Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 1, Episode 10 of CBS' "Under the Dome," titled "Let the Games Begin."
When we reconnect with our favorite Chester's Mill trio, Angie, Norrie and Joe are sleeping around the mini dome. Norrie and Joe have tied themselves together for fear that Joe might get up and sleepwalk again. When they rise, they discover that there's now a caterpillar inside the mini dome -- and it's not just any caterpillar. Joe notes that because it's black, white and yellow that it will turn into a monarch butterfly. Cue dramatic music!
We're only three episodes away from the end of the season, and it's pretty clear the writers have decided to have a few drinks and write whatever pops into their minds. This week, it's an illegal fighting ring set up by Max to make money and entertain herself along the way.
In this episode, every main character group has their own little adventure for the first time in a while, so to make it easier, I'll break it down into the five big plot points.
Barbie gets bruised and bloodied
When Barbie comes to Rennie's house to discuss what they should do about Max, they discover that she also owns a real estate company and has some property on nearby islands. But before they can join forces to visit the island, Max bursts in out of nowhere and says she has to borrow Barbie. Either she has these guys bugged or her timing is just always impeccable.
Max takes Barbie to what she calls her "little project." Somehow Max stayed undercover from Big Jim and Barbie for 7 days, but was able to set up an underground fig club from the comfort of her living room. Impressive.
At the old cement factory, men are bargaining for goods their families need to survive by fighting to the near-death and Max is their ringleader. Max gets off on the power while Barbie is clearly disturbed. She forces him to fight by dangling Peter Shumway over his head (for the first of many, many times this episode) and after his expected protests, Barbie reluctantly agrees and is faced with a muscle-covered man he apparently had former dealings with. After a few bloody minutes, his opponent goes down. Sensing Max's pleasure at this, Barbie taunts the man until he gets up and knocks him out.
Turns out, Max has money on Barbie's opponent instead of him, because she knew he'd throw the fight just to spite her. After they argue, Max forces a kiss on Barbie and asks him to join her in power play. Barbie risks his secrets coming out and leaves Max, saying he'll never partner with her again.
Big Jim reconnects with a former classmate ... kind of
While Barbie and Max are off watching human cockfighting, Big Jim pays Max's estate a visit. When he arrives, he meets the groundskeeper, a seemingly harmless woman named Agatha, and finds out that Max doesn't actually own the house. He says he'll wait around for the owner. Inside the mansion, Big Jim is in the middle of snooping when he turns around and finds Agatha with a huge shotgun in her hand. Because every second of this show has to have a twist, we find out that Agatha is really "Maxine's" mother and she knows all of Big Jim's little secrets.
Agatha explains that she's actually Big Jim's former classmate who got knocked up and had to drop out of school. She also brags about how much she knows about Chester's Mill and ends up telling Big Jim all about Barbie's past. Because Big Jim really needs more leverage in this town.
After listening to Agatha spill the beans, Rennie is able to grab the gun away from her and tie her hands together. He then puts her on a boat for what could just be a romantic sailing trip. Instead, Agatha falls into the water and, because she's tied up, begs for Big Jim to help her. The predictable councilman drives away and leaves her to drown.
When he arrives back home from his full day of learning secrets and watching former friends drown, he finds Linda waiting on his doorstep threatening to arrest him because of what she found out today ...
Julia and Linda learn a lot of things we already knew
Julia goes to the police station to try and find Barbie but instead, finds Linda looking through files. The two chat for a few minutes and Linda decides to tell Julia what she knows about the propane scheme. For a journalist, Julia really doesn't have to press hard for stories.
After Linda shows Julia the tape of Duke and Max that we saw last episode, she discovers a key to a bank safety deposit box hidden in Duke's hat. The town's bank is predictably torn apart, but they're able to break into the safety deposit room. (Note to self, never leave valuables at the Chester's Mill bank.) Inside, they find a confession from Duke. In the letter we learn that the deceased sheriff lost his son to drugs and in bid to save others, he made a deal with the devil, AKA Max. Apparently he promised to help Max get the propane she needed for her 'rapture drug' if she promised to keep all mainstream drugs out of Chester's Mill. Duke's morals only went as far as the town limits.
The letter also implicates Big Jim, so now Linda and Julia are the only living residents other than Max who know about his secret. When Linda goes to arrest Big Jim, he asks her to wait until the morning. Because no one in Chester's Mill thinks like a normal human being, she agrees.
Junior is about to become everyone's best friend
So, Angie and Norrie and Joe are still trying to figure out who is the owner of the fourth hand when a nurse at the clinic mentions a student who once had a seizure after one of Angie's dance in middle school. Angie remembers that Junior had the seizure and grapples with the fact that the fourth hand belongs to her worst nightmare. She leads Norrie and Joe to Junior's mom's studio to show them the paintings so that they believe her. Junior catches them snooping and gets angry until Angie calms him down with promises that they're connected to something "amazing."
