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Under the Dome Recap: Reduction Option

"Revelation" -- As conditions in Chester\'s Mill worsen, Big Jim  and Rebecca consider resorting to the extreme measure of population control, which drives a wedge between Barbie and Julia. Meanwhile, clues to Melanie\'s past and her connection to the Dome are revealed, on UNDER THE DOME, Monday, July 21 (10:00-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured Grace Victoria Cox as Melanie Cross Photo: Best Possible Screen Grab/CBS2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The morning starts out stressfully, with Rebecca dropping into Big Jim's office to push a mass-murder/save-the-town agenda. The food will be gone in seven days, according to Mrs. Science's science facts, and from there it'll be cannibalism and/or starvation. Big Jim uses his fluency in politicianese to translate Rebecca's "extermination plan" into a "reduction option." Just to render the decision-making process as brutal as possible, Chester's Mill's new mom and her baby — the one named after Norrie's dead mother, Alice — pop up for a doe-eyed hello at Sweetbriar Rose.

"Yearbooks don't lie," says Joe on Julia's porch. It's a weird thing to say, but it's meant to cement the validity of last week's discovery about Melanie's agelessness. The Domekidz return to Handprint High School with Barbie in tow. At the Bloody, Empty Mystery Locker, Melanie informs Barbie about her confusing past. It took me a week to realize that 1988 — the year Melanie appeared in the yearbook — is when Lyle, Uncle Sam, and Pauline both buried something and appeared in a happy photograph together.

At Some Guy's farm, a baby pig has died. Rebecca collects some of its diseased blood, already preparing the perfect death solution for Chester's Mill's unlucky redshirts. In the meantime, check out those cute pigs! Rebecca struggles to get Big Jim to utilize the disease she's concocting; Jim, newly faithful in the dome and higher powers in general, doesn't want to play God. "It's not God," Rebecca sputters, "it's … it's Darwin!" Science vs. Faith remains a theme Under the Dome is very interested in not exploring on any genuine, nuanced levels.

Junior lets Crazy Lyle out of his cell in order to get some answers. It's a dumb choice, but who can't relate to that curiosity? We learn that Pauline spent her first nine years outside of Chester's Mill painting everything that would happen under the dome and sending the art as postcards to Lyle. And if anyone's going to listen to an insane barber/country singer rant and rave about a bunch of postcards, it's Junior.

"She knew the dome was coming," Lyle tells Junior about Pauline. Huh! "She had to get out before she was taken out. Your father had other plans for her. I think she thought the dome would follow her and spare you." That's a lot of big talk. At this point it's starting to look like the first stretch of the season will be setup for an eventful second half, Game of Thrones–style. I may be making a huge mistake in hoping for that.

"Don't undermine my feelings of jealousy and abandonment," the suddenly wonderful Norrie tells Barbie after Joe and Melanie inexplicably walk off holding hands. Melanie's amnesia is falling away in chunks, and she remembers seeing the pink stars falling in lines. Maybe the handholding is a Domekidz-bonding-over-visions thing rather than a romance? Still, Joe: get it together.

In the woods, we arrive at the best part of the young second season. It's time for the episode to earn its title, "Revelations," as Melanie encounters a huge memory-download at the place the Domekidz discovered the mini dome. Let's parse it out closely: Melanie Cross was the teenage girlfriend of a teenaged Uncle Sam. One night the two of them were walking in the woods — hunting for pink stars, evidently — with Lyle and Pauline, four buddies on an Adventure That Would Change Everything. They came across a glowing rock that seemed to be a meteorite. Four familiar handprints glowed on the rock, and the 1.0 Domekidz did as they were bid. The boulder cracked in two, revealing a glowing egg with pink stars coursing through it. Melanie "wanted to protect it," but one of the boys — Sam? or Lyle? either would make sense — shoved her into the pit, breaking her neck and dimming the egg. I dig this scene, and I actually love the new generational aspect of this narrative. It's giving me It vibes. "If I died … then what am I?" Melanie wonders. "And why are you here?" Joe adds. "And where are your bones?" says Norrie, completing the round of questions. If only the rest of this episode was so compelling.

Big Jim has quickly gone from thinking Rebecca's crazy to being willing to unleash her swine-virus on the town. I'm starting to doubt Rebecca is long for this dome, especially with Julia and Uncle Sam on her heels. At the diner, Julia and Sam (Jam?) stop Jim from spreading the virus and have him arrested. Rebecca considers taking care of business through some holy water at a local church, but she can't go through with it. Seeing one baby just totally undoes her. We'll see what justice awaits these rogue population-haters next week.

At Sam's house — which is deep in the woods but seems like it's a quick ten or so minutes away from Main Street — Junior and Lyle ransack until they locate Pauline's old prophecy journal. The newest mystery to add to the ever-swelling list? A crayon sketch of an open door, dated 1821 — DUN DUN DUN. It's identical to one of the paintings Pauline was shown with in the season two premiere — DUN DUN DUN x 2. Lyle finds a suitable whacking implement, conks Junior, and hits the road. Again: not a guy who should be allowed outside of jail cells.

The episode wraps with the most underwhelming non-cliff-hanger in Under the Dome's history. Creeper Sam, who's been welcomed into Julia's home in the late evening hours, goes in for a kiss, because he is a handsome man and Julia is a comely woman and this is what you do on a TV show. Julia stops him with a blunt palm; he winces. This leads us to a series of scratches under Sam's shirt, in that exact spot. So either Julia has powers — not surprising, she's the Monarch — or Sam has some sordid recent history, which is also not surprising. He probably killed Melanie, has almost certainly hurt others, and will definitely be killing someone or several someones this season.

Minutes From the Town Meetin'

Last week I didn't realize that Melanie's last name is Cross. Little reference to The Stand's Nadine Cross?

In season two's new opening credits catch-up, Barbie says, "We will never stop fighting to find a way out." Then Lyle tells Junior in this episode, "If [Pauline] interfered with the dome's plan, we're gonna be condemned to purgatory under this thing for all of time — forever, forever, forever, forever." Pairing these lines with Rebecca's "sometimes there are no answers" speech, I've got an uneasy feeling that we're going to be here for a long, frustrating time. That said, we are getting answers about Melanie, Pauline, and Chester's Mill's supernatural history fairly speedily.

Melanie is from Zenith, same as Barbie. I don't think there's any specific significance to that link, but it does feel like Zenith is a place we'll be visiting this season. It's where Junior's mother now resides, so that alone gives the city some importance.

No more word on the Hounds of Diana this week. Boooo.

I know a healthy contingent among you think this series worsens every week, but I happened to catch a season one episode over the weekend and things were quite a bit worse at this time last season. Junior was awful, Angie was on her third or fourth episode being imprisoned in a bunker, and Barbie and Julia had even cornier lines than they do now.

Speaking of which, from the Queen of the Groaners: "Eggs for breakfast, blood samples for dinner?" Unless this was a covert clue that Rebecca's a vampire, Julia needs some serious dialogue maintenance.

"What was that?" Joe asks a shoveling Barbie. "It feels like a rock," Barbie answers. "Yeah, a rock from outer SPACE!" Joe says.

And something to chew on till next time: How did Pauline so convincingly fake her suicide?

Photo: CBS