by Sam Robinson
Under the Dome is back. And like the show itself, the dome has become alarmingly magnetic.
The first season of Under the Dome was a big-budget hit. While many laughed it off as a ludicrous concept for a television series and that it was stolen from The Simpsons Movie (and cleverly, this is addressed in the show itself), it was a gripping series that had me glued and a little bit creeped out. Each episode cost a whopping $3 million to make and was produced by Steven Spielberg and Stephen King (on whose book the series is based).
The show is set in the town of Chester’s Mill, that suddenly becomes closed off from the rest of the world via a giant, transparent dome. There’s been no explanation for the event except for clues scattered throughout the episodes so far, and the season return hinted towards more of a scientific reasoning towards the dome’s existence.
Season two returned with an episode written by Stephen King himself, titled Heads Will Roll. And that they did. There were deaths of two of the show’s key players (but surely they’ll keep appearing in visions); and a number of new characters appeared out of the blue. Where exactly in Chester’s Mill had they been hiding away all this time? And why are two of them so darn creepy? With any luck, all these questions will be answered in the coming episodes. I was a little disappointed by the season return, it lacked a lot of the tension of the first season and honestly, I hope the writers know where they’re headed. It’s a concept that can’t be strung out forever.
Reflecting back on the first season, it was a clever cross between thriller, mystery and drama. But what I loved most about it is that the dome turned Chester’s Mill into a micro-society, a social experiment. How do people relate to each other when they are isolated, resources are diminishing, and your own survival becomes most important?
The show does have supernatural elements, particularly towards the latter half of the first season – but the big issues arise from humanity itself. I was surprised that by the second and third episode there was still food left in the local grocer – there’s less food in my local supermarket before a long weekend – but sure enough, by episode six The Endless Thirst, the residents had come to their senses and soon enough the stores are empty.
Under the Dome is a fantastic illustration of the doctrine of total depravity. That is, that we are all completely depraved in our hearts towards God, and also to each other. By nature, we are sinful to the core. The Bible talks about this in a number of places, including Romans 3:9-10:
What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.”
We are all under the power of sin. You, me, and the townsfolk of Chester’s Mill. When cabin fever strikes, the hearts of the townsfolk are on show for all to see and some do some horrible things to each other. And even though there are some heroes, nobody is completely righteous. Some put on a show to pretend that they are, but still are corrupt from the inside.
The dome isn’t placed there by God – nor has it been explained yet exactly why it’s there – but if it’s a microcosm of the world we live in it shows that we’re all selfish and rebellious beings. And that’s why we need Jesus. He was the only one who did not sin and he died to save us from ours. We deserve death for our sin, but he shows us grace. When we trust in him he takes our sinful hearts and forgives us, and helps us to live for him instead of ourselves.
Thanks be to God that he has come into our dome, or sphere, and saved us from our sinful selves.
Under the Dome is still gripping, and it will be interesting to see what twists and turns lie ahead in the rest of season two. I just hope the writers have a plan amongst all the madness. Four stars.
Under the Dome season two airs Mondays at 10pm on CBS in the USA, and Tuesdays at 8:30pm on the Ten Network in Australia. Season one is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray.