In this last year I’ve made it a point to really try and cut back on the television shows I watch. Not only because I’m currently watching way too many shows and it’s stopping me from interacting with a little thing I like to call the outside world, but also because I have an incessant, almost obsessive, need to continue watching shows long after they’ve turned bad. I’m sure psychologically it has something to do with me not wanting give up on things or just because I don’t want a television show to have gotten the best of me, but I’ve been making cuts here and there by asking myself one question: ‘Do I even still enjoy this show?’
It’s meant dropping shows like Resurrection, Scorpion and Forever as, while having fairly strong starts to their first seasons, I found myself watching merely to watch rather than for entertainment reasons. Trying to focus became harder and harder, and I discovered myself missing chunks of episodes at a time, all because I would become too easily distracted with other important things like what filter to use on my snap of brunch or googling how to get more matches on Tinder.
Other series have continued to sit right on the line, constantly at risk of falling onto my list of discarded shows. Most seem to redeem themselves just enough here and there not to warrant being thrown on the castoff pile, like Falling Skies and Glee. While others seems to hold such nostalgia over me that I just can’t seem to pull the plug and find myself saying, “Well, I’ve come this far”. I’m looking at you Supernatural and Revenge.
But then there’s Under The Dome, which is something else all together. There isn’t really anything stopping me from turning it off. I don’t find myself overly attached to any of the characters or that interested in the mysteries. In fact, it’s hard to really be invested at all when week-to-week things just occur seemingly because the plot calls for it. And yet still, I cannot stop watching.
The first season was already uneven, but attempted to showcase what a town suddenly caught in a bubble could (somewhat) realistically go through. While the mysteries of the dome started to emerge somewhere between sci-fi and fantasy, storylines spent just as much time on small-town politics, which helped to ground the show. Then the second season decided to turn up the dial by introducing even more sci-fi elements. The focus shifted from how these characters were surviving to creating a full on soap opera drama with storylines ranging from convoluted murder plots, back from the dead twists, to teenage love triangles.
But season 3 has decidedly gone full crazy. The writers know it. The actors know it. We, the audience, know it. And admittedly, there’s something almost fun about that, even though it means essentially dislodging your brain to make sense of each week’s story.
At the end of last season, the residents of the town looked like they would escape the dome after having journeyed through a series of caverns beneath the town. Yet it was revealed in the Season 3 premiere that not only did they not get out, but also that everyone was now stuck inside alien-like cocoons that put people into a fantasy matrix world. What?
And if this wasn’t out there enough, a swarm of evil butterflies was now patrolling the caverns. The best moment though, of possibly even the whole series, involved Julia (Rachelle Lefevre) tricking the butterflies by throwing a rock down a tunnel. A rock. To distract butterflies. That can’t hear. Sigh.
Now the townsfolk are back out into the real world and well–it’s not really clear what they’re doing. The people of Chester’s Mill kind of just float in the background until needed, always appearing as angry mobs, or helpful mobs, or confused mobs. (There are a lot of mobs.)
What’s even more confusing is that the timeline up until the latest episode has apparently only been three weeks! Three weeks! It’s a massive problem for any show to have the series take place within such a short time span, but on Under the Dome, it becomes almost ludicrous. The amount of storylines alone that have occurred in less than a month is enough to fill a few years. With multiple characters dying in tragic circumstances, it’s fairly impressive to think that someone like Norrie (Mackenzie Lintz) is doing fairly well considering she only just lost her mum pretty much the week before.
At least now, all of town (except Rachel and Big Jim) has technically spent a year together within the fantasy matrix world. And that has to count for something, right? It’s provided enough to give Barbie (Mike Vogel) and Rachel a third point in their love triangle with Eva (Kylie Bunbury), a woman who was dating Barbie in the fantasy matrix and was somehow conveniently hidden by the dome in a cocoon when it first came down until needed for Season 3. Oh, and she also may be pregnant with Barbie’s baby because they had sex in the fantasy matrix world, even though they never physically interacted and were only really together for three real world days. Huh?
Meanwhile, the forever-in-trouble Junior (Alexander Koch), is now also seemingly part of Christine’s (Marg Helgenberger) cult of cocoon people, in-between the two of them having relations. And Big Jim (Dean Norris) is caged up in what is turning out to be a mad-scientist plot line by men from Barbie’s father’s company that want the mysterious dome egg. What they have in store for him is not quite clear, but it seems linked to doing weird experiments on him and Christine.
The real questions now though, are where is this show actually going and how much of Stephen King’s original novel are they willing to stretch out? Each episode seems to take Under the Dome a step closer into dangerous Lost territory, where the mysteries become so wild that it will be impossible to ever come up with a satisfying answer. Still, the show is just insane enough that it might not matter if we never get answers. As long as characters continue to do things for no real reason, and the dome continues to bring more and more crazy down on the fine folks of Chester’s Mill, then it might be just enough to keep the show on my watch list for another season (or two).