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TV Review: Under the Dome 1.6, "The Endless Thirst"

The Endless Thirst

rating: 3.5

Hooray for consequences! Finally, things get interesting. After about a week (and a truck collision and a methane leak) Chester's Mill is running out of vital supplies such as water, food, and medical supplies. Once these crucial resources begin depleting, talk of the €œnew reality€ and the relative worthlessness of money and legal documents (indeed, laws themselves) is heard and the resulting behavior of the town's citizens reach a fever pitch that saw a much more apt (though still fairly ridiculous) resolution than the short-lived meningitis quarantine plot before claiming at least one life and possibly one woman's sexual consent. It was a relief to watch this episode not merely because people were finally seen rioting and generally behaving poorly, but because the show is beginning to embrace the likely outcome of a community being cut off from the world in ways which reveal interesting character dynamics and those of civilization at large, which is what this show obviously should be about. The dire conditions in the town manifested in three specific plots, which was a nice change of pace from the isolated emergency of the week scenarios that did nothing to advance character or plot development. My favorite story was watching Norrie transition from giving so few fucks about others' property rights in the name of saving her diabetic mother to reluctantly accepting that everyone in need of insulin is going to face the universal inevitability of death a bit sooner than they'd like and no one's family is happy about it nor are they any less deserving of reprieve, however temporary, than her mother. Granted, coming to this realization after learning she was stealing insulin from a child may have been a quickie device, but it did the job efficiently which is what's necessary in a show with no central protagonist other than a collective. The second €œnew reality€ plot came in the form of Jim the would-be fascist making a deal with Ollie the bigot (remember him being exceedingly rude to Caroline and Alice?) exchanging propane for water. I don't know how much weight this arrangement will carry now that we know Chester's Mill has a micro-climate under the dome (the scientific validity of which I'm not even going to bother investigating) which can supply €“ though who knows how frequently €“ clean water to the town, but more important was Ollie's remark about €œofficial paper,€ specifically how some warrant or injunction wouldn't keep him from putting a bullet in between the eyes of anyone attempting to take his supplies. Like Norrie's initial abandon of respect and consideration for others in the face of her mother's impending death, Ollie's opposition to Jim's appeals directly addresses the changing standards for behavior within a society pushed to extremes. Seeing whether a microcosm of civilization can retain its collective humanity seemingly without the typical circumstances defining most communities' existences is the core of this series and it's nice to finally see that self-awareness demonstrated. Before addressing the two most serious events to arise from the episode's rash of civil unrest, I'd like to discuss Joe and Norrie's continued adventures in unusual seizures. I'm glad this plot hasn't been buried entirely, but seeing as how it's officially the only ongoing arc directly related to the dome's mechanics I wish we could get more development. Essentially Dodie and Julia come to the conclusion that the kids are extensions of the dome. The audience has been exposed to this idea for a while but the slightly distinctive spin that was placed on this dome extension theory is that the kids are somehow pawns which are being used by the dome to serve its purposes, specifically to €œreassure€ its inhabitants by providing the rainfall when they needed it most. I still hate the idea of the dome itself being a sentient creature, but I found this interesting because of the parallel of trapping then reassuring also seen between Junior and Angie. It's a comparison that was smart and effective, two words I've yet to use to describe this show. Now, Rose and Angie. Rose was barely a character so her untimely passing isn't much of a loss for the audience, but it at least was a tangible consequence and will be a genuine tragedy for the town once its aftermath is dealt with next episode. Angie's possible rape, however, hits a bit harder. Despite insinuations Angie was raped, because this was depicted so ambiguously, for all we know Waylan may not have had the time to do what he intended before Barbie intervened, however, this is purposefully made unclear and may remain this way for two reasons: first, despite Barbie's insistence, it doesn't look like Angie ever made it to the clinic for physical verification and when Angie did come to, she was not seen responding to this possibility as Jim was busy buying her silence about Junior's kidnapping; second, I have an unsettling feeling that CBS may not have the maturity to address this issue considering among other pieces of evidence they didn't even let anyone say the word €œrape.€ I understand it's a sensitive issue, but if you're going to introduce an element into a story in the attempt to create higher tension then you better have the integrity to follow-up on it and treat it with the respect it deserves, otherwise it's just cheap exploitation. I'm already pissed Barbie didn't immediately bludgeon Waylan to death just on the off-chance he actually did rape or otherwise molest Angie (he intended to and that's more than enough for me), and I seriously think this would have been much more effective than Barbie losing his temper on some random rioter whom hit him in the face. Angie has been portrayed as a perpetual victim throughout the entire series so far, essentially punished for dumping her boyfriend, and it would be a true insult if she never reclaims her power and agency. All I can say for now is if this isn't followed up on then I'm going to start judging this series much, much harsher. Despite feeling like the first episode which finally addressed the concerns raised in the pilot, "Thirst" was more competent than stellar. Though I was satisfied with the central conflict, its resolution felt a little thin. While on one hand it makes sense that a sudden downpour could pacify a panicked €“ and thirsty €“ crowd, on the other it felt a bit silly that it looked like people who were seconds earlier savagely beating each other while ransacking a convenience store could so quickly rejoice, shake hands, and sensibly start grabbing buckets. The episode also had plenty of awkward exposition (Linda's explanation of Jim and Ollie's relationship and Dodie's explanations of her signal triangulator thingy and the aforementioned micro-climate), but it also had thematic unity and some much needed urgency, which is more than can be said for the vast majority of the season so far. €œThe Endless Thirst€ still didn't necessarily make me want to recommend this show, but it was the first episode since the pilot I didn't hate myself for having to watch.
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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.