Review: Under the Dome – “Outbreak” (Season 1, Episode 4)

I’m not sure how the rest of the world feels about watching the denizens of Chester Mill struggle,
but the military must be sick of it — they’re packing up. Junior is (you guessed it) still crazy! But is he redeemable? Also, there seems to be an outbreak of something. It causes fever, headache, collapse, and possibly death. With all this added drama, let’s see what this episode of Under the Dome has in store.

Ultimately, we’ve got three active story lines: the quick-spreading sickness, Angie stuck in the bomb shelter, and Big Jim searching for medicine. Just because they brought three stories to the forefront of the show doesn’t mean all else screeched to a halt; the other plots are moving in a more discreet manner. Julia continues her investigation into Barbie’s being there. Norrie and Joe continue their investigation each other and their seizures. Linda continues her investigation into… herself? Her past? Something less tangible than the others, to be sure.

Linda is the first to fall victim to (what is later revealed as) meningitis, and brought to the hospital. Alice and Carolyn have already brought Norrie and Joe for an EEG to figure out the reason for their seizures. Barbie killed the only doctor in town, though, but don’t worry—Alice, the psychiatrist, did her internship in medicine. Not only is this hospital out of doctors, but they’re out of masks and gloves, too. Aren’t those necessities of a hospital? Is Chester Mill a small town, or a backwater community? Maybe I’m nitpicking and it really has been long enough for the standard emergency room to go through most of it’s supplies. Whatever. It doesn’t matter: half of the main characters have been vaccinated.

During the chaos of the small plague, Norrie and Joe decide to record themselves touching each other. For science. When they touch, the seizure occurs again. Then something creepy happens. Joe sits up during the seizure, possessed by another entity, looks into the camera, and puts his finger to his lips. This is Stephen King creepiness at it’s best, but the show glosses over it. Personally, if I watched a possessed me shush myself, I would be freaking out. Instead, they just take it as “I guess we should keep quiet.” This is a missed opportunity at best and bad writing at worst.

Angie, at the beginning of the episode, tried to take out Junior with a stolen pair of sharpened scissors. Junior reacts quickly enough to stop her, and shortens her leash as punishment. Realizing she can’t stab her way out of this mess, she attempts to call for help through the air shaft. She busts a water pipe, hits her head, and passes out on the floor of the flooding shelter. Junior usually feeds his new pet regularly, but today he has a new job—not to let anyone leave the hospital. With most of the police force sick or dead, Big Jim hands Junior a gun and tells him the hospital is on lock down. Okay, good, give the crazy kid a gun. I could see this as an argument for background checks and gun control. To our surprise, Junior doesn’t shoot anyone, and resolves the situation peacefully—leading to Junior’s promotion from citizen to deputy. He already has a gun, why not give him a badge?

Linda realizes, during spurts of consciousness, her roommate is her third grade teacher. It’s a small town, I get it. But wait, the teacher is there for more! She’s there to turn down a vaccination, thus sacrificing her own life, to save Linda. Her real role was to make Linda’s life all that more worth living, I guess.

Julia, who has been bombarding Barbie with questions the whole time, finally got a lead on a cabin. She investigates, while delirious with fever. Barbie has to find her. Julia forces Barbie to spill his secrets and, to the actor’s credit, the suspense and honesty were pretty well done. Up until he lies about killing Julia’s husband; she kicks him out of the house anyway.

Angie eventually is rescued by the only person under the dome you wouldn’t want to find her: Big Jim. The episode ends there, but I’m absolutely certain this isn’t a positive development for Angie. Which means the next episode won’t start in a happy way, but how many episodes begin happily? We’ll find out, next time, on Under the Dome!

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