Under the Dome recap: 'Force majeure'

The citizens of Chester's Mill deal with daily problems such as acid rain, an undead mother, and an ageless teen.
Ep. 03 | Aired Jul 14, 2014

Brownie Harris/CBS

The problem of character inconsistencies also continues in the children's story line this week as Joe and the Mystery Girl, whose name we learn is Melanie Cross, form an inexplicable connection. A couple days ago, Joe wanted to kill Melanie, and now she's calling him sweetie, caressing his hair, and making Norrie jealous. The only way it makes sense is if we accept the fact that the people of Chester's Mill suffer from short-term memory loss.

While at the school, the three kids play around with Microsoft tablets (yay for product placement) and are surprised when they start to get an internet signal. As any Millennial in a crisis would do, they first check Twitter to see if they're trending. (Only in the show's world is Chester's Mill trending on Twitter). Eventually Junior shows up at the school, and this is where things get interesting. While scrolling through emails, Junior opens an email from 01@houndsofdiana.com and clicks on the link contained within. He's taken to a page that asks for his mother's birthday information, he inputs it and is shown a video recorded by his mother Pauline.

Pauline starts out by stating the obvious, that she's alive, and then tells her son that her ex-boyfriend Lyle, aka Mr. Crazy from earlier, is the only one with answers. Pauline has more to say, but the kids lose their internet connection before Junior finishes the video, and thus so many questions are left unanswered until next week. The most important unanswered question being: Does Pauline share Heroes' Isaac Mendez's gift for painting the future? If so, is there a chance Heroes: Reborn will also take place under a dome?

Before Junior has a chance to visit Lyle, Uncle Sam, who up until now has been an enigma wrapped in boring, stops by the jail to see said ex-bf. In a cryptic conversation about secrets staying buried, we learn that Uncle Sam and Lyle go way back, and when the Dome first arrived in Chester's Mill, the two of them agreed to keep a low profile. Obviously, Lyle didn't stick to this plan because he has chosen to follow the Dome's lead over Sam's. Junior sees all of this on the police station's security camera monitor. After Sam leaves, Junior strikes a deal with Lyle: If Junior lets Lyle out of prison, Mr. Crazy-Pants will answer all of Junior's questions about Angie's murder and his mother.

The episode's title,"Force majeure," is rather interesting when you think about what happens in the entire episode. As Lyle explains it to Sam, force majeure is an extraordinary circumstance that frees both parties from a contract. While this is directly applicable to whatever deal Lyle and Sam made, it also applies to both Rebecca's plan of ridding the town of those who place a burden on society and to the show in general. The main conflict under the dome is whether or not the social contract, which provided order to social relations and described which actions were permissible within a civilized society, still applies. What Rebecca is suggesting definitely violates the social contract. Is the Dome an extraordinary enough circumstance that permits such a violation?

This question isn't answered yet, but hopefully next week's episode will examine both this question and the mystery surrounding Junior's mother further. The writers have a poor track record of following up with interesting story developments. Last week, Rebecca's assessment of the town's resource situation looked promising, but it looks like we'll have to keep waiting for answers on that front.

DomeWatch: 

–Did Julia saying the Dome talking to her remind anyone else of this famous Dr. House-ism?

–Joe finds Melanie's photo in a yearbook from 1988, and Melanie looks like she hasn't aged a day. Either something's up with this girl or she uses some high quality anti-aging cream.

–What is up with Uncle Sam? Will we ever learn?

–Lyle singing in his jail cell... out of place?

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