to the dog, showed expert comic timing. Lintz and Colin Ford’s Joe in fact, were responsible for what’s almost certainly the most half-witted exchange on scripted television this year. “Your sister has a butterfly tattoo,” said Norrie, “what if she’s the monarch?” “No”, reassured Joe, “though that is an incredibly rational connection to make, my sister’s tattoo is of a different coloured butterfly to the one we, for some mad reason, assume the dome’s cryptic message refers to, so unfortunately, your otherwise bullet-proof theory just doesn't work”. More rigorous, logical conclusions were drawn by those primitive civilisations who decided that the world ate the sun every night and vomited it up every morning. They probably wrote better screenplays, too.
As we've established in previous weeks, no conversation in Chester’s Mill can take place without a hefty wedge of exposition threatening to unbalance the whole thing. After Barbie and Julia caught us up with “You said it’s an egg, with its own little mini-dome around it? […] and Joe thinks that this thing could be what’s powering the dome?”, Norrie and Joe segued from comedy chicken-catching to “Okay, so when your apparition told Julia that the monarch will be crowned, what do you think that means?” with all the naturalism of a fifth-grade Christmas play.
Another of the town's idiosyncratic conversational bylaws states that no event can be referenced without an orienting mention of how much time has passed since it took place. “Where have you been for the last eight days?” Big Jim asked slinky newcomer Max, “I just wish my mother was here to help us. I can’t believe she was alive just two days ago” said Norrie (what’s happened to Carolyn by the way? Did Aisha Hinds have to go and do her bit on Star Trek Into Darkness?), “It seems like yesterday she was in here, not nine years ago”, Junior told Angie about his own mum, “And to think, it all started when you bought me that drink so many months ago” Max taunted Barbie. And so on.
Story-wise, we leave episode nine with Linda having cracked Duke’s secret, Max blackmailing Big Jim and Barbie to work her evil doings, and propane-based drug Rapture about to flood a captive market. Big Jim is stockpiling weapons in his fallout bunker, Angie and Junior think his suicidal ma may have presaged the whole event, and the teen triumvirate are looking for the owner of a fourth hand to activate the mini-dome. Wouldn’t it be great if it turned out to be the dog? Only the sight of Truman fitting and woofing “Ruff stars ruff ruffing in lines” could top this week’s fun.
Read Frances’ review of the previous episode, Thicker Than Water, here.
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