I'm going to tell you something I've never told anyone before: I was there during the pitch meetings for Under The Dome. The suits had a lot of concerns about whether this show could last more than one season without running out of story. But I managed to convince them that I had what it takes to go the distance.
Of course, I wasn't there in my full-sized dome infrastructure body — these execs have pretty big conference rooms, but not THAT big. No. I sent my mini-dome, which sat in the middle of the conference table. As they talked through their story concerns — like the fact that the book this show is based on only covers a single week under me, and the notion that maybe this ought to be a miniseries instead — I responded eloquently, by having the mini-dome turn black, or strobe different rainbow colors, or sprout tiny winged chihuahuas. A few times, I caused the studio execs to have vivid hallucinations of stabbing their fathers with pruning shears. After an hour or two of that, they were SOLD.
And in last night's episode, you can see why.
I send a rain of Xenomorph blood!
OK, so it's not really blood. It's actually super-acidic red rain caused by algae blooms inside the big lake. (The same one where Julia threw the glowy egg and Melanie the amnesiac girl surfaced? Maybe.) But it sure looks like blood, and it's super-burny. Together with the butterfly plague last week, this is sort of a sign that I've created a whole ecosystem-gone-haywire, in which creatures are growing way out of control due to, uh, magnetic fields. Or a sign that I'm "testing" the people of Chester's Mill.
And just like with the butterflies, the people of the town eventually find a scientific solution, due to the science teacher, Rebecca "The Executioner" Pine. This time around, it involves salination and pH and "sciencey science."
But really, the rain of acid blood is just there to amp up the science/religion debate — and Lyle, the newly introduced barber character played by Dwight Yoakam, takes this "debate" to a whole crazy new level. Lyle decides that the rain of blood is a sign of the End Times and that it will be followed by the Rapture. So he kidnaps Rebecca "The Executioner" Pine and threatens to kill her.
Thanks to Lyle, the science/religion debate gets a whole lot more complicated, because now there's a debate between two strands of true believers. Julia Shumway (who's actually been speaking to me and has heard my "voice") believes that I'm here to "protect" everyone. But Lyle believes I'm only going to protect the true believers and destroy the wicked. Lyle is sort of a Calvinist domeite, who believes that I will only save the Elect or the chosen few, and who believes in salvation through faith, whereas Julia is more of an Episcopalian domeite, believing in a sort of wishy-washy salvation for everyone, via works. Seriously, they actually have a whole works-vs-faith debate going on for a moment there.
Anyway, Lyle believes I will only save the chosen few who believe in me — which kind of misunderstands the nature of a dome. We don't discriminate. That's kind of our whole deal. If you're under me, you're protected from whatever isn't under me. (Side note: You know what would actually make this show super interesting? If the rest of the world gets destroyed, leaving only Chester's Mill intact, thanks to me.)
Both Julia and Lyle are in opposition to Rebecca "The Executioner" Pine, who believes "sciencey science" — even though she was already proved wrong in the season opener, when she claimed her giant electromagnet demagnetized me, and we all know it was actually Big Jim's willingness to give his life for me. Because Lyle throws Big Jim out of a truck and kidnaps Rebecca, Big Jim loses a bit of his liking for the messianic religious fervor, and is a bit more receptive to Rebecca's ideas. Which, basically, boil down to culling the population of Chester's Mill to prevent everyone from starving.
Rebecca — who, you'll remember, is the "sciencey" one — comes out with a bizarre story about people in Borneo putting old people in a tree, and also tells Big Jim that I "chose" him to be the leader. Which I emphatically did not. I do not believe in choosing leaders via gallows ascension — I prefer a system whereby candidates for elective office are put into a tree, which is then shaken. Kidding! Actually, I am a big believer in "ranked choice" voting, because it gives a chance to third parties, and domes are all about inclusion.
So Rebecca is clearly evil, because she's the voice of cold reason, and she's got Big Jim under her thumb. And Lyle is evil because he's a zealot. So Julia gets to be the middle ground, between two kinds of zealotry. She only believes that I'm magic and that I will protect everyone and somehow save everyone from starving, if they only help themselves. Makes sense, right?
I love Microsoft
So back to the pitch meeting: We had a tough time agreeing on terms, because I learned a long time ago to get points on the back-end. I may be a dome, but I'm not dense.
The studio kept claiming that they could just go get some other massive piece of infrastructure — like, maybe the Hoover Dam could descend randomly and cover this town in Maine? — but the Hoover Dam can't act the way I can act. Plus it doesn't come with a mini-Dam. There was a brief phase when they wanted to save money by making Under The Tent instead — maybe there could be a really big wedding which went really badly, and a bunch of people could be stuck under a tent eating canapes that went bad. But in the end, they were won over by my shininess. And my constant ability to improvise.
