I feel like it's easiest to start off Under the Dome reviews with what has been going right so far, because that's a smaller list. Barbie and Julia have forged a relationship, and that adds a bit of spice to the show because Barbie killed her husband; Norrie and Joe are doing pretty well as a couple, even if they are divided by the recent death of one of Norrie's moms; and Junior and Angie might just be coming around from their slump, the one that involved Junior kidnapping and nearly killing Angie in a bunker.
That's the good news; the bad news comes as every new episode's plot twist, because Under the Dome has sort of taken on the idea that cop dramas are pretty cool and it wants to join the villain-of-the-week club. The show doesn't utilize any long-term storylines; instead, it reminds me of Terra Nova, because it continues to pump out stand-alone episodes that identify a threat and then nullify it in a succinct 45 minutes.
Sure, "Thicker Than Water" tries to connect the dots with the overtly awful Ollie, who blindsided audiences and the town as being Chester's Mill's very own robber-baron complete with wingtip mustache. But the effort falls to the wayside by the end of the episode; thank goodness Junior saves the day - albeit sketchily - by blowing Ollie away to end any water troubles!
It's not so bad that Under the Dome decides to get rid of Ollie, since he was a seriously underdeveloped character anyway. But since "Thicker Than Water" is pretty much set on blowing up Ollie's well so that the water supply can be diverted back to town, topping Ollie makes the rest of the episode's events seem unnecessary, especially since practically all the men in town risked their lives to bring Ollie down.
But we do figure out something about the dome, or at least discover a new secret about it. There's a cute little mini-dome with an egg inside of it out in the forest. Perhaps it's projecting the larger dome; maybe it's not. However, it does give Julia a strange vision that tells her "the monarch will be crowned." Hey, that's a cool phrase, and Under the Dome revels in cool phrases like that one and "pink stars are falling." But then the show does a belly flop on top of that secretive grenade by showing us Angie's tattoo of a butterfly. In case you were wondering, Under the Dome says, that phrase probably refers to Angie - let us point that out to you.
"The Fourth Hand" is a better episode than most simply because it actually focuses on Chester's Mill. As Big Jim and Barbie confiscate the town's guns, they learn about how the dome has been putting mental strain on some of the residents - namely the gun-toting Ted. And Barbie finds out that the town's been a drug-making facility for a new strain called Rapture, although it seems he's known more than he lets on. Both Big Jim and Barbie are under the orders of the drug kingpin Max (Natalie Zea, who has been making the rounds of late on multiple television shows), and it's clear some tete-a-tete's will be going on.
Zea is the reason "The Fourth Hand" is elevated above other episodes. She's clearly one of the better actors in Under the Dome, and she exudes a confidence and strength that none of the other characters really have. Here's hoping that she continues to be a big part of this show.
And here's to hoping Norrie goes away. In case you didn't see it two episodes ago, her mom died, and Under the Dome takes every moment Norrie's on-screen to remind us that she'll never see her mom again. Her character has always been questionable - she's dark, you see, because of her eyeliner, and she's also been a bad girl because her parents wanted to send her away to a boarding school - but she's also super annoying. Just thought I'd throw that out there.
I'm still not convinced that Under the Dome can make it as a long-running show; right now, it's barely got enough steam to keep churning out new problems for the characters to solve. Unfortunately the mysteries of the dome have been getting undermined by the problems of the town; with "The Fourth Hand," though, things are looking up a bit because the show's beginning to look at the dome from a more scientific perspective. It's not a strong show, but that doesn't mean it can't be entertaining.