When people are trapped underneath a dome, their thoughts naturally turn to love. This is a show that began with Junior Rennie imprisoning the love of his life in an old bomb shelter and Julia Shumway falling into the strong arms of the man who had just murdered her husband, so romance has always been in the air, but now, after two weeks of enforced isolation, passions have reached a boiling point. This episode of Under the Dome explores the ins and outs of dating when you’re under a dome.
Date #1: Rebecca Pine and Big Jim
Big Jim Rennie fell for Rebecca Pine, high school science teacher, the moment she started whispering sweet nothings to him about mass extermination. Their love blossomed when she told him about the senior-citizen-killing habits of a tribe in Borneo, and he even approached the town barber, Lyle Chumley, to blend him a signature cologne that would send Rebecca Pine crawling all over him like a monkey because there is nothing ladies like more than a man who smells like homebrewed Axe body wash.
When Rebecca is called to a farm to check the pulse of a little rubber piglet that’s fallen over on its side she turns to the farmer, tears in her eyes. “I’m sorry,” she says. “It’s too late for this pig. But it is never too late for love.”
Racing to the high school, Rebecca enters the lab where they store the influenza samples (my high school kept them right next to the anthrax, one shelf over from the loaded handguns) and she begins injecting infected pig juice into eggs. Big Jim rushes to her side.
“What’s inside the eggs, Rebecca?” he demands, voice sparking with manful authority.
“You said you’d do whatever it takes to save this town!” she says, eyes flashing with passion. “What’s inside these eggs is how you’re going to do it. You’re going to make eggs…for everyone.”
“My god,” Big Jim says, eyes softening. “You’ve put the bacon inside the eggs…It is a complete breakfast inside a tiny shell.”
“Inside a tiny mini-dome,” she corrects him, gently.
Pressing herself to his chest, she whispers her plan into his ear. They are going to kill Sunday school teachers by spraying eggs n’bacon virus all over them. In a classic case of romantic confusion (see “The Gift of the Magi”) Big Jim thinks he’s going to unleash the virus at the Sweetbriar Rose cafe where the extras are always milling aimlessly. But Rebecca Pine has sold her hair to give him an empty egg, and she is going to church with the death egg. “It’s not God,” she swoons. “It’s Darwin.”
Date #2: Julia Shumway and Sam Verdreaux
Julia Shumway’s perfect hair is irresistibly drawn to the mysterious Sam Verdreaux. She shows up on his cabin doorstep and tells him that dead Angie scratched someone who was killing her. Sam realizes that this is his opportunity.
“Would you go on a date with me to find the man with dead Angie scratches on his body?” he asks, his voice shadowed with sadness because he has been hurt before.
“Half the town probably has scratches after the maggotisation,” Julia Shumway says, because she is supposed to be in love with Dale Barbie but every time he tells her he thinks genocide is a good idea she wonders if she still loves him at all anymore.
But when Sam hears Julia use a made-up word like “maggotisation” he only loves her harder.
“If you don’t want to do that,” he says, “then why don’t we investigate Rebecca Pine, high school science teacher?”
No woman can resist breaking into another woman’s home for evidence that she is plotting genocide, and so Julia falls into his eyes and they go to Rebecca Pine’s pad. Like a woman in love, Rebecca Pine has two things on her wall: a poster of “The Kiss” and a calendar showing the exact date when the entire population of Chester’s Mill will starve to death.
“She’s been going somewhere with a lot of muck,” Sam observes, using his man powers to examine Rebecca Pine’s shoes. “Sometimes you can find muck in the country.”
So Julia and Sam spend a day blissfully driving their Toyota Prius Mark III in Blizzard Pearl around the countryside, talking about their feelings.
“Oh, thank god,” the farmer says when he sees them. “Did Rebecca send you to help?”
“Help with what?”
“Picking up these stiff rubber pigs.”
But they don’t have time for stiff rubber pigs because they are walking in a meadow.
“I’ve been out in the woods for so long, there are days when I don’t really know myself,” Sam says, wistfully.
“Yes,” Julia Shumway says, brushing her thick hair away from her oval face. “Trees are confusing.”
Then they race to the Sweetbriar Cafe and catch Big Jim slipping Roofies (or delicious bacon-flavored death eggs?) into a water pitcher. But Rebecca sent him there with empty eggs because she knows he doesn’t really love her, he loves this town. She has gone to church with the real death eggs, but when she gets there she hears a farmer talking about how he loves his half-dead pigs.
“Why did this happen?” he wails, like a man who has tasted the power of pig love.
