'Under the Dome's' Brian K. Vaughan: 'Big Answers' Coming

The executive producer responds to burning questions from the fourth episode of the CBS summer drama and weighs in on Big Jim's big discovery.
"Under the Dome"

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the fourth episode of CBS' Under the Dome, "Outbreak."]

An outbreak hit Chester's Mill this week.

In Monday night's episode of CBS' Stephen King adaptation Under the Dome, several residents came down with headaches and fever, leading to a diagnosis of meningitis. Junior (Alexander Koch) becomes somewhat of a hero after stopping a potential riot at the quarantined hospital is later deputized by new sheriff Linda (Natalie Martinez).

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Meanwhile, Barbie (Mike Vogel) reveals to Julia (Rachel Lefevre) that her husband was a gambler and that he was a hired "enforcer" charged with getting his employer's money back, but neglects to tell her that he killed her husband. Elsewhere, Joe (Colin Ford) and Norrie (Mackenzie Lintz) record video of themselves having another seizure -- they surmised that touching each other caused their previous seizures -- but when they watched the video back, Joe is seen looking into the camera and saying, "Shhh," something he had no recollection of doing.

And Angie (Britt Robertson) -- who is still being held hostage by Junior -- broke a water pipe while calling for help. In the episode's final moments, Big Jim (Dean Norris) discovers her -- handcuffed, wet and cold -- in his cellar.

Below, executive producer Brian K. Vaughan answers burning questions from the episode as part of The Hollywood Reporter's weekly Inside the Dome feature.

The Hollywood Reporter: What caused the outbreak? Is it related to the dome or the seizures, or was it really meningitis?

Brian K. Vaughan: I think that at first it may have seemed related to the dome, but it was a very Earthbound, mundane disease. That's the interesting thing about our show: Something that normally would have not been that much of a massive crisis becomes that when you're trapped under a dome. It was meningitis, and the seizures are in no way related to that.

THR: After Joe and Norrie have another seizure, during which he's seen saying "shhh" in the video, he says, "Maybe we're not supposed to tell anyone because the dome doesn't want us to." Does he believe the dome is a living entity?

Vaughan: It is an interesting idea. They've never encountered anything like it before, and it almost seems like something is tying to speak through them. Could it be the dome? That's one teenager's crazy idea. Colin gave a terrific performance and totally nailed it; it was very creepy.

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THR: Barbie tells Julia a story about Peter's gambling problems, but then lies about his leaving town. So was there any truth at all to his story?

Vaughan: Absolutely. It is true that Barbie was working as an enforcer for a gambling ring. But yes, Barbie did at the last moment stop short of admitting the truth, that he was forced to kill Peter Shumway in a confrontation. Julia knows some of the truth, but not all.

THR: We learned that Phil Bushey (Nicholas Strong) is in possession of Peter's car. How is Phil involved in all of that drama, and how much does he know in regards to the truth about Barbie?

Vaughan: In the last episode, Barbie seemed to recognize Phil, and they have a history together. Phil, just like Peter, is a gambler. He knows more about our hero than many people.

THR: The military was seen leaving their guard outside the dome, and next week it looks like they begin making plans to launch a missile at the dome. Will we learn more about their strategy to save Chester's Mill?

Vaughan: I don't want to spoil too much about the military's plan, but I can say next week's episode begins with a "visitors' day." It's finally a chance for the people trapped inside Chester's Mill, inside the dome, to talk with not just their loved ones but the rest of the free world -- what's going on, to get more information about this, if there are any more domes around the world. So far, they've been entirely cut off from the world, but now they'll start getting big answers.

THR: It seems like this is the start of a new Junior, who gets a taste of being a leader -- and appears to like it. How will his new status as a sheriff's deputy change him?

Vaughan: Well, he's joining the police force, so Linda, who used to be our deputy, is taking the mantle of sheriff and needs some help. She clearly doesn’t know she's made a terrible mistake by empowering a dangerous young lunatic.

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THR: At one point, Junior tells Angie, "You can leave whenever you're ready, but not before." What does that mean?

Vaughan: Junior sort of believes this dome is making people sick … and he thinks this must be a logical explanation for why this young woman doesn't love him anymore. Her breakup coincided with the dome dropping. So if she goes back to being good old Angie, she gets to leave. The question is, could this insane kid Junior be actually right? Is there something to [his theory]?

THR: At the end of the episode, Big Jim discovers Angie in the cellar. What happens next?

Vaughan: There are only a few options to what happens next. We'll see how Angie escapes from this space. This is a huge problem for Big Jim and his standing in the town if people find out what his son is up to. It's a big, shocking development, and we'll find out very early in next week's episode what happens.

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.