Picking up right where we left off last week, Under the Dome’s third episode of the season ‘Redux’ opens with the people of Chester’s Mill, newly hatched from cocoons, climbing up out of the underground tunnels only to immediately realize that they are still trapped under the dome. Whatever they think they’ve experienced the past year has been nothing but an illusion or some kind of simulated reality a la ‘The Matrix.’ Having been teased with what life could be like if freed from their transparent prison, the residents are now struggling even more than they had been with day-to-day life under the dome. Junior, for example, misses and desperately wants back that dome-free life where he is free from the tyranny of Big Jim, while Norrie misses the life where she finally felt like she was a part of something. And As Dale Barbara tells Julia, “The dome was gone. We were free. The outside world was somehow more beautiful, more vibrant.”
While the people of Chester’s Mill are struggling to understand what has happened to them and are preparing for a town meeting where they can discuss it and hopefully come up with a plan to get some answers, the town’s newcomers, Christine Price and Eva Sinclair, are back at their hotel trying to determine what has happened to them as well. As she tries to piece together the mystery of how they ended up in cocoons for three weeks, Eva reveals that she and Christine are really anthropologists who were on a mission to find the egg. The last thing Eva remembers is that they had succeeded in locating the egg and then had landed in some kind of alternate reality where she was an aid worker and Christine was a therapist. Eva says that none of it makes sense to her and she wonders why she and Christine had different identities in the alternate reality.
Christine, who has let Eva take the lead in this conversation and who hasn’t said much at all about what she remembers from the past three weeks, jumps in at this point and says that while she has no idea why they were different in the alternate reality, she thinks it’s a good thing. She says that she and Eva would have a lot more to answer for if the townspeople knew why they had really been in Chester’s Mill when the dome came down. Christine also says that she thinks they should go to the town meeting — that everyone will be there to talk about what happened and so it would look very suspicious if they aren’t there. Thinking about Dale Barbara, Eva changes the subject and starts talking about how she was pregnant in the alternate reality and wonders if she may perhaps still be pregnant now. Christine tells her it’s unlikely and tries to comfort her because she knows how much Eva wants to have children someday. Even though our newcomers are strangers to everyone else in Chester’s Mill, this conversation shows that Eva and Christine were pretty close before they became trapped under the dome. The scene closes with Christine eyeing a piece of purple rock that is on her window sill.
Before heading to the town meeting, Christine makes a small detour and heads back to the underground tunnels to rendezvous with none other than Melanie. As predicted, they are working together. Christine chastises Melanie for failing in her duties: “You had a job. Lead the people to be cocooned so the egg could infuse them with the life force.” Melanie apologizes but then questions why they were chosen to do this. Christine, who seems to have all of the answers, replies: “You and I made first contact with the egg. When we touched it, we gained a complete understanding of the dome’s agenda — survive and propagate.” Melanie, not content with this answer, continues to question: “But I touched the egg first, 25 years ago. It should have been me in the Queen cocoon, not you.” Becoming exasperated at this point, Christine reminds her: “But you died during the download. Three weeks ago, I came along. From inside my cocoon, I could see that this town was on the brink of destroying itself.” Melanie then shows us that although she may have touched the egg, she is still clueless about some things, this time the gooey substance in the cocoon: “What is that stuff?” Again, Christine has the answer: “Oxytocin. It’s a mood regulator. It, plus the alternate reality, was essential to shape these humans into a functioning collective so that we could gain a foothold.” The fact that Christine refers to them as ‘these humans’ should be a red flag for viewers. I think it’s safe to say at this point that Christine — at least post ‘making contact with the egg’ Christine — is not human. Christine then goes on to point out that thanks to Melanie’s failure to protect the egg from Big Jim, their mission is not complete: “Except the transfer of the life force was interrupted…Because you didn’t protect it. Everyone in this cocoon has a role to play. We need to finish what we started. Quickly.” The scene concludes with Christine telling Melanie that she’s going to the town meeting to “assess the townspeople and determine how much work is left to do” and that Melanie’s job is to handle Julia, who they are convinced is a threat: “If she shows up, kill her.” There’s no question at this point who’s Queen.
