It seemed like a limiting concept, a dome trapping the residents of a small town inside without contact with the rest of the world? It seemed like there was no way creators would be able to get around these limitations. How would a plot progress when the action is confined to a limited geographical radius? It seemed like something fans might dismiss because, after all, the Simpsons did it first. But thanks to a stellar cast and expertly timed plot twists, Under the Dome has defied the odds and has become gripping water cooler worthy television and a sign that the world might be ready for more Stephen King television dramas.
When the show first began it was a show that relied heavy on concept, to show the nightmares that would ensue if a small town was cut off from all national infrastructure. Character was secondary to spelling out what would happen from fires, lack of medicine, and food shortages. It was important to show Chester’s Mill challenges before the creators shifted over to the heavy character work, and shift they did, as each character became a fascinating part of the tapestry that is the encapsulated Chester’s Mill. Here’s a look at how the social hierarchy of Chester’s Mill breaks down with a focus on the main players:
The Monarchs: Named such for the prophetic revelation that the Dome would choose a monarch, the rulers of the town have been made clear by season’s end. Big Jim was clear from the beginning as this season tracked his ascent into Dome Hitler, but the show threw an unexpected swerve as it was disgraced reporter Julia Shumway that was chosen by the Dome to rule. Everything pointed to Barbie being the ruler for the light against Big Jim’s darkness, but once Julia embraced the mysterious egg in the season finale, it became clear that the reporter, the purveyor and keeper of the truth would be chosen to challenge Jim and rule the Dome. In fact, it was Julia who contacted the Dome’s architects giving viewers a limited but intriguing tease regarding the Dome’s origins to take with them into season two.
The Soldiers: As stated, Barbie looked as if he would be the leader to go against Jim, but in the finale it became clear that he would better serve the Dome as Julia’s soldier against Jim’s despotic power play. Barbie and Julia are tied together by dark and shameful pasts and have a great co-protagonist dynamic. It was hard to imagine Barbie as a leader of men; he is too broken, but as Julia’s, and therefore the Dome’s, enforcer? That is much easier to wrap one’s head around. But Big Jim has an enforcer of his own in his son Junior who started the season as a needy, creepy, almost serial killer but ended up as a key wild card. The finale ends with his hands on a lever that will drop Barbie through a gallows robbing the town of its protector. As Jim barks orders at his son it is a white knuckle cliff hanger as viewers will spend a year wondering if the ever vacillating Junior sides with his father or the Dome’s chosen. After all, the Dome did choose Junior as a messenger; it put faith in Junior when his father never did. Other soldiers include Sheriff Linda who is the only character that doesn’t feel like the writers have complete control over her. She seems to be blindly following Barbie, not displaying the analytical skills the show established earlier in the season. Hopefully big things will be in store for Linda in season 2 as it seems like her character arc got lost in the shuffle. Finally there is former DJ, Phil, loyal soldier to Big Jim, who blames Barbie for the death of his friend Dodee, who was ironically murdered by Big Jim himself.
The Messengers: It seems the Dome is attracted to the purity of innocence as it chooses Norrie, Angie, and Joe to be its messengers to the rest of Chester’s Mill. Joe remains a pure soul, wide eyed and innocent but keenly intelligent, he is the brains while Norrie, still raw from losing her mother to diabetes, is the heart. Angie, who had enough strength to survive Junior’s captivity, is the spirit of the group. Junior, who completes the Dome Four, is the wild card that makes the dynamic so intriguing. With Junior at their side, at times, it seems that the Four will deliver the Dome’s mysterious message, but when he turns his back on the group, whether out of loyalty to his father or bitterness over Angie’s constant spurning, it seems that his chaotic passions will doom the town.
As we say goodbye till next season to the key players beneath the Dome, let us not forget the fallen. Poor hapless Dodee; Alice, doomed mother to Norrie; Sheriff Duke, one of the Dome’s first victim, Rose, the owner of the diner whose presence humanized Big Jim (till she was beaten to death), crazy Reverend Coogins and his hearing aid, and the cow, let us never forget the cow whose bisection began this awesome drama.
It will be a year before viewers return Under the Dome, but if season two was as strong as the finale, it will be well worth the wait.
Den of Geek Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars