Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Under the Dome Review: "Exigent Circumstances" - Not Guilty

Barbie looks to protect Julia yet again on "Under the Dome"

Now that’s the episode I’ve been waiting for.  Finally, after weeks and weeks of Disaster of the Week storytelling that’s completely forgotten when the episode ends, we get an episode with real stakes.  The good guys and bad guys are mostly established and we’ve got clear consequences for everybody no matter how this all plays out.  Frankly, for the first time since the premiere, I’m actually excited to see how this all plays out. 

My biggest problem with Under the Dome has always been the feeling that there were no stakes.  One week they’re going to run out of water until the problem is magically solved and never spoken of again.  Another week they’re going to run out of food until the problem is magically solved and never spoken of again.  Another week a bomb is going to be dropped on them.  To be fair, that actually did happen, but then it was never spoken of again.  Nothing ever lasted, and so when a new disaster happened, or something else came out of the blue (hello Max’s Fight Club and enormous mansion in the middle of the lake), it was tough to care because I knew we’d never hear about it ever again.

Finally, though, action starts happening that’s based entirely on what’s come before.  Barbie’s on the run but still needs to protect Julia, who he’s pretty sure Big Jim will kill if she wakes up long enough to identify Max as the shooter.  Putting Barbie and Angie together for the rescue is a particularly good idea because Mike Vogel and Britt Robertson have always worked well together, despite not getting many opportunities to do so.  This also has the added benefit of throwing yet another wrench in the Angie/Junior relationship.  At this point I’m not sure why Angie isn’t screaming about her kidnapping from the rooftop.  That whole “Big Jim’s protection” thing hasn’t been worth squat for her and I imagine she’s going to find herself at the wrong end of a gun before the season wraps.

Another problem I’ve had with the shows is that, for all the deaths and mayhem, there hasn’t been a consistent sense of dread, a consistent fear that something bad is just around the corner.  Just look at the final scene of Sunday’s episode of Breaking Bad.  I understand that it’s not exactly fair to compare Under the Dome with Breaking Bad, but the latter really emphasized this week how to effectively create dread.  The final twenty minutes of “To’hajiilee” are a master class in fear.  Death and destruction are right around the corner as the characters obliviously play out their roles.  It was riveting, edge of your seat entertainment.  Everybody watching knew, absolutely knew, that something terrible was about to happen.  And when everything hit the fan, it felt natural.

Now, I’m not saying “Exigent Circumstances” is on the level of Breaking Bad, but for the first time really since the premiere, I feel that pretty much any character can die, and for perfectly valid reasons.  I feared for Joe and Norrie when they were in Jim’s custody.  I fear, obviously, for Barbie and Angie.  Hell, if it wasn’t Dean Norris, I’d half expect Big Jim to get a bullet in the head at some point in the finale.  That Dodee is the one to go this week makes sense as she’s clearly become “the woman who knew too much.”  That the military outside the dome saw Jim kill the Reverend is a bit iffy, but that he’d kill her for hearing that is definitely not. 

So heading into the season finale I’ve got to say I’m more excited about Under the Dome than I’ve been since the premiere.  I’m not ready to forget the last ten episodes since there’s certainly every possibility that next season will fall back into the “Disaster of the Week” pattern.  But for now, I’ll enjoy the ride.

A couple of spare thoughts –

The mini-dome story has kind of stalled but I’m much more intrigued by the fact that the military outside the dome know that it exists. 

I was a little disappointed that Joe and Norrie went straight to Ben and the egg after being released by Jim.  At least it was Linda who followed them and not Jim or Junior.

What teenage boy has that many blankets and comforters in his room?

So thoughts?  Comments?  Just want to tell me my blog sucks?  Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @TyTalksTV.

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