Spoilers from tonight's episode of Under the Dome ("Let the Games Begin") ahead!
One of the things I really appreciate about Under the Dome is that it doesn't make us wait very long to give us the answers to the questions it raises. It falls shy of being a procedural by stretching out mysteries beyond the length of an episode, but it doesn't take its suspense to Lost extremes in stacking mystery upon mystery and depending on its audience to keep it all straight and hold for more information. Take the fourth hand. Last week's episode left us wondering who the fourth hand belonged to, and some of us assuming it had to be Junior Rennie. He seemed the obvious candidate, after what we learned about his mother's paintings, tacked on to tonight's revelation that Junior once had a seizure at a school dance. Sure enough, he was.
But before that, Dodee made the mistake of touching the mini dome and zapping herself unconscious. Poor Dodee. Angie, Joe and Norrie were wise enough to lie to Dodee and borrow her generator suggestion as a fast lie to explain how she burned her hand and knocked herself out. I'm not even sure why Dodee getting zapped had to happen other than to send them all to the hospital where Angie was to be reminded of Junior's seizure, which apparently happened years ago, but links him to the rest of them in mini-dome seizure club. After that, Angie let slip to Joe (and Norrie) that Junior kidnapped her the week prior. That information wasn't supposed to be shared, but when you're under the dome, stuff happens. Or Angie has a big mouth. Either way, it was bound to come out. And after it did, they looked at the paintings and then decided to set aside their anger at Junior for being a creepy kidnapper so they could invite him on a mini dome double-date. Junior accepted the invite and sure enough, his hand fit the dome-print perfectly.
Before we get to the dometarium, as I'm going to call it, let's talk about the mini dome's latest resident. What's the deal with the caterpillar inside mini dome? It seems likely that it's the referenced monarch that's to be crowned, once the little guy finishes its metamorphosis. It's not time yet. Time may be of great importance here, if my theory turns out to be correct. When all four hands were on mini dome, it projected a dome of stars around the foursome inside the barn. As someone pointed out, it's a constellation. But what does it mean? Is there a way to calculate a date based on the position of the stars? If so, that's my guess - that the dome's trying to give them a clue about a certain date by showing them a star constellation.
Let's move on to Barbie, and go back to what I was saying about things getting resolved relatively quickly on this show. Granted, Barbie killing Peter is a situation that goes back to the pilot, and we all knew sooner or later Julia was going to find out and it would be bad. Maxine's arrival and threats to expose Barbie brought that deep dark secret to the surface, and rather than dangling it in front of our faces while Maxine blackmailed Barbie for episodes to come, Julia found out about it mostly on her own. And it may not be that bad.
As it turns out, Peter took out a life insurance policy on himself. Julia discovered the policy, and between that and Peter's missing gun, and knowing his gambling issues and his dealings with Barbie, she pieced it all together. Her husband got himself killed intentionally so that Julia could benefit from the life insurance money. It's a sad outcome, and while I wouldn't say it redeems Peter, I do think it will change how Julia feels about her husband and the relationship they had. He still sort of left her, but he tried to leave her with some money.
Julia told Barbie there can be no more secrets between them, which indicates that she's willing to tentatively move forward with Barbie and maybe even forgive him. Knowing that Peter was trying to die does at least take a little bit of the blame off Barbie, but given his involvement, I can't imagine she's going to forget, even if she does forgive. So we'll have to wait and see what happens between them going forward. At the very least, I hope Barbie comes clean about anything else Julia should know or might find out about him from Max, since she's probably feeling pretty scorned by now. And something tells me Barbie has more than one skeleton in his closet.
Tonight we learned that Maxine's running her own black market at the old cement factory, which includes fighting and gambling, but not prostitution. I found her comment about prostitution interesting, and that made more sense later on during Big Jim's part of the episode. We'll get to that. Junior tried to sneak into the cement factory where Max's operation was running, but he's too blue to get through that door right now. Meanwhile Barbie had an all access pass, as Maxine gave him the grand tour, talking about living well and making the most out of this situation. And then she signed Barbie up for a fight, because he's the big man on campus these days and she knew people would want to see that.
Barbie threw the fight after taking more than a few punches and delivering some of his own. And then he blew Maxine off. But now that Julia knows about Peter, at least Maxine can't hold that over to him. Know who else knows about Peter? Big Jim Rennie. While he was off trying to dig up dirt on Maxine, he came across her mother, who as it happens, went to school with Rennie way back when, before she got pregnant, dropped out and traded her body to pay the bills. That explain's Max's aversion to prostitution. Max's mother, who goes by the name of Agatha now, seemed pretty bitter over what she went through after high school, and pulled a gun on Jim, not over that, but for snooping around. Rennie figured out that Agatha wouldn't actually kill him and managed to get the rifle from her. But at some point during his conversation with the woman, she mentioned Barbie killing Dr. Peter Shumway, so Rennie knows about that, which probably isn't good for Barbie at all.
Agatha's not the kind of woman who can pull the trigger when push comes to shove, but Rennie's a man who can. Or he's the kind of man who will leave a bound woman floating in a lake, where she may sink if she isn't able to swim for safety. When Jim was transporting Agatha away from her little island, she fell off the boat, and after a moment's hesitation to consider his options, Rennie decided to leave her in the water. Will she manage to swim to safety or are we supposed to assume that she's a goner? If her body's found with her hands tied, people will know she was murdered. And if she does survive, Rennie's in deep trouble.
But Rennie's in deep trouble anyway, because Linda now knows about the drug business he, Coggins and Max were running. Duke was involved in that, but he was only in it as part of an arrangement to keep the drugs out of Chester's Mill. It does put some responsibility on his hands, and it seems like Duke knew that, which explains why he kept it a secret, and why he kept a confession in a safety deposit box. Now Linda knows that Jim's involved in a big drug business, and she confronted him at the end of tonight's episode, but agreed to let him go and come in on his own in the morning, after he sleeps off the exhaustion of (possibly) letting a woman drown. Every day is a busy day for Jim Rennie.
Linda letting Rennie go feels like a cliffhanger, in that something tells me he either won't show up at the Sheriff's department the next morning as promised, or something big will happen to distract Linda and the rest of the town, and Jim's crimes will have to wait. There are no shortage of distractions and events under the dome.
Three episodes left! I'll leave you with a question: Do you think that the dome will come up by the end of the first season? We know there will be a second season, but there's no reason the dome couldn't lift temporarily and then drop down again before Season 2. Or will the dome stay down for the duration of the series?