What happens when a 20,000 foot dome unexpectedly appears over the town of Chester’s Mill? The new CBS TV show Under the Dome, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, explores this concept every Monday night at 10/9c. Violet gives a recap of the pilot episode, while Josh shares his commentary in blue font!
Quick Recap: A 20,000 foot dome randomly shows up over the town of Chester’s Mill, trapping everyone within the dome inside, and preventing anyone else from entering. We get introduced to several different characters. There’s Barbie, who’s from out of town and has buried the body of a man who turns out the be the husband of Julia Shumway, a local journalist, who befriends him. Then there’s teenage boy Joe, and his teenage sister Angie, whose parents are outside of the dome. A creepy, crazy, violent teenager named Junior, is in love and obsessed with Angie, so he kidnaps her and locks her in a fallout shelter. Junior is the son of Town Councilman “Big Jim” Rennie, who is involved in some sort of propane stockpiling scheme, and it appears Big Jim and Junior will be the bad guys in the show. Sheriff Perkins was somewhat involved in the propane scheme, but the electrical shock of the invisible barrier disrupts his pacemaker and gives him a heart attack before he can tell Officer Linda, whose firefighter husband is on the other side of the dome, about it. Oh, and for some reason when a teenage girl named Norrie, and later the aforementioned teenager Joe, get near the barrier they have a seizure and say “The pink stars are falling in lines.”
Here’s the detailed recap:
The episode starts off with a man, Dale “Barbie” Barbara (played by Mike Vogel), burying a body out in the woods. In town at the Chester’s Mill police station (which appears to be located inside the Town Hall), Police Officer Linda reports to Police Sherriff Duke Perkins (played by Jeff Fahey) that someone had called in a “bang,” so he goes to check it out. Meanwhile, Town Council member and used car salesman “Big Jim” Rennie (played by Dean Norris) has just finished eating at the diner. On another side of town, a teenage boy named Junior is getting it on with a teenage girl named Angie. He tells her he loves her, but she blows him off. He grabs her arm, but she leaves in a huff for work. A young woman named Julia Shumway (played by Rachelle Lefevre), who is the editor of the local newspaper, shows up to interview an older woman named Mrs. Grinnell, who reports that an unusually high number of propane shipments have been delivered across the street.
This opening scene seems to be establishing the storylines that happen before the dome comes down. I have not read the book, but from my understanding, many of these characters are probably recognizable from this opening scene.
Barbie is driving out of town, when some cows in the middle of the road force him to veer off the road and crash his car. All of a sudden there is a bunch of wind and shaking all over town, then in the field of cows, one of the cows is sliced in half. Barbie goes to investigate, but when he tries to touch the half of the cow that is still standing straight up, he gets an electrical shock. He realizes that there is a clear wall separating him from the other half of the cow, and leaves a bloody hand print on the wall without being shocked again. A teenage boy named Joe comes out to check on Barbie, touches the wall, and gets shocked too. He deduces that it’s some sort of invisible fence that only zaps you the first time you touch it. The police officers get radio calls about several downed power lines around town.
(Terrible name–Barbie? Geez, anyway…) So I guess our first encounter with the dome is through the eyes of a murderer, not what I would have imagined. I am curious as to why they are only “zapped” the first time they touch it. Since it was made a big point, is there a reason for this?
Birds start falling out of the sky, and a small plane crashes into the invisible barrier high above Barbie and Joe, and Barbie saves Joe from falling debris. From Big Jim’s car dealership, it looks like the plane exploded in midair. Apparently cell phone service is not working. Barbie and Joe find an intact purse and discover that Mrs. Sanders was in the plane. Just then a fire truck comes driving down the road toward them and Barbie runs out in the road to stop them before they crash into the invisible wall. Barbie and the firefighters are unable to hear each other through the wall, nor can Barbie hear the sirens. It also turns out that the local Chester’s Mill radio station is the only radio station the town can pick up.
So no sound can travel through this barrier, but can oxygen? I guess we do not know yet, and not being a botanist/biologist, I am not sure if the trees within the dome are enough to provide the people of Chester’s Mill oxygen to survive. By the way, my first thought would be to try to dig under this “dome”. I have a feeling this will come up later, but I would try that right away!
