With “Heads Will Roll,” Under the Dome’s second season opener, we find the show fully into course correction mode, steering the show away from its design to keep much of Stephen King’s source novel’s conflict in play to a more supernatural tone.
In doing so, “Heads Will Roll” was penned by King himself, his first for this series and the first episode after the departure of comics creator Brian K Vaughan’s involvement. “Heads Will Roll” still features much of what made the first season, originally intended as a miniseries, so frustrating, basically the characters. Characterization on Under the Dome has largely been about them reacting to whatever craziness the dome brought to Chester’s Mill. Character motivations and alliances often shift with the dubious wind that blows under that dnag dome until the point where we’re not sure which character stands for what.
The difference in “Heads Will Roll” is that there may actually be a method behind this madness. Opening exactly where the first season left of, Julia (Rachelle Lefevre), also known as the Monarch of the Dome tosses the egg from the mini-dome into the lake, keeping it out of Big Jim’s (Dean Norris) hands and dooming her new dome squeeze Barbie (Mike Vogel) to die on a makeshift gallows surrounded by a mob of townsfolk.
“Heads Will Roll” also continues to draw upon the large populace of Chester’s Mill, something that’s always seemed to fluctuate depending on the needs of the story being told. This time, we’re introduced to two new characters, who also may serve as wrenches in the Barbie/Julia Dome-mance. Julia runs into Sam Verdreaux (Eddie Cahill), a disgraced EMT and Big Jim’s brother in law who’s living the hermit life in the woods, who helps rescue a girl who just appears in the lake drowning after Julia’s egg sinks in. Barbie has a whole subplot with the high school science teacher, Rebecca Pine (Karla Crome). The latter plot line makes the least sense, only serving to give much of the cast something else to do while the real business is getting done across town. Still, all the weird science talk would make magnet afficionado Jesse Pinkman proud. I should also note that instead of adding two new players into an already crowded ensemble mix, Under the Dome takes a more dramatic turn and dispatches at least one, if not two, original players in favor of the new arrivals.
The real business of “Heads Will Roll” is something more akin to A Christmas Carol, something even Big Jim remarks about as the Dome begins to communicate directly with him. Indeed, the Rennie’s are emerging to be much larger players in the bigger mythology as the second season gets underway. I can’t say it all doesn’t play out with a certian level of hokiness, but I’ve also come to believe showrunner Neal Baer’s assertion that the story is heading somewhere solid, given the reveals in the final minutes of the episode, where we venture outside of the dome for the first time.
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