Under the Dome’s fourth episode of the season ‘The Kinship’ proves to be just as wild a ride as the first three episodes have been. Like Big Jim and Julia, we are all trying to figure out what is going on with Marg’s character, the mysterious Christine Price — Who is she and why is she trying to take over the town?
The episode opens with Big Jim, who has exiled himself to Byrd Island, watching the recording of Christine touching the egg again. As he watches, he ponders “What the hell is that? What is she?” but then the recording abruptly ends. He then pulls out a pair of binoculars and spies on his son, Junior, who has set up a tent just across the water from him. He witnesses Christine jog up to Junior’s camp and watches what appears to be a pretty flirtatious encounter.
The viewer gets a little more up close and personal with the exchange between Christine and Junior. After some initial small talk, Christine suddenly notices just how wet and sweaty she is and asks Junior for a clean shirt. It’s a rather intimate move for someone who is supposed to just be the town therapist, but Junior immediately goes to get her a shirt and seems to enjoy the show while she strips down to her sexy white tank top and then changes into his shirt. It’s obvious Christine has come on a mission as she then, reminding Junior of the construction skills he learned while in the alternate reality, implores him to come to town and help her with a dorm building project. He readily agrees, and so mission accomplished, Christine departs. As a parting gift, she tosses Junior her wet t-shirt, again a rather intimate gesture for the town therapist. As she leaves, Big Jim remarks from his vantage point: “Normally I’d applaud you kid, but that woman…that thing?” Big Jim has obviously seen enough on that recorder to know that Christine’s encounter with the egg has unleashed something in her that isn’t human.
We next catch up with Christine in her new office where she is documenting the progress of the formerly cocooned Chester’s Mill residents. She seems quite pleased overall: “It’s amazing how quickly they’ve begun to gather. Last night they heard my call. Today more have set up camp. One by one they’re completing their journeys.” Christine is most pleased with Junior’s progress: “James is furthest along. He has let go of the fear that held him back. Today I’ll assess his progress and see if he’s ready to take the next step.” She is also very pleased with how Sam and Norrie are coming along. Joe, on the other hand, has her very concerned as he did not respond to her ‘call’ the night before. She is worried that his resistance could be contagious if it’s not “snuffed out” and vows to pay him a visit to get him back on track. Another question mark on her progress report is Barbie, who is still hanging around with Julia, even though he seemed so bonded with Eva the night before. She concludes her recording with the rather ominous statement that “the moment he’s ready to move on, there won’t be any reason for her to exist.” The ‘her’ in question, is of course, Julia, who was not cocooned and who is therefore considered to be a weed in the ‘garden’ that Christine is trying to cultivate.
Christine focuses her attention on Junior next as he readily responds to her request for assistance in the dorm building project. Their encounter is even more intimate than the encounter at Junior’s camp. Christine caresses Junior again in this episode and in a breathy, seductive voice, convinces Junior to take a sledgehammer to his father’s old office. She tells Junior that not only would this gesture show the townspeople that Big Jim is no longer a threat to them, but that it could also be very cathartic for him in his quest to let go and move on. Junior grabs the sledgehammer and quickly goes to work, with Christine contently observing in the background. I’d say Junior is scoring high marks on his assessment thus far.
While Christine is making great strides with Junior, Eva is a different story. She comes to Christine to tell her that the recorder is missing. The exchange between them becomes quite tense as Eva lashes out at Christine: “Why are you assuming it was my fault? Maybe someone’s suspicious of you. I don’t understand why you’re still pretending to be a therapist.” When Christine tries to explain once again that she is following the path that was set out for her in the alternate reality, Eva continues her rant: “Do you hear yourself? You sound crazy.” Christine pulls the ‘pot calling the kettle black card’ and says that she doesn’t look any crazier than Eva does pointing to Eva thinking she’s pregnant and running around holding hands with Barbie in front of the whole town. She then directs the conversation back to the fact that they need to find that recorder and surmises that either Big Jim or Julia must have it, with Julia being the most likely candidate as she is staying two doors down from them at the hotel. Eva’s response “With Dale?” shows that if Christine was trying to find a way to effectively distract Eva, she has hit her mark. Any thought Eva had about questioning Christine’s actions or motivations goes right out of her head as soon as she thinks about Julia and Barbie together.
The tense exchange between Christine and Eva is interrupted at this point when Sam drops by. Eva leaves and Sam and Christine discuss the progress of the support group Sam is leading. Sam reports that coming together as a community really seems to be helping the group members, but that Abby Dewitt is still a concern. Abby has an alcohol problem and has lost her children to Social Services. Being trapped under the dome has just compounded her problems so she is a real concern for Sam. He vows that he will keep checking on her. Christine then turns her attention to Sam, wanting to know how he’s doing. She thinks Sam needs to continue with his quest to ask Joe for forgiveness and arranges a meeting between them.
