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Under the Dome Recap: Barbie Jesus

"Speak of the Devil" --  Big Jim (Dean Norris) turns the town against Barbie when the truth about his past is revealed on UNDER THE DOME, Monday, Sept. 2 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Brownie Harris/©2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Domekidz, who welcomed Junior into their supernaturally adept club last week, are still chilling in the barn, nursing their awe hangovers after a night of mystical mini-dome activation. Why’d they stay out there so long? Is Angie suddenly fine being around Junior for long stretches of time? Are the Domekidz really, as Norrie puts it, “the guardians of some secret cosmic mystery”? We’ll resolve some of those questions, but most of them we won’t.  The Domekidz, in their ever-assured way, conclude that the dome and/or the mini-dome “trusts” Julia Shumway, and off they go.

Big Jim has had a whole night to concoct a convincing lie about the propane, but instead it looks like he's coming clean to Esquivel about the town’s cash-centric involvement with Maxine’s drug ring. “Go ahead, charge me with ‘conspiracy to keep the lights on,’” an unrepentant Jim tells Linda. He thinks the town owes him a parade; she thinks he owes the dome a parade, since he’d be under arrest in any other circumstance. "Some people have secrets you couldn't imagine," Jim tells Esquivel, diverting the attention all too easily from himself to Barbie. Jim got a bit of info about Barbie and Peter Shumway over on Murder Island last week and he’s putting it to good use, enterprising fella that he is.

Speaking of last week, it seemed much too slap-on-the-wrist-y for Julia not to freak out over the revelation that Barbie killed her husband. Turns out the troubled lovers didn't share the same bed, at least. Relationship’s on pause till the two of them get a good look at Mr. Shumway’s dead body together. Then the doorbell rings, and, well, holy shit — it's either Dome’s first honest shock (unless the split-in-half-cow counts) or just its biggest. I totally thought the shadowy, evil Maxine was coming to lamely reveal what Julia already knew — that Barbie killed Peter. Then: BLAOW. A pithy one-liner, a bullet, a sneer, and Julia Shumway is down and dying.

Back in the barn, Junior, still tender-eyed rather than psycho-eyed, starts talking lovey-dovey with Angie about braided destinies and whatnot. (The score includes actual thunderclaps for every tense moment — too funny.) Angie tells Junior her plan is to get as far away from him as possible as soon as the dome comes down; she decides at the last minute not to sing "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together." "Then I'm out. I'm done with you, with this, the mini-dome, all of it," Junior responds, more or less commenting on the show like an average viewer. He knows the Domekidz only need "my hand on a little dome so we can make pink stars and do whatever the hell else it wants to do." The guy’s clueless, frustrated, and wants results. Like I said: millions of viewers feel his pain.

Joe makes it to Julia's house and gives Barbie a hand getting the wounded journo to the hospital. Somehow this will play into Big Jim's warning for Esquivel not to trust Barbie. Jim, meanwhile stands outside city hall, observing a CGI twister-in-the-making above town. Maxine strolls up to check it out, too, making her third consecutive weekly comparison between Chester's Mill and hell. Moments later, Big Jim calls Max the devil. Nuance be damned! To hell!

Remember last week when I pondered what calamity would inevitably bring Julia and Barbie back together? How about BARBIE SAVING JULIA'S LIFE? That'll do. Unfortunately it means we’ll first find ourselves in the midst of television’s 9,753,192nd breathless medical sequence. Barbie more or less admits that he killed a dude in Iraq trying to pull off this same ramble-shamble operation, but he’ll go for it anyway. And succeed.

Jim, perhaps planning to outgun the weather, takes Junior to the bomb shelter. "I thought everybody had to turn in their guns," Junior muses. "I'm not everybody," Papa Rennie replies. Look at how Jim deals with Junior here — kinda hard to believe the man can manipulate an entire town when he doesn't even know how to talk to his kid without flying off the handle and being a total condescending dick.

Dodee’s gizmos and gadgets are working again — thanks, lightning — and she discovers that Barbie is “the one we've been looking for," per a military guy on the outside. So Barbie isn’t just a riddle wrapped in an enigma; he’s actually those things sandwiched between two slices of puzzlebread slathered with question mark sauce.

Joe, the dome's favorite spokesperson, senses that the sometimes-sentient-seeming dome is angry at the town and/or the Domekidz. Angie is Joe's sister, so it makes sense she’s drawn the same conclusions. She heads to Junior's, almost gets rifled, and manages to tell her boyfriend turned captor turned collaborator that the dome won’t settle down until the Domekidz reassemble and touch something again. (The dome loves to be touched.) Junior saves Angie from a flying bench and the storm begins to calm.