“Sometimes there are no answers,” says a Sunday school teacher.
Moved by a world where even half-dead stiff rubber pigs get love, Rebecca Pine has a change of heart but then Julia Shumway pushes her onto the ground. After that, Julia and Sam put Rebecca Pine and Big Jim in jail together, like at the beginning of a romantic comedy about two serial killers who meet cute in a holding cell.
“You guys will have plenty of time to talk about this…downstairs,” Julia Shumway says, a trace of a smile playing around her lips. “Tomorrow we’ll have a town meeting and put you on trial…for loving too much.”
Then she goes home with Sam, who tries to give her a kiss. She offers him tea instead.
“Thank you,” he says, relief melting his molten black eyes. “Too often, women think that men want to kiss and make love when all they really want is a nice cup of tea. This is so much better.”
Julia smiles to herself, because it is true: she knows what men want.
“Honey?” she asks.
“Yes, please,” he says and then he reaches under his shirt and slides his strong hands over his chiseled chest and we see that it is covered in dead Angie scratches. Sam has loved too many women!
Date #3: Lyle Chumley and Junior Rennie
But we all know that not every date can be successful. Lyle Chumley, insane town barber, is hiding behind his hands and praying like a crazy person when Junior Rennie comes to his jail cell.
“Would you like to go on a date with me where I shove you through doors all over town while we talk about my dead mom?”
“Like topsy,” Lyle says.
“Wear these handcuffs,” Junior says, pulling them out from behind his back.
Lyle smiles shyly.
First, Junior shoves Lyle through the door of his barber shop where Lyle has been hiding postcards from Junior’s mom.
“See,” he says. “She painted them each with terrible art from her mind.”
The terrible art seems to predict what’s happening on the show. Junior is excited but then Lyle says, “Let’s go to Sam’s cabin and read your mom’s diary.”
Also, he says that Junior’s mom is alive but she left town because, “She thought the dome would follow her and leave you alone.”
Junior’s mom was in love with the dome but we all know that domes are too wild to give love. Then Lyle gets even more romantic and talks about how he has scheduled dating Junior’s mom, Pauline.
“I’m saying that these events brought us closer to the apocalypse when the world’s going to burn with sacred fires and our ashes are going to float up into the heavens, that’s when I’m going to be with Pauline again,” he croons, romantically, but also a little crazily, too.
“You keep talking about burning in sacred fires with my mom,” Junior sobs. “Why can’t you talk about me instead?”
Then he shoves Lyle through the door of Sam’s cabin and they find Pauline’s diary but Lyle hits Junior on the head with a poker and runs away.
“But…I thought you felt something for me…” Junior cries, collapsing to the ground.
This is a bad date.
Date #4: Dale Barbie and the Scooby Gang
Dale Barbie winds up going on a kind of date, but it’s more like a family date, with Big Forehead Norrie, Scarecrow Joe, and Mystery Girl. It is a bad date because he has to keep doing things he doesn’t want to do. First, he doesn’t want to investigate the Mystery Girl, but they make him go to Julia Shumway’s newspaper office and look at old microfilm.
“I’m so bored,” he cries. “And this microfilm smells like Julia’s hair.”
Then he says he doesn’t want to go to the Mystery Girl’s house but they make him go anyways.
“All I feel is sadness,” Mystery Girl says and Barbie looks at the wall, not saying anything, because he feels so many things.
“What’s up with you and Julia?” Big Forehead Norrie asks, sensing his feelings. But Barbie’s feelings are too big to be described. He can only show his feelings by growing a beard and, while she watches, his beard grows another inch.
“Let’s go into the woods,” Scarecrow Joe says. “They are beautiful this time of year and there may be clues.”
“I am absolutely not going in the woods,” Barbie says.
A few minutes later, in the woods, they find a spot where the dirt makes Mystery Girl have memories. In these memories she flashes back to a 1988 date when she stole an egg out of a rock from outer space and Baby Lyle Chumley and Baby Sam Verdreaux got mad at her. Then she falls down and hits her head on the meteorite and dies in this date within a date.
“There are too many dates here!” Barbie shouts and he runs away to visit Julia.
“I have to come inside your house,” he tells her. “I have to tell you things.”
“You cannot come inside my house,” she says. “You cannot tell me things.”
Barbie spent all day not getting to do anything he wanted, and now it’s happening again. As Julia Shumway makes tea for Sam Verdreaux, Barbie walks away into the night, and in the darkness we can hear the lonely sound of his beard growing.
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 Horrorstör, his novel about a haunted Scandinavian furniture superstore, comes out on September 23.