by Kelly M. Smith:
Under the Dome Recap: “The Fire”
Original Air Date (CBS): Monday July 1, 2013
Season 1 Episode 2
“We’re all gonna die in here.” -Norrie Calvert
When we last left the people trapped under the mysterious Dome in Chester’s Mill, they were still in the initial aftershocks of learning that they are trapped. Julia Shumway, the local newspaper reporter, has a husband missing apparently outside the Dome and now voluntarily takes in a roommate who is stranded in The Mill–Dale “Barbie” Barbara…the man who killed her husband.
The town’s beloved police chief, Howard “Duke” Perkins has died from the shock of touching the Dome resulting in his pacemaker blowing straight out of his chest.
When this episode begins, Officer Linda Esquivel takes his body to the local funeral home, run by the Reverend Lester Coggins (played by Ned Bellamy, from various TV shows like Justified and the film Django Unchained).
Cut to Barbie waking up from a nightmare where he relives the killing of Julia’s husband, whom she still believes is just locked outside the Dome. In the nightmare, the viewer sees Peter Shumway go to shoot Barbie, whom we have realized is military-trained. What the viewer won’t learn is why he is after Mr. Shumway at all. Barbie wrestles the gun from Shumway, tosses it aside and then proceeds to struggle with the man, toting his own gun. Shumway grabs onto Barbie’s dog tags and rips them from his neck and Barbie then shoots and kills Shumway. When he wakes up, he is frantically searching for the dog tags on the bed, barely believing that what he saw in his head had really happened.
Julia enters her guest room and inquires what’s going on and as Barbie tells her what he is looking for, he flashes back to seeing them fall from her husband’s dead hand and lies to her that he found them.
In the morning, after Barbie gets his tags back, they watch the military outside the dome and wonder what they’re talking about. Julia gets a cracked idea to go into the radio station, where they are receiving transmissions from low-frequency waves, and barges in to the dismay of Phil Bushey, the DJ, and Dodee Weaver (played by Jolene Purdy; from the TV adaptation of the 1999 film 10 Things I Hate About You and Glee). She hears that the military has no idea what the Dome is, which frightens her because that means that her “safe” theory of this being a government theory is out the window.
Back in the Sweetbriar Rose diner, Big Jim Rennie, the town’s corrupt Second Selectman, meets the mothers of Norrie Calvert, who got stuck in the Dome after she was one of three kids from The Mill who suffered seizures from the Dome falling. The look of surprise on his face when he sees a same-sex, biracial couple is nothing when he sees on of his officers, Linda, come in covered in blood. It is then that he learns that Duke has died and he follows Linda to the funeral home to see for sure.
It is then we are officially introduced to the peaked and thin Reverend Coggins, who is just as shocked to learn that his newest cadaver is someone he knew all-too well.
Whispers ensue between the men after Linda reveals that Duke left her, his “daughter”, his house and a file there, supposedly containing a secret or secrets she needs to know. Jim clearly says to Coggins that they need to get that file out before Linda can see what’s in it.
Meanwhile, Jim’s son, Junior, is told a whopper of a lie by his girlfriend, Angie McAllister, whom he is holding captive in an underground bomb shelter: she tells him she slept with Barbie. Junior proceeds to find Barbie getting his dog tags from the secluded cabin where Peter had been murdered and a fist fight commences, ending with Barbie telling Junior to back off, that next time he would kill him. Junior goes and then tells Angie that he killed Barbie, filling the teen with guilt that she ever lied, not knowing that her crazy boyfriend was lying as well.
Back to the Reverend, he goes to Duke’s house and tears the study apart, trying and succeeding in finding the file, which consists of bills from the local propane company. If you read the novel, you know what these are for. If you didn’t, you will be in a state of confusion until you see if it is revealed! Instead of confiscating them and destroying them elsewhere, he gets it into his head that it would be a great idea to burn them then and there. It works…but the dry conditions in The Mill quickly make the entire house catch fire…with the reverend still inside.
Linda is notified by phone of the fire, but first she runs into fellow cops, one of whom, Paul Randolph (played by Kevin Sizemore from various popular TV shows such as NCIS, 24 and Rizzoli & Isles) appears a bit unhinged. He hands them all guns, stating that they needed to be prepared for the end. When he sees Barbie in the woods, he goes to shoot him and would have if not for Linda calming him down and telling them that they were all needed to stop a fire, since the firetrucks were outside the Dome.
They hear the reverend calling out for help inside, but Jim decides to leave him in there, even though there is a way to get inside and save him. Why? That is something that will leave viewers scratching their heads, as they seemed to be partners in crime. Linda, the only cop left with half a brain, goes in and makes the daring rescue.
Barbie organizes the town to get water and buckets but it is Big Jim who effectively fights the fire by using a bulldozer to destroy the home and make any evidence that might not have been destroyed. Evidence against what?
As they are all standing around in the aftermath of the fire, Randolph notices and brings to everyone’s attention via a melodramatic and frenzied speech, that the Dome was trapping smoke and not letting in more than a tiny particle of outside air. He takes his police-issue .38 revolver and goes to shoot. He hits and kills a man and then, thanks to Barbie, is disarmed and taken down, but this incident leaves the whole town shaken.
I really enjoyed this episode, much more than the last one. I am still not sure about Dean Norris being Big Jim, but Vogel and Lefevre each do a fantastic job as their respective characters, as does Bellamy. While they varied from King’s novel, they kept the sense of panic and desperation that was the tone of the novel and I cannot wait for episode 3!