It also becomes obvious at this point that while Christine and Eva may have been working together in their quest to find the egg, Christine is keeping Eva in the dark about her current agenda (i.e. the Dome’s agenda). After her secret meeting with Melanie, Christine meets back up with Eva and they go to the town meeting. As soon as they arrive, they are met by Big Jim and Julia who are just full of questions for the strangers who have ended up under the dome with them. Eva sees Barbie and quickly excuses herself, leaving Christine to come up with a cover story. Quick on her feet, Christine tells them that she and Eva were vacationing in Chester’s Mill and were out in the woods hiking where they fell into a sinkhole and then emerged from cocoons three weeks later along with everyone else. Big Jim and Julia look skeptical, so just like she did with Eva back at the hotel, Christine quickly changes the subject to talk about how she’s a therapist and how, in the alternate reality, she helped the townspeople deal with the trauma of having been trapped under the dome. She wonders if she could offer a similar service in their present situation. A nice deflection, but Big Jim is still suspicious: “Looks like everyone is shaken up, except Christine Price.”
Julia begins the town meeting by talking about all who have lost their homes and encourages anyone who still has a home to open their doors. Christine jumps in at this point, basically taking over the meeting: “The last time I stood in front of you, I urged you to find strength in community…” Her goal here is apparent: she is reminding them yet again of the alternate reality where they were free and also reminding them how helpful she was there so that they continue to trust her even if Julia and Big Jim do not. She urges the townspeople to work together to find food and several immediately volunteer to do so. Christine then offers up her services as a counselor — that they can come to her at any time. Julia stands there shaking her head in disbelief at how quickly this strange woman seems to have the townspeople completely under her influence. Even Barbie says that “Christine is right.” Finding food should take precedence over finding Melanie. As the meeting disburses, Christine makes a special effort to reach out to Sam Verdreaux and encourage him to lead a support group – that his experiences with AA while in prison would be very helpful. He seems unconvinced that anyone would want his help, but she tells him to at least think about it and then sends him off an a task to find Junior and bring him back. In what then appears to be another calculated move, Christine leaves the office unattended so that when Sam returns with Junior, people who are there waiting for Christine begin to open up to him instead when he mentions how much she helped him in the alternate reality, thus inserting him into the role of reluctant leader of this impromptu support group.
There is one more exchange between Christine and Eva that is very telling. Eva again questions Christine about the need to lie about their identities. When Christine reminds her that they are trapped and need to do whatever they can to survive, which means keeping the people’s trust, Eva’s response is “When did you become so calculating?” Eva, the only person in Chester’s Mill who knows anything about Christine, is starting to see that something is ‘off’ with her. Christine reassures her that she hasn’t changed with an anecdote about escaping from a wolf while searching for artifacts in North Dakota: “We’ve been through so much together. We’ll get through this.” Shen then diverts Eva’s attention by giving her a task: to go find “the one thing that can expose us.” Eva sets off on her mission, but unfortunately for Christine and Eva, Big Jim, who was lurking around the corner, follows her. Eva locates the damning piece of evidence and hides it in their hotel room; however, Big Jim promptly traces her steps and retrieves the item for himself.
The evidence turns out to be a recording of Eva and Christine finding the egg. In the video, which we watch while Big Jim is watching – “Therapist, my ass” – Christine picks up the egg, which appears to activate it. There is what appears to be an explosion and all we can see at that point is Christine’s hand clutching the egg and flashes of purple running up her arm while she screams and screams. It stands to reason that the purple we’re seeing running through Christine’s arm is the ‘download’ that Christine says Melanie did not survive when she originally discovered and touched the egg 25 years ago. It also stands to reason if the successful download into Christine is what brought the dome down over Chester’s Mill, then if Melanie had survived the download 25 years earlier, the dome probably would have come down over the town then.
