Under The Dome Under The Dome

When Under the Dome returns (Monday, 10/9c,CBS), the residents of Chester's Mill are still trapped beneath the giant dome that is supposedly there for their protection — this according to some otherworldly force that appeared to the Monarch Julia (Rachelle Lefevre) and the Four Hands via a vision of deceased Alice (Samantha Mathis) in the finale.

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It's been two weeks since the mysterious dome descended upon the town, with the possibility of escape becoming increasingly unlikely. However, there might be hope for at least one character, if not more, to make their way outside the dome. "This is the search to get out," executive producer Neal Baer tells TVGuide.com of Season 2. "This is the season of new mysteries that unfold and one of those new mysteries will be if there is a way out."

More importantly, the second season will also explore exactly why the dome is there — other than Alien Alice saying it was placed there to protect them. "We deal with that throughout the whole season, asking why is it here? What is it for? That's the journey that our characters are going on," Baer says, promising that we'll see more of how the outside world reacts to the presence of the dome.

But not everyone will agree on exactly what has been keeping them under the dome. The argument between science and faith taking a stronger foothold in the second season thanks to the introduction of high school science teacher Rebