Going Under the Dome: Showrunner Neal Baer Dissects the Series Premiere

TV Guide
Britt Robertson | Photo Credits: Michael Tackett/CBS

[Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Monday's series premiere of Under the Domeas well as the Stephen King novel upon which the series is based. Read at your own risk.]

CBS' new summer series Under the Dome kicked off Monday night with quite the bang after a dome mysteriously trapped the residents of quaint Chester's Mill within the town lines, cutting them off from the rest of the world. (And cutting a cow in half in the process. Gross.)

How will CBS' Under the Dome differ from Stephen King's novel?

Unfortunately for outsider Barbie (Mike Vogel), he's stuck in a town where he apparently just killed the husband of his potential new love interest Julia Shumway (Rachelle Lefevre). Disasters do bring people together, after all. Just look at Angie (Britt Robertson) and Junior (Alexander Koch), who have found a sick and twisted love in this tumultuous time. If trapping your former fling in a fallout shelter means love, then those kids are really going to make it!

At least the residents of Chester's Mill now have an excess of propane thanks to Big Jim (Dean Norris) - although why he stocked up is an entirely different question altogether. With so many questions being raised in just the series premiere, TVGuide.com turned to executive producer Neal Baer to get scoop on what's next:

1. Why did the dome fall on Chester's Mill? After meeting a few of the Chester's Mill residents, a mysterious dome suddenly falls on the town, slicing anything in the way and separating the town from the rest of the world. Upon touching the dome for the first time, residents get a shock, or, in the case of Sheriff Duke (Jeff Fahey), his pace maker explodes out of his chest. The government also quickly swoops in to cordon off the area. Will the show's explanation be the same as the book?

Baer's response: "That's the question that Linda (Natalie Martinez) and Duke ask in the first episode. It's a really good question. That's the basis of the show. Why us? What are we going to learn? Why were we chosen? Duke and Linda ask if we're being punished. Why is this happening? That's the crux of the whole series as we explore that."

2. Why did Barbie kill Peter Shumway? When we first meet Barbie, a former Army guy, he's burying Julia's husband Peter (R. Keith Harris) in the middle of the woods. He tries to hightail it out of town, but is caught under the dome, after which he bonds with Julia as they attempt to figure out what the dome is. Of course, when she invites him to stay at her house, he then discovers the truth about his victim. So, who is he working for?

Baer's response: "That's something that we'll touch upon throughout the first season. I think what's interesting is there are many mysteries apart from the dome. We have this opening each week with Rachelle Lefevre narrating it saying, 'The dome coming down is going to force the community to reveal secrets that they kept for a long time because being trapped together, secrets start to leak out.' The secrets that many of our characters harbor will come out because of the intense psychological stress that the dome puts on the community. What we love about the show is that it may seem like there's lots of reasons, but the reason might not be what you think."

3. Is Big Jim really evil? Big Jim Rennie, the local car salesman and town councilman, helps the town through the crisis, sending out a radio message that undoubtedly saves dozens of lives. But he also quickly jumps at the chance to grab some power. Plus: He's been shipping propane into Chester's Mill for some unknown reason. He even warns Duke not to ask too many questions. Otherwise, Jim will go public with the truth about Duke turning a blind eye to the deliveries. (Duke just wanted to keep the town from going bankrupt.) Baer promises answers about the propane, but for now, it seems Big Jim will follow in the footsteps of his novel counterpart.

Baer's response: "Big Jim truly loves Chester's Mill. He will do whatever he can to save his town. We think that makes him an interesting character because no one is purely evil or purely good. Barbie appears to have committed a crime! It's complex and we love that. Big Jim loves that town and because he's the only town councilman there, someone has to lead the town and deal with the many crises that are going to occur."

First Look: CBS tackles faith, fear and fascism in Under the Dome

4. Why not kill Angie in the premiere? Big Jim's son Junior is crazy unstable. After he sees his fling Angie talking to Barbie in the hospital parking lot, Junior threatens Barbie and takes Angie hostage in his father's fallout shelter. In the book, Angie dies pretty quickly after Junior attacks her and - spoiler alert - strangles her to death to quiet her down during a seizure. So, why did the producers decide to keep Angie alive and as a prisoner?

Baer's response: "We loved the character and there's much to explore. But no one is safe in Chester's Mill."

5. Is there a way to get out of the dome? Sure, the dome extends hundreds of feet up into the air, but is there a possibility that the Chester's Mill residents could dig their way out? Or maybe the Army could try setting off explosions to make a crack in the dome?

Baer's response: "'Why don't they just dig?!'" We'll respond to that in Episode 2. The upcoming early episodes will get into that. What are the parameters? What does it do? What are the rules? All of that we'll get into."

Mega Buzz: How will Under the Dome be different with Angie around?

6. Why are some kids reacting oddly to the dome? Both Angie's brother Joe (Colin Ford) and tourist Norrie (Mackenzie Lintz) seem to have seizures while saying, "Stars are falling in lines." Whuck?

Baer's response: "You're going to have to watch and see. I'm happy to say that we haven't goofed and not addressed these things."

7. Who will take charge in the town now? With Duke seemingly dead after his pacemaker exploded, it seems likely that Big Jim will jump at the chance to take over. But the mysterious Barbie could swoop in to save the day, similar to his role in the books.

Baer's response: "We'll see. Those are the two stars of our show."

8. What secret was Duke about to reveal? Just before Duke's pacemaker exploded from his chest, Duke said, "A little over a year ago, I was approached about..." Will we ever discover the secret Duke thinks could be involved with the dome?

Baer's response: "There are incidents from the book that we'll certainly visit. The book is like a format for the show in thatthere was a Chester's Mill, there was a dome and there was a Barbie, a Julia and a Big Jim and they're trapped. So that format that Stephen so brilliantly created is a foundation for the show, but we'll move beyond it."

What did you think of Under the Dome's series premiere? Will you be tuning in for more? Submit your questions in the comments section below for next week's edition of Going Under the Dome.

Under the Dome airs Mondays at 10/9c on CBS.

(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)

View original Going Under the Dome: Showrunner Neal Baer Dissects the Series Premiere at TVGuide.com

Related Articles on TVGuide.com

Other Links From TVGuide.com