Outside, a fire breaks out in one of the tents and a child is nearly killed. A man named Pete jumps in to help and then proclaims that the tents are too close together and that it’s too dangerous. This conveniently gives Christine the opportunity to announce her plans for dorms and she then recruits Pete to work with Junior on the project. The whole scene raises the question – did Christine somehow orchestrate the whole scene, including the fire, to get the townspeople on board with her plan.”
While all of this is going on, Big Jim has been captured by mysterious men in white hazmat suits. These men tie him up and run tests on him. They then proclaim that “contact with the egg hasn’t altered him” and so remove their hazmat gear. Once their suits are off, Big Jim recognizes one of them as an employee of Aktaion, the company who was originally trying to get the egg. He wants to know how they and the egg managed to get back under the dome. After they rough him up and also kill one of their own men, Big Jim tells them that they’re right to be afraid of the egg and that whatever was in it has already been let loose into the dome.
Sensing that Julia is not really on board with her plans, Christine approaches her and asks for her input. As they are walking to the construction site, Julia takes the opportunity to thank Christine for saving her from Melanie, but the thanks doesn’t feel especially sincere: “Thank God you were looking for food in exactly the right spot.” Julia clearly seems to think that Christine’s presence in just the right place at the right time was a little too convenient and stops just short of saying as much. This awkward exchange is interrupted by Hunter and Norrie. This pair tells Christine and Julia that Joe is having a rough time, and then they want to know where they can be of assistance today. Christine says they would be very helpful if they helped Junior and leads them to where everyone is working. Julia takes the opportunity to sneak into Christine’s office and comes across the recorder that Christine has been using to record her updates about the progress she is making in creating a kinship with the Chester’s Mill residents.
Christine catches Julia in the act before she has a chance to listen to anything and although she looks panicked at seeing Julia with the recorder in hand, Christine plays it off casually: “You were snooping! I don’t blame you. I would have done the same thing.” She tells Julia that she uses the recorder to keep notes on the clients she is counselling: “What happened in those cocoons left people reeling. I’m just trying to help.” Julia is again suspicious: “So you keep saying.” In the name of protecting her clients’ confidentiality, Christine is able to retrieve the recorder from Julia. Crisis averted for our Queen Bee. Or is it? Julia then produces what appears to be a charred id card of some sort and asks Christine if she knows who it belongs to “since you seem to know so much about everyone.” Christine, always ready with an explanation, tells Julia that the card belongs to her. It’s her id badge from the University of Zenith. Julia proclaims her a “Jack of all trades” but then, instead of giving Christine back the id badge, she pockets it with a smile. Uh oh, Christine. That’s not good. Christine decides to get one good dig in before Julia leaves by bringing up Eva and Barbie and the fact that the two of them were together all night the previous night. She conveniently doesn’t mention that by ‘together’, she means that they were standing out in the middle of town together with all their fellow formerly cocooned residents, staring at the moon all night. Assuming the worst, Julia, obviously upset by this news, leaves: “it was really nice talking to you, Christine.” I sense there’s going to be an epic battle of the redheads before all is said and done.
Christine now has time to turn her attention to Joe. Just like in the alternate reality, she barges into Joe’s room and begins questioning him about his behavior. They talk about his grief and about how seeing Andrea’s dead body the day before has reminded him of his sister’s death all over again. He then goes on to tell Christine that he thinks Norrie and Hunter have changed and not in a good way. Christine wants him to consider that maybe his own frustration is clouding his view of them. He sees them happy and is frustrated that he isn’t. She then goes on to remind him of how happy he was in the alternate reality when he completed his college portfolio. Before she leaves, Christine asks Joe to do one favor for her. She convinces Joe that he needs to finish the conversation that he started with Sam in the alternate reality as well. She caresses Joe’s face and tells him: “I think you’re ready to forgive him. Ready to move on.”
Joe finds his purpose by setting out to use solar panels from people’s home in hopes of getting the power restored in Chester’s Mill. Julia encounters him while he is working on this project and commends him for being creative while everyone else is busy doing Christine Price’s bidding. When Joe tells her that what he’s doing is actually Christine’s idea, a frustrated Julia questions his loyalty to Christine – why does he listen to her? Joe’s response is that what Christine says just makes sense. As she stands there watching Joe work, something catches Julia’s eye and she yanks Christine’s id badge out of her pocket. Julia holds it up to a logo on the side of a box, realizes that the logo on the badge is a perfect match, and knows that she has caught Christine in a lie. As she tells Joe, Christine is no therapist – she works for Aktaion.
