“Caged,” the sixth installment of Under the Dome’s third season, starts to shed some light onto what happened to bring the Dome down over Chester’s Mill and to give us a little more insight into what Alien Christine’s ultimate agenda is.
“Caged” opens with Marston showing Big Jim the video footage of exactly what transpired when Christine made contact with the egg: “Right there is where Christine Price became something else…On a cellular level, the person you know as Christine Price is not of this Earth.” Right there is also the moment that the dome came down over Chester’s Mill and the mini-dome came down over the egg itself. Marsten goes on to tell Big Jim that they’ve learned a lot about Christine but they still haven’t determined what she is or what she wants. Lucky Big Jim then learns that’s where he comes in as Marsten charges him with the task of pumping Christine for information about her agenda. Big Jim initially declines as he wants no contact with ‘that thing’, but ever the persuasive guy, Marsten tells Jim he has two choices: 1) help get the information from Christine that they need or 2) be injected with Christine’s inhuman blood to see what happens to him. Big Jim decides to be helpful.
Much of Christine’s time in this episode is spent in a cage having some pretty candid conversation with Big Jim. She is honest with Big Jim from the start, showing him what I’ve speculated about for a few episodes now, that she is basically a chameleon — she can easily fake any emotion at the drop of a hat, depending on how she thinks the other person needs to see her. When Christine tells him that people will come for her, Big Jim mocks the idea of Junior as a knight in shining armor and tries to get information about who else she might have working for her. He tells Christine that if she’s relying on Barbie, her plan is flawed because Julia knows all about Christine and can’t wait to tell Barbie everything she knows. Is Christine getting a little worried at this point? It’s hard to say with certainty, but she does abruptly end the conversation by telling Big Jim that her human body is tired.
When Big Jim and Christine resume their conversation, it takes a turn for the philosophical with Christine extolling the virtues of the collective and telling Big Jim that the loneliness and emptiness he’s feeling is his ‘reward’ for only looking out for himself. Christine tells Big Jim that there’s no reason why her people and his can’t co-exist because they want the same thing. She says there’s no reason they should be enemies but that they will protect themselves. She goes on to defend her actions in stripping people of what makes them individuals: “Petty self-interest brought this community to the brink of destruction, but because of me, people are thinking about things other than themselves. Because of that, we have food. We have peace.” Big Jim balks at the idea of the collective and retorts that true progress comes from creativity and individual ingenuity: “The history of the world is made by leaders, not followers.” Christine inserts a reality check at this point: “Well, we come from very different worlds and from where I sit, you’re no leader. You’re just a very sad and lonely man.”
They are interrupted this time when Marston has one of his goons toss in a can of tear gas and then brings Big Jim out of the cage. Marston is not completely happy with Big Jim’s progress and instructs him to up his game, or else. When Christine next awakens, she has cuts down the side of her body. Over in his own cage, Big Jim is sporting a fresh busted lip and informs Christine that they must have escalated with their experiments. Big Jim decides to demonstrate to Christine what a little fight and a little ingenuity can do as he uses the tab off of a can to pick the lock on his cage. Clearly more concerned about the dangers of her current predicament, Christine begs Big Jim to take her with him, promising that she can get him out of the dome if he does. Stroking his arm and his face through the bars of her prison, Christine really pours on the charm and tries to coax Big Jim into helping her. Perhaps in response to his own passionate speech about the need for leaders and creativity, Christine makes a persuasive speech of her own that appears to be designed to seduce Big Jim over to her way of thinking: “Once out of the cocoons, the concepts of me, ego, and self were gone from my mind. Immediately I saw the world in a new light, a better light — a world where the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few…Jim, what we want is no different than any living organism – to survive, to flourish…Aww, come on. Let’s work together”
Big Jim isn’t buying into Christine’s manipulations, but manages to get her to say that bringing down the dome is her ultimate plan, which is what Marston has been waiting to hear. He charges into the room to say he can take it from there but then tries to stop Big Jim from leaving. Displaying a little more of that ingenuity he was praising earlier, Big Jim uses the can lid to cut Marston’s throat and make his escape from the Aktaion lab. Christine again begs him to take her with him, but he says “You know, I can handle good and I can handle evil. But what I can’t handle is desperate. You’re in a position to tell me whatever I want to hear, but I ain’t buying. No hard feelings.”
Although abandoned by Big Jim, Christine is ultimately rescued from the lab by Junior and Barbie, who have been trying to track her down for much of the episode. Once they rescue her, Barbie corners Christine for the truth about who she is. Christine confesses everything to him — that she was hired by Aktaion to find the egg, that Aktaion manipulated her into wanting to be a part of something great because the egg was supposed to be a new clean source of energy. She then tearfully tells Barbie that everything is her fault – she brought the dome down when she touched the egg and all of the lives lost and all of the families who were separated are because of her. Her emotional story, which matches the one Eva gave Barbie earlier, convinces Barbie who tells her it’s not her fault and when a gun-wielding Julia interrupts Christine’s confession and tries to tell Barbie the truth, Barbie’s not having any of it. Christine eggs Barbie on, telling him that Julia is the one who took her at gunpoint and gave her to Aktaion. That’s enough for Barbie and he calls Julia a monster and tells her that if she can’t get on board with the town’s new agenda, then she needs to just stay away.
Recovering quickly from her ordeal, Christine meets up with Eva for an update on what has happened while she was locked up and especially to get a report on Eva’s progress with Barbie. While not enough progress has been made on that front, Eva praises Christine for getting Barbie to finally trust her and Christine reveals the key to her success: “I became what he needed me to be, a victim for him to save.” Christine gives Eva her next set of marching orders: “The sooner you become his mate, the sooner he’ll be what I need him to be. Our protector.”
Although she had made great strides with getting Barbie to complete his journey, Christine faces more dissension within her ranks. Sam has figured out that Christine is responsible for Abby’s death. He goes to see her and actually beats Christine at her own game of manipulation by convincing her how sorry he is that he strayed and how grateful he is that she has gotten him back on the right track yet again. When she embraces him and tells him she only did what needed to be done because of how important he is to her and to the group, Sam stabs Christine and leaves her to die. Junior finds Christine, and at her urging, he carries her back down to the caves where she re-cocoons herself with one last order to Junior: “Bring me Sam.” I can’t imagine that meeting will go well for Sam. I’m going to take a not-so-wild guess and say that openly attacking the Queen is probably something that the collective would frown upon.
I think my favorite part of this episode, and perhaps my favorite moments of the season so far, were the scenes between Christine and Big Jim while they were caged. Marg and Dean Norris played off of each other so well. It was a pleasure to watch their characters go head to head and I hope that we’ll get more scenes like that this season.
Marg was especially thrilling to watch in the scene where Christine puts on the show for Big Jim — quickly passing through all of the emotions that she has in her arsenal of manipulation. Marg played that so beautifully and really just all around rocked this episode. I love how Christine constantly keeps me guessing. When Big Jim asked her if she could do ‘honesty,’ it really got me wondering about whether we’ve seen any true emotion from Christine up to this moment. I think the answer is no, perhaps with the exception of when she is trying to explain to Big Jim why she believes in the collective.
I really cannot wait to see what happens next. Those amethyst crystals were still flickering at the end of the episode, so Christine is still in a race against time to make this collective successful.
You can view some HD screencaptures of Marg from the episode HERE.