Under the Dome: “Awakening”

That darn Dome has been over Chester’s Mill for two weeks, and in just 14 days it has been magnetized, rained acid blood, gotten clogged with dust, been infested with butterflies, Barbie has almost been hung, Big Jim has almost been hung, Sheriff DJ Phil has been shot, Wendell has been shot, Sheriff Linda has been crushed, Angie has been chopped, a dead girl has come back to life, a plane has hit the Dome, a fire station has exploded, a locker has exploded, a pig virus has been viraled, a food shortage has shorted, a lite genocide has been planned (then canceled), and a windmill has been milled.

To better wrap your brain around these events, redditor u/Wadam1230 has edited every “previously on Under the Dome” recap into a single supercut of madness. But as Big Jim has taught us, people can change, and this week we discover…so can Under the Dome.

Previously, each episode started with a voiceover telling us that “Two weeks ago an invisible dome crashed down on Chester’s Mill…” but this episode it’s changed so that now Dale Barbie says, “A few weeks ago an invisible dome crashed down on Chester’s Mill…” What’s next? “A few months ago…”? “A few minutes ago…”? “A few brain cells ago…”? Truly this is…


Under the Dome Awakening

Big Jim decides to become the new sheriff of Chester’s Mill, so that means his life expectancy can now be measured in hours. His first act is to visit the home of Rebecca Pine, high school science teacher, who has shambled out on her front porch in a sleeping ensemble last seen in a late 90’s romantic comedy. He gives her a baby monitor because “You’re our resident scientist,” although technically anyone who has a garden hose and a pulse could be considered the town’s resident scientist for all the good she does.

Rebecca then ushers in the first meta-moment of self-awareness, saying, “You’re planning on keeping that star? The Dome hasn’t treated those who wear it too kindly.” Making her the first person to point out in continuity that putting on a Sheriff’s uniform in Chester’s Mill guarantees that in mere minutes you will be shot in the shoulder, shot in the chest, shot in the back, your pacemaker will explode, you’ll have to arrest taggers, or you’ll be crushed by a truck.

Under the Dome Awakening


Outside the Dome, no one is getting crushed by trucks. Instead, Dale Barbie’s daddy tells him that he can send an email to Julia Shumway inside the Dome but first he has to write it down on a piece of paper like a caveman. Then his Dad adds his own message to Barbie’s email. See if you can guess what it is: “Julia, I love you. We’ll see each other soon. All it takes is a leap of faith. Do you like older men? I need you to send many nude selfies, not totally nude but just the top half and also pictures of your beautiful hair.”

Under the Dome Awakening

For some reason, Barbie sends his mash note to Scarecrow Joe who shows it to Julia Shumway while Norrie explains to her what is happening, “Can you believe it? We thought he was dead and now he could be alive.” But Julia is not impressed. She’s been fooled before, like that time she thought Pro-V was on the periodic table. She requires a face pic before she will send topless photos of herself on the internet. Smart Julia!

Speaking of messages, someone is trying to send Big Jim a message. First they kill the garbagemill (garbagemill (n) – windmill made of garbage). “I think someone’s trying to send me a message,” Big Jim says. “It’s not all about you, dad,” Junior replies. “Well, it’s got to mean something!” Big Jim screams, revealing that he has forgotten he is Under the Dome where meaning is an empty concept like extended warranties or insuring packages at the post office.

Under the Dome Awakening

Like Julia Shumway, Big Jim demands proof from his messenger and he gets it when someone sets a car on fire in front of a truly amazing Big Jim Rennie Motorcars billboard. This also provides us with our greatest line of the evening when Food Hoarder Andrea stutters, “I was stepping out to get some supplies for the diner and I spotted the car wild with fire.” Thank you, Andrea, but here in 2014 we say “burning car” because we are not Victorian gentlefolk from the 1880’s.

