Under the Dome: “Caged”

Tonight’s episode of Under the Dome is brought to you by Prichard Farms Vienna Sausages: opening hearts, cell doors, and carotid arteries since 1963. At Prichard Farms, we make our smoked pig lips taste…mmmMMM…good! UtD used to have sponsors like Prius and Microsoft Tablets, but it looks like the show is finally running out of money and is resorting to sponsors like Prichard Farms to make ends meet.

But that’s okay because tonight’s UtD is also brought to you by: helping. What is helping? I think we’ve all heard the lesson in Sunday School about how when sometimes a Lawful Evil scientist wants to force a sexy lady alien therapist to tell him where it hides its delicious eggs, he will ask a former used car salesman to sit in the cell next to her and trick her into telling him everything. Remember that old parable? Well, that’s exactly how this episode of Under the Dome starts. After being locked in a cell and told Evil Science Things last episode, Big Jim wakes up in an easy chair with Nerd Scientist asking for his help to unlock the mysteries inside Christine’s upper lip.

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Meanwhile, Barbie, looking remarkably healthy for a man who got worked over with a baseball bat the night before (his beard absorbed most of the blows) is walking around town with Eva, who needs his help with mating, which is something you should never ever call sex if you actually want to have it. The former love of Barbie’s life, Julia Shumway, is zipping around town on the silent little mouse wheels of her Prius trying to prove that alien lady sex therapist Christine was actually not helping the entire town, but hurting it. What she discovers instead is that because the show is trying to save money they’ve forced the extras to whistle the theme music instead of paying actual musicians to play it.

Norrie and Scarecrow Joe have been locked in a room all night that is completely devoid of lovemaking candles, and so they’ve started to panic. Fortunately, Norrie’s black lesbian mom uses her ability to appear and disappear from the show at will to appear and tell Norrie that she should help all the local zombies by helping mom drag an X-ray machine from the clinic to town hall so they can X-ray the possibly-paralyzed Hacker Hunter. She also calls Norrie “Eleanor,” which is a vital clue about the possible source of Norrie’s rage. If I was named Eleanor I’d probably be getting sent to teen boot camp for murder by now, too.

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Meanwhile, Julia is snooping and instead of clues she finds a design for a very nice necklace that Christine is probably hoping someone will make for her. Then she hides while Eva and Junior relax in comfy chairs and reveal crucial plot exposition in the form of dialogue. Outside, Barbie asks “Roger,” an anonymous extra who no one has ever noticed before, where Christine is. Surprised to be noticed, Roger fluffs his big moment by saying that he saw her heading out to “Bear Island.” It’s “Bird Island,” you idiot. No more lines for Roger. It’s back to standing in crowds and whistling theme music for him.

Out in the cells of Bird (or Bear) Island, Big Jim and Christine are revealing a bit too much about themselves. Big Jim tells her that his heroes are creative geniuses like Napoleon Bonaparte and Winston Churchill, while Christine gives an acting master class (she does Scared Face, Sad Face, and Dog Whisperer) and tells him that “Junior will come for me.” Actually, I think he just did at the beginning of last episode. Ba-dum-bump! I’ll be here all week! Thursday nights, ladies drink free. Disgusted by their chit chat, one of the Aktaion thugs leans in the door and tosses a gas grenade at their feet, causing Dean Norris to break character and stare at the floor in confusion. “What the hell?” he asks.

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This the hell! Because he wakes up in the Easy Chair of Interrogation where the Nerd Scientist threatens to inject him with a liquid that will cause him to forget he ever won the Screen Actors Guild Award for “Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series” in 2014. Panicked, Big Jim asks if he can borrow the lid off a can of delicious and nutritious Prichard Farms Vienna Sausages which is made with the same care and craftsmanship that’s been a hallmark of Prichard Farms since 1963. Then he makes a Rogaine joke like it’s 1993.

But that Rogaine joke is prescient because hair is important on UtD. You may (or may not) have noticed that all the men on the show have much fluffier hair this season, as if the producers have hired a new hair department who have been styling some impeccable male coifs. Their labors bear fruit in this episode as Uncle Sam demonstrates his grief over the assisted suicide of Abby by wearing the fluffy hair of sadness. Act with your hair, Sam! Act with your hair!

