CBS’ Under the Dome, an at-times-unwatchably-awful sci-fi extravaganza, came crashing down in a series finale full of SHOCK, AWE and UTTERLY PREDICTABLE PLOT TWISTS.
And so the dome came down. Ideally, it should’ve come down in the Season 1 finale, when the show still had some integrity and merit. But now, after 39 long episodes of CBS’ summer drama, it’s finally finished. Under the Dome, you see, was destined (and designed) to be a 13-episode miniseries.
The first season, upon rewatching, actually works really well. It’s tight, fast, exciting, surprisingly subtle and directed suspensefully in parts by Lost vet Jack Bender. Sure, Mike Vogel’s handsome thug Barbie is the least interesting character you’ve ever seen on TV, but this is somewhat compensated for by the brilliant trio of Dean Norris, Alexander Koch and Britt Robertson.
Season 2 lost Robertson to Tomorrowland, but Bender kept the boat floating for a while. Sadly, once the writers had torn all they could from the pages of Stephen King’s novel, they had to start creating original plot threads. And this was where the show started to fuck everything up. A magical purple egg, mysterious butterfly-related symbols and the appearance of a “sinister corporation” turned the show into a horrendous Lost knock-off. And we mean Season 6 of Lost. The bad side of Lost.
Season 3 began with one of the worst 120 minutes in the history of television, combining incomprehensible parallel universes, glowing violet cocoons, the breakup of Joe and Norrie (the show’s sole generally-palatable romance) and the diabolic acting talents of Marg Helgenberger into a giant mess of nonsense.
There are no words to describe how awful the Season 3 premiere of Under the Dome was. As a result of this, I dropped the show for a few weeks. I returned upon learning that CBS had (finally FINALLY) pulled the plug. The penultimate episode came pretty close to the premiere in terribility. I can only imagine what the middle episodes were like. Big Jim and Jim Jr. both reduced to wooden blocks of hate and anger as the alien empire only slightly-hinted-at in Season 1 comes to earth and controls everybody in Chester’s Mill with moon ray magic and peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches. Fuck it, it’s bad.
Now to the finale. It’s not the worst it could’ve been. Considering the insult to network television that Season 3 has been, it’s the best it could’ve been under the circumstances.
Mike Vogel was once dull; now he’s infuriatingly punchable. Rachelle Lafevre continues to swish her impossibly clean hair instead of act. But Big Jim and Jim Jr. get a deserved send-off.
That said, Joe and Norrie are schnaked out of a good ending. Joe sacrifices himself in Norrie’s place by singing a high note to the magic egg/lava/rock stuff. This causes Mackenzie Lintz to weep and scream, and there’s no less a pleasant sight than Mackenzie Lintz weeping and screaming.
In the final moments, we learn that Big Jim has become a congressman (YAAAY), Norrie has enlisted and gotten a fringe covering her frowny forehead, Hip Hacker Hunter works for the NSA (and is still in a wheelchair) and Barbie and Julia are going hunting and fishing and camping and stuff. Norrie learns that (some version of) Joe is still alive, and Barbie’s inappropriately flirty biracial daughter is also hanging around… looking for another egg!
Under the Dome was never going to be more than a cheap Lost knockoff, but what it mutated into was much, much LESS than a cheap Lost knockoff. It became The X-Files in Season 2 and by Season 3 was (dare we say it) EVEN WORSE THAN WAYWARD PINES! Nobody introduced the writers to internal logic, and nobody ever introduced them to a better actor than Mike Vogel (there was room for Barbie to die in the Season 1 finale. There really was.)
Alexander Koch and Dean Norris have been wasted on this show since the start of Season 2. Britt Robertson, god bless her, got out just in time. As for the rest of the cast (we’re looking at you, Colin Ford), well they should just be happy to have been part of the TV masterpiece that was Under the Dome.
Adieu, Under the Dome.
And we never even got a Simpsons Movie reference.