Back in Zenith (ugh) Lyle has stopped working on his song called “Melanie, Melanie, Melanie, Melanie” and started working on a new song called “It’s In the Cards, It’s In the Cards, It’s In the Cards.” This leads to a kuh-razy subplot involving lather, beards, terrible heists, a magical drug called Crazy-B-Gonex, the theft of a key card (conveniently labeled “Key Card”), and Lyle becoming sane again. He is, however, terribly disoriented because people aren’t explaining things enough to him, so he eats some apple sauce and gives us the episode’s most heartfelt moment when Pauline says, “We have to go to Chester’s Mill.” Lyle looks at her like she’s stupid and says, “Nuh-uh, Pauline, it’s terrible there.” Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new motto for the Chester’s Mill Chamber of Commerce, “Chester’s Mill: It’s Terrible There.” It works because it’s true.

Barbie has been busy too, lurking on a playground like a pedophile and awkwardly fiddling with a little boy’s red ball. When the kid confronts him Barbie doubles down on being a creeper, declaring, “I’m just hanging out, waiting for a friend to meet me.” He doesn’t have long to wait! A hot Computer Hacker has seen him on a surveillance camera and utters the hacker’s mating call, “Gotcha!” Then he tails Barbie, but Barbie avoids him using an old Special Forces trick called “Hiding Around a Corner.”

Under the Dome Awakening

The Hacker helps Barbie send a second email to Julia, who is hanging around the rocky tunnels in her high heeled boots again. This time, Julia believes in the message because Barbie uses her secret nickname for him, “Your Stray,” and the teens are excited by the stench of romance, “Quick, let’s write something back!” says Norrie, eager to get some group sexting going. But Julia decides to meet Barbie in a secret location all alone.

Hacker helps Barbie sneak past five protesters outside the Dome (one of whom shakes his fist at the camera, old school style) and also gets him past the Army people guarding it using a fake thumb ID that says Barbie is a “Radiation Specialist” which is a new kind of spa treatment. The police/Army let him through their security gates but when Barbie tries to talk to one of the cops the man sneers, “Stick to your science!” Barbie responds by using his science fingers to stick to the bottom of an Army truck like some kind of demented, oversized raccoon.

Under the Dome Awakening

Inside the Dome, Rebecca Pine and Junior Rennie make a list of people who might hate Big Jim and then interrogate them terribly. One of these people is Tom Tillman who is really angry at Big Jim and Rebecca Pine because the two of them almost killed everyone with the flu that was in his pigs so now people hate his guts and, even worse, they hate his pigs. Those pigs worked hard and now, through no fault of their own, they will never win the Chester’s Mill Pig Pageant! Tom Tillman’s hopes to raise pageant pigs are as dead as Dodee and so he has to trade his heirloom quilts for food, even though Julia and the teens were just at the Sweetbriar Rose shoveling all-you-can-eat eggs down their maws. I guess pig farmers aren’t allowed inside?

Finally, the man stalking Big Jim is revealed as ex-Sheriff DJ Phil, sucking on a bottle of whiskey. Remarkably spry for a man whom we were earlier told was lying in bed “with a gunshot wound to his chest,” you’d think Phil would be delighted he’s no longer a human target (read: sheriff) but instead he is resentful and angry, leading to some witty repartee.

Phil: Oh, come on, everybody knows that nothing happens in Chester’s Mill without the hidden hand of Big Jim Rennie.

Big Jim: If that were true…my hand would be hidden in your chest ripping your damn heart out.

His Girl Friday it’s not. But they seem to think it is. Much in the same way that Julia Shumway has a dramatic monologue raging against the invisible Dome which she seems to think is the kind of thing actors do. After her rage is spent, she spies Her Stray running across the grass to her like an obese raccoon. Barbie! Still suffering from Exposition Syndrome he must write (backwards) “Not Safe Out Here” on the Dome as armed police charge after him, Army trucks barrel over the grass towards him, and helicopters circle overhead. The obvious thus stated, he writes “Don’t J—” right before the police/Army people drag him away, leaving Julia hanging. WHAT WAS HE TRYING TO SAY???

Under the Dome Awakening

Don’t Juggle? Don’t Juice? Don’t Jog? Don’t Jaw? Jab? Junket? Jabber? Japan? The only word Julia Shumway knows that begins with a “J” is her own stupid name, but what could he possibly be trying to say to her? A cliffhanger is born and so truly this is…


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.


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