Under the Dome Premiere Recap: The Outsiders

Under the Dome

A little more than a month ago, the minds behind Under the Dome insisted — nay, promised — that by the end of the CBS sci-fi drama’s third season, viewers at home would have all of their many questions answered.

And, despite The Great Egg Mystery of 2014 — which became one of the series’ biggest head-scratchers in Season 2 — I really do think those of us tuning into Under the Dome‘s third go-round have every reason to believe the bosses when they say our queries will be resolved.

Before we can get to those answers, though, Thursday’s season premiere offered up quite a few more questions for us to ponder.

The two-hour episode was very — as my colleague Matt Mitovich would say — “timey-wimey,” jumping between two parallel timelines before revealing how both of them were connected. I’ll do my best to break it down easily:

BEHIND DOOR NO. 1 | Picking up precisely where last season left us, Melanie is waiting on the other side of Chester’s Mill’s underground tunnel, prepared to take the town residents “home,” wherever that might be. Barbie leads the group into the white fog, and when the mist clears, they are all…. outside the dome. Not only that, but once they have exited the tunnel, the dome surrounding Chester’s Mill shatters into countless pieces and essentially flies away into the breeze. (Aaaand fade to black. What a great series finale!)

Actually, the dome’s disappearance is just the beginning of a long, strange transition back into regular society for Barbie & Co. When Barbie makes good on his promise to retrieve Julia from Chester’s Mill, he finds that she is dead in the woods, along with Big Jim and Junior. And, unlike that time she nearly died from hypothermia/an impaled leg/any number of medical maladies over the last three weeks, Julia does not regain consciousness.

Under the DomeThe series then flashes forward one year, where Barbie and the rest of the Chester’s Mill residents have essentially moved on. Barbie has returned to his military work — we find him in Yemen, where he has teamed up with computer whiz Hunter — and he’s currently dating his operations manager, Eva (Kylie Bunbury, Twisted). Everything seems to be going swimmingly for Barbie, if you don’t count the nightmares he’s still having about Julia’s death.

Eva suggests that Barbie return to Chester’s Mill for the town’s upcoming one-year memorial, in order to get closure and move on, and he reluctantly agrees. But once he arrives in the town (where the residents are mysteriously chipper these days), he is confronted by Joe’s skateboarder friend, Ben, who insists that something is wrong with the town. In fact, he doesn’t believe the town is real at all.

I’ll spare you all the minutiae of this seemingly parallel universe (Sam’s in jail? Norrie’s in a sorority?! What’s Marg Helgenberger up to?) and cut right to the chase: Ben was right. The brand spankin’ new Chester’s Mill is an alternate reality that doesn’t exist at all. Rather…

BEHIND DOOR NO. 2 | …it’s all a vivid hallucination being perpetuated by Melanie, who, in the real present-day, is still in the tunnel underneath Chester’s Mill. There, she has every single town resident locked up in “cocoons” — small tanks filled with water that are powered by pink, glowing branches of light. As each character sleeps in their cocoon, they dream of living in this alternate reality, which Melanie can control with a flick of her wrist.

Meanwhile, Don Barbara is still trying to get the all-powerful egg back in Melanie’s possession, which means he must climb through that ol’ cellar door in Zenith and travel to Chester’s Mill via the lake. Once he arrives, sopping wet, Melanie kills her dad like it ain’t no big thang and takes the egg to the tunnel. There, the egg — which is once again shimmering with pink stars — serves as a power source for the tunnel, causing all of the pink branches to glow even stronger. (It’s unclear what purpose Melanie’s evil streak is serving, but she keeps referring to “we” and “they,” a group that I can only assume does not have Chester’s Mill’s best interests at heart.)

Julia finds Melanie up to no good in the tunnel, and just before Melanie can toss Ms. Shumway into a cocoon of her own, Big Jim shows up and opts to save the day. Despite Melanie’s pleas that he not “ruin all of [their] progress,” Big Jim smashes the egg from its perch, causing the tunnel to go dark and allowing the Chester’s Mill folks to emerge from their sticky, creepy cocoons. (As if they hadn’t already been through enough.)

