Under The Dome finale review: Curtains

Review Frances Roberts 19 Sep 2013 - 17:47

Under The Dome’s first season concluded this week, and did anyone else notice quite how weird it had become?

This review contains spoilers.

1.13 Curtains

So much of Under the Dome has been so pedestrian – blah police pursuits, short-lived fight clubs, drippy romances – that something extraordinary has occurred right under our noses. Whilst we’ve been distracted by nowhere stories, tin-eared dialogue, and Junior’s bovine beauty, we’ve failed to notice that Under the Dome has stealthily transformed into one of the most abstract pieces of avant-garde art to have graced the small screen.

Brilliantly, subversively you might say, the season one finale led well over 11 million Americans to sit down for an hour in front of a group of people arguing over their interpretations of the mood of an egg. I’ve seen grad school philosophy of art video installations with more mainstream premises than that.

The weirdness didn’t stop there. First, a leadership battle was decided by a butterfly alighting on the winning candidate (seems as good a system as any). Then the egg blocked out the sun. “It’s the dome, it’s all black”, said the drama that never shows when it can tell, show, tell again, and then remind you right after the ad break. Great black splotches began appearing on the dome, as if someone had left a biro in the washing machine. It was the most exciting visual development since half of that cow split open like a bashed coconut all those weeks ago.

“If we destroy the egg, then…” began just one of Under the Dome’s many abstract correlations. Then what? There’ll be six more weeks of winter? Big Jim will perform the cucaracha in a Mexican wrestler’s costume outside the courthouse? This whole damn thing will poof away, never to be seen again?

Not that last one. We’ve known for a while that Under the Dome is to return next year for a second run, and that before it did, we’d be left with, according to writer Brian K. Vaughn, “one hell of a cliff-hanger”. That arrived this week in the form of a noose around Barbie’s neck, and a light show to rival any July fourth celebration you’ve seen.  

It seems the last fortnight in Chester’s Mill has been one gigantic frat hazing orchestrated by the alien race that built the dome, a series of challenges (hunt the egg, protect the egg, get four nubile teens to touch the egg but like, don’t tell their moms…) to prove the town’s suitability for some kind of intergalactic reckoning. “You must earn the light”, the Alice hologram informed the gang, something Julia did by tumbling the egg into the lake and turning the dome into a white-washed greenhouse pane. Was that good? Whitewash is better than blacked out, right? I’m not sure it even matters.

Because all Under the Dome has ever given us is arbitrary mystery, questions with only the most fleeting of connections to their eventual resolutions. Why Julia? Why drop it into the lake? Why those four kids? What happened to the butterfly? Such queries are folly now that the series’ true identity as a radically experimental text has been revealed. Don’t irritably search after reason. Experience it, let it wash over you, and see what’s changed when you come out of the other side. Just think of it as a Terrence Malick film about a weird dream Hank from Breaking Bad once had.

Much more importantly, that’s it. I’m out of here. Whether Barbie hangs (of course he won’t), whether Big Jim’s punished, whether the egg-people set Chester’s Mill another twelve weeks of the headfuck Olympics, whether the dome turns purple, or chintz, or starts manifesting thousands of tiny Tweety Pies because, you know, it doesn’t need a reason, I won’t be watching.

See ya Chester’s Mill. Wouldn’t want to be ya.

Read Frances’ review of the previous episode, Exigent Circumstances, here.  

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Challenge accepted...

How did Sheriff Esquivel become such an idiot?
She now believes everything Big Jim says.
I'm with ya Francis. The show may be back who will care?

Let me tell you where I am: I'm out.

I CANT agree with your review. This TV series is fine to watch, even it has "strange" moments in it. Really cant wait for another season.

Last episode we got here in the UK was the one where the Army was about to bomb the town to destroy the dome... and it was actually really quite good! Up until then we'd been watching it wondering if the show could ever live up to the really quite brilliant premise. So far it had been mildly interesting, a few good characters... and a few REALLY annoying ones. (junior) ...but yeah that last episode we saw I loved. Maybe I'm just easier to please lol

"Maybe it's a coincidence." Who whoever wrote that should be shot.

I fazed out a few episodes ago but checked back in for the finale as they are usually the best part of the season but it's still pretty poor. The writing isn't good enough to support the poor actors and the only actor who can support the writing is Dean Norris and Barbie guy is usually not too bad. I can only imagine the back slapping in the writers room when they came up with the "Your worse than a criminal. You're a politician" line but it was so out of place and definitely shouldn't have ended the scene.

