Bad people were acting good and good people were acting… well, not so nice. I guess bad and good are relative terms under the dome, but things were looking a bit upside down for a while in "Outbreak." The picture was much clearer by the end of the episode, as ulterior motives were exposed. Spoilers if you haven't seen tonight's episode of Under the Dome!
It was probably only a matter of time before some kind of outbreak emerged under the dome, and sure enough it was meningitis that plagued Chester's Mill, rendering the unvaccinated to various degrees of sickness as resources were gathered. The only casualty by my count was Linda's grade school teacher, who gave up her antibiotics, insisting Linda take them, and died before more medicine had arrived. Said medicine was looted from the local pharmacy by the good reverend, who believed the illness was God's will… but I guess available medication was not. Rennie and Barbie shut Reverend's pill-burning party down and got the drugs back to the hospital in time to save everyone else.
Just as the dome seems to be a catalyst for the drama that exists beneath the mostly clear barrier, the outbreak seemed to instigate its own ripples of drama and conflict. Here's what went down during the mini-crisis:
Alice became the doctor in charge. She's a psychiatrist, but in absence of any other doctors, she's the best Chester's Mill has. And she held her own tonight, treating patients and also looking into Joe and Norrie's seizures. Most of Alice's attention was on the meningitis epidemic, but she has her own health issues to deal with, considering she's a diabetic and her insulin is low. Still, at the end of the episode, she stopped Carolyn from pilfering insulin on her behalf, assuring her that the dome wouldn't be there forever.
Joe and Norrie did a bit of experimenting with the seizures, videoing themselves holding hands to see if they could make another sync-seizure happen. And it worked, only when they looked at the video, in addition to seeing themselves reciting the "Pink stars are falling in lines" mantra, Joe also sat up during the seizure and put his finger to his lips, which they interpreted as the dome telling them not to tell anyone. Tell anyone what? The pink stars thing and the seizures aren't a secret. But maybe there's more to come and the dome's trying to communicate with them?
Julia spent the episode ignoring her symptoms and running around trying to get answers about Peter, whose name was on more than a few tongues tonight as he's one of the absent doctors. Between what she saw on Barbie's map, Phil Bushey's fever-ramblings and Junior Rennie being all too eager to rat out Barbie, Julia discovered the cabin, though she didn't really know what it had to do with Peter other than that it has something to do with him. At the cabin, she found paperwork that revealed that she and her husband are broke. All of their money is gone. That explains why Peter sold Phil his car, and maybe even why he was looking to hire a hit man.
Barbie gave Julia some of the truth, revealing that he's a debt collector (the rough kind) and that was collecting money from Peter. Julia said Peter never gambled, but Barbie had a voicemail from him setting up a meet-up, which was proof enough that he was involved in some shady dealings. Barbie didn't reveal that he accidentally killed Peter (or that Peter got himself shot by his own gun when wrestling with Barbie). It seemed like Julia had enough truth, and he doesn't really have any reason to believe she'd be willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that it wasn't his fault. Or not entirely his fault, anyway. So for now, Julia knows just enough to know Barbie wasn't up front with her from the beginning, considering she never told him he knew Peter to begin with. And she told him to find a new place to stay.
It was interesting, seeing the multiple sides of Barbie tonight. There's the guy who kicks around a recovering man's wheelchair asking for information - that's the Barbie who gets money from people. And then there's the guy who goes out of his way to save a sick woman and carrie her to safety. I kind of like that Barbie's not a cut-and-dry villain or hero.
It was also looking like maybe Junior Rennie had a decent side too. Tonight, his father tasked him with keeping the clinic quarantined, which he did with a rifle. As unstable as Junior is, it wasn't surprising to see him firing his gun and yelling orders. What was surprising was when Linda entered the room in her hospital gown looking tired and worried. It actually seemed like Junior was moved enough by the sight of her to come to his senses and reason with the angry mob, a task Linda struggled to do earlier in the episode. Junior singled out Mr. Dinsmore and reminded him of the time his wife made his family cornbread just after Junior's mother died. The story and his comments after reminded the group that they're all in this together.
Junior's successful efforts weren't unnoticed by Linda or unacknowledged by Big Jim, both of whom seemed impressed by the way he kept a cool head. And then Jim asked Junior if he ever thought of a career in law enforcement. Cue the creepy music. Junior may be cool-headed when he wants to be, but he's also a calculating guy. I'm thinking he saw Linda during that mob situation and realized he had a chance to show off in front of the only law left in town. He gave her an effective performance and earned himself a badge at the end of the episode. So not good!
Meanwhile, Angie pissed Junior off earlier by pretending to be nice to him as they reminisced a high school dance, only to stab him in the hand with the scissors she stole from the first aid kit last week. She later pissed off the plumbing enough to flood the bunker. On the bright side, the angry plumbing proved to be a microphone through which Angie could scream and Big Jim could hear. But I'm not so sure that'll help her. Big Jim heard the screaming and found Angie in the flooding bunker and that's where the episode ended. Now, he might let her go and expose his son's psychotic behavior to the town. Or he might just move her somewhere else in an effort to hide Junior's mental instability. There's a worse alternative to that, if Big Jim decides Angie needs dealing with in a more permanent way, but it's too soon to start speculating such dark alternatives.
In other news, there's still the mystery of the propane. The reverend dumped a bag of money on Big Jim's porch near the end of the episode tonight and told him he was washing his hands of their dirty little business. We're still waiting for more information on that mystery.
Four episodes into the series and what I'm really liking about the show so far is the resolution of certain plots, while others are coming to a boil. It works well for the pacing, introducing a crisis that needs to be dealt with, which keeps the action moving, so that the longer arcs (the propane, Angie, Peter, etc) can simmer a bit. We'll have to wait and see if that balance holds up as the series continues.