OK, your turn. What did you think of Under the Dome‘s return? Grade the Season 3 premiere via our poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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49 Comments
  1. shaw says:

    2hrs I will never get back. Not watching this carp any more

    • bman says:

      Agreed. Started off as a show based off a Stephen King novel. What should have ended after one season has been drug along further and further, deviating more and more from the book until it has become nothing more than an incomprehensible LOST ripoff loaded with cliche character archetypes and a plot that is going nowhere fast.

      • Yes, bman!! That is exactly what I though in the first season, word for word of your comment. It is so disappointing they destroyed a Steven King novel this way. Sad his name is even remotely connected to this. They could have done something a lot shorter, done it right & blown everyone away for years to come…an instant classic. What a sad, sorry, disappointing shame. I quit watching BTD well before the end of the 2nd season & even that was too long, feeling like the prolonged torture of a doomed relationship. I was more interested in doing dishes while half listening to what was going on. Too bad since it started with so much potential. Tonight I only watched the first few minutes & switched to something else, then flicked back for the last 5. That & reading the summary of it is enough to confirm, for me, it is done. I guess people that actually enjoyed & stuck with Lost to the lame end will be thrilled.

      • :-) says:

        You guys do know Stephen King is participating in this mess right? He wrote or directed an episode last yeae. He’s consulted. I include him in the people to be upset with over this ridiculousness

      • Laura says:

        I felt the same, about the deviation from the book.. then I wondered what/if Stephen King thought about this? I found this beautiful letter he wrote to us, and now I’m satisfied as to whatever way this goes, it will all be okay. :). Check out the letter!

        http://stephenking.com/promo/utd_on_tv/letter.html

  2. laurelnev says:

    Wow…just wow. The whole 1st hour, I was like WTF is going on here? Is this the same show? By the 2nd hour I was saying, wow, now this was the show it should have been all along. Wish they had cut all that Maxine, oe whatever the gangster moll was, and that whole story, and had gotten here sooner. I am SO looking forward to the rest of the season, THe only question is what do I time shift? Dome or Pines? (Off to watch WP now…that tells you what I chose tonight.)

    • BrightLight says:

      I think Under the Dome starts airing next Thursday at 10PM ET at least according to next week’s promo, but it’s CBS so they could change it at the drop of a hat.

    • Lisa B says:

      It seems like every television production/movie of his own work that King is actively involved in falls way short, to put it kindly. That’s why I’m hoping/praying he stays well away from my beloved “Dark Tower.” If he ruins Roland and Co., I will never forgive him!!!

  3. Karen MT says:

    Welcome to the Tommyknockers, Chester’s Mill style.

  4. Jimmy says:

    Imagine if THIS was the kind of show Under the Dome had been since season 1? After 2 seasons of absolutely maddening craziness and a slew of questions with no explanations, UTD is finally starting to feel like a show I can say I like without feeling embarrassed. Now, it still has a long way to go before being a good show, but tonight was definitely a step in the right direction.

    I think having a 2-hour season premier did wonders for the show, because of how well the two parts of the episode meshed as one story. At first, I was totally confused and almost regretting coming back for a third go-around, but by the end of the 2 hours, I was really intrigued by the story potential for this season, and ended up loving the mystery they had going on this episode.

    I may seem like I’m singing Dome’s praises, but I’m just relieved that it wasn’t more of the same crap we got for the past 2 seasons. By going the whole “alternate reality” route, the show opened itself up to a whole new world of story possibilities and was (thankfully) able to transform itself into something different than we saw in the 2 seasons.

    I also really enjoyed what they did with Melanie, because it explains so much. She isn’t the real Melanie, she’s another lifeform who took the form of Melanie, just like what happened with Norrie’s mom in the season 1 finale. I knew she couldn’t have just been magically brought back by the dome the same age she was when she died, so this ties that up well.

    Also, I really like Marg Helgenberger and Kylie Bunbury’s additions to the show, and their characters actually interest me, especially Christine. They were both SO much better than the two new characters we got at the beginning last season, Rebecca and Lyle. I couldn’t stand either of them and am happy they’re dead.

