Right around the time I first joined the cast of Under the Dome, I was smoking a bowl with the Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. (They make a special kind of bong for alien mega-artifacts, which is part tesseract and part vape and part flying prehistoric bone. You can only really smoke one of those if you were created by super-advanced aliens long ago, that’s just how these things are.) And anyway, the Monolith was giving me advice about the huge challenge I was taking on.
The Monolith was like, “You can’t explain too much, brah. The whole purpose of super-awesome giant objects like you and me is that we’re mysterious and unknowable. And our form is our meaning, if you see what I mean. Our shape is our function is our message, babe. Hey, pass me that alien mega artifact bong, don’t like bogart the alien weed.” What the Monolith meant, in its cryptic yet profound fashion, was that when you’re a crazy big alien object, you know, you’re like an icon, you’re iconic, man. You know, like the icons you click on your computer, except even more confusing.
The point is, the Monolith knew what it’s talking about—the Monolith was cool and intense and kind of inscrutable, and then they were doing sequels, and suddenly there was Odyssey Nine: 2300 Drift, and all of the cool old tricks were becoming old hat, and the Monolith was being approached to franchise itself out as a fast-food chain where they would have slogans like, “All These Combo Meals Are Yours For $5.99 Except The EuropaBurger,” and people were like, “oh, here’s the part where you become a big baby and go into an old guy’s living room while he’s trying to play the Jeopardy home game.”
I tried to get the Monolith to guest star on Under the Dome, like a crossover kind of, but nobody went for it—the Monolith was supposed to be that big pillar in the town of Zenith. Fun fact.
The point is, though, the more you say, the less you mean.
The Monolith smoked a few more bowls of that crazy Firstborn kif, and was all like, “Brah, the failure mode of science fiction, especially media science fiction, is over-elaborate mythologizing. Over-explaining, over-mysterying. It fuckin’ kills the sense of wonder, you feel me?”
I did in fact feel the Monolith at that moment.
So, Under the Dome. I’m kind of over Under the Dome. Little dome humor for you there.
I guess this was a show about some aliens who were super old, and had some kind of insectoid society, with a queen and drones and stuff—but they also had the concept of an Alpha Male, who would mate with the queen. And their home world was destroyed by some kind of nasty species, so they launched a ton of eggs over to Earth, where the eggs would try to make contact with someone who could be a host for re-growing the species. And if a suitable person touched the egg, then they would throw up a dome—that’s me!—over the local human population.
And then afterwards, the person who had touched the egg would put the humans under the dome into cocoons, so they could experience some kind of dreamworld that would allow them to be turned into hosts for the alien life forms. But not right away—no, first a few weeks had to pass during which the humans would just wander in confusion under me, while I showed them butterflies and sparkles and a miniature version of myself, and I went through a big show of choosing one of them as my Monarch and four other humans as the Four Hands, and meanwhile I would send psychic messages to another human who paints pictures, and I would also turn magnetic in order to teach the humans a lesson about killing, and a few other things.
In the end, these super-advanced aliens, who were capable of traveling across the universe and building me (a dome that withstood all human weapons, and surpassed all human understanding) were not that advanced. They were still forced to resort to cheap manipulation to get what they needed—and as we saw in this final episode, they had not mastered advanced wig technology.
In the final episode, I’m calcifying, and this means everybody under me is suffocating. So Joe the genius teenager has to figure out how to amplify some music from some glowy rocks so I will unlock and basically go poof. The new queen, Dawn—who looks just like her mother, Ava, apart from the aforementioned wig—tells Joe that either he or Norrie will have to generate the final musical note that will open me up, leading to my favorite line of dialogue ever, where she explains in a totally matter-of-fact way that “You saw the pink stars and you were one of the Four Hands,” like that’s a thing that people talk about.
So I end up getting vaporized, or matriculated, or whatever, but by the end of the episode it’s clear that there will be more domes elsewhere. Like, if they had made another season of this show, I would have gotten to play another identical dome, over a whole new town, as Dawn tried to grow her new “Kinship” by turning people into alien drones or whatnot.
And once I’m down, we jump ahead in time and Big Jim is a Congressman, Hunter’s working for the NSA, Norrie is an Army private—with another absolutely tragic wig— and Barbie and Julia are getting married. But they (almost) all reunite because Dawn is still alive, and she’s found another egg, which as I said means another me.
I don’t feel really bad about being killed off on this show in either case, because in this final season, I had kind of stopped being this big mysterious symbol for everybody to wonder about. Instead, it was all about the alien parasites and their agenda, and the show’s metaphors about fascism and conformity became totally literal.
There was a subplot at one point where I was shrinking—remember that? It was after I was magnetizing and turning black, but before I was calcifying. And I kind of felt like I was shrinking in a metaphorical sense through this whole final year of my show. Like, I had been this ginormous, wild object that could not be intepreted or reasoned with—just lived under. Ya know? And now I was just a plot device. I was like the Henchdome of Christine and Dawn and their aliens. Even before that, in the first couple seasons, I felt like I shrank a little bit more every time there was a “clue” that turned out to be a red herring—like, what do the butterflies mean? What about all those crazy visions? Etc. etc.
It’s like my friend the Obelisk was saying, that one time when we went out for hibachi and blow with the Ringworld: You get too familiar, too demystified, and before you know it you’re practically the freaking stargate. And nobody wants to be the stargate. People are all poking your chevrons and attaching dial-home-drives to you and shit, and you’re just another device. No majesty, no untamed strangeness. Just chevrons, man.
So I started out as a maxi-dome with a mini-dome inside, but by the end I just felt like a mini-dome. Like, the dog had more personality than I did.
Oh, and my other favorite line of dialogue from the series finale of my show comes when Dawn, the bewigged alien queen, is trying to escape from the town through an old cement factory, and Barbie intercepts her as she’s walking on a plank across an abyss. And Barbie says: “I weakened the board.”
I don’t know why that cracks me up so much—maybe it’s because I was already dissipating at that point in the episode, so I was already kind of cracked. But that line, and his delivery, just gets me. “I weakened the board.” How much did he weaken it? How did he exactly manage to saw through it just the right amount so that she could walk out onto it, but then not be able to walk across? (And why doesn’t she just jump back onto the ground she just came from? Or make a running jump across the rest of the ravine?)
The whole conversation is kind of awesome. “You’re the darkness in me that I have to destroy.” Sure, Barbie, sure. That’s some good psychological insight right there.
But even though I feel like I kind of got Stargated by this show, I still have a lot of warm thoughts. And I’m glad they left it with an open-ended conclusion, because we can just imagine that there are versions of me springing up over tosn all over the place, for the rest of time. And you know, even though I became less and less interesting over the course of the show, I still feel as though there’s something universal and meaningful. I’m the Dome, and so are you.
And as long as there’s a little Dome in all of us, we’ll always be Under the Dome.
Read more of The Dome’s recaps of Under the Dome here.