Under The Dome season 2 episode 1 review: Heads Will Roll

Review Frances Roberts 2 Jul 2014 - 12:31

Under The Dome is back for a Stephen King-scripted season 2 premiere, and it’s as just as much dumb fun as ever…

This review contains spoilers.

2.1 Heads Will Roll

Under The Dome returns for its second season to remind us that there’s never a dull moment in Chester’s Mill. Nor one that makes sense. Nor one that isn’t filled by intense running, emphatic dialogue, leaps of illogic, or - now - killer lawnmowers. It’s all actually quite a lot of fun once you tune in to the show’s schlocky B-movie personality.

Speaking of schlocky B-movies, Stephen King - drafted in to write this second season opener - has a fine time in Heads Will Roll channelling his sole directorial venture, Maximum Overdrive. The 1986 film saw a passing comet cause Earth’s electrical items, from electric knives to ATMs, to become ambulant and go on a murderous rampage. (Reflecting on the picture in a 2002 interview, King explained with creditable honesty that he was “coked out of [his] mind all through its production”. It’d probably be disrespectful to ask what his excuse is this time around.)

Following the dome’s transformation from semi-permeable membrane to highly-charged super- magnet, Chester’s Mill’s metallic items were whipping their way across town and woe betide anyone who got in their way. Like poor Sheriff Esquival, who was squished by an SUV before the credits rolled, only to return later on with Mexican soap opera hair as one of the dome’s messenger ghosts.

There wasn’t time to mourn Sheriff Linda (who soon got replaced anyway by an identikit petite brunette - Misfits’ Karla Crome as teacher Rebecca Pine - who’s also taken on responsibility for Dodi’s science bits). It was over to the McAlister house for a round of ‘duck the flying stove’. After what they’d put us through in season one, it was tempting to cheer on the McAlister household items attempting to hasten the demise of our dreary teens - “go on shelving unit! Right in Angie’s kisser! That’s right, nails, show that skinny nerd who’s boss!” - but lo, the gang survived.

Only until the dome’s next attack though, which came hot on the heels of the flying furniture and caused the townspeople of Chester’s Mill to re-enact that Radiohead video where everyone lays inexplicably on the ground. Growling like Zuul, the dome (having installed some awesome sub-woofers since last series) was said to be manipulating electro-magnetic fields and interfering with people’s brain waves. “They’re getting closer,” Linda#2 explained about the growls, “like a pregnant woman’s contractions, except instead of giving life, people could die if they don’t wake up!”. Cue some intense running.

Julia, meanwhile, had fished what appeared to be a human manifestation of the dome/random teen out of the lake and stumbled across Junior’s secret uncle (Tag from Friends), a disgraced, alcoholic, former paramedic eking out a lonely existence in a cabin in the woods who says things like “Some things you never get over. Like my sister, taking her life, nine years ago”. Junior hasn’t seen his uncle Sam, who - like everyone else in town, appears to have beef with Big Jim - since his mother’s funeral. Except… Junior’s mother is totally alive and still painting horrible prophetic art outside the dome!

That wasn’t even the main cliff-hanger. After we were shown Mrs Big Jim daubing her canvas, we saw what might well be the axe-related murder of Angie by the aforementioned physical manifestation of the dome/random teen. Except that the dome is a pacifist now, right? It wants everyone to stop the killing, and for Big Jim to learn the value of sacrifice. Right? It’s tricky keeping up.

Big Jim wasn’t one to be distracted by dome-created guilt monsters telling him to repent his former ways. He was too preoccupied bombing his way out of his bunker and saying awesome things like “Shut up and be dead, I’m busy”. Big Jim’s the kind of man who can incite a public execution, explode a bunker, hang himself, and make a breakfast date with a hot science teacher chick all without breaking his stride. What a guy. He was even immune to Angie’s attempts to menace him via the medium of coffee-pouring (speaking of which, who saw Mr King himself asking for a refill at Rose’s place?).

All in all, it was a blistering return for an action-packed show that logic slides off like fat on non-stick steel. You either have to admire its balls-out refusal to dial down the excitement and urgency for a moment’s sense or character development, or you have to switch off the TV and walk away before it drags you any deeper in to its wackadoodle world. I know which one I’m choosing.

Let’s finish with this sketch from one of Family Guy’s stronger moments:

INT: Doubleday Publishing Office. Stephen King sits opposite his editor.

King: Okay, for my 307th book, this couple is attacked by a… [looks around office, sees lamp] a lamp monster! [starts gesturing spookily with lamp] Wooo hooo Wooo hooo.

Publisher: [sighs] You’re not even trying any more are you?

King: [jabs repeatedly at publisher with lamp, making scary noises]

Publisher: [resigned] When can I have it?

Under The Dome continues on CBS on Mondays at 10pm. These reviews, thankfully, won’t.

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