The four teenagers head to the barn and when they all place their hands on the mini dome, the egg explodes and stars fill the room. Joe notes that there are 'constellations' everywhere, but I'm not sure that the pink stars are really forming the Big Dipper. Sure, it's pretty, but we're with Junior when he asks, "But what does it mean?"
Julia and Barbie succeed in having the most screwed up relationship ever
At the end of the episode, we find Julia back at home waiting for Barbie. When he walks in, he decides to explain everything to her and confess the murder. Before he can finish, Julia interrupts him and says she knows. She found all of Peter's bullets in the house but no gun so she deduced that when Barbie went to collect the money from Peter, he pulled a gun on him and ended up dead. When Barbie admits to everything, Julia shows him an insurance policy she found that states it would be void if Peter had committed suicide. She says Peter wanted to die in order to save Julia.
As if the decisions of the characters couldn't get any more unrealistic, Julia decides to stay with Barbie, so long as he doesn't lie to her anymore. Barbie agrees but leaves out the whole Max thing. I guess omitting the truth isn't really lying. I see a very healthy future between these two lovebirds.
"Under the Dome" airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.
"Big Jim doesn't see himself as a bad guy. He thinks he's doing right, he thinks he is the chosen leader of the town. He does save the town a number of times. Certain people, if they keep the trains running, see themselves as the right person for the job even though the way they go about doing that isn't necessarily all that kosher. There's a side of him that's as dark as ever. He has moments where he'll go to the dark side like that, which is really the fun part about playing him. I would really like the audience to go, 'Big Jim's a sweet guy, he's not really a bad guy,' then all of a sudden, in a heartbeat, the reptilian part comes out."
"The dome is a device, it's a fish bowl, and you put a bunch of fish in a fish bowl and bang on it and you see how they react. You'll see some fish eat other fish, you'll have other fish fight the fish that are eating the other fish, but that's kind of what this is, an experiment. But, also, we're dealing with the added element of what is this thing, where did it come from, is it man-made, is it other-worldly? What are the limitations of this world in which we now find outselves?"
"How do I play a character who is so determined not to examine her own life and her own choices and how far will I go in pursuit of a story to avoid that? The more my own life starts to fall apart in the show, the more obsessed I have to be with the dome and everything that's happening in Chester's Mill. We flirt with every possible outcome that thing could be. We examine it in many, many, many ways and it's still standing at the end of the day, so draw your own conclusions as to what that is, why that is, how that is, but as far as where we are in episode 10 right now, we're still perplexed and finding out some interesting stuff."
"There are two sides to Junior, the public persona that his dad wants him to be, the town jock and bully jerk, and there's the broken child that is inside Junior that he probably is more connected to because of past history with family and losing his mother at a young age. He finds this thing in Angie that fills this gap that's missing in his heart. He gets obsessed and wants to keep that quality. He wants to keep that love as much as he can so he does what he does."
"It's not like we have a clear trajectory of where we're going. We just get to play it episode by episode, which is awesome. It's so much more fun that way because we're living it as the characters are. In a show like this, we can go at any moment. I'm not dead yet..."
"I felt he was kind of simple, but because of his lack of parents (who are on the outside) and his sister isn't around, he has to grow up a little bit. He has to figure things out. So Joe does a lot of growing up in the first episodes. He goes on his instincts. Joe loves this. The dome may be a scary thing but it's also the most exciting thing that's ever happened in Chester's Mill. It's something to talk about, to think about; what is this thing and how can he figure it out? What does he have to do?"
"With Linda, what you see is what you get. As to why I stayed in town and why I became a cop, why I'm such a tough girl and I don't have parents, there's a story to be had there. But for the most part, what you see is what you get. It's very vulnerable, when you have somebody that doesn't have a clear past or history, it's like, Where are you gonna go? Who are you, really? Is the dome going to change you?"
"It's interesting where [the writers are] going; we make our speculations and we're totally wrong and blown away. There are some skills you have in life and in a crisis situation, they're heightened. [Dodee] gets a line to the outside world. Technology makes sense to her, people don't. Stepping out of the radio station and getting to interact with everyone, it's different. Because she doesn't necessarily trust anyone. She's keeping everything that she's finding pretty close to her and not really trusting everyone. She has some unique skill sets that she doesn't want everyone to know that she has."
"A lot of times, network TV isn't notable for bravery because what happens is you have a lot of executives who feel like the concept is a Christmas turkey. This is the most beautiful Christmas turkey I have ever seen. Let's sit down and have dinner. And when dinner is over, we're going to turkey sandwiches, and then the next day we're going to have turkey meatloaf and the day after that we're going to have turkey tetrazzini, turkey soup until there's nothing left but the bones. There's a tendency to run things until they're threadbare. I have no idea how far they're going to go or what they're going to do with it. But the one thing I've said to all the writers and to the people, the executives who are involved with this is, let's be thinking ahead all the time about how we're going to button this up. Because what guys like me do is, I run the story. And there's always more surprise. There can always be another story. And if you like 'Under the Dome' well then maybe there'll be something else that will come along. Who knows?"
Follow Ashley Knierim on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ashknierim