While Julia is pondering what other lies Christine may have told them, Junior is having issues of his own. His working relationship with Pete is not going so well, mainly because it appears that Pete does not like or respect Christine: “The only thing I like about Christine is watching her walk away.” Junior doesn’t seem pleased to hear him speak ill of Christine and when they next have an angry debate about whether or not a column can be removed without bringing the ceiling down on their heads, Junior asks Christine, who has walked in and witnessed their argument, for her input. Pete interrupts “Come on, man. Really? She’s probably the only person here who knows less about this than you do.” And then to Christine “Hey, let the big boys handle this, sweetheart. All right?” This sends Junior off the deep end and grabbing a sledgehammer, he fiercely knocks down the column in question and yells at Pete: “My team, my call. Get out now!” As Pete storms out, Christine looks very impressed, and touching him again, says ‘Good job.’
It becomes clear with the episode’s final scene that Junior has scored very well on his assessment because Christine brings him to the tunnels and begins to fill him in on her plan: “I’m taking my star pupil on a field trip, back to where it all began. You did well today. Perfectly, in fact. But not everyone is falling into line. The longer they’re outside of the cocoons, the more the humanity takes hold. But not to fear, there’s a solution.” Instead of the ‘What the hell are you talking about? Are you crazy?!’ response, we might hope to hear from Junior, instead he responds with “How can I help?” There’s little, if any doubt left at this point that Christine has Junior firmly under her spell and that he probably isn’t even really Junior anymore but just another vessel to carry out the dome’s agenda. Christine replies to her eager pupil: “I have something special planned for you. In time, it will become clear. But for now, you’re exactly what I need.”
As if her words aren’t creepy enough, Christine then smears some of that Oxytocin goo from the cocoons across Junior’s lips and proceeds to kiss him passionately. (And here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson…) They drop to the floor with Christine on top, and as she sits up and gazes into the purple amethyst on the tunnel wall, we are given quite the shock when what is reflected back at her is not the human face we’ve been seeing, but instead, what must be the alien that has taken control of her. It is a truly uncomfortable and eerie sight, and with that, the episode concludes.
What I’m finding most interesting about Christine’s character is how truly complex she is. She is incredibly manipulative – like a puppet master, pulling the strings of all of the Chester’s Mill residents. In some cases, as with Junior and Sam, she manipulates to get people to do what she needs them to do in order to further the dome’s agenda. In other cases, as with Eva and Julia, she manipulates in order to create distractions if she feels anyone is resisting her objective. That Barbie card came in handy for her several times during this episode.
I’m also intrigued by what a chameleon Christine is. She becomes whatever she needs to be in order to best help each resident complete their journeys. With Junior, she’s a seductress who builds him up in order to help him shed his fear. With Sam, she plays the role of a colleague. In giving him this support group to run, she is giving him a sense of purpose and making him feel like he can get past what he did to Angie and become a part of the community again. And then with Joe, she takes on a more maternal role. She’s the mom who barges right into his bedroom without knocking to find out what’s going on with him.
I also really love just how different this character is from any character that we’ve seen Marg play in recent years. As I mentioned last week, it’s a lot of fun to watch her play this mysterious woman/alien and it looks like she’s having a lot of the fun with the role and the freedom that it gives her as well. This is definitely not a procedural crime drama and this character is no Catherine Willows, lol.
Questions that I have at this point:
1) What is Christine’s solution to get rid of that pesky humanity that keeps getting in her way — what does she have up her sleeve?
2) How will Julia and Big Jim factor in now they are both outsiders and both have pieces of evidence that prove Christine isn’t who she says she is?
3) Is Christine aware that other members of the Aktaion workforce are running amok in Chester’s Mill looking for the egg?
4) What is the special something that Christine has in store for Junior? Has Christine chosen him as her ‘King’ or is he merely another drone like Melanie to carry out her bidding?
5) All of the caressing that Christine does — is she just handsy or is there something more to these touches, something intoxicating – some kind of chemical reaction for lack of a better word – that she’s using to manipulate people with?
6) Is Christine going to have to die to get rid of this thing that has taken over her body or is there a way to get rid of it so that the ‘real’ Christine can continue on as a Chester’s Mill resident? I have this on my mind of course because I’d love for there to be a way for Marg to continue on the series beyond her originally-slated 10 episodes.