What is Under The Dome, the TV show, about? I wonder this a lot. On the one hand, there's the ongoing political storyline about who's going to run the town of Chester's Mill. And then there's the mystical storyline involving dayglo eggs, resurrections, prophetic paintings, etc. Where do these storylines intersect?
Obviously, one way that these two storylines intersect is that the mystical woo-woo stuff feeds into the political stuff. Both Julia and Big Jim claim to have been "chosen" for leadership by me, the Dome. And the show seems to be groping towards the idea that political legitimacy comes from me, that I'm sort of the "kingmaker" of Chester's Mill, by default. Just like how Kings were supposed to be divinely chosen back in the day.
But there's also an underlying theme of helplessness — the political struggle is driven by the fact that people are trapped. And all of the other things, with the butterflies and magnetism and magic paintings and portals, are just further manifestations of the notion that nobody has any control over what I choose to do to them.
Although that leads to a question I've been wondering a lot lately: Aren't I, the Dome, enough to make people completely helpless by myself? I'm preventing people from leaving or entering Chester's Mill. Why do we need all these other embellishments? Am I not sexy, all by myself? I asked the producers of the show why they felt the need to give me all these extra bells and whistles, and they insisted those things were just there to keep the focus on me, where it belongs.
So this week, it turned out I dug a magic tunnel under the school, with a cliff that leads to a portal that leads to Zenith, the town with the fancy obelisk where my prophet Pauline (Junior's mom) lives. And I let Lyle, Sam and Barbie go through the portal — although Lyle went kind of nuts and Sam has nasty hand tremors.
So why did I do this? Maybe because I want Barbie (or Sam?) to find out something in Zenith. Pauline is there, and she's still painting more psychic paintings. Barbie's dad is there, too, and he's some rich fancy guy who's apparently connected to Actaeon Technologies, some big tech company that some of Barbie's gangster friends had wanted to rob. Maybe Barbie's dad knows something, that I want him to find out? I'm not telling, just yet.
Meanwhile, everybody thinks Sam and Barbie are dead, and Julia tries to keep this from Big Jim, leading to one of the most hilarious "sneaky subterfuge" scenes this Dome has seen in years. "Oh, no, Barbie's not dead. Why would you think that? I'm not crying, I just got a lot of cave dust in my eyes! I'm actually celebrating. Let's dance a jig!" But then Big Jim threatens Rebecca, in a genuinely creepy scene, and as soon as he knows the truth he's holding a giant vigil — with candles — at the diner.
So now that people are actually getting out and visiting other towns, and I'm just letting half my favorite people wander around New England on their own recognizance, it makes me wonder if this show is even still about me. I mean, are they going to change the title to "Under and Around the Dome?"
But then I realized that it's not just about what I'm covering, but about what I'm revealing... right? Even in the town of Zenith, everybody's talking about me non-stop and Pauline relates this whole fantasy that if she moved to a different town, I would cover that town instead of Chester's Mill. (Although she didn't do the obvious thing of moving out to the middle of nowhere, where she'd be the only one under me.)
In any case, back to the most important question: What is this show even about? And I think it's maybe about people figuring out who they are. Maybe? I mean, in this episode Barbie sees his dad for the first time in a couple years, and that's actually a pretty moving sequence, and Barbie's dad realizes that Barbie has changed and matured due to the tests I've put him through (and the love of my Monarch, Julia.) And meanwhile, Big Jim is getting more and more egomaniacal, to the point where even the normally oblivious Junior says that Big Jim always has to make everything about him.
So once people reveal their true nature, or get transformed into the people they were always supposed to be... then what? Maybe I'm testing people for some purpose, or maybe we're going to recruit the best residents of Chester's Mill to fight in some alien gladiatorial ring.
In any case, I'm no longer just a Dome — now I'm a Dome with a tunnel. And that makes me feel so much more sophisticated.