Under the Dome is one of the surprise hits of the summer. It started with an intriguing pilot episode, tanked horribly for the next few weeks, but quickly stabilized and has become enjoyable, escapist fun. The CBS drama’s turnaround has not gone unnoticed. It garnered enough viewers to be granted a second season. Now, Under the Dome won’t run away with the Emmys anytime soon, but there is something about it, something that keeps me smiling throughout as I watch. Simply, it knows what it is now, never straying from surprises, cliffhangers, and human conflict. And that’s why Under the Dome is such darn fun.
Let’s look at the most recent episode, “Speak of the Devil.”
Front and center, we are witness to a morality tale. The main characters caught under the dome are all forced to consistently make choices. Now, we are all forced to make decisions in our own everyday life, but if you’re a regular guy like me (or gal for that matter) rarely are we consistently surrounded with life and death, having to make alliances between good and evil. In Under the Dome, average people are forced to look deep into themselves and find out who they really are. Big Jim and Barbie both are polar opposites. Yet, they have a mutual enemy in Max and have to consistently join forces to usurp her power. Speak of the devil, Max herself is the single connection holding the two together; once she goes, the two will blow apart.
What’s even more appealing is Barbie, a man who has done some bad things in life, now trying to be good. He is a solid guy. When he has been pushed, he answers the bell as we all want our heroes to; he humbly does the right thing, never asking for a reward. Big Jim, on the other hand, is all about public perception, and is wickedly devious. He will turn on anyone as Barbie finds out at episode’s end.
Yet it’s the surprises in “Speak of the Devil” which truly answers why Under the Dome is such darn fun. Julia getting shot in the first five minutes of the episode makes me love the series even more. It’s the playful shock value that keeps drawing me in. Of course, I never thought she would die (oops, spoiler alert), but the fact that something like that can happen at any moment, gives me hope each episode will have more massive surprises and cliffhangers. While not all the surprises are unique; an innocent man on the run for a crime he didn’t commit at episode’s end has been done before. But that’s Under the Dome’s charm and Stephen King’s for that matter. Recycled storytelling techniques are relied upon, but they are done in such a way that they aren’t overly tired and are, at heart, fun.
Furthering the surprise factor, the dome itself is beginning to act like a toddler. As if it’s experiencing the ‘terrible twos,’ when Junior no longer wants to be part of the four teenagers of the apocalypse (rather offsetting the apocalypse), it revolts into a terrible storm. The dome is definitely pulling the strings underneath, but it wants its own way badly. Near episode end, another terrific cliffhanger is left for our four under twenty heroes, but the dome gives them a vision to do the unthinkable, especially for Junior. More twists and turns. Another reason why Under the Dome is such darn fun.