In a rousing speech delivered at the edge of what Fivehead Norrie describes as “A Giant Killer Suck Hole,” Dale Barbara tells the residents of Chester’s Mill, “For the last two weeks we have fought together for the survival of this town!” In those 14 days an underground fight club has opened (and closed), there’s been a drought, a food shortage, a missile attack, a terrorist attack, a plague of butterflies, an actual plague, a blood rain, a real rain, war with propane hoarders, a windmill has been built, hoses have been sprayed, gasoline (but not diesel) has run out, and we’ve experienced the drastic depopulation of the entire Chester’s Mill police department.
Is there any way that tonight’s season finale can possibly pack in more nonsense? “I have no idea,” Dale Barbie says about one minute before this episode ends. Dale, you took the words right out of my mouth.
One thing that’s very clear is Under the Dome doesn’t have any money to shoot more than one take of its scenes, which means mistakes stay in, from Pauline flipping her lines in Episode 9 (“The playground may be the way in, it is not the way out,” she says, when in fact the exact opposite is true), to this episode in which Big Jim limps around on the wrong foot after being stabbed. But Under the Dome is about passion, not precision, and tonight it’s so passionate that Junior gets to wear his special acting undershirt for the entire episode. Later, when the rain plasters Barbie’s t-shirt to his hot bod we learn that he wears a special sleeveless acting t-shirt underneath his regular acting t-shirt. Double-layers for double-acting!
Everyone is passionate tonight. Pauline’s had too much cherry pie and it’s caked all over her face, causing her to die.
“Our medical supplies are at the school!” shouts Uncle Sam, passionately.
“Let’s get there now!” shouts Big Jim, also passionate.
“The Prius is at the edge of the woods!” shouts Dale Barbie.
Fortunately, the roomy Prius can easily carry four adults plus a woman on a stretcher in comfort and it’s mere moments before they roll up soundlessly to the high school triage center and…nothing happens. “I’m not a surgeon!” shouts Uncle Sam. See, because Pauline has been stabbed in the back she is beyond the help of medical science and so this roomful of adults stand around and urgently do absolutely nothing except give her so much morphine she turns into a crack whore in a Spike Lee movie, slurring, “Sweet baby…oh, sweet baby…” as Rebecca Pine, high school science teacher, shoots her up with some more of Satan’s Soda Pop.
But Big Jim’s not having it. “Pauline came back to save us,” he exclaims. “Not bleed out in front of her son!” Which is a very specific desire for someone to have (almost as specific as Episode 10 when Uncle Sam said, “I hope it doesn’t have to end this way,” and Junior retorted, “Angie hoped it wouldn’t end with you swinging an axe into her head,” which is, again, an incredibly precise thing to hope for). “Maybe some saline?” Uncle Sam shrugs, which sends Big Jim on an epic saline quest that only ends when Food Hoarder Andrea (now hoarding medical supplies) asks him what he’s doing and he shakes a bag of saline over his head in triumph and screams, “Argle Bargle!”
While Big Jim is gone, the Dome starts bossing people around. Fivehead Norrie remembers she has a mother (whom we haven’t seen since Episode 5) and tells Scarecrow Joe the secret reason she was being sent to teen boot camp: a girl made fun of her hair and she knocked her tooth out. That’s okay, Joe reassures her, the Dome made you do it. Whether it’s mass murder, or knuckle dentistry, or missing brunch, it’s all the will of the Dome. Also the will of the Dome? Pauline had one more terrible painting up her sleeve, and having shot her artistic wad she, like many talented artists before her, now wants more morphine.
“No,” Rebecca Pine, high school science teacher says. “No more morphine. There’s hope now.”
“Blarg! This is so much pain!” Pauline bellows through cherry pie filling stained lips. “Also, the Dome wants me to die.”
“Oh, in that case…” Rebecca Pine says, administering a family-sized bucket of MMmmmmmMMMMorphine directly into Pauline’s veins.
Big Jim comes running through the door, waving his stupid bag of saline and then he makes Super Angry Face when he realizes that Pauline’s cherry pie entree (and her morphine dessert) have made her dead. Then he notices that Rebecca Pine, high school science teacher, is still clutching a syringe (about 20 minutes after she used it). And the syringe she’s clutching is dripping morphine. At this point, something wonderful happens. Realizing that this show is probably never going to get renewed, the writers decide to go out Viking funeral style, and they blow everything up.
