Review: Under the Dome – “Manhunt” (Season 1, Episode 3)

During the last review of Under the Dome, I mentioned guilt. Guilt is how Stephen King defines good and evil. If you experience guilt, you’re worth saving. If you have no conscience, you’re probably a villain. Our score so far: Barbie feels guilt, Big Jim doesn’t, and Junior doesn’t feel he’s doing wrong. This episode focuses heavily on characters and how they’re dealing with the Dome, which means we’re not going to learn anything about why the Dome exists. Some people refer to these types of episodes as filler, but isn’t cake better with filling?

Randolph, the crazy cop, escaped. And he’s armed himself. And, of course, everyone is locked in a cage with him. Thanks to Big Jim, though, we’re going to get together a search party and hunt down the mad man. Things are going to go wrong—I think we understand that much. Big Jim does ask Barbie to join the hunt, though, which did worry me: Junior just attacked Barbie, was beaten badly, and told his father that Barbie attacked him. Why did this all happen? Because Angie decided her only means of fighting back was to prey upon Junior’s insane jealousy. Given the circumstances—both Big Jim and Barbie alone in the forest and armed—I’m surprised this recap isn’t an obituary. Well, Randolph dies, but that’s okay.

The frightening thing is how upset I was Big Jim didn’t try to kill Barbie. Sure, the motive for murder would have been based on a lie, but at least it would have shown Big Jim cared for his son—in his own, sociopathic way. Instead, Big Jim shows Barbie friendship and admiration, while Junior gets nothing but disdain from his father. It’s not difficult to see why Junior is the way he is. He is starving for love. Once someone showed him any semblance of love, Junior did what any starving man would do: devour it until he got sick, then lock the rest away, afraid he would never experience it again. The other frightening thing to come from the manhunt? Big Jim’s horrific story of shattering a schoolmate’s hip out of revenge for a bad nickname. Big Jim was the nickname, in case you were curious.

Angie switches gears from taunting Junior to directing him; she sends him on an errand to find a way out from under the dome. I suppose she feels comfortable playing with the emotions of a seriously deranged boy. The mission was a dud, only serving to bring Julia and Junior together and raise questions about Barbie’s true purpose in town. I’m amazed the reporter was able to stay out of Barbie’s business, but equally amazed she took so long to investigate the mysterious man living down the hall.

Norrie Calvert-Hill (Mackenzie Lintz), the daughter of the lesbians, has found her way to the McAlister house; Joe and Carolyn look sweet on each other. I find it comforting that, even as a crisis of incredible proportions surround them, teenage hormones persevere. I understand it’s basic human drama to include sex and/or love, but surely there are more important matters at hand than ‘do you think she likes me back?’. Speaking of frivolous matters, the writers bring a high school bully and future rapist to the mix. My guess: by showing everyone else Carolyn’s age are pig-headed and unsavory, Joe looks pretty good in comparison. This isn’t necessary, especially when Joe and Carolyn already have something in common—they both have seizures and chant the same creepy line. Synchronized trances are how the kids connect these days. It’s also how writers thicken the plot. Next episode (I hope) they’ll explain what it all means.

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