The Breakdown

Under the Dome begins Julia downstairs eating breakfast as Barbie joins her in the kitchen. She’s not feeling well, but she’s going to head over to the radio station to speak with Phil. Julia also suggests that Barbie knows the town a bit better than someone who is just passing through. Barbie shrugs off her comments, and states that it’s not hard to figure out.

Meanwhile, another angry mob has formed at the dome. Sheriff Linda is trying to hold off them off as Julia, Big Jim, Barbie and Reverend Coggins arrive. The doped up preacher tells the crowd that the dome is God’s “wish for a new Eden.” Big Jim helps disperse the crowd just as Linda collapses.

Julia finds Phil with her husband’s car. Phil passes out before she can get much information out of him. Julia takes him to the hospital, where she confronts Barbie over his map. He walks away from her just as she has another headache.

Big Jim and Barbie carry Linda to the hospital. Alice and Carolyn are there as well. They brought in Norrie and Joe to get some tests over their seizures. Somehow, Alice, using her vast powers as a psychiatrist and former medical student, figures out that people of Chester’s Mill are suffering from meningitis.

Rennie also encounters his son, Junior, at the hospital. Junior is there getting his hand bandaged up after he thwarted yet another escape attempt from Angie.  Big Jim questions him briefly before moving on. Junior’s still sitting in his room when Joe asks if he’s seen Angie. He tells Joe that he hasn’t seen her in two days.

Alice informs Big Jim that the disease is extremely infectious, and people must not be allowed to leave the hospital. Big Jim gives Junior a gun and tells him to bar the door. Later, when the crowd gets anxious about leaving, Junior channels his best Big Jim impression and calms them down. He also tells Julia that he saw Barbie at a cabin and lets her leave the hospital to find her answers.

Big Jim and Barbie head to the pharmacy looking for antibiotics. They find it cleared out, and Big Jim guesses that Coggins has the drugs. They find him, and sure enough, he’s burning the town’s supply while claiming that it’s God’s will. They take the drugs to the hospital.

Barbie finds a recovering Phil and asks him about Julia. He tells him what he knows, but there isn’t much for Barbie to go on. He then questions Junior, who admits that he told her about the cabin. Barbie demands the keys to his truck and reminds Junior that her blood is on his hands for letting her leave the hospital. Barbie goes to the cabin and brings Julia back for treatment.

Sheriff Linda tells Big Jim that Junior saved the day. A proud Big Jim congratulates his son and notes that maybe he has a future in law enforcement. Meanwhile, Angie is stuck in the bunker with water rising to above her feet after her latest escape attempt loosened a pipe.

Joe and Norrie surmise that the reason they had a seizure at the same time is because they touched. They decide to test their theory on tape. Nothing happens at first, but then they both collapse.

Julia wakes up with Barbie at her bedside. She tells him that Peter emptied her accounts and put their house in foreclosure. She asks Barbie what they were involved with. He tells her that he got involved with a bookie after he left the military. He was the person who ensured that the bookie was paid what was owed. Barbie chooses not to tell her that he accidentally killed Peter, but she kicks him out of her home anyways.

Joe invites Norrie and her family to stay at his place. They accept.

Junior and Sheriff Linda have a heart-warming conversation (as much as you can when speaking with a psychopath), during which she offers him a deputy badge.

Big Jim and Coggins have a meeting on Rennie’s front porch. The reverend tells Big Jim he’s out and gives Rennie his share of the drug money. Moments later, Rennie hears screams coming from outside. The episode ends with him finding Angie in the shelter.


I don’t know what to make of this show. There is true potential for greatness, at least in terms of entertainment. However, the characters and the story just aren’t believable. I know, I know, most people are probably reading this and thinking, “come on, it’s a dome.” Yet that’s not what I’m talking about.  The characters themselves are the problem.

Let’s take Alice for example. She’s a psychiatrist with some past medical training. Okay, with that kind of background, she’d be great for therapy and treating the common cold. She shouldn’t be successfully diagnosing a meningitis plague or operating an EKG machine. Heck, the CDC has a hard enough time figuring out some of this stuff let alone some random psychiatrist. It’s just not believeable.

Another example is Junior Rennie. Even if the audience didn’t know about his psychosis, how did he go from being the college dropout to a trustworthy option for quarantining the hospital? Furthermore, how  on earth could anyone trust him to be a deputy? Big Jim was just tearing him apart for being weak a couple episodes ago, and now he’s a police officer?

The basic story is still a great one, which is why CBS saw fit to carry Under the Dome. The book is a highly entertaining yarn and many of the show’s adaptations have worked. Still, the characters need to be believable. I need to buy what this version of Under the Dome is selling, and until that happens, it’s not going to be a high quality show.