    The one major downside for me was Brett Cullen’s character being killed because I think he’s a great actor and was eager to see Don interact with Barbie again. I would have also liked to see more of Eriq LaSalle but I’m sure we’ll get more of him throughout the season.

    Overall, I really enjoyed this premier and for the first time, I’m genuinely hopeful that the show will improve this season. It may be a misguided dream, but the premier showed tons of potential, and that the show could actually be consistently good.

  5. KeyWestDan says:

    Frankly, I kind of forgot about this show and watched Pines and then tuned into the Dome about halfway through. Thus, I was totally confused by the lack of the dome and then Big Jim under the Dome, but it quickly became clear that the Dome was creating an alternate reality.
    The tip and video was a good clue. For all the Dome’s power, it didn’t have the power or perhaps the information available to fill in the faces of all the secondary people around, or the “extras” so it used the same face for those people. Obviously there was going to be some “second step” by the Dome which it needed the power of the egg for. That was interrupted by Big Jim and everyone started coming out of their pods before the Dome had a chance to finish whatever it intended. But, if the power comes from the egg, how was the Dome powered when the egg was gone and in the megalomaniac’s collection when it was all black and dead looking?

  6. bob jones says:

    random incoherent bs is not scifi

  7. goodwolfe21 says:

    This episode is exactly why we needed an expression like, “jumped the shark” to describe what has happened when a series loses it’s way. Maybe it’s possible for them to redeem themselves from next week on, but we could have done without 95% of what ever that premiere was.

  8. Jean Alice says:

    It was hard to follow (not a fan of back-and-forth time lines) and actually seemed like a desperate attempt to keep the story going without watching where they were going.

  9. Ron Thornton says:

    After this horrid two hour experience, we’ll give the next episode about 15 minutes to keep us or this becomes just another series that, not jumps the shark but, actually lands in the middle of the shark tank.

  10. There was just too much to absorb and was hard to keep track of the where and when. But now that that’s out of the way let’s get down to the story. I gave it a C.

  11. Jeese, I missed Whispering Pines AND Hannibal for this.

  12. Brandy says:

    I gave it an A for awesomely bad. The more ridiculous this show gets, the more I love it.

  13. justsomeguy says:

    I give it a B. It certainly wasn’t terrible. It was pretty obvious what was happening, and it tells an interesting story to 1) welcome us back to Chester’s Mill, and 2) introduce a bunch of new characters while not being ridiculous about someone new just appearing and suddenly having a major part in the story being told.

    I wish Season 2 had been more like this. It’s finally getting close to what the show should have always been like. Welcome back, UTD.

  14. Clandestine Green says:

    I think this would have made a pretty good 6 hours mini-series…but this….ech. Thank goodness i was able to watch this week’s Wayward Pines episode last week or I would have been really mad for that 2 hours that I will never get back.

  15. dan says:

    I can’t decide if I loved it or hated it! At least we got a comment from Barbie as to Joe’s growth spurt in the jump-ahead year. I wonder if he’ll shrink back to last year’s height now that he’s out of the pod and the time jump is over. Are we to assume that all the other residents of Chester’s Mill were encased in their own pods and that suddenly next week they’ll be back too? I have always liked Marg Helgenberger and CBS seems to love her, but what is her character? And what is her relation to Barbie’s girlfriend-from-the-future? I thought Big Jim’s comment about Julia getting her hair done was hysterical and a wink to the viewers who have questioned her perfect tresses while under the dome. I was looking for Dodi’s name on the memorial wall and didn’t see it. I saw Phil (wasn’t he the DJ?) but didn’t see Dodi or Rose the café owner. I think this show has sucked me back in for at least another episode or two.

  16. Joe says:

    I watched the first season bailed on the show in the start of season 2 , I thought maybe I’d watch again so I read the recap, after reading it I think I’m going to stay away from this hot mess

  17. Angel Summer says:

    This was the most confusing Cr*p. It took me three hours to get over it !

  18. Gail says:

    Jumping back and forth on the first show of the season was mind boggling to say the least.

  19. Kristina Garcia says:

    Hey, at least Haven is decent. Dead Zone was good to. Under the Dome is just a load of crap.