Sheriff Perkins and Officer Linda show up at the site of the plane crash. Linda and her firefighter husband are unable to hear each other through the wall. Big Jim arrives at the site and recognizes Chuck Thompson’s plane. They all realize that whatever the barrier is, it not only cut off the roads, but the whole town, and they are trapped. Julia Shumway shows up to report on the plane crash, and Officer Linda commandeers her car so she and the Sheriff can go set up road blocks.
This sure is a small town if they only have two people to set up road blocks. Curious to know the extent of the signal blockage, since we learn that no phones or radios for the most part are working.
Back in town, the power is not working, and therefore a lesbian couple is unable to pump gas while driving their teenage daughter, Norrie, to camp. Julia and Barbie walk through the woods following the path of the invisible barrier, and we find out that Barbie is ex-military. The two come across a woman whose hand was sliced off when the barrier came down, so they bring her to the hospital. Big Jim forces his way into the radio station to make an emergency broadcast to tell all drivers to stop their vehicle. The lesbian couple hears the radio message, but ignores it, until they see an 18-wheeler driving toward them crash into the invisible barrier, and they slam on the brakes just in time. Their daughter suddenly has a seizure and murmurs the words “The pink stars are falling in lines” over and over.
Creepy scene with the girl seizing. I am curious if what she is saying is something relevant, or just gibberish? We shall see I guess…
Joe rides his motorcycle home and we find out that Angie, who has rushed home from work, is his sister. They realize that their parents are outside of town, and therefore they are on their own.
Over at the hospital there’s a cluster of cars out front and chaos, as Barbie carries the woman inside and lays her on a gurney. Julia asks about her husband, who is a doctor, and supposedly always works on Sundays, but he’s not there and apparently hasn’t worked on Sundays in weeks. She goes home to see if he’s there.
Uh oh, do we have a naughty doctor on our hands? Do I sense an affair?
Meanwhile, Officer Linda is observing what’s happening on the other side of the barrier at the edge of the bridge. Lots of reporters clamor for answers, while a police officer tries to calm them, and guys in hazmat suits show up. However, Linda is unable to hear anything they are trying to say to her.
I like how they NOW have hazmat suits, even though dozen of people on both sides have already had contact.
Back at the hospital, Barbie’s outside smoking, and Angie, who apparently also works as a candy striper in addition to a waitress, asks to bum a cigarette, and they chat for a bit. Unbeknownst to them, Junior is jealously spying on them from his truck, while playing with a knife. Just then, the lesbian couple pulls up and Angie helps them bring their daughter into the hospital.
Junior is really creepy, and I had a hard time accepting is character. From my talks with Violet, he is in the book, but he seems really weird, and borderline mentally unstable to the point that someone should notice it I would think. I guess many serial killers are able to blend in for long periods of time though.
Sherriff Perkins returns to Town Hall and talks to Big Jim, who he thanks for the emergency radio broadcast. Big Jim wants to appoint more police officers, since many got stuck out of town attending a parade, but the Sherriff turns him down. But then Big Jim brings up the propane, and the fact that it would look bad if people found out they were stockpiling it right before this disaster occurred. Seems like the propane was Big Jim’s idea, and Perkins doesn’t know what he wanted it for, although he did turn a blind eye. He begins to get angry and says he did what he had to do to keep the town from going broke and to keep it safe. Big Jim threateningly reminds him not to put too much stress on his pacemaker, then smiles and says “We’re all in this together.”
I am curious to learn more about this propane. What could it be for? Big Jim seems to hint it could have possibly been to prepare for the dome, but this could just be to mislead us. I am not sure what ton of propane would be used for though. Very intriguing indeed!
At the radio station, they’re picking up on random signals, sometimes alien-sounding, sometimes cell phone conversations or music, when they catch a broadcast from which they learn that they’re trapped inside a 20,000 foot dome.
Barbie has returned to his car, where Junior has creepily followed him and looks like he’s about to start trouble, when Julia pulls up, so he walks off. Julia hasn’t been able to find her husband. She insists that Barbie come stay at her house instead of sleep in his car, since all the motels are booked.
What is with this guy Junior? He seemed normal at his first introduction, then immediately went to crazy mode.
