Finally! While Lost squandered viewer patience by asking too many questions it never answered, Under the Dome just proved that it’s not going to play that game. After a full season of mystery, we finally started getting answers in this episode! Who shaves Big Jim’s head? Where are all these new characters coming from? Who has the best product placement? Are resources the new crops? What is email? And finally, what does it taste like when God cries? (Answer: Acid-flavored cherry Kool-Aid.)
“Those are pretty provocative questions,” says new character Lyle Chumley. Well, I’ve got some pretty provocative answers! Let’s start with the biggest!
Q: Was this week’s episode better than last week’s episode?
A: Last week’s guest stars were butterflies and caterpillars. This week’s guest stars are Dwight Yoakam and Microsoft’s ClearType Sub-Pixel Rendering, which provides enhanced sharpness for black and white text and graphics. Dwight is here to play the town barber, a character we have never seen before but who is definitely a psychopathic killer because he buttons the top button of his shirt. Later he doubles down on the title of the show, uttering the greatest line of dialogue since To be or not to be: “This dome is about as majeure a force as it gets.”
Q: Who shaves Big Jim’s head?
A: Religious zealot Lyle Chumley shaves Big Jim’s head with a straight razor even though he used to date Big Jim’s wife and has dark secrets. He’s basically Reverend Coggins II: Electric Boogaloo, another religious zealot with dark secrets who got killed via exploding hearing aid way back in episode 5. Reduce, reuse, recycle!
Q: Why is God crying?
A: Big Jim is taking a census of everyone in town when it begins to rain acid-flavored cherry Kool-Aid. Is God weeping tears of blood because the residents of Chester’s Mill are idiots? It turns out that this is another test. While some residents believe that Science is making it rain steaming acid blood, others believe that it is a plague from God. Some go even further. “Jim!” Lyle Chumley gasps, “it’s like three plagues rolled into one!” Rebecca Pine, high school science teacher, isn’t buying this Turducken-plague nonsense for one second. According to her, the blood rain is nothing more than trapped car exhaust, which she immediately decides to make worse by going on a long car ride with Big Jim. But Lyle Coggins goes all GTA: Under the Dome Edition and carjacks Rebecca Pine, high school science teacher.
Q: Which is better? Science or religion?
A: In his secret fort, Lyle Chumley ties up Rebecca Pine and sneers at her so-called science.
“I’m looking at the Bible,” he says. “What are you looking at?”
“So you’ll solve everything?” he scoffs. “You and Science?”
“Or go down trying,” she retorts.
Later, Science wins because Rebecca Pine sprays some chemicals in the lake which immediately evaporate, get drawn up into the sky where they form condensation, and stop the blood rain. What chemicals does she spray? “It was a mixture of salination with some high pH compounds,” she tells Big Jim. “Pretty sciencey.”
Q: What is email?
A: That’s pretty sciency, too. Scarecrow Joe, mysterious girl, and Norrie go to the high school to build a windmill. The windmill plans are on the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, a powerful all-in-one device that gives users high speed connectivity even when they’re trapped inside an enormous dome. Suddenly, they get email! Mysterious girl is confused about email. “Are they messages?” she asks. Yes! Email are messages!
Q: Who has the best product placement?
A: Dwight Yoakam’s on this episode to do two things: play Lyle Chumley and plug his new single (an acoustic version of CCR’s “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” which he kindly sings). We also spend time with the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, now faster and with a powerful 12" display. As Norrie says, holding one up proudly, “There’s only so many fake-ass messages from wannabe Dome groupies I can read before I barf all over this wonderful piece of machinery.” Wow! It’s even barf-proof! The Microsoft Surface Pro 3 wins.
Q: What’s wrong with high school science teachers?
A: Up until now, every high school science teacher in America has related to Rebecca Pine, high school science teacher. Like them, she is physically attractive, knows all knowledge, and has the ear of people in power. But unlike them, she can’t stop talking about killing people. Apparently the butterflies she killed last episode were practice genocide, because this episode she declares that she wants to put old people in a tree and shake it until they fall out.
Q: Where are all these new characters coming from?
A: After briefly getting internet access and catching up on all their favorite cat videos, Norrie, mystery girl, and Joe figure out where the internet is coming from using Science. “What if the magnetism caused some sort of wormhole?” Joe wonders, scientifically. “I’m just saying.” They follow the internet all the way to Angie’s old locker. “That locker was the last thing Angie touched!” Joe moans. Nope, the last thing Angie touched was an axe. With her head. All quibbling aside, clearly this locker wormhole is where all the new characters in Chester’s Mill keep coming from. Lyle Chumley, mystery girl, Sam Verdreaux, Rebecca Pine, Maxine—the new cast members are coming from inside the wormhole!
Q: Who has all the answers?
A: When in doubt, look at an old photograph. That’s never more true than in “Force Majeure.” First, an old photograph reveals the identity of mystery girl after Joe uses the reverse locker combination look-up directory to find out she is Melanie Cross…who died in 1988!!!! Then Junior Rennie learns where Lyle Chumley is holding Rebecca Pine hostage by looking at an old photograph…from 1988!!! “That photo was taken out by the old cement factory!” he exclaims. The only surprise here is that it’s taken three whole episodes for the number one location in Chester’s Mill to make an appearance.
Q: Are resources the new crops?
A: At the end of this episode, Rebecca Pine, high school science teacher, calls a meeting to discuss resources. Big Jim (who has a boo boo on his head), Julia Shumway, and Barbie attend and Barbie is confused because he thought they were just going to talk about resources in general, but Rebecca Pine is quick to correct him. They are there to talk specifically about how they are running out of resources. Especially pigs! Alarmed at the imminent piggie crisis, she claims they have to take a cue from some old tribe in Borneo (Rebecca can’t remember exactly which one), put their old people in a tree, then shake it really hard. Some of them will fall out. Will they be dead? It's unclear from her story, but we do know one thing, they won't be needing any more pigs. This leads to the most important question of all...
Q: Who is more evil? Scientists or government?
A: Under the Dome contains a powerful political message that you usually only find in places like militia group meetings. See, we all think the problem is Big (Jim) Government because he’s taking away everyone’s guns, making people take the census, then using the information from the census to form Death Panels to kill the weak. But you know who is making Big (Jim) Government do all these things? Rebecca Pine, high school science teacher. Science = evil. Julia Shumway is horrified that Rebecca Pine wants to put old people in trees, but Dale Barbie thinks it might not be a bad idea. Julia Shumway is horrified that the honeymoon period with Barbie only lasted 14 days and she storms out of the cafe, telling him not to follow her. Don’t worry, Barbie! She got over you murdering her husband in about five minutes. Ten minutes from now she won’t even remember why she was mad at you in the first place.
Grady Hendrix is the author of Satan Loves You, Occupy Space, and he’s the co-author of Dirt Candy: A Cookbook, the first graphic novel cookbook. He’s written for publications ranging from Playboy to World Literature Today and his story, “Mofongo Knows” appears in the anthology, The Mad Scientist’s Guide to World Domination.