'Under the Dome's' Brian K. Vaughan on Missile Fallout, Military Distrust and Murderous Tendencies
The executive producer responds to burning questions from the fifth episode of the CBS summer drama and teases some big events coming up next week.
[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the fifth episode of CBS' Under the Dome, "Blue on Blue."]
The residents of Chester's Mill finally got some news from the outside world in Monday night's episode of CBS' Under the Dome.
The military allowed their friends and loved ones outside the dome to visit for the first time since it dropped onto their town.
Among the revelations: Linda (Natalie Martinez) and her husband, Rusty, are on the cover of People magazine, and reality TV producers want them to star in a show. Norrie (Mackenzie Lintz) finds out she has a dad who wasn't an anonymous sperm donor, as her moms led her to believe. And, according to Ben (John Elvis), China was on the verge of attacking the U.S. after the dome came down as the nation's leaders believed it to be an "illegal superweapon" that was being tested.
But the biggest news of all was Barbie's (Mike Vogel) discovery that the military was planning to drop a MOAB -- the "mother of all bombs" -- onto the dome in an attempt to destroy it, putting the residents' lives in danger. "It wasn't about saying hello to your families," he says of the so-called Visitors' Day. "It was about saying goodbye."
As the residents seek shelter, Big Jim (Dean Norris) releases Angie (Britt Robertson) from his cellar. Elsewhere, Norrie and Joe (Colin Ford) kiss -- without having a seizure -- and Julia (Rachel Lefevre) and Barbie seem on the verge of a romantic relationship.
The good and bad news? No one was killed -- at least not during the missile strike; Rev. Lester Coggins (Ned Bellamy) died at Big Jim's hand -- but the dome is still intact, and the residents are still trapped.
Below, executive producer Brian K. Vaughan answers burning questions from the episode as part of The Hollywood Reporter's Inside the Dome feature.
The Hollywood Reporter: Barbie learns about the missile by revealing his military status as part of a unit believed to be war heroes. How will that come into play once the military leadership learns of his being inside the dome?
Brian K. Vaughan: That's a very interesting question. Is the solder going to tell his superiors who he ran into? It doesn't seem like it matters too much right now. Since the missile failed, the military is not going be getting inside the dome anytime soon.
THR: The butterflies' attraction to the dome is explained by the fact that bugs use magnetic fields to navigate. However, at the end, the butterfly is seen landing on -- and then leaving -- the dome. If the missile didn't destroy the dome, what impact did it have?
Vaughan: Hmm, that's very interesting. We'll have to see next week. The dome is going to start doing some new things in response to having been attacked this way.
THR: Does the missile also explain why Joe and Norrie didn't have a seizure again when they kissed?
Vaughan: Yeah, it certainly seems to be [that way], doesn’t it? There will be a really specific answer next week; I can say someone in the town going to find out about Joe and Norrie's seizures. To this point, they've kept it to themselves. Now, one of the grown-ups finds out.
THR: We see a glimpse of the mass destruction on the outside, will we see more of the missile's effect outside the dome?
Vaughan: Sure, a little bit. It looks pretty bad what we've seen so far. There's a huge area of devastation where the missile hit, and it doesn’t quite go 360 degrees around the dome. But for half of the dome, as far as the eye can see, there is complete devastation. It was a non-nuclear missile, so there is no radioactive fallout or anything. The fallout is really going to be one of fear. The town realizes that if that thing can't knock [the dome] down, that it's never going away. They are going to be trapped here the rest of their lives.
THR: It is safe to assume panic begins to set in?
Vaughan: No panic, they're going to sit in circles singing campfire songs (Laughs). Some people keep their cool … but next week we see society begin to fray at the edges. How much water do they have in there exactly? How much food? It's going to get scary.
THR: How will the military move on from this? Considering the destruction/possible death outside of the dome, how will people outside it feel about it now? What about people inside, will they no longer trust the military?
Vaughan: Residents of Chester's Mill aren't going to think too highly of the military now. They're so scared of what the dome might be capable of doing on American soil that they are willing to sacrifice the residents of the town. More than ever, people will feel like they are alone; there is no one there to help them.
THR: After being freed by Big Jim, Angie cradled Junior just before the bomb hit the dome. Where does that relationship go from here?
Vaughan: Angie is just a wonderful human being who was giving comfort to someone when she thought they were in their final moments. Now that Angie knows it wasn't their final moments alive, this tender moment will be coming to an end very quickly.
THR: Clearly, if Angie reveals what Junior did to her, Big Jim's standing as the town leader is threatened. How can he ensure that secret doesn't get out?
Vaughan: Well we've seen already Big Jim drawing his first blood this week. He's starting to evolve a little bit. He knows, "We're never getting out of here. Maybe I don't have to play by society's rules anymore." And can do whatever he wants in a quest for his own power. We've seen that he's willing to kill a despicable man like Rev. Coggins. But is he willing to kill an innocent young woman? We'll see next week.
THR: Barbie seemed on the verge of telling Julia the truth about her husband but was interrupted. Will he ever come clean about his role in Peter's death?
Vaughan: He is in a really tough spot. More than ever feels he owes this woman the complete truth, yet we saw them holding hands at the end of the episode. There was romantic tension there from the first moment they laid eyes on each other. Now what does he do? Continue the relationship with the person he is closest with under the dome, or tell her the truth? We will see that continue to play out next week.
THR: Sounds like next week's episode provides some big answers?
Vaughan: Next week is a really big one.
THR: There was some criticism early on about the changes from Stephen King's book. What is the reaction you are hearing from fans now that the show is five episodes in?
Vaughan: I think that people at this point who love the book are still with it. Everybody sees what it is trying to do. If you read the book, we still want to capture all those themes that Stephen King presented and use his characters but definitely take it to a new place. I think people are starting to enjoy it. The fun is people who are discovering the book through seeing the TV show and maybe never would have read it without it. … My hope is that people will experience both, and if you have only seen the TV show, when you read the book, there will be huge surprises for you. Angie only lives a few pages in the book. I think that Stephen King was concerned that he didn't want viewers to be able to go right on Wikipedia and say, "Is that how the series ends?" He encourages us to take these characters to places he couldn't in the book. As long as Stephen King is happy, I'm happy.
THR: You said at Comic-Con over the weekend that the season finale features a "hell of a cliff-hanger." Have you heard anything about a second season? What happens if the show isn't picked up?
Vaughan: Particularly after the growing ratings, we're very hopeful for a pickup. People have asked a lot if we have planned for if the show is not a success and doesn't come back. But we never plan it that way because then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We always act "as if." In the beginning we came here to do what Stephen King told us, his original dream was to tell the story of people trapped under a dome for years at a time and see how much they evolve. That set out to be our game plan. This is a town that people hopefully want to return to for many summers to come. Fingers crossed.
What did you think of the developments Under the Dome this week? Hit the comments with your thoughts. Under the Dome airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on CBS.