Under the Dome has mastered the LOST art of the cliffhanger.
For the past few episodes, including “The Fourth Hand,” Under the Dome has not only given tremendous cliffhangers at the episode’s conclusion, but in between as well. Each commercial break has something tantalizing enough which strikes fear into the heart of the viewer – I have to keep watching this. Luckily, taping a show and fast forwarding through commercials has eliminated the wait time. Yet, the art of creating a quality cliffhanger, especially within an hour long show should not go unnoticed.
My most memorable experience with this came from watching a month long marathon of LOST. Years ago, as Season 5 hit its midway point, I had stumbled across a rerun of the pilot episode, never having watched the show. I know; the shame still haunts me today. Immediately, I became possessed, trying desperately to catch up to real-time in Season 5. One of the biggest draws for me was being able to watch multiple episodes in one sitting. And what I found from doing that was, each episode had such tremendous cliffhangers throughout, I couldn’t stop. Under the Dome has this feel now. It has taken a while to get its feet wet, but its brilliant use of serial-like cliff hangers harkens me back to my time with LOST. It’s fun to experience this brand of TV, especially to someone who was brought up on cartoon serials such as GI Joe and Transformers. This made watching “The Fourth Hand” one of the best episodes to date.
An enjoyable feeling I get from Under the Dome is that the show isn’t trying to take itself too seriously. It’s not silly, never foolish with its audience. But it knows what it is – a show designed to entice us back, inch by inch, revelation by revelation. As well, the art of a good cliffhanger must be that it is acted well. The requirements aren’t necessarily about being a great thespian, but a lingering look or a raised eyebrow coupled with just the right facial expression and you can have yourself a good little serial. Dean Norris, who plays Big Jim, has mastered this.
Moving forward on that wave of inspiration, there is a new character introduced to Chester’s Mill. A long legged, hard nosed blonde, Max is now brought right into the dirty mix of political corruption and the creation of a new drug: Rapture. She has a connection, separately I might add, to both Big Jim and Barbie. Secrets, or more importantly keeping those secrets buried, come to the forefront in “The Fourth Hand.”
As Barbie sits with Julia near the end of “The Fourth Hand,” what will become of this little life he’s been living should his little secret come out? It’s the secrets in life that kill many before their death. Sometimes the fear of the secret being revealed does more damage than the secret itself. It’s a lingering doom weighing around one’s neck. Restful, peaceful sleeping is not in the cards for Barbie or Big Jim for that matter. Max’s leverage will always win out, at least so far in Chester’s Mill.
“The Fourth Hand” was a great episode. As expressed previous, it was fun, filled with cliffhangers, and enough plot revelations to consistently peak interest. At episode’s end the three teens (Joe, Norrie, and Angie) all have their hands outstretched. They are connected to the egg by some supernatural force. But to unlock the egg’s secrets they need a fourth hand. My guess for the fourth hand is Junior’s. Earlier in the episode, he showed Angie a past connection to her “pink stars are falling” comment. Could he be the final piece to revealing the mysterious egg? Perhaps we will find out next episode.
See! A cliffhanger that makes it worth returning to Under the Dome.