It must be some sort of curse that the Stephen-King-books-turned-TV-miniseries don’t quite have the panache of the films adapted from his novels. Although Under the Dome started off promising with some mysterious backstories that could have made it the Lost of this decade, it is overshadowed by the hokeyness of its not-so-interesting stories that are given prominent airtime on this CBS primetime drama.
Season 1, Episode 4 opens with the townsfolk of Chester’s Mill becoming increasingly restless and unruly as a town is wont to do if trapped inside of a snow globe, as Sherriff Esquivel points out to Big Jim. One by one, residents are getting headaches and fevers, and start buckling at the knees. As the hospital overfills with patients, it becomes evident that there is a lack of doctors in the domed area and resources are scarce. Julia even gets a talking-to that it would have been better if her doctor husband Peter was around. (A-hem, she’s been searching for him since Episode 1—give her a break!) Luckily, Alice—who is a psychiatrist—once interned in medicine and is able to take the reins as the lead doctor in the hospital. She discovers the town is going through an outbreak of Meningitis and that it will take antibiotics to save the townspeople, a ton of it—so much that there isn’t enough for everyone. Apparently, an internship in the medical field is all it takes to start administering shots of antibiotics to everyone. However, Doctor Alice does wear thick, black-framed hipster glasses throughout the show, increasing her nerd street-cred quotient.
While this is all going on, Reverend Lester Coggins is having his shining moment. The once meth addict now has had a complete 360 character change to become the crazy brim-and-firestone preacher set out to harsh everyone’s buzz with more talks on the apocalypse.
Unfortunately, this episode keeps panning back to the most painfully boring side-stories to watch: Angie locked up in Junior’s bunker trying to escape. A futile attempt at stabbing Junior with scissors she found in a first-aid kit, she later breaks a water pipe and falls to the ground, hitting her head and remaining unconscious while the room becomes flooded with water.
Julia suddenly starts becoming a better journalist (albeit not that much) and digs deeper into her husband Peter’s disappearance. Like a chapter out of the Hardy Boys, in Barbie’s bag, she finds a huge, red X marking a spot on a map. Through some questioning, she finds that the point on the map is Phil Bushey’s place and goes to the hospital where he is getting treated for Meningitis, and through some feverish questioning, he hallucinates and talks to her in a convenient flashback telling Peter he can’t make it to the cabin today. Although she is starting to feel a little sickly herself, she puts on her reporter’s hat to investigate further on this “cabin.”
While Junior may be the overly dramatic and creepy guy-who-locks-his-girlfriend-in-a-bunker character on the show, he is making strides in his potential future career. As he helps out Big Jim and Sheriff Esquivel through the outbreak, his father mentions that maybe Junior might want to look into joining the police force in the future. Cue in deafeningly loud, ominous music. (Yes, we get it, we get it: foreshadowing.) Big Jim later gives his son a shotgun—his crazy son—to use in case anyone tries to leave the hospital in order to quarantine the ones with Meningitis while he and Barbie go on a hunt for more antibiotics. Things get a little intense with Junior running the joint, but with a soft spot for Julia, he allows her to leave in search of the cabin she’s looking for, telling her he saw Barbie in one and points her to the right direction.
When Julia gets to the cabin, the place is a mess, items are knocked over, and she finds some shocking documents, which coupled with her illness, causes her to faint. Barbie finds Julia in the cabin and carries her out heroically to safety like a scene out of The Bodyguard. She reveals to him that she found from the documents that Peter has left them in debt by cashing out their bank accounts and their house. Barbie in turn reveals some half-truths to Julia, telling her that in his profession, he is a debt collector for bookies and had encountered Peter, who has a gambling problem. However, instead of telling her Peter is dead, he tells her Peter must have just run away—like gamblers in debt sometimes do. Julia once again proves she is a bad judge of character and believes him.
Meanwhile, the show’s teen heartthrob Joe just finally starts to notice in the fourth episode that his sister Angie is missing and half-heartedly asks Junior if he’s seen her. Norrie takes a billion selfies of herself on her iPhone (most likely the reason she needed her phone charged so badly in the last episode). While they’re at the hospital to look into why they repeatedly have seizures, they decide to hold hands in a private room to see if that will trigger the seizures again—and indeed it does. They have it recorded on video on a phone and come to the conclusion that maybe they’re not supposed to talk to anyone about it and lie to everyone that they’ve had another episode. Joe invites Norrie and her mothers to come stay with him at his house.
Junior gets accolades from Sheriff Esquivel on the way he handled quarantining everyone in the hospital with a shotgun, and rewards him with a police badge. It’s that easy to join the force.
Big Jim goes home and hears water running and screaming coming from the bunker. He finds the room flooded and Angie chained to the bed. Then the show gets a little interesting and is slightly redeemed for another watch in Episode 5.