Ah yes, the underground fighting ring episode, I suppose that was inevitable. Despite resorting to one of the most overused clichés in modern television, this week’s Under the Dome was an effective examination of Barbie and Big Jim. Last week, viewers were introduced to Maxine, a crime lord from both Jim and Barbie’s past. The series provides a fantastic origin for Maxine as viewers are introduced to Maxine’s mother. She reveals her dark past while holding Jim at gunpoint. Turns out she was shamed into leaving Chester’s Mill when she got pregnant with Maxine at age sixteen. Instead of finding support from her community, she was shamed and cast out, and now, while the town is vulnerable, she wants to make sure the town suffers like she did. A nice villainous origin for Maxine and her immediate family, giving the sense of a town’s shame festering like a cancer, not allowing the Chester’s Mill citizens to fully unite.
While Jim is trapped, Barbie is forced to fight in her underground fighting ring. Despite the cliché, this created one of the cooler moments of the series, while Barbie fought his foe physically, Big Jim sparred with Maxine’s mother mentally trying to get the upper hand over an angry and dangerously intelligent woman with a gun. As the series already established, Big Jim plays to win, while Barbie throws the fight to screw Maxine out of her winning share, only to find out she bet against Barbie. This loss by Barbie in the Game of Domes (copyright: me) does not bode well for the inevitable clash of wills between Barbie and Big Jim.
There was a bit of wheel spinning this episode as Big Jim outsmarting and murdering an adversary was covered a few weeks ago with the death of Reverend Coggins, but new ground was broken as Norrie, Angie, and Joe realize that to unlock the secrets held beneath the mini-Dome they must find a fourth residents who had suffered seizures in the past. In a nice, ironic twist it turns out that person is none other than Junior who is still vacillating between twitchy-eyed psycho and staunch ally. Whatever side of morality Junior falls on, it seems the Dome has plans for him stretching back to when his insane mother was still alive. Delving into the characters’ pasts is a great way to get out of the claustrophobic confines of the dome, a structure that can easily limit the narrative.
Other doings this week include Dodie getting a temporary dose of amnesia from being a non-chosen touching the mini-Dome, Sheriff Linda discovering secrets from her mentor’s past, and Maxine becoming a major player as she tries to set up a criminal empire so she can maintain her luxuries while trapped in Chester’s Mill. Barbie is the only one that can stop her, and to do so he must render Maxine powerless over him. She has threatened to tell Julia the truth (that Barbie murdered her husband) so Barbie takes a strategic risk and comes clean with surprising results. Now, Barbie will have the upper hand as Julia has no secrets, and thanks to Big Jim’s actions regarding her mom, no back up either.