A bunch of teenagers are having a party out on the bridge. As Joe crosses over it, a guy named Ben starts talking to him and follows him. Apparently Joe has come to the barrier to look for an off switch, reasoning that there might be a power source that’s in there with them. Suddenly, Joe collapses and starts having a seizure, while saying the same words Norrie said earlier “The pink stars are falling in lines.”
This pink stars comes up again with someone seizing. Now I am beginning to think this dome is more than just a barrier, but may perhaps be doing something more. Government science experiment possibly?
Angie returns home, where Junior attacks her, holding a knife to her throat, and accidentally knocks her unconscious when she tries to escape.
Sheriff Perkins and Officer Linda arrive at the diner, where many people have gathered. The Sheriff reports that 12 people in Chester’s Mill have died. He tries to assure everyone that everything’s going to be okay.
Angie awakens to find out that Junior has locked her in his dad’s old fallout shelter, where no one can hear her screams. As Junior exits the shelter, we discover that Big Jim is his dad, who he tells that the shelter is flooded. He also tells his dad he wants to help out, and they hug.
I am going to guess that locking your want-to-be girlfriend in a basement is not the best move for a long term relationship…
Julia and Barbie arrive at Julia’s house, where she has power because her house has a backup generator. Julia shows him a picture of her husband, Peter, who Barbie recognizes as the guy he buried. Julia knows the whole town must think that the reason her husband’s not home is because he’s having an affair, but she has faith he’ll turn up.
So it probably was not an affair after all, but I don’t think we know exactly what was going on here yet. Gambling debt perhaps? Drug addict owing money? I am sure this will be explained further. What is kind of annoying is the murderer seems like a nice guy, with his saving of the kid at the beginning of the episode.
Officer Linda and Sheriff Perkins are back at the plane crash site. As he touches the barrier, Perkins starts to tell Linda about something that he was protecting her from (presumably the propane situation), but he gets shocked, which appears to disrupt his pacemaker, thus giving him a heart attack. Linda radios for help, and the episode ends there.
Why didn’t anyone warn the sheriff about the shocking tidbit that at least a few people experienced? Might be helpful to know. I guess we will find out if the sheriff will make it.
Not that great of a pilot. So many different storylines and characters that we have to be introduced to, so it’s a bit hard to follow. Especially when Angie is a waitress and then all of a sudden is a candy striper without any warning. I actually questioned whether it was the same girl at first! I feel like they took too long setting up the dome scenario and them figuring out that they’re trapped inside a dome. Considering that the title is of the show is “Under the Dome,” the audience already knows that they’re in a dome, so it felt like it was very dragged out. The show tried to get the audience’s attention with shock value early on, with the sex scene at the very beginning, and the gruesome scene with the cow being sliced in half not long after. I do understand that the writers need to introduce all the characters in the pilot who will come into play later, and set up the whole premise of the dome, so I guess I can forgive the slowness for now. I suppose what I’m more looking forward to is what happens to society inside of the dome as they realize they will be trapped for an extended period of time, and realize they have limited resources. Of course there’s also the mystery of who Barbie is and what exactly happened between him and Julia’s husband, and obviously further down the road finding out where the dome came from and why it is there.
I was not excited about the pilot. Perhaps this show needs some build up time. We now have many of the characters laid out, and we have a lot of back story to work with. Hopefully the show picks up, which I presume it will as resources become more scarce and people become more panicked. I am curious to know what the seizures happening are all about. I have not read the book, so I really have no idea what will be coming next! Until next week!
I actually have read the book (okay, so I listened to the audiobook), so I know where the book says that the dome came from, and what happens in the end, but I won’t spoil that for you. Besides, the show is going to be a little different from the book, according to the writers and producers, and probably will have its own separate mysteries. Plus, that’s a really long book (over 1000 pages!), and I read it (okay, listened to it) several years ago, so I don’t remember all the little details and intricate storylines.
Want to know more about the making of Under the Dome and what’s to come? Check out our Wondercon Anaheim 2013 Saturday Report, where we give a recap of the Under the Dome panel which took place there, featuring actors Dean Norris (who plays Big Jim) and Rachelle Lefevre (who plays Julia Shumway), as well as writers and producers of the show.