Like, in last night's episode, I spice things up a bit, by allowing internet access in the town for a few minutes — so everyone can appreciate the greatness of Microsoft. Those Surface tablets are the only consumer electronics I will allow inside Chester's Mill — if you want iPads or Galaxy tablets, go live under the Hoover Dam.
Why do I love Microsoft so much? It has to do with interoperability — like myself, Microsoft is a smooth shell that covers everything and shuts out all competing products. Every Microsoft product is designed to work with every other Microsoft product, and no bomb or Janet Reno complaint can dent the shiny curved surface. Plus little known fact: I actually inspired the MSN butterfly.
In any case, once the kids at the high school can get online, they're able to read their email. Joe gets an email from his parents asking him to take care of his sister — which allows him to process briefly the fact that Angie was murdered, before he goes back to just being sort of blank-faced. Norrie gets to revel in the realization that the townspeople are all famous on twitter.
But the big reveal comes when James, the psycho formerly known as Junior, gets a random video file emailed to him, which can only be unlocked with his mother's birthdate. In it, his mom reveals that she really is alive, and that she's just been avoiding him for years because she's kind of a bad mom. And she says that Lyle, the psycho barber, will have all the answers that James needs.
Bear in mind that James' mom is psychic and has been painting pictures for years that foretell stuff that's going to happen under me. So she's clearly one of my special people, and she's got a special connection to my mystical vibes and stuff. And she seems to think Lyle, the crazypants zealot, has important insights that James needs to hear.
Or maybe it's just that Lyle has specific knowledge of why the psychic mom went missing? Turns out she and her crazy brother Sam were close to Lyle, back in 1988, and Lyle and she dated back then. And after Lyle gets locked up in prison, Sam comes to see Lyle and says that whatever they buried needs to stay buried, and they had a deal. To which Lyle replies that I constitute "force majeure," voiding all previous contracts — which I appreciate, because it makes me sound French and sophisticated, and also as if I'm my own jurisdiction for legal purposes. And then James comes down to visit Lyle, who promises to tell James everything if James lets him out.
Sam, meanwhile, isn't even being subtle about being capital-E Evil any more. He tells both Big Jim and Lyle that he's not going to kill either of them... yet. And he skulks around leering at people and talking about how nobody suspects his evil plans, mwa ha ha ha.
All of the romances on this show should be put in a tree and shaken
You know what people are doing instead of finding more ways to worship me? They are having terrible romances. Like, just awful. I plan to use my psychic butterflies to tell Julia to enforce group marriage, or group celibacy, I don't really care which. These people are using My protection to engage in sordid romantic bickering, and I don't like it.
Julia is actually the worst of the bunch — every scene between her and Barbie makes me want to send more Xenomorph blood raining down. Like in this episode, when they debate human nature like stoned muskrats. "Hey man, humans are like intrinsically bad and nasty and brutish and short, man, and you just like scratch the surface and they reveal their badness." "Nah, man, like, people are sometimes good." "Yeah, but they're often bad." "But why can't you just have faith in stuff, man?" SHUT UP.
This all culminates in the end, when Barbie points out that contemplating mass murder is perfectly reasonable, and Julia is like, "I don't even know you." Which, actually, she doesn't.
Meanwhile, there's also the Worst Love Triangle Ever. The CW is going to have to step up its game, because the Norrie/Joe/Melanie triangle is the worst thing in the history of television. Joe's mostly over his sister dying, except when he gets an email from his parents, and meanwhile he's mooning after Melanie the amnesiac girl, who calls him "sweetie" and tries to cozy up to him. Norrie points out that Melanie's amnesia is kinda convenient, but then it turns out that Melanie is actually Big Jim's age and is just really well-preserved. She went to high school with Big Jim's wife and Lyle and the rest of the older generation.
Seriously, the speed at which Joe pivots from "my sister is dead" to "I have a thing for this random amnesiac girl" is kind of unseemly, and it makes me want to occlude myself so I don't have to watch. The funeral meats were not yet cold yadda yadda.
And then there's the Big Jim and Rebecca romance, which inspires Big Jim to get manly cologne from the psycho barber guy. At least those two are bonding over something worthwhile — mass murder — but it's somewhat dampened by the prospect of a Big Jim/Lyle/Mrs. Big Jim love triangle coming back, when everybody learns that Mrs. Big Jim is still alive.
Sometimes I just wish I could deflate. Or that my agents had let the Hoover Dam have this show instead.