Written by Dylan Brandsema
“The Enemy Within” isn’t so much a bad series finale, but rather a mostly empty void where potential for quality once formerly existed. This third season’s double premiere “Move On/But I’m Not” back in June was arguably the best episode of the Under The Dome ever (besides maybe the pilot), but the 11 episodes that followed were a gradual downward spiral into what eventually became an almost-incomprehensible mess of sci-fi mumbo jumbo, with so many plot lines happening at once it made Paul Thomas Anderson’s multi-threaded Magnolia look like a walk in the park, and the unplanned series finale didn’t do much at all to relieve the stress that came from trying to follow what was once a commendable series.
The finale begins by explaining through thick layers of exposition that Barbie and Ava’s nightmare child has now transformed into a full-grown adult that looks exactly like Ava, and has killed Christine to become the new queen of the Kinship. As if that wasn’t hard enough to wrap your head around, Joe later sacrifices himself by becoming the 8th amethyst in Christine’s stone-hedge tribute used to bring the dome down, by whistling a certain note at the same time as the other amethysts. Yes, you read that right – the dome was brought down with whistling. Anybody could have easily done it, too. It didn’t need to be Joe. What if Big Jim had played that note on a flute? What if someone recorded that note on a tape recorder and placed it in the middle of the rocks while it played instead someone standing there? The vapid and random story conclusions chosen by the writers this season only got more ridiculous and more absurd and the episodes went on, and if deus ex machina plot outcomes were milkshakes, this would be the mother of all cherries on top.
To make things worse, they decided to treat Barbie and Ava’s hellspawn (who apparently named herself Dawn) as the new primary villain of the series during these last crucial moments. It wasn’t as if Dawn was treated like a newbie either – it was apparently an appropriate decision to bring in a new lead antagonist in the final episode of a series. Here’s a tip for future screenwriters looking to work in television: this is really stupid and it doesn’t work. You simply cannot bring a new opposing force during the tail end of a series, and especially not after everything we went through with The Marg Helgenberger Show these last few episodes.
Of course, though, “The Enemy Within” wasn’t planned to be the final episode of Under The Dome, but we’ll get back to why that’s a load of bullshit momentarily. Let’s talk about suspension of disbelief in science fiction – of course, when you’re following a sci-fi series, especially one created by such a titan as Stephen King, and especially more so when you have a story with such ludicrous circumstances from the get-go, a certain suspension of disbelief has to exist within the viewer to be able to accept whatever weird, or unexpected twists may happen within the story. This has been a staple of science fiction since the beginning of the film medium, and it’s easy to admit that this principle helps a lot of science fiction tales in showing us what would easily be impossible or silly were it a part of another genre. But what’s impossible to believe, despite everything that this season, and this show has thrown at us, is that Big Jim, a man who’s never been good planning ahead, has not only kept a key on his dog’s color, but a key that perfectly fits the keyhole to a jail cell so that he and Julia could escape just in time to kill Dawn (supposedly) right at the moment of the dome’s destruction. If by chance you’re reading this review without having watched the episode, I swear to you, with all sincerity, that I am not making this up.
The ending sequence of the finale, believe it or not, is actually pretty good…until is isn’t. As the audience, we can take joy in seeing that, in a year’s time since the dome came down, Barbie and Julie are happily in love with one another, Big Jim, despite all the terrible things he’s done, is a Congressman, and Norrie, who apparently changed her last name to Jenkins, has joined the military. This happy sequence, which could’ve wrapped up the series with appropriate and well-deserved closure, is quickly interrupted by the discovery that Dawn is apparently still alive and well and leading a kindergarten class in Omaha. The final shot of the series is that of a downward pan to the legendary egg which spawned so much of the series’s past peril.
It’s easy to understand the existence of cliffhanger on the end of the episode, because, after all, this was not meant to be the last season, and if this were any other show, it would be forgivable. In the context of this show, and how far it’s come, however, this makes absolutely sense. Firstly, since Dawn aged from newborn baby to a full-grown adult in less than 48 hours, shouldn’t appear as a ripe old lady after a year’s time, if not dead? Second, how exactly did the writers expect the story continue? Are we truthfully supposed to believe that a 4th season of this show is possible with no more dome (let me repeat that — NO MORE DOME), and over the half characters either dead or out of the show’s continuity? Maybe the cancellation was a good thing.
It’s a shame that the last episode of Under The Dome is such a wild stinker. The first season of the show was fantastic, and while the second season sometimes began to border on childish sci-fi cheese, and some of it wasn’t up to par with the rest of the episodes, it was still just as solid overall, and it’s unfortunate that the potential greatness that was cemented through the show’s first 2 seasons was quickly beaten into a corner to wallow in its own pulp. It’s even more unfortunate that the series finale, while it did have its moments, was ultimately nothing more than 60 minutes of stupid, nonsensical dreck.
Under the Dome Series Finale RATING: 4/10
Dylan Brandsema is a staff writer for Pop-Break specializing in film and television. When he isn’t writing reviews or spending too much analyzing the medium, he’s writing and directing his own independent films as well as drinking way too much soda. Currently at full-time film major at Full Sail University, Dylan eats, sleeps, and breathes everything related to the cinema. You can follow him on Twitter @SneakyOstrich69.