TV Recap: 'Under the Dome' Episode 101 - 'Pilot'



Under the Dome Episode 101
Written By: Brian K. Vaughan
Directed By: Niels Arden Oplev
Original Airdate: 24 June 2013

In This Episode...

I think we are all clear on the premise of Under the Dome, right? A small town called Chester’s Mill is covered with a giant, clear dome. Nobody knows what it is, where it came from, or why it is here (well, almost no one - we’ll get to that). It is invisible to the naked eye, gives you a shock the first time you touch it, and is completely soundproof. So let’s meet our (huge) cast of characters and see how they all fit in to this domed new world.

There is Big Jim, who owns the car lot in town. He is also a councilman who was stockpiling propane in town before the dome came down. It seems likely that he knows what is going on with the dome. 

Duke is the town sheriff. He may have a vague idea of what is going on. He “turned a blind eye” on whatever Jim was doing, and “did what he had to to keep the town from going broke.” Whatever he knows, we won’t - Duke dies at the episode’s end when he touches the dome and the shock makes his pacemaker malfunction. His chest literally explodes.

If Duke is dead, that makes Linda the law in the town. She is / was Duke’s deputy. The majority of Chester’s Mill’s emergency crews are in the next town over for some kind of parade. This includes Linda’s fiancee, a firefighter. Before Duke died, Jim suggested he deputize some emergency police officers. Duke refused to do so without an order from the mayor.

Julia is the editor of the local paper, the Independent. Before the dome comes down, she promises a townswoman that she would investigate the excessive propane deliveries. Of course, the dome comes down, and she discovers that her husband, a doctor, is not at work and hasn’t been for weeks. She is trying to convince herself that he is not having an affair.

Then there is the new guy in town, Barbie (a terrible, terrible nickname). Barbie was in town to bury a body in the woods. Then the dome came down and he was trapped. He is right there when the dome comes down on a farm, and sees it land with an invisible “whoomph.” A plane, unable to see the dome, flies right into it and explodes, which draws much of the town out to the farm. This is where Julia meets Barbie, and it becomes clear there is a romance brewing here. With all the hotels in the area booked, Julia offers her spare room to Barbie. It is not until he enters her home and sees pictures of her and her husband before Barbie realizes Julia’s husband is the guy he killed and buried in the forest.

Angie and Joe are siblings whose parents were outside the dome when it came down, leaving them alone. Joe is the kid that first meets Barbie when the dome comes down; it is his family’s farm that is split in half. Angie is a little bit of a wild child. She is sleeping with Junior, who is Jim’s kid. Junior is slightly older than Angie, and completely in love with her. He drops out of college to be with her, but she just wants to keep things casual. It turns out that Junior is mentally unbalanced. He begins stalking Angie and gets insanely jealous when he sees her bum a smoke off Barbie. Junior threatens Barbie, but they are interrupted. So he does the next best thing: kidnaps Angie and locks her away in his dad’s bomb shelter.

Finally, we have Carolyn and Alice, a couple from Los Angeles who get stuck in Chester’s Mill on their way to drop off their unruly teen daughter, Norrie, at a “tough-love camp.” As the three of them try to leave town, Norrie has a seizure and starts repeating the phrase, “The stars are falling in line.” Later in the episode, Joe seizes and repeats the same phrase.

The trouble in Chester’s Mill has not gone unnoticed by the outside world. A media circus, military regime, biohazard team, and all manner of first responders have gathered outside the dome. No one out there knows what is going on, either.

Dig It or Bury It?

I never read the book, but author Stephen King gave the show his blessing, so there is that. As far as an hour of television goes, I am intrigued enough to tune in next week, but I don’t know if that will last. None of the characters really piqued my interest, except for Junior - but I like Junior for all the wrong reasons. He is such a horrible caricature of a bad guy that it is fun to watch - like watching a really bad movie and laughing at it, not with it.

Domed If You Do, Domed If You Don’t

When the dome comes down, it slices a cow right in half - lengthwise. It seems to cauterize the cow, because nothing falls out. The half inside the dome just falls over; the half on the outside slips a little then peels away, like it was falling from a pane of glass.


The first post-dome emergency erupts: a house catches on fire and all the fire trucks are on the wrong side of the dome.