Big Jim puts Uncle Sam out of the picture using an ancient jiu jitsu technique known as Sucker Punch, then he picks up a hammer and approaches Rebecca Pine, high school science teacher. “I’ll miss my wife forever,” he says, unable to resist delivering a final burn. “But no one’s going to miss you.” He may as well have added “Cat lady!” to the end of that zinger. Suddenly, it’s Hammertime!
Rebecca Pine, High School Science Teacher,
Season Two, Episodes 1 – 13
R. I. S.
(Rest in Science)
You know who hurts the most? Poor Tom Tilden! First his pigs die of the pig flu. Then he has to trade his family heirlooms for food. Then his wife died of sleeping. And now, because the Dome hates him, it zaps him with lightning while he’s explaining the riding mower to his son, Aidan, causing some kind of farm equipment to fall on his leg. Then, it zaps him again, frying his brains as Aidan watches. “Let’s go, buddy,” Barbie says, tossing the kid over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and running away as Tom’s lifeless body smolders from its eyeholes like overcooked bacon. Later Aidan receives more assistance with the mourning process when Julia Shumway tells him to “help with the evacuation.”
Evacuation? Yes! The “Giant Killer Suck Hole” opened up some kind of rave cave full of noisy butterflies and purple glow sticks. Figuring that every single one of the Dome’s orifices must lead to Zenith, Barbie and Co. are evacuating everyone in Chester’s Mill through it, but Big Jim’s not having any. Stopping off at Pauline’s studio he bargains with the Dome, telling it that if it brings Pauline back to life he “won’t slit Julia’s throat, or shoot Barbie in the heart, or burn those kids alive.” I can forgive the fact that he can’t remember the names of the kids he held at gunpoint two episodes ago, because then he does a great service for humanity: he burns Pauline’s awful paintings. Between this and playing Whack-a-Mole on Rebecca Pine’s skull Big Jim is rapidly becoming the audience’s advocate.
But he’s not done yet! Using anger, he lures Julia to Andrea’s house and introduces her to the hammer he likes to call Ol’ Science Smacker. Then he casually helps Andrea hoard some bullets inside her face, then he gets into an epic Hammer vs. Frying Pan lightsaber duel with Julia, but she escapes and hides behind Andrea’s hoarding, Big Jim throws her into some more hoarding, and then she stabs him in the foot and runs away to the Dome’s exit orifice where the purge is already underway.
Big Jim follows, but Junior shoots him, unleashing a large quantity of cherry pie filling from his left breast, but Big Jim does not die. Junior and Julia Shumway run underground instead where they are foiled in their evacuation by a five-foot-wide hole. “And IIIIIIIIIIIIiiiiiIIIIIII/Will always love YOOOOOOOUUUUOOOUUU!” she sings to Barbie, on the other side of the hole. Barbie must lead the Millers to freedom, which is fortunate because when he reaches the head of their column they are, true to their name, milling about. There’s a fork in the tunnel and with no decision-maker handy they just sit down like cattle. But Barbie decides to lead them down a tunnel that ends in a butterfly light show, cheering young Aidan up immensely even after witnessing the gruesome death of his dad. “I know your dad got crushed and electrocuted before your very eyes,” the Dome says. “But aren’t butterflies pretty?”
They are also helpful. Using their frail legs and tiny wings, they knock down an enormous rock wall to reveal Dead Wet Girl Melanie, who smiles and says, “Follow me, we’re going home.” Some people think this means that there will be a third season because the events in Chester’s Mill are simply too mythic to be contained in a mere 14 days. Surely they need at least two more days to wrap everything up? I beg to differ. The Under the Dome writing staff is going out with a major metaphor here. The entire town is in a long dark tunnel, at the end there is a bright light, and they choose to go into the light.
They’re all dead.
And so are my brain cells. Standing ovation, guys! This episode was so stupid crazy that I imagine when it was over the entire cast and crew rampaged through the streets of North Carolina, crazed with cherry pie, and burned down their Priuses, their Microsoft Tablets, and the entire state of North Carolina to celebrate. There is no shame. You earned it.
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. His latest novel, Horrorstör, is available now from Quirk Books.