While Big Jim has been busy spying on Eva, his son Junior, who is really struggling with life back under the dome and has thought of taking his own life, seeks out Christine. With just a little coaxing, Christine gets Junior to confess how much he misses life in the alternate reality — that he had killed his father and was ready to burn down his house and move on. Seizing the opportunity, Christine tells Junior that he’s on the verge of a breakthrough: “If you really want to be who you were, finish what you started. Drop the match. We are what we do.” Junior departs, presumably to do just that, and Christine picks up a hunting knife, repeating to herself “We are what we do.”
While the rest of Chester’s Mill is off hunting and gathering food, Julia and Barbie have gone back to the tunnels to look for Melanie. Remembering her orders from ‘Queen’ Christine, Melanie attempts to complete her given task – to kill Julia if she returned to the tunnels. While she’s attempting to strangle Julia, Melanie mutters about how much better it would have been if she had just cocooned Julia with the rest. Mid ramble, however, she is stabbed in the back. The camera pans up to reveal Christine standing there with her bloodied hunting knife asking Julia if she’s okay. Killing Melanie serves several purposes for Christine: 1) Getting rid of Melanie gets rid of the only other person who is privy to the details of the dome’s agenda. Since Melanie was starting to babble about wishing she had cocooned Julia, it opened up the possibility that she may reveal more details of the plan, which made her a threat; 2) Melanie, because she kept failing to perform her duties, was becoming more of a hindrance than a help anyway. Now that the life force is taking root, Christine can probably easily find a new helper to take Melanie’s place; 3) Melanie’s jealousy of Christine being the one in the Queen cocoon also potentially made her a threat to the ‘throne’ so eliminating her removes that danger, and 4) most importantly, by killing Melanie, Christine has saved Julia’s life, thereby making Julia indebted to her and probably more apt to trust her going forward. Was getting rid of Melanie in this matter part of Christine’s plan all along or did she just see the opportunity and take it? I’m not sure at this point, but as calculating as Christine seems about everything else, it would not surprise me if she set Melanie up by sending her after Julia in the first place. Speaking of calculating, how about those tears after she kills Melanie: “I was out looking for food and I saw this girl…and she was strangling Julia. Oh my God, what have I done?” She then leans against a tree and cries, until she looks over her shoulder and sees that Julia and Barbie are preoccupied with each other. As soon as she sees that, she gets up and calmly walks away, knife still in hand.
The next time we see Christine, she is sitting in her office stroking the bloody knife with the piece of purple rock and seems quite content. She picks up her recorder and documents her progress so far: “James was the closest, a seed ready to sprout…once he shed his fear. With the right amount of nurturing, Sam could be next. They came when I signaled them, without knowing why. The life force has taken root. Some are compelled to serve their duties, some will require cultivation. Others must be pruned away. Weeds are stronger than they seem, a threat to what must blossom. But with careful tending, this kinship will grow into what we need it to be.”
The episode concludes with all of the formerly cocooned residents of Chester’s Mill gathered together and staring at the full moon. Quite pleased with her progress thus far, Christine emerges on the roof of the town hall to look down on them and then turns around to give an eerie smile to the camera and the moon.
I’m calling this episode the “Who are you and what have you done with the real Christine?” episode because based on the incidents that take place in during ‘Redux’, I don’t think we’ve actually met the real Christine Price. The post-cocoon version of Christine that we’re seeing appears to be merely a vessel that is carrying out the Dome’s agenda. The only glimpse of the real Christine that we’ve had thus far is the woman we (and Big Jim) see in the recording before she touches the egg, along with the hints that we’ve been given from Eva as to what Christine may have been like before she touched that egg. This probably doesn’t bode well for Christine’s longevity in Chester’s Mill as I can only see this playing out with her going head-to-head against Big Jim and Julia at some point and I would be surprised to see either of them go down. It is ‘Under the Dome’ though so I guess anything is possible.
I think what I’m enjoying most about all of this is watching Marg play such a different role from what I’ve been used to seeing in recent years. I had forgotten how much fun it is to watch her play a bad girl.
You can view screen captures from Under the Dome ‘Redux’ HERE.