'Under the Dome's' Brian K. Vaughan: Panic, Illness, Answers Coming Soon

The executive producer responds to burning questions from the third episode of the CBS summer drama and previews an escape for Angie.
"Under the Dome's" Britt Robertson

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

Panic is starting to build on CBS' Under the Dome. During the third episode of the Steven King adaptation, Chester's Mill gets a new sheriff (Natalie Martinez's Linda) after initially clashing with Big Jim (Dean Norris), who is buddying up with Barbie (Mike Vogel) in a bid to hopefully lure him to the force -- or set him up to take the fall for a drug business the councilman is running with the creepy Rev. Lester (Ned Bellamy).

Meanwhile, Julia (Rachelle Lefevre) and Junior (Alexander Koch) explore the caves to learn that (spoiler alert!) they really are trapped. Elsewhere, Joe (Colin Ford) and Norrie (Mackenzie Lintz) have twin seizures and Linda comes up hero again after putting a fatal bullet in a police officer gone bad.

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

PHOTOS: 'Under the Dome' and More Summer Series

The Hollywood Reporter: Nice Simpsons Movie nod! Did you guys feel the need to inject that into the series? Will there be more?
Brian K. Vaughan: It was only the question of do we do it in the first episode or the second! We were waiting for the right moment because we knew with our young characters that that's where most people are familiar with a dome covering a town. That's it for now. We'll try to find other more obscure domes from past literature to reference but that's it for The Simpsons for now (laughs).

THR: Is the dome making people act crazy or are people like Paul and Junior freaking out on their own?
Vaughan: Is Junior's instability connected to dome? That question is still up in the air but people like Paul, no, the dome itself is not actively making them insane. Sadly, this is just human nature when these people are trapped, bad things start happening. Paul is sadly indicative where the town is headed. As much as he seems like a crazy lunatic ranting about things, his fears about where this town is headed will turn out to be right on the nose.

THR: Julia begins to question why Barbie was in Chester's Mill. How will she use the map and code to explore who he is?
Vaughan: You don't find a map with an "X" on it and be an intrepid reporter and not immediately go to find out what X marks the spot is all about. We'll see in the very beginning of the next episode that Julia will track that map and find out why Barbie came to Chester's Mill in the first place. She's going to find out some answers next week, so this won't be a wild goose chase; her hunt will pay off and she'll get some answers but not all of them just yet.

THR: Julia and Junior bond while exploring the caves. Could they work together to explore who Barbie is?
Vaughan: Yes! As much as Julia and Junior come from completely different worlds, the dome tosses people together who would normally never interact. We'll see a friendship start to build between Julia and Junior that despite their differences, they're both obsessed with finding out the truth about the done, if for very different reasons.

STORY: 'Under the Dome's' Brian K. Vaughan Previews New Side to Junior, Detour for Big Jim

THR: Should Barbie be worried about Big Jim's eye-for-an-eye approach to justice? Does he really want Barbie to help with law enforcement or is he setting him up to potentially take the fall for his drug business with Rev. Lester?
Vaughan: There's always an element of keep your friends close, but your enemies closer with Big Jim. He's not yet sure which camp Barbie is in. He could be a potential ally, he could be a threat to Big Jim's power, so until Jim knows for sure, he's going to keep Barbie close at hand. I do have to single out the writer of this episode, Adam Stein wrote this episode and this terrific monolog Big Jim gives about where he got the name Big Jim from. Dean Norris was a huge fan of that and Stephen King was as well even though it's different from the Big Jim origin in the novel. It was a really fun moment to get to understand Jim better.

THR: How will Big Jim and Barbie's relationship continue to stir Junior up?
Vaughan: In every episode of this season, the relationship between Big Jim and Barbie is pretty central to each story. Clearly Junior is no fan of Barbie. Junior craves two things in life: the love of Angie (Britt Robertson) and the respect of his father -- and he gets neither of those. To see Barbie getting his father's respect is going to drive Junior crazier -- if that's even possible. Next week we'll get to see some genuine acts of heroism from Junior. It started in the tunnels with Julia, who tried to get a sense of Junior as maybe not a likable character but an understandable character and how he was forged by his relationship with his father and death of his mother at the age of 9. We will see a softer side of Junior next week.

THR: Martinez and Big Jim clashed over who should lead Chester's Mill and he winds up appointing her sheriff. How much does she trust his motives?
Vaughan: Linda is very trusting -- but to a fault. She's also really smart and grateful to be given the trust to become the new sheriff but she doesn't trust Big Jim completely and we'll start to see some of her suspicions come out next week.

THR: Joe and Norrie both have seizures at the same time. He's touched the dome but she hasn't. What does this say about the dome?
Vaughan: It seems that Joe and Norrie are special. We've seen others like Barbie touch the dome directly and nothing happened to him. Norrie's first seizure happened when she was close to the dome but she never touched it. So why are Joe and Norrie having these seizures and no one else is? What does "pink stars are falling, pink stars are falling in lines" mean? Next week we send the kids to the hospital to get their first medical checkup and our first hints of what could be going on with these two. There's definitely an answer to why they're having these seizures. This is not a joint hallucination between the two; it's not some easily explained medical reason for this but there definitely is a connection to the dome. What that means and what the dome is trying to say in all of this, you'll have to wait and see.

THR: Why is Norrie so against her mothers? Why were they sending her to a reformatory?
Vaughan: The next episode we get to see more of Norrie's moms, who get some indication about why Norrie is not ashamed of and embarrassed by her parents. We'll see what her actual relationship is with her father and what these violent impulses and urges she's had -- she's ripped a girl's tooth out. She definitely has some problems and we'll be finding out more about that. We'll also be delving into why the dome chose her. Is it completely random why she's having these seizures or does her background have something to do with what's happening?

STORY: 'Under the Dome's' Brian K. Vaughan Answers the Premiere's Burning Questions

THR: The preview shows Joe sitting up in the middle of having a seizure. Might someone be controlling him using the current from the dome?
Vaughan: It does seem like what ever is happening during these seizures is beyond their control. It is a question: Who is sending out these messages because they're not coming from Joe.

THR: The residents are (finally!) beginning to be wary about the potential shortage of food, water, medicine and supplies. How will Linda and Big Jim address this?
Vaughan: I know a lot of people are frustrated with why people aren't losing their mind in Chester's Mill?! We thought in the first few episodes that they are operating from a place of hope; everyone belives that if this thing came from out of nowhere, it can disappear just as easily. But we're starting to see that fray at the edges and it won't be much longer. Next week we'll see things start to collapse. Big Jim and Linda are going to have to start making some hard decisions particularly about the balance between freedom and security.

THR: Next week, there's a water break in the shelter where Angie is being held captive (photo above). How can she use that to free herself?
As if things couldn't get any worse for Angie, who isn't just trapped under a dome but is trapped in a bomb shelter underneath that dome. Next week, water starts flooding in and that will be the end of the bomb shelter storyline. Angie's getting out, but I won't say whether she's getting out in a body bag or some other fashion. In that photo, Junior is nowhere to be seen. He leaves her down there for hours at a time, which means Angie is all alone as the water level rising rapidly. "Outbreak" next week: what happens when illness starts spreading under the dome, both real and the illness of panic as well.

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.

E-mail: Lesley.Goldberg@thr.com