The problem with us getting to see Maxine find her dead mother is that we've never gotten to see Maxine alone yet. This certainly isn’t the place to start, as it fails to offer anything as a scene. Max doesn’t emote, doesn’t scream or cry or rage. She just mentally puts pieces together. At least we don't have to wait for a corny "I'm not dead after all, am I?" scene featuring Max's mom after all. I had that pegged as a definite.

At the cement factory, Barbie and Jim have a face-off that's way too laden with keywords like kingdom, leader, throne, and power — terms all conveniently designed to jibe with the monarch prophecy neither man knows about — to focus. Max and a henchman catch Barbie and Jim trying to catch her. It starts to feel like the show wants us to worry about Barbie's future, like this is Game of Thrones and a lead actor might really say bye-bye. Instead, Barbie’s app-aided James Bond device kills the electricity, allowing for a gun-switcheroo. Momentary allies Jim and Barb march out the cartoon baddies, and we get our second shock of the evening as Big Jim murders both Max and the henchman point blank. Barbie is about to go next … TILL HE THROAT-PUNCHES BIG JIM. THIS EPISODE SHOULD BE THE FINALE! Except, oh damn, disappointment, thy name is Linda Esquivel with a firearm. Just as we're priming our "grrrrreat, now Barbie has to be in jaiiiiil for a while" groans, Barbie decks Esquivel and hoofs it outta there. Esquivel has a bead on Barbie and only takes the shot when the man she just discovered is totally suspect, Big Jim, orders her to shoot. It’d be irritating if Esquivel's lackluster police ability hadn’t been thoroughly displayed all season.

Jim hits the airwaves to pin all his crimes on Barbie — "Dale 'Barbie' Barbara," actually, which they need to stop saying like that. Jim goes on to splutter some nonsense: Barbie is on the run, which is a state of emergency for the town. Huh? “The government, the people, will seek the death penalty." Yeah, man. Cool radio announcement.

For five or so episodes, we've been trapped in a "do some stuff, return to the mini-dome, do more stuff, check back in with the mini-dome" cycle. It's time to figure this shit out. Angie echoes the feeling with a bleedingly wink-wink-nudge-nudge-y "the dome owes us some answers." Norrie continues as they walk from Dome Jr. to Dome Sr.: "All I want is answers. Not a seizure, or a riddle — just answers.” Why the hell did the Domekidz go to some neighborhood to approach the dome when one edge of the thing is right on Joe and Angie's property, where they already were? Whatever — they fondle the dome and the answer we’ve been waiting for is a mutual vision of Big Jim. He stands stoically, creepily as bright blood spills from his nose and several torso wounds. AND THE DOMEKIDZ ARE HOLDING BLOODY KNIVES. It’s the definition of "more riddles, less answers” — even if the Domekidz imagine the vision means they're supposed to kill Big Jim, who actually knows?

Stray Observations

• Just so we’re clear, our nominees for monarch who shall be crowned are, unsurprisingly, Barbie and Big Jim.

• How did Esquivel show up late enough to think Barbie was the murderer? Everything happened in the span of ten seconds. Convenience strikes again. Can Chester's Mill work some ballistics inside the dome, though? Because those will totally show that Big Jim blasted Max and the henchman. That sounds like too much solid police work, but we can hope. Something’s gotta clear Barbie’s name.

• R.I.P. Max. Anyone who reacted to her mother’s death like that — then relayed the news with a monotone “Jim killed my mother, Barbie” — isn’t too devastating a loss.

• Before blasting Max, Jim taunted her that he’d taken care of her dirt-slinging insurance policy (Agatha, Max’s mother). Max sneered, "You have no idea." Actual threat, or BS?

• Will we one day discover that the dome's stormy temper tantrum also almost killed, then saved, Julia?

• In the first four weeks since Breaking Bad’s return, I’ve had an easy time maintaining my mental partition between Big Jim Rennie and Hank Schrader. I did think of Breaking Bad this week, though, when the opening shot of Jim confessing in the police station looked just like Walter White’s stance as he filmed a certain confessional videotape a couple weeks ago.

Dear commenters: Please flag any spoilers referencing Stephen King’s 2009 novel spoilers loudly and clearly, even though we’re in vastly different territory by now.

Photo: Brownie Harris/CBS