'Under the Dome' Can Cool it with the Female Captivity Storyline
Ensemble dramas have to service a lot of story lines, it's true, and don't always have the time to dedicate to each one of them. Take something like Game of Thrones, which has something like 100 unique characters. Episode restraints, even on a network like HBO, demand that you get to everybody -- or most everybody -- and that necessitates these quick little check-ins. "Here's what this character is up to!" the show flashes, before taking you to the next character and the next character. By the end of the episode you've conversed with everybody, but the conversations didn't get much farther than "so what's new?"
Under the Dome is no exception. So far we've met Barbie, Big Jim, Junior, Julia, Joe, Phil, Laurie, Angie, Linda, the priest, the diner bigots, the diner owner, and many more whose names I don't remember offhand. Chester's Mill is a BIG small community, especially as each new episode opens our understanding -- or at least questioning of -- the Dome and its impact on everyone. No one character is going to get a ton of screen-time. Which makes it all the more frustrating when one of those characters is just locked in a room by herself for four straight episodes.
Story-wise, I'm confident Dome's producers have an interesting direction they want to take Angie and her imprisonment. This latest episode, "Outbreak," ended with Big Jim discovering just what Junior had been up to -- unless he's as big a creep as his son (and it might not be humanly possible), we've likely reached the end of that particular plot. But it doesn't change how…queasy the whole thing has made us feel.
Since the end of the pilot, Angie has been locked in a bunker under Junior and Big Jim's house. Shackled, actually, and deprived of interaction with anyone outside of Junior. Who thinks she's "sick." And believes he can "make her better." The storyline is intended to make us wildly uncomfortable, I get that (mission accomplished!). But the way it's been handled and visited these past three episodes -- that's got to be called into question. What does it add to our understanding of this story line to offer the sort of "check-in" approach mentioned above? Look, Angie is frantically screaming for help this time. Now she's sitting upright, lost in contemplation at the situation she's in. Now she's frantically screaming again. To its credit, I guess, this episode let her almost drown. Plot progression!
I'd hesitate to call Angie's plot woman-hating, especially when it's drawn from a book by a writer with a history of rich female characters. I'm confident we're out of the woods on the worst of it, too, and that she'll be drawn into the larger Chester's Mill world shortly. Maybe the issue is torture in general, and the way its depicted on television? 24 gave us about a thousand horrific talking points in its 8-season run. Most recently, Game of Thrones spent all spring flogging, beating, and castrating Theon Greyjoy. In none of these cases did the show need to spend the time it did on these plots. Torture (more captivity here), after all, is pretty "what you see is what you get." This character's in a bad spot. WE GET IT. Now let's come back to them when there's something more than just human misery to wallow in.
Image: Huffington Post