It’s finally time for AAM’s recap of the “Under the Dome” season 3 premiere. For those who have never read my recaps, while I do give a general summary of what takes place throughout the episode, most of my commentary is reserved for Marg’s character. Apologies in advance if I neglect your favorites.
For those new to the “Under the Dome” experience, Season 2 of the popular CBS summer series concluded with a cliffhanger as the mysterious dome which had encapsulated the town of Chester’s Mill and cut them off from the rest of the world suddenly began to contract rapidly. Fearing that they would be crushed to death, the residents of Chester’s Mill, led by Dale Barbara, evacuated into underground tunnels they hoped would lead them to safety. Once they all descend into the tunnels, they are met by Melanie who tells them to come with her because ‘we’re going home. It’s time to move on.’ Season 3 picks up exactly where Season 2 left off as the residents take a leap of faith and follow Melanie into a dream-like, misty white landscape and somehow emerge outside the dome. As the town residents stand there trying to take in what has just happened and realize that Melanie is no longer with them, those pink stars that have been falling in lines for the previous two seasons suddenly shoot up into the air like fireworks and seconds later, the dome shatters. Barbie discovers that Julia, Junior, and Big Jim, who were left behind, sadly are casualties of the dome collapse, but otherwise the town and its people are free. Sounds a little too easy, right? Especially for a show that is based on a novel by none other than Stephen King. A quick glance at the clock shows that we’re less than five minutes into the 2-hour episode. What is sure to be a wild ride has only just begun…
We next experience what appears to be a time jump. It is one year later and, for the most part, the residents of Chester’s Mill are attempting to move on with their lives. We see that Barbie and Hunter are now in the military, Norrie has gone off to college, and the town of Chester’s Mill seems to be back to its old self overall.
Or is it? At the same time we’re watching everyone move on, we’re also being shown scenes where Julia and Junior are still back in the tunnels attempting to follow the path that the other residents took when they evacuated. They then have a run-in with an even crazier than usual Big Jim. How is this possible if Barbie found all of their dead bodies when the dome came down? Ah ha, now we’re getting more Stephen King-like. It seems that those who followed the mysterious Melanie are now in some kind of alternate reality and that perhaps Julia, Junior, and Big Jim are still alive after all.
It is in this alternate reality that we are finally introduced to Marg’s character, Christine Price. Christine tells everyone that she is a trauma specialist who has been sent in by FEMA to help facilitate the healing process in Chester’s Mill. She serves as a therapist to both Joe McAllister whose sister Angie was murdered while the dome, and ironically, to Sam Verdreaux, who was Angie’s killer. She is also organizing a memorial ceremony to honor all of the lives that were lost because of the dome. While Christine seems genuinely passionate about helping everyone to heal, there is still something suspect about her. For one, her methods seem a bit unorthodox for a therapist, a little too intimate. When we first meet her, she is actually in Joe’s bedroom waiting to talk to him. Christine is also literally very hands on — not only in the sense of trying to control everything that is going on in the town – calling Barbie to come to the hospital for his girlfriend when she sees he about to do something she doesn’t like, etc., but also in the sense that there is a lot of touching involved when she is talking to Joe, Sam, and Junior, among others. Perhaps it’s coincidence — it’s still too early to tell — but she also seems very focused on the men. I’m getting the vibe that the enigmatic Christine will probably be a character that fans either love or hate, that there won’t be any middle ground on that.
What also becomes apparent is that we are not the only ones watching the Chester’s Mill residents in their alternate reality. Melanie is also watching them, through some kind of strange purple crystal wall. When she realizes that Ben knows something is ‘off’ with the reality they’re living in and sends Barbie a message that he has proof that what they’re living in is not real, Melanie decides he must be stopped and kills him at the memorial ceremony. And here’s where it gets even stranger. She kills him by strangling him – not the Ben that is at the ceremony, but a version of Ben who is covered in slime and housed in a cocoon in the tunnels beneath the dome. And as Julia discovers as she is exploring the tunnels looking for Junior who has disappeared, that is just one of many cocoons that are in the tunnels. With purple glowing roots interconnecting them all to one larger cocoon that we can’t see into, this network of cocoons appears to house all of the Chester’s Mill residents that we originally thought had gotten out safely, including Junior who encountered Melanie when he got separated from Julia. Melanie tells him that he and his friends need to become what she needs them to be so that they can all survive – he just needs to be ‘fixed’ first. We see firsthand what happened to everyone as we watch Junior go through the same process. Once ‘fixed’, his name disappears from the memorial wall and he rides into town on his motorcycle as if he had been there all along. After she has dealt with Junior, Melanie turns her attention to Julia. She manipulates Julia into believing that they need to get the egg back in order to unlock the cocoons and free everyone and they set out to make this happen.
So Melanie is obviously a major player in this “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” experience that has taken over Chester’s Mill, but is she working alone? For the answer to that, I think we need to follow the purple — purple egg, purple roots connecting the cocoons, purple crystal wall to watch everyone through. And in our alternate reality, where do we see purple? I don’t think it’s a coincidence that our friendly FEMA therapist is sporting a ring with a large purple rock in it and that she also has a large purple crystal prominently displayed in the room where she and Joe are meditating. The purple coupled with Christine’s ‘off’ behavior make a pretty compelling argument that she is not what she seems and is somehow in cahoots with Melanie and whatever her agenda is.
Things come to a head quickly once Big Jim enters the mix. Melanie retrieves the egg from her father, and of course kills him because what’s one more body at this point? With the help of his new canine companion, Big Jim discovers the body and follows the trail to Julia. The two of them have words as Big Jim tries to convince Julia that Melanie is evil and so is the dome. Julia tells him off and heads back to the tunnels. When she arrives, she sees that Melanie has placed the egg on top of the largest cocoon. The purple roots are now starting to pulse and something big is obviously about to happen. As she watches, Julia questions what is happening, the overall purpose of the dome, and Melanie’s motivation. Once she realizes Julia is a threat to the ‘process that has started’, Melanie attacks Julia but also promises that they can ‘fix’ her too. Big Jim enters at this point, says that he’s not letting whoever is responsible for all of this kill his son, and proceeds to smash the egg with the butt of his rifle. With the power source destroyed, the alternate reality disappears and all of the Chester’s Mill residents are able to break free from their cocoons, with Christine emerging from the largest cocoon and immediately reaching out for the hand of, interestingly enough, Barbie’s alternate reality love interest, Eva. Is Eva in on it as well? The final frames of the episode are focused on the two of them and their ‘Uh oh’ expressions.
The season opener was a very entertaining two hours of television. I especially loved the intensity level and the sense of mystery that surrounded everything and having that juxtaposed with Big Jim’s antics, his dark humor, and his interactions with the stray dog. I’m obviously eager to learn what exactly Christine’s role will be in all of it. Does being housed in the largest cocoon mean that she is somehow the leader or mastermind behind the dome? I think this is going to be a really fun character to watch Marg play because Christine obviously has a lot going on and so many different levels for us to delve through. I have a lot of questions about Christine at this point. What’s her motivation? Is she truly evil? Is she even human for that matter? If she is human, where did she come from? Has she been cocooned under the dome this entire time? Do any of the townspeople know her? The list goes on and on. I really can’t wait to see where the story picks up next week.
Screen captures of Marg from the season opener can be found HERE.