TV Review: Under the Dome 1.11, "Speak of the Devil"

Max Is A Terrible Shot

rating: 1.5

Imagine waking up one day and suddenly realizing everyone around you €“ everyone in existence from your family and friends to people on TV and the radio €“ is speaking a nonsense language while constantly smashing themselves in the face with seemingly endless supplies of fresh-baked cream pies. Everyone perfectly understands one another and is really happy about their messy faces full of cream and pie crust, but you're left isolated and confused. Is there something wrong with the part of my brain that processes language? Or is it my hearing? And where are all these pies even coming from? This is how I feel at the end of each episode of Under the Dome. Just as bizarre and insane as someone would feel in the cream pie universe, I am at an utter loss as to how such a dumb show could not only be made by so many successful professionals on a major broadcast network, but that so many people could continue to watch without having to be admitted into hospitals across the nation from self-inflicted head wounds. In my previous review I posited that Under the Dome is a failure in large part because the show has already so completely dropped the ball when it comes to characterization and that therefore all it can really do to try to not be the television equivalent of that old electric football toy where the board would vibrate and the little players would randomly bump into each other to simulate an actual game is to attempt an intriguing plot. But instead of merely repeating myself (which would still suffice as a completely valid criticism of this episode) I'm going to evaluate "Speak of the Devil" according only to its plot. Unfortunately, even according to this handicapped criteria, the show still holds up about as well as a cheap hunk of plastic from the '50s. Just as it appeared that Linda might actually start cracking down on the propane-drug conspiracy by bringing in Jim, she actually lets her prime suspect convince her that her top deputy, Barbie, is a dangerous murderer, thanks in large part to DJ Phil who is in fact not a detective, but a fucking DJ. But before Linda can send Barbie running for the hills, we need to watch the fallout from Maxine's shooting of Julia. This turns out to be not such a big deal since Joe was on his way to tell Julia about the seizure gang's new makeshift planetarium display so he's able to drive Julia and a very medically knowledgeable Barbie (I get that he was a marine or something, but this felt a little too MacGyver for me) to the hospital where apparently there's only one employee left. By now Maxine has discovered her mother whom Jim let drown so when he and Barbie go to take down Maxine in her suddenly empty fight club/vice den she's ready to pull guns on them with her requisite goon whose name was apparently Otto. By the time Jim and Barbie get the upper hand Jim has shot the two captives dead (my complaints about characterization aside, at least Jim is consistent; I was wondering why he didn't just murder Maxine any of the other times they were alone €“ too bad Barbie couldn't see coming what we all did) and was about to do the same to Barbie when Linda shows up to arrest Barbie who escapes because Linda's actually kind of a lame cop. Barbie not only called Linda for help once he discovered Julia shot, but Linda saw that he brought Julia to the hospital when she couldn't get there in time. On top of that, even if we ignore all the times Barbie has saved the day, which is exactly why Linda deputized him in the first place (and also why Joe wants to crown him The Monarch €“ a position which has already been filled, thanks), Linda was present when Julia discovered the insurance policy which convinced her that Barbie was essentially innocent of murdering her own husband. Despite all this, Linda attempts to arrest and then shoot Barbie at Jim's behest, a man she only hours before was questioning about his admitted involvement in a drug conspiracy. If you're still reading this and not at least questioning the quality of this series then I seriously pity you (or maybe envy you €“ is ignorance actually bliss? Let us know in the comments!) Meanwhile, The Seizure Gang (or maybe The Pink Star Gang, I still can't decide) figured out the unnecessarily convoluted way the dome wanted to convey to them a new vision in which Jim is seen bleeding profusely while each member of the gang, Junior included, holds a bloodied blade. Norrie and Angie seem pretty convinced the dome appeared at all (and put us through one of the most asinine seasons of TV I've ever known) in order to rid Chester's Mill of Jim and won't come down until he dies (in case the bleeding Jim vision was just too deep and artsy for you to decipher). That's right, instead of using its magical dome powers to just strike Jim with lightning or suck him up in a tornado, it wants one of four adolescents to murder him, but only after communicating this in the most vague and roundabout way the writers at CBS could conjure. Maybe Under the Dome is actually a really subtle jab at every Bible story where God makes someone do something ridiculous which he could presumably do himself in order to test their faith or whatever. Or maybe the mainstream media operates according to a loose conspiracy to keep the populace at large distracted while their business interests continue to commit various atrocities and war crimes. I'm not sure which theory is crazier. Maybe Occam is right and Under the Dome is just plain bad.
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Fed a steady diet of cartoons, comics, tv and movies as a child, Joe now survives on nothing but endless film and television series, animated or otherwise, as well as novels of the graphic and literary varieties. He can also be seen ingesting copious amounts of sarcasm and absurdity.