“Exigent Circumstances” feels different. All the filler plot, the stuff that has taken place after episode 6 “Blue on Blue”, is largely thrown aside. No time for dealing with how the town deals with being trapped under a dome. There is only the finale after this one. Time to set up the end game, whatever that resembles. Under the Dome has been at its best when it has a singular purpose to explore. Something that wraps everything in a sandwich. Which is why all the seemingly disparate elements that have gone on for the past 5ish episodes have no emotional tug. At times it was like two different shows were going on. One socially minded one that featured the machinations of Big Jim and Co. The other, the sci-fi fantasy stuff involving the egg and the four. These threads become to wind together, as Big Jim hunts Barbie so to does he hunt for the mini-dome.
Big Jim is an evil man who loves the idea of having power. The Dome gave him immense power over the town and instead of using it for good, he uses it to reinforce his own position. Not on his own though in true dictatorial fashion it is the people that enable it to happen. During an impromptu town hall meeting at the diner a resident openly asks for his house to be searched. Big Jim is smart enough to hold back a little bit, gotta keep the appearance of checks and balances, but like flock they are everyone soon calls for their constitutional rights to be given up. To help smooth things over Big Jim basically nationalizes all the major jobs within Chester’s Mill as a way to jumpstart the economy. Giving Big Jim the easy out of reassuring Linda that it isn’t him doing this but the people.
After Norrie and Joe are arrested for “obstruction of justice”, Norrie drops the o’ll “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” She then also calls out Big Jim for his Nazi like tactics. Which at first blush is really heavy handed and lazy. Keeping in the very morally black and white view of the show. The episode via it’s costume department and cinematography does make this Nazi reference a bit better than simply calling him a Nazi. The town, seemingly all on Big Jims side, now wear colored armbands. First they were used as a way to distinguish friend from foe in the hunt for Barbie. As the “Exigent Circumstances” goes on they are transformed into an object of socio-political unity. Just like the brown shirts did in post WW1 Germany. During the townhall meeting Big Jim is very expressive and waves his arms about. His rousing call to action is very oratory and a bit reminiscent of archival footage of Adolf Hitler.
Not everyone is wearing Big Jim’s brand. The four (well 3 since Junior is being Junior), whom I shall now refer to as Barbie’s Angels, are definitely against Jim with the Dome telling them to kill him and all. Norrie’s mother, Carolyn, also stands against Big Jim. Making for some interesting representation. Carolyn is an educated (lawyer), African American, lesbian, who works in Los Angeles. She’s the most liberal thinker in the town by a country mile. Which makes for an easy and clear divide between her and the towns folk. Big Jim’s posse and majority of townsfolk appear to be a bunch of caucasians mostly in the middle class range. The only major minority characters on Big Jim’s side are Linda, who is tied to Jim via her job, and Phil, who has lived in Chester’s Mill all his life and is operating under false information.
There is another who isn’t on Big Jim’s side. Joe’s skater friend Ben (first time i remember him being called by name). His house was one of the first searched making it a great place to hide the mini-dome for a little bit. The image of Joe dragging the mini-dome via red wagon covered in a blanket was like something out of Power Rangers or some late 80s early 90s teen aimed show. The mini-dome must not like being surrounded by all of Ben’s skater imagery since it begins to emit high pitched screams. Causing everyone who knows about it to just stand back and wonder what it’s trying to tell them now. The high pitched screaming also draws in Liinda who is appropriately confused at the mini-dome. Everyone keeps talking about the egg no one mentions the alien cocoon/soon to be butterfly at the top. If it hatches and turns into Mothra or Batera this entire show has been worth it.
Something should be said for Dodee who finds herself on the wrong end of Big Jims gun. Over hearing the military talk about Jim murdering the good Reverend. It’s knowledge that recasts Big Jim in her eyes and despite her calls for being useful, like telling him about the egg. Big Jim still shoots her dead and burns down the station, blaming it all on Barbie. Everything being blamed on Barbie was like a bad flashback to the montage in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix where the Ministry of Magic just blames every misdeed on Sirius Black.
Under the Dome initially started as a mini series for Showtime but soon found itself shuttled over to CBS as part of some summer programming. Where it has since exploded with really good summer ratings, with about 10 million viewers a week. Seeing money CBS has turned the show into an ongoing series which could be interesting depending on how this season ends. Were the writers and production crew able to come together for some late reshoots and didn’t give a finite ending? If they manage to stay under the dome at the end the loss of characters like Dodee and the Reverend will be felt. Simply put this show already had limited character options and it hasn’t exactly done a good job introducing more. Under the Dome’s converted status has me more interested in the finale than I normally would have been for such a middling show. The season finale is aptly titled “Curtains”