Was so up for this series (like so many others) and then I watched it. Oohhhhh...Deeeaaarrrr! Gave it six episodes and couldnt stand it anymore so off it went, never to be revisited. Ah well Castles back this week.

i agree with you 100%. I hope Julia gets active, she and Barbie work together to bring down the politician Big Jim, Big Jim is all about lies, politics and dirty tricks.

I am hoping that Phil or Junior gets a vision from either Dodee or Junior's mother that what they are doing is wrong. The Dome kids might also play a crucial part in rescuing Barbie. Linda is so stuck on stupid, they could switch Barbie with her and she still would not know that she is being hang.

Under the Dome is a good show, it was entertaining for the summer and I am looking forward to season 2. Before Under the Dome, I looked at Curious George and Andromeda on Youtube. I will look at past episodes from this show, and continue to look at Curious George and Andromeda until Season 2.

She was always an idiot, Duke did all the thinking, now that he is gone, she is just revealing her true idiotic, ungrateful self. All that Barbie did for her and that dumb town, that's how they repaid him. Set the whole damn town on fire.

i am IN.

So do I.

I would be willing to speculate that the very most of the people who like the show and will stick with it either never read the book at all or read it and didn't like it, where most if not all of the people that dislike the show, read the book AND liked it. I unfortunately read the book and loved it, and it's undeniably painful to watch them make hamburger out of one of King's best latter works.

I'll peek in on season 2 but even as a general sci-fi fan I have to say the writing is getting bizarre and the acting is getting pretty bad. They'd better have something good for whatever weirdo direction this kludged up version of King's story is going in, or it's going to bomb, and hard, and prove once again that unadulterated King is always better than the modified variety.


You're still in the "Mostly King's Story" area... The Tomahawk missile strike was King material and though far more fascinating in the book, was fun enough to watch in the series. As the story progresses, though, it strays farther and farther from the source material until the only correlations are a bunch of character names and the fact that there's a big transparent dome around the town. As usual with King adaptations, the farther away from his vision they go, the weirder and lamer the results become. Stay with it, by all means... I'd like for you to reach your own conclusions... but IMHO it would have been far better if they'd just stuck to the original storyline, as has been shown again and again when someone thought they could make their mark by "improving" on King's work.


I read the book and really liked it. I will continue to watch to see if it can live up to the book. I will be rereading the book.

I'm not sure if father (King) is far away from it, i read somewhere that he will "support" directing at least episode 1 for season 2. So i dont know..

phew, I'm glad that's over. Now I have to screw up the courage to watch the last 4 episodes of Revolution (sometimes being a completist sucks).

Why couldn't they finish the story instead of trying to make a 2nd season? Now I don't know if I can make time for it. Some shows are better to make one season and call it over. Stretch it out too much and fans lose interest.

Wasn't this whole thing done in the Simpson's Movie?

Julia Shumway has only one pair of shoes throughout the entire series. Not normal female behaviour, perhaps she's an alien.

How can you take a big name Author's book and then COMPLETELY change the story? I bet Stephen King is walking around in a disquise these days! I think a more apt name for this series would have been "Under The Influence". It made about that much sense.....

its too far from the book to be enjoyable

It was always doomed to fail. The only reason this was picked up in the first place, is because greedy execs saw Lost 2.0 potential, and the possibility to drag out the show for umpteen seasons. I've read the book... It was about 500 pages too long, and the ending was awesomely 'meh'. It's a dull King story now further diluted for shitty TV. Stupid show made and written by stupid greedy people.

Can someone please tell me how the book ends, to save me from the temptation of ever watching this again when I could be doing something useful, like arranging my DVDs by colour.

revolutions is very stupid, but once you get over it - there's some minimal charm there - this show is just one long and pointless journey of suffering. Total waste of time, I still don't understand anything apart from what was already known from the initial setting. Maybe there really is nothing to know or understand here...

and I also liked how the kid carried the mini-dome (at which point we're told was the size of a beach ball where it's clearly visible that it's at least 1m in diameter) while sleepwalking! That bottom half of the mini dome is filled with at least 50-100kg of soil!

I love the show because I'm obsessed with & loyal to all things Sci-Fi & Stephen King, even if it is bad.

Also Stephen King don't be such a sell out actually care for your works because these adaptations are nothing like what you write

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