Under the Dome 1.08 "Thicker than Water" Review

A tv review article by: Shawn Hill

The inevitable War Over Water breaks out, and the show abandons the character work it teased us with last week to get right back to big sloppy plot machinations. The enmity between Farmer Ollie of the Artesian Well and Big Jim of the Town Council drives this episode, and the director works overtime to set them up as opposing sorts of bad daddies, with firecracker nutjob James Jr. caught like a butterfly on a pin between the two would-be patriarchs.

Unfortunately, the script isn't much help, focused as it is on details of munitions and water tables and blowing up this or that. It's an awkward and disjointed episode, with the script, director, and actors all seemingly going for completely different goals from scene to scene. There's clearly a story arc with beats that need to be hit, but this week it's like a caveman wielding a club.

Julia needs to know about the mini-control dome at the center of the dome's radii? Let's have Joe blurt it out to her for no reason - he's a weird kid. Angie and Joe finally have their longed-for reunion, but she plays off her captivity by relying on her bad-girl reputation. She's clearly actually probably one of the nicest girls in this town, dedicated as she has been to burying Rose and feeding her brother and serving coffee to the townspeople in the revived Diner. But none of that is as important as her butterfly tattoo.

Norrie lashes out at Joe in guilt over her mother's death (because they saw their vision when touching the mini-dome). She also bonds with Angie by crushing her unwonted collection of snow-globes (which isn't so much a metaphor as a visual symbol of impotence), though we don't see her step-mother at all this week. She's grieving by the body.

The body count rises in the siege on Ollie's farm (five more dead, with any more likely averted by Linda and Barbie's delaying tactics), but the most interesting part is when Junior defects to Ollie's side in order to keep up the humiliation of Big Jim. We find out that Junior's mom was a suicide, and may have been the origin of his insanity. We also get hints that Big Jim might not be his actual father (and that Ollie may be instead? It's impossible to read, but the implications percolate all around their scenes, in case another writer wants to pick them up, I guess?).

Turns out Junior was playing Trojan in order to destroy the opposition from the inside, or something that sounds just as devious as Junior can be, but far smarter than he's been shown thus far. He's also the one who's been claiming that the Dome has altered Angie from the beginning, which was easy to dismiss until the end of this episode, because of butterflies. And Julia's vision.

When she touched the mini-dome, she saw Joe, in a trance, telling her "The Monarch will be crowned." Even though he was standing right beside her, silently, at the same time. Which is freaky, but not as freaky as Angie's eyes at the end of the episode, as she watches Norrie and Joe make up over a freshly dug grave.

Let's piece this together. We saw a monarch butterfly fluttering around at the beginning of the episode. And now Angie has a butterfly tattoo (and a bad girl past at reform school). And there was that time the horde of monarchs covered a slice of the Dome a few weeks ago. See what I'm getting at? Me neither, but I'm gathering the owls are not what they seem. I'm going to go hide from the smoke monster.

Shawn Hill knows two things: comics and art history. Find his art at http://cornekopia.net

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