Like some hideous viral infection, Under the Dome drew to a messy yet terminal conclusion at the end of Season 2, but now it’s come raging back with a vengeance as Season 3 explodes out of television’s collective gullet, splattering its remaining viewers in the face with a steaming stew of undigested tropes from other shows, half-baked acting, and undercooked plotlines, like some kind of insane Linda Blair possessed by the demon of crummy Lost knock-offs.
I’d been in denial about the fact that I must recap this show as a condition of my prison work-release program, and now four episodes have gone by, and here you are again. It’s like you’re trapped under a dome and you can’t even see it. Or, as Fivehead Norrie says in Episode 2, “It’s like you’re trapped under a dome and you can’t even see it.”
The new season kicked off with back-to-back episodes and so we’ll kick off with two posts of back-to-back recaps because anything you can Dome I can Dome better. The first thing to know about Under the Dome 3: The Returning is that the opening monologue has changed.
“The dome has tested our limits,” Barbie intones. “Forcing each of us to confront our own personal demons: rage…grief…fear…shame…” It’s like he can see into my mind! “But we have also found love under the dome, and we have battled to keep our town together.” It’s almost like poetry! “Now we may finally have found a way out. We hope it takes us home.” It’s almost like good writing! “But what if it takes us to…an alternate reality?”
If you haven’t just died of hot blood geysering out your ears, the Dome has doubled its pleasure and doubled no one’s fun because it now exists in two alternate realities. In one, the end of last season actually happened, and Dead Girl Melanie led everyone out of the Dome and it folded like a circus tent and now they’re all living their lives one year later. Barbie is playing paintball on a team-building exercise with a bunch of nightclub bouncers in some paintball course called “Yemen” where everything is on fire all the time for no good reason. He talks to hacker Hunter by Bluetooth and is dating Ava who wants him to share his feelings. But he won’t share his feelings! So she suggests they go back to Chester’s Mill for the Dome memorial service where the Dome monument will be unveiled. It will be impossible to not share feelings there!
Barbie doesn’t want to go back because when the Dome came down he ran into the woods looking for Julia and instead found Big Jim leaning against a tree with a stick through his tit, and Julia facedown in a sinkhole, limp and lifeless. And the human being underneath all that hair was limp and lifeless, too! But, it turns out that Julia and Big Jim aren’t dead. Instead, they are in an alternate reality with a dog! In this alternate reality, they are the only two people in Chester’s Mill, except for Junior (and a dog). Big Jim tells Julia that he won’t kill her because they are the only people left (besides the dog) and he might need her for “repopulation” (can’t do that with a dog). For Big Jim, however, hawt sex with Julia will not happen because he is really into insulting her hair now. “Your roots are looking a little tired,” he snarls at one point, then calls her “…even dumber than the bag of hair I took you for.”
Junior has had enough of his dad’s hair-hate and he teams up with Julia to go underground into the purple glowing rave caves. A butterfly bites him, and he tries to stab it with his knife, but YOU CAN’T STAB A BUTTERFLY!!! Then Julia drops her flashlight and a swarm of butterflies lose their shit. Junior distracts them by shouting, “Over here, you bastards!” which is the technical name for these butterflies (Danaus bastardus) but the butterflies totally don’t have sense of humor about it and they attack. Junior fights them with road flares. Fire! The natural enemy of the butterfly! But unlike crops and caterpillars these butterflies are fire resistant and they…eat him?
Also in this reality, Dead Girl Melanie is hanging out in The Purple TV Room of Doom down in the rave caves where she watches the OTHER reality. All around her, the Millers have been packed into spooge-pods full of slime and they’re hallucinating that it’s one year later and the Chester’s Mill death memorial is about to be unveiled.
So back to the other alternate reality. FEMA have sent Marg Helgenberger and her lopsided upper lip as a therapist to therapize everyone in town but maybe she’s a secret agent? Or a lesbian? Junior has gotten an awesome leather jacket, Scarecrow Joe is happy to see Barbie back in town (“We’ll catch up at the memorial,” he says. “Sounds good,” Barbie says. Does it? Does it sound good? It sounds depressing to me), and Fivehead Norrie has joined a sorority because she wants to be “part of something bigger than myself.”
But the aliens have screwed up! Skater Ben knows that a sorority would never let a girl with Norrie’s enormous melonhead join its ranks, and he tries to alert Barbie that something’s rotten. But before that can happen he chokes to death on Melanie’s hands wrapped around his windpipe in his spooge-pod in the other reality. Having a kid die in the middle of a healing memorial service is really traumatic for everyone who’s trying to heal and Fivehead Norrie is so broken up that she awkwardly handles a cigarette then goes to a motel with Hacker Hunter and gets tipsy on hard lemonade and tries to make a hankie pankie with him.
Back in the other alternate reality, Julia Shumway and Big Jim have tracked Melanie the dead girl alien to her underground terrible 90’s rave cave full of artificial smoke and purple glow sticks. Julia sees everyone chilling in their slime-pods and gets really upset, but Melanie attempts to soothe her by choking her to death which is apparently Melanie’s new hobby (in this episode she chokes Barbie’s dad, Junior Rennie, Ben, and now Julia). Big Jim becomes enraged when he finds out that Melanie killed his kid (“Only I get to kill my kid!” he snarls) and he smashes part of her underground light show and everyone emerges from their goop-pods like giant naked babies slithering out of disgusting underground butterfly vaginas. And on that disgusting image, we glance at the clock, realize that we’ll never get these two hours of our lives back, and we all slither off into our own slime-filled spooge-pods to marinate in our own terribleness, hoping to slime our way into an alternate reality where this season doesn’t exist.