Under The Dome season 2 episode 4 review: Revelation

Review Frances Roberts
23 Jul 2014 - 15:55

Dead piglets, a flu virus, and flashbacks all figure in this week’s increasingly tangled Under The Dome…

This review contains spoilers.

2.4 Revelation

A colossal Frankenstein’s creature with speculums for legs and Bunsen burners for arms, stomping around Chester’s Mill kicking over war memorials and squeezing Rabies-filled pipettes into the faces of puppies. Only if Big Jim and Julia had fought and won against that in Revelation could this week’s Under The Dome have carried a more obtuse ‘science is bad’ message.

Ever since the show introduced Rebecca Pine - all our dumbest fears about what happens when evidence-based rationality is given a say packaged in human form - Under The Dome’s been like a dog with a bone about the opposition between faith and science. Without tempering by the former, it tells us, the latter will happily euthanize the population whilst cheerfully humming the Periodic Table song. Naughty science wants to play God, says Under The Dome, and it needs showing who’s boss.

The villainous Rebecca spent this week interfering with pig corpses and planning to thin the town’s God-fearing herd using a deadly flu virus. What stopped her? She saw a baby and had an attack of conscience. In the rock, paper, scissors game of Under The Dome moral philosophy, babies beat everything. Even impending starvation. Without Rebecca's egg-cultivated virus cocktail, Chester’s Mill currently has no plans to combat its dwindling resources. Bet she wished she’d just made a giant omelette now.

No matter, because Joe, Norrie, Barbie and Melanie are finally getting to the bottom of things. (If by bottom, we mean sucked deeper into Under The Dome’s narrative quagmire, and by things we mean whatever stuck to the writers’ room wall after it was thrown at it this week.)

No longer the polar bear on Under The Dome’s island, mystery chick now has a name, a confusing link to Barbie, and a memory of the night in 1988 she was killed. It turns out that she, Junior’s mom, Uncle Tag from Friends and Lyle were the original four hands who uncovered the dome’s magic egg Tommyknockers-style a quarter of a century ago. The three teens then covered up Melanie’s death and went about growing up into an alcoholic, a raving scripture-monkey barber and a dome-plagued psychotic who married Big Jim Rennie then faked her suicide and spent the ensuing years predicting and painting - with her eyes closed, by the looks of them - a set of postcards depicting the wackadoodle events of season one. (I swear one of them was of a ride-on lawnmower but have drawn a blank. Could someone remind me?).

In a show with such boundless enthusiasm for providing its viewers with a dun-dun-duunnnn revelations and WTF coincidences before skipping off merrily without connecting any of the dots, it’s largely pointless to ask questions but Melanie in particular insists on it. Didn’t she witness Angie’s murder, thus know that Uncle Tag from Friends was the culprit? Why did we see her apologising to Sheriff Linda’s corpse? Even if eighties Melanie didn’t remember who she was, would she not have questions about the modern world, up to and including why they were all flipping out over getting email last week? (The show’s advertising team missed a trick given the amount of screen time devoted to a certain tech-brand’s tablets of late, in not having Melanie ask Ariel from The Little Mermaid-style what one was, cueing Joe launching into a recital of spec and capability.) Finally, how could a thirty-five year-old Barbie “look familiar” to a girl who could only have known him at, maximum, the age of ten? Perhaps beards come in early round their way.

So confident must Under The Dome’s creative team be that no-one’s paying any real attention, they’ve even started showing their working in-scene. Take a closer look at Rebecca’s whiteboard: a grid of blank spaces, underlined nouns  - “rain” “population” “virus” - and question marks, and tell me that’s not a season planning document. It’s even seeped into the dialogue. “What’s next?” asked Julia this week, “what comes after an extermination plot?” Dunno, love. Flying monkeys? Rain of frogs? They’ll pull something out of the hat.

Read Frances’ review of the previous episode, Force Majeure, here.

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