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Junior Rennie (not a hair out of place) is forcing Scarecrow Joe to stack solar panels like dominos and then knock them over, but when Julia speaks up for freedom and justice, and to point out that as per their SAG contract lead actors cannot be required to stack solar panels, Junior waits until her back is turned and then sucker punches her right in the hairdo. Julia’s thick red mane is her most sensitive organ, and she collapses, only to wake up later, tied to a chair, while Eva slinks around and suggests that if Julia just surrendered her brain to the mindless group think and whistled the damn theme music like everyone else then “We’d both be able to be with Dale.” But the promise of a threeway with Barbie and an alien sex dream lady is not enough to make Julia violate her SAG contract. “Actors act!” she screams in defiance. “Musicians musicate! You can’t make one do the other!”

Speaking of assisted suicide (which is a special kind of helping!) Uncle Sam has X-rayed Hacker Hunter’s chest and revealed that he has a C-4 fracture. “You’ll never walk again,” he says. He probably won’t be able to poop by himself, breathe on his own, drive a car, hack a computer, or control his own bladder again either, but Uncle Sam doesn’t want to overwhelm him with too much information. Now that he’s paralyzed, Eva doesn’t want Hacker Hunter using up their valuable resources, like pain killers, over the course of a week. Instead, she wants to give them to him all at once so he dies.

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This kind of helping does not fly with Scarecrow Joe and Norrie. First they find a guy with shaggy hair wearing a plaid shirt and beat him up because grunge is over, man. Then they rescue Julia who says, “U guys R unbelievable.” Then Julia has some big ideas about why some people are resisting the mind control more than others.

“Some people are more resistant than others,” she explains to them. “So whatever you guys are doing, keep doing it.”

Again: what’s the number of condoms Scarecrow Joe had last episode. Answer: “A lot.” I think these two kids will be able to resist that mind control for a long time to come. But then they go back to Hacker Hunter’s room and find Eva about to inject Hacker Hunter with all the painkillers. Eva tries to explain what’s going on and Norrie rebuts by bashing her head into the wall over and over in her finest moment. Never underestimate the pent-up rage a girl who’s been called Eleanor all her life. Then, careful of his C-4 fracture, she and Joe yank Hacker Hunter off the bed, pitch him in a wheelbarrow, and bounce him away into hiding.

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Out on Bird-Bear Island, Junior is doing a very bad job of helping Barbie free Christine. First he stands around uselessly while Barbie chokes out the entire Aktaion staff, then when Christine is about to be killed, he waits for Barbie to shoot the guy who’s about to kill her. Annoyed at his uselessness, Barbie sends him to “get the boat ready” which I assume means hooking up the ski rope and filling the cooler with ice. While he’s gone, Barbie and Christine actually have a very nice chat, then Julia shows up and ruins everything and Barbie gets so annoyed he tells her to stay in the woods and never come back.

That might be a good thing because the second they get back Christine gets stabbed in the gut by Uncle Sam in the Mayor’s Office with the Decorative Letter Opener. Junior finds her and she forces him to carry her bleeding upper lip to the rave caves and drop her in a healing Goop Bath.

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Outside, Eva and Barbie engage in listless banter:

She: I’ve been looking for you everywhere.

He: Well, you found me.

She: I’m a Barbie Bloodhound.

(Both laugh.)

Ugh. If that’s what passes for sexy banter when the aliens take over then I’ll stick with Napoleon and Churchill. Barbie apparently feels the same because he tells Eva that instead of mating with her he’s going on a walk, and her face falls because whenever Barbie goes on a walk he winds up telling some stranger that they’re the love of his life. I mean, just two episodes ago, it was her. Who’s it going to be this time? Roger? Big Jim’s dog? A vienna sausage?

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It’s always a good time to talk about Prichard Farms Vienna Sausages and since some of you might be wondering why Barbie rescued Christine and not Big Jim from Bird (or Bear) Island, you’ll be pleased to know that Prichard Farms Vienna Sausages don’t just make a delicious meal or snack for lunchtime, dinnertime, or anytime, but their lids also make handy tools that let you pick locks and slash the throats of Nerd Scientists who use too many Science Words. Big Jim knows about the excellence of Prichard Farms Vienna Sausage can tops and that’s exactly what he does with one before running out the door of his big bird cage to find Indy, his dog, who apparently runs towards the sound of gunfire.

While looking for Indy he runs into Julia who’s taken Barbie’s orders literally and hasn’t moved an inch from where he ditched her in the woods hours ago. Big Jim isn’t Barbie, and Julia isn’t Indy, but both of them decide to settle for less and they tromp off into the darkness together, and suddenly this episode just ends in mid-scene, probably because they ran out of money to pay the crew or their cameras got repossessed or something.

Grady Hendrix has written for publications ranging from Playboy to World Literature Today and his latest novel is Horrorstör, about a haunted Ikea.

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