This might not be a wise thing for a television critic/recapper to admit, but I just started watching Breaking Bad. Yes, I know, shame, shame. Needless to say, it’s f’ing awesome. The reason I bring this up is just to tell you loyal Domers that I have had Dean Norris’ giant coconut on my flat screen almost constantly.
This week, as “Big” Jim, Norris had a character defining moment – a moment of rage and personal loss, a moment that bruised his already depleted ego and a moment that could define Jim for this season.
“Turn” was a controlled, tightly plotted episode, a worthy penultimate installment to season two. Seemingly for once, our cast of Chester’s Millers were not going into a thousand different directions, spinning plates to fill time and wasting time on love triangles or machinations. This episode was what originally brought us all to Chester’s Mill, to witness a group of survivors trying to survive a very alien intelligence that has cut them off from the rest of the world.
The centerpiece of it all was “Big” Jim, a man who had already royally screwed up by tossing the egg outside the dome, the man who put the egg into the hands of Barbie’s father and clearly does not have Chester’s Mill’s best interests at heart. Jim does not regret his choice because of the damage it did to his fellow Domers. Damages such as the sudden deterioration of dome ghost Melanie or the fact that the dome is pulling a Death Star trash compactor by slowly closing in on Chester’s Mill. He is angry because his rash action of tossing the egg away has proven to the town that he is a phony, a pocket despot at best who believes himself to be a natural leader, but is actually a paper potentate who rules with his ego rather than his mind. Julia rules with her mind and as much as Jim wants to prove himself worthy of her seat, his actions have put everyone in grave danger.
All Jim had left with his family. His son Junior, who already kind of hates him, and his recently proven to be not dead wife Pauline. Jim is driven by winning Pauline back. Viewers will get a sense that Jim wants her back to prove himself better than Lyle, Pauline’s ex.
Now, to the naked and logical eye, Jim, with all his failings, is way better than Lyle. Lyle looks like a homeless glue-huffer plus he has proven himself to be bat shit crazy. Jim seems jealous of Lyle, which is patently ridiculous, but it remains a testament to Jim’s monumental ego. Jim should never be threatened by Lyle as a husband but he was right to be wary of him, because when our cast gathered around to save Melanie, by combining their wills to bring Melanie back from her dome coma, Lyle stabbed Pauline just as she was kissing Jim. Jim won back his woman only to have her ripped from him. All because he tossed the egg.
Could this be the event that forces Jim to go full Dome Hitler? As he drove the knife down in Lyle’s chest, it sure seemed so.
Jim wasn’t the only character tested this week. There was a fascinating subplot involving Chester’s Mill’s science gal Rebecca, a woman utterly devoted to logic and science and must put aside her instincts as a scientist in order to find faith in the healing power of the dome because it is fueled by a science that is so advanced it seems to be magic. Yes, there was some science silliness in this episode as Rebecca suggested they use lima beans to find out Melanie’s blood type, but that bit of nonsense was pleasantly drowned out by the science versus religion struggle taking place within Rebecca. Seeing Rebecca as a bystander to Melanie’s revival was a nice touch to an emotionally charged episode.
That’s not to say all was perfect. Anytime Sam is on screen, the whole story begins to lose cohesion. The dude murdered Angie, with an ax, and no one, NO ONE, brings it up. Not only do they allow him to hang around; they actually trust him to perform medicine on Melanie.
The dude is a killer, and not only does everybody suddenly trusts him again, they actively seek his help! Nope, sorry, not buying it. I could believe that Junior has some twisted sort of forgiveness for Sam, after all, Junior did put Angie through a different kind of hell back in his darker days, but to actively trust him again? With Melanie’s life? Nope. That’s just stretching the bounds of credibility.
The stuff happening outside the dome, with Barbie’s father and the mysterious black clad army vacillate between interesting and downright obtusely confusing. We only have one episode left so there better be some answers concerning this sub-group or else the whole season could feel like a waste of time. All that being said, it was pretty badass seeing Barbie intimidate an armed soldier even with an impenetrable dome between them.
The visuals of the dome slowly closing were impressive and had that high stakes feel the show needs. This was one of the better episodes this season and it will be a solace after an uneven season if Under the Dome ends strong.
This was a step in that direction.