  20. I can’t believe King actually had anything to do with the script of this New” dome season. It’s not his type of writing and not his type of story line. I’ve read too many of his books.(almost all) and it just isn’t King. Especially the dialogue. Terrible.

  21. sherry says:

    The show was ok. Hopefully it gets better. I don’t like the woman barbie is with. She came to town with Christine, so she is up to something. She knows Barbie’s heart is still with Julia, so I wouldn’t doubt it if she is only saying she is pregnant to hang onto Barbie. With any luck she goes off the show sooner than later. Can’t watch when she is on. Barbie without Julia, just isn’t right.

  22. Bob Milne says:

    Really? Wow. So glad we decided to bail after hate-watching season 2. Not sure I could have survived that premiere with my wits intact.

  23. PJ says:

    If I had some hallucinogenic drugs I could probably stay with it, but as is, no way. Writers went way overboard, I think they are trying to be the second coming of Lost and are failing miserably.

  24. Ellinas1978 says:

    Please keep these recaps going. I’ve finally cut the cord on watching this show (especially as 10:00 will get really busy this summer) but I’ll still read the recaps. If nothing else to feel better for not watching anymore.

  25. Doug Henning says:

    I think Marg’s character will turn out to be Julia’s birth mom she never knew she had due to that red hair.. They both have the reddest hair on TV!!!

  26. Bob G says:

    It has definitely jumped the shark, fell on its side and been harpooned. I understand it’s good for the actors to have somewhat steady work but this show should have ended in the first season.

  27. Ruth says:

    We loved this show but season 3 has started badly by going down the fatal “alternate reality” tunnel to nowhere. Hope things improve.

  28. kathie says:

    Way too confusing , jumped around way too much, bad enough for former viewers, but new viewers dont have a clue what’s happening.

  29. Dee~Kay~Tee says:

    That was the stupidest 2 hours of television I’ve ever seen. I’m kind of mad at myself for watching the entire episode and I’m pretty sure I’ll be mad at myself next week when I watch yet again. However I feel as though after watching two seasons of this mess I deserve some answers. Sad thing is I won’t be satisfied with anything they come up with. I know this because I read Under The Dome 2 years ago and loved it. The show is NOTHING, not even a little bit, like the book so at this point there is nothing it can do to redeem itself or even come close to what the book was.

  30. Jeanette Rockwell says:

    I was sooo confused throughout the show…I was sooo excited that it was coming back…then the first 20 minutes I had no idea wtf was happening….. I will continue to watch to try to comprehend the show….

  31. sherry says:

    I am only going to read the recaps, can’t watch this carp. I read that they have ideas for a season 4, but whose to say the actors would want to come back. They should have done what csi is doing and just have a 2 hour show, ending the series. This show should have ended after last season. Was excited it was coming back, got easily disappointed.

  32. jenferner8 says:

    I’m curious enough to continue watching but at one point it felt like someone had “borrowed” a Falling Skies script.

  33. Laura says:

    I was excited for the return, but after forcing myself to watch it, I immediately cancelled it off my DVR. I liked the first season, the second was “ok” and this two hour premier was a mess… not my cup of tea.

  34. sherry says:

    This is so bad, they should just take the rest of the shows and combine them into a 2-3 hour movie and cancel the show. I am not watching it again until Barbie and Julia are back together again permanently and that woman is out of his life.

  35. The Carpooler says:

    While I agree the plot and dialogue is often less than sensible, this is an entertainment program. That’s how I watch it: a tv show. Not real.

    I chuckle at those who spout hate and dislike for shows yet feel the need to post. Move along.

  36. FreeRyde says:

    Who is writing this crap?

  37. Barbz says:

    Interesting but far fetched?

  38. gilmett says:

    Marg Helgenberger is to old to play the part they are setting her up for

  39. Julia Ridpath says:

    Kind of hope they all die at this point. Watcihing now is like smellling that obviously spoiled carton of milk in the fridge. You just have a sick compulsion to see just how bad it is.

  40. Karen says:

    Why has the time changed to midnight I can’t watch it anymore because of the new time