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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