REVIEW: Under the Dome Season 3, Episodes 1 – “Move On” and 2 – “But I’m Not”

Under The Dome is a episodic drama about the town of Chester’s Mill, who’s citizens are trapped underneath a supernatural, possibly even otherworldly, dome that keeps the town completely isolated from the outside world. Some of the denizens of Chester’s Mill  were out of town when the dome came down in “Pilot,” and other characters were either visiting or passing through. The people of Chester’s Mill must fight for survival while enduring the elements, a shortage of water and food supplies, and various internal struggles. 
Leading up to the premier of season three, Dale “Barbie” Barbara and Julia Shumway lead the town down into the caverns under Chester’s Mill.  In search of a way out of the dome, they were also fleeing the insane James “Big Jim” Rennie. Big Jim’s son, James “Junior” Rennie, assists the fleeing townsfolk by turning on his father for good and shooting him. Right when the town thinks that all hope is lost, a piece of rock explodes, revealing a pure whiteness.  On the other side, a revived Melanie Cross states, “Follow me, we’re going home!”
Come with me if you want to hive

Episode Recap

“Move On” picks up right where “Go Now,” season two’s finale, ends.  As Barbie leads the townsfolk to follow Melanie into the absolute whiteness, everyone seems to separate.  For only a second, Barbie notices a sticky substance covering him, and instantly the whole town is transported to a field. After a moment, they realize that they are outside the dome (Finally!) and then it explodes. Barbie returns to Julia, but finds that she has died.

We're outside the dome

Fast forward to a year later, and everyone has moved on with their lives outside the dome. Barbie is a part of some ostensibly magnanimous mercenary unit in Africa, where his new girlfriend Eva is working to help the indigenous people.  Norrie Lintz has moved on to college, shedding her emo personality and even joining a sorority. Sam Verdreaux has gone to prison for the murder of Angie McAlister and is trying to regain the trust of her brother Joe. 

They're alive!

The whole surviving cast reunites at a rebuilt Chester’s Mill to celebrate the lives of those lost while inside the dome. A monument is built and Dr. Christine Price, a therapist assigned to the town and its people, helps the survivors work out their issues. At Eva’s request, Barbie returns.  While visiting the town, he is convinced by fellow survivor Ben Drake that something is not right. At first Barbie ignores Ben’s pleas, but eventually gives in.
That Face when you see a dead kid
Meanwhile, we learn that Julia Shumway, James “Big Jim” Rennie, and James “Junior” Rennie are still alive, or… at least alive in the past. Julia and Junior encounter Big Jim, but he eventually lets the two go after shooting his son and deciding he is better off alone. The two seek out Barbie and the others and, after suffering an attack from the monarch butterflies that are popular with Under The Dome, Junior falls to his apparent death. Melanie Cross finds Junior, however, and ends up taking him to the same white nothingness that she took the others to.
Soon after Junior appears in the present, everyone’s memories suddenly change – as does the memorial – from Junior being killed in the dome. Julia and Big Jim remain in the past, but the two are separated per their agreement. Julia finally finds Melanie and all of the others asleep in alien looking pods, but as opposed to sending her to the same white nothingness she sent the others, Melanie takes Julia on a wild goose chase to try and get the egg from season two back. The two get in touch with Don Barbara – both Barbie and Melanie’s father – and have him use the red door portal (from season two) to bring the egg back and save everyone. Julia succumbs to exhaustion and, while she’s asleep, Melanie kills Don Barbara and escapes with the egg. 
Eulogy
During the memorial for those that died under the Dome, Barbie and Joe both make their feelings for each other clear.  Ben Drake arrives at the memorial, trying to interrupt and tell the survivors something, but ends up having an asthma attack. At the same time, Melanie can be seen choking a sleeping Ben after pulling him from his pod. The Survivors all lament Ben’s passing, but Barbie decides to heed his warning about something being wrong in Chester’s Mill. Barbie obtains Ben’s cell phone and uses his hacker friend, Hunter May, to find the video that Ben was trying to show everyone before dying. Hunter and Barbie watch a video showing the same person fulfilling numerous mundane roles in Chester’s Mill, and Barbie recognizes him from an operation in Africa.
While all of this is going on, Joe McAlister and Norrie Calvert-Hill continue their teenage drama.  Joe continues to ignore Norrie and Sam Verdreaux’s pleas for forgiveness. While speaking with his hacker friend, Barbie decides that the late Ben Drake was right. Barbie ends up bumping into Junior. He exclaims in shock that Junior is dead, but when he recognizes Junior, Hunter comes up and gives him a hug. Hunter and Junior discuss meeting in Africa and suddenly a long lost memory itches Barbies’ brain.  He also remembers seeing Junior’s name on the memorial. Barbie meets Eva at the memorial and discusses what he has found.  He then attacks a stranger that looks like the insurgent he interrogated in Africa. Eva dismisses his fears as shock at coming back to such a traumatic place and seeing another survivor die, but Barbie runs off before she can calm him down.

Memorial

After storming off from Norrie, Joe meets with Dr. Price and discusses the need to move on. Later, Dr. Price meets Junior and tries to convince him to stop running away, to stay at Chester’s Mill and heal along with the others.  Barbie follows one of the many strangers that, according to Ben’s video, all look exactly the same, and almost confronts the man before his cell phone rings. The caller ID shows Eva, but it is Dr. Price on the other line.  She tells him that he needs to rush to the hospital. Price explains that Eva passed out in pain and that her, and the baby, are doing fine.  He is there when Eva awakes, and the two discuss the baby and their future. Eva asks Barbie if he loves her, and he almost answers her with a kiss.

Evil is shooting your own son

In the past, Big Jim is bothered continuously by a dog. The dog leads him to the late Don Barbara’s corpse and it is there that he spots the sleeping Julia Shumway. He wakes Julia and questions her about the new corpse.  Julia explains that it is Barbie and Melanie’s father, and that he returned the egg (from season two). The two argue over the ramifications of the egg being returned to the dome, and Big Jim reveals that the egg, the dome, and Melanie are guilty for all that is wrong in Chester’s Mill. When he calls her blind, deaf, and dumb, Julia punches him in the face. Later, the dog bothers Big Jim yet again, and this time leads him to the caverns under Chester’s Mill. Julia confronts Melanie about the egg, which, after she places on the largest cocoon (hosting Dr. Price), ignites the purple veins throughout the cavern. Melanie smacks Julia, knocking her down, and then picks her up by the neck. Melanie starts to choke her, but she is interrupted when Big Jim asks who the “We” is that she keeps referring to herself as. 
I didn't come here for you
At the prison that Sam Verdreaux is at, Joe finally takes Dr. Price’s advice and visits him for some closure. Joe interrupts Sam’s speech and explains that after Verdreaux took his sister’s life, the only way that Joe could forgive him is if Sam suffered like Angie did. Joe gets up to leave, but before he exits the visiting area another convict stabs Stam Verdreaux. Sam reaches out to Joe, asking for forgiveness before he dies while the Jailers try and contain the ensuing riot. Finally relenting, Joe reaches out and almost takes Sam’s hand in forgiveness. Meanwhile, Junior decides to close the Renie chapter by burning down his father’s house.  He douses the house with gasoline and almost sets it ablaze.
First pink stars then pink and purple explosions
At Julia’s behest, Big Jim smashes the egg. An explosion of pink and purple freezes everyone’s reality, halting the almosts of Barbie and Eva’s kiss, Sam and Joe’s forgiveness, and Juniors pyromania. After the eggs explosion, Julia and Big Jim get up and see that all of the cocoons are being opened by the survivors of the dome, revealing that the future was actually an alternate reality that Melanie and the dome created. Melanie is missing after the explosion, but Dr. Price exits the largest cocoon, aided by Eva (two people that never existed Under the Dome…until now)!
Hey look two newcomers

Review

“Move On” is quite possibly the worst episode of the series thus far, and the fact that it starts the third season is not promising. The acting is split between the astute and talented mature actors like Mike VogelRachelle Lefevre and Dean Norris, and the Degrassi level drama of the “teenage” actors. The writing is a thinly veiled attempt to reveal that the two story lines aren’t past and present, but inside the dome’s created reality and just inside the dome. Such a ruse might have been better executed had the writers not felt it necessary to continuously hint at the gimmick, making it painfully obvious to the audience long before the characters understood. This wasn’t a case of dramatic irony, but more of the writers trying desperately to continue a story line past its prime. Under The Dome as a series would have been much better presented as a mini-series, as opposed to a continuing series where the attempt to entertain the audience with a good story has taken a back seat to simply cashing in on advertising revenue. Sure the first season of Under The Dome took significant artistic licenses compared to the Stephen King book, but it did so in an entertaining manner. Even the first season had a little more teenage drama and angst than actual Stephen King-esque suspense, but if “Move On” is any indication of the third season, it is short lived and better suited for ABC Family or MTV than primetime television. Hopefully the next episode changes course, otherwise under a dome will be the only place the show is safe from poor ratings and even poorer reviews.

Content Guide

Violence: “Move On” depicts a few acts of violence. One character is shown in the future to be leading a unit of mercenaires against guerilla fighters and gunfire breaks out. Later, he interrogates a guerilla survivor by threatening to shoot him with a gun full of blanks, and when he gets the info he wants he does shoot the man point blank. A girl choking an already unconscious boy to death, later she does the same to an adult man. One woman punches a man in the face for calling her dumb. A woman smacks another woman in the face, nearly knocking her out, then proceeds to choke her.
Language/crude humor: After two viewings of “Move On,” expletives were relatively rare.
Sexual content: “Move On” references a sex scene, where Barbie’s new girlfriend Eve joins him in the shower. No actual nudity is shown, but it is implied that both are naked.
Drug/alcohol use: There was no drug use in “Move On,” and only a reference to alcoholism through the support group AA and wanting to fall off the wagon.
Positive Content: “Move On” almost seems positive, while the characters of the series have to deal with the aftermath of the dome coming down, they do have their freedom! …oh wait, nevermind.
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The Bottom Line

If “Move On” and “But I’m Not” are any indication of the quality of season three of Under the Dome, there's plenty of other television shows you can catch on Thursday evenings. Even if you prefer the teenage drama that the show has de-evolved into, you can probably find better on ABC Family or the Disney Channel.

 

4.9

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Cody Hahn

Lover of Jesus. Husband. Daddy. Geek.

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