Under the Dome series premiere recap: They Eat Goldfish, Don't They?

In the first episode of CBS' summertime Stephen King adaptation, the small town of Chester's Mill is cut off from the outside world
Ep. 01 | Aired Jun 24, 2013

SENDING OUR LOVE THROUGH THE DOME Barbie has a message for the outside world. The outside world responds: "So. Barbie, eh? Boy, in the nickname lottery, you sure missed out."

Michael Tackett/CBS

The last few minutes of Under the Dome featured a rapid-fire array of reveals and twists, guaranteed to pay off next week or perhaps in the season finale or maybe even in some theoretical future seasons:

-Joe wanders by a bridge where the local high schoolers are partying. He takes Ben Drake from AP English on a search; Joe's own personal Dome Theory is that the invisible whatever-it-is must have a power source, and it must be on the inside. No sooner does he say this than he collapses, mumbling "The stars are falling in lines" over and over again.

-Junior knocks Angie unconscious and locks her up in his dad's old fallout shelter. He's talking all kinds of crazy, and it's not clear how much of it is Lovesick Homicidal Puppy Crazy vs. Maybe Knows Something About The Dome Crazy. "I'm the only person who really understands what's going on around here," he assures her. And then he winks. Upstairs, he gives his dad a hug. (Fun fact: Junior Rennie and Senior Rennie both wear leather jackets.)

-Julia lets Barbie spend the night in her house; it's the least she can do, after he saved Joe earlier that day. She shows him a picture of her absent husband. Barbie recognizes the guy right away; it's the man he buried in an unmarked grave earlier that morning.

-Duke and Linda go back out to the edge of town. Duke tells Linda his Dome Theory: "Maybe we're being punished." He's about to confess something. "A little over a year ago, I was approached about..." But he doesn't get any further. He touches the invisible wall, and his heart skips a beat. And then his freaking pacemaker explodes right out of his chest. Linda cradles him as he lies on the ground: The image suggests the Piéta, the image of Mary holding a dead Christ in her arms. We can see Linda crying out, but we can't hear her; outside of the dome, boots and helicopters and bright lights illuminate a border-long government encampment. We hear stray bits of media chatter about the Dome -- including a snippet from President Obama, assuring the residents of Chester's Mill that America will do everything for them. Of course, Chester's Mill can't hear him.

All in all, it was an exciting kick-off episode. I was a big fan of Stephen King's book, and it's clear that the TV version is already striking off on its own distinctive path while retaining much of its inspiration's DNA. It's nowhere near as dark as the book was; the first 100 pages of Dome is basically just an extended sympathy of terror and destruction, and you get the sense that the show's producers wanted to open with a slightly-less-intimidating introduction to Chester's Mill. Still, there was plenty to enjoy here, and some of the additions seemed specifically designed to ramp up the moral ambiguity and to take the show in intriguing new directions.

What did you think of the Dome premiere? Newcomers: Did you like what you saw in Chester's Mill? Book fans: Did the changes bug you, or did you like the transmogrified versions of the book's cast?

Follow Darren on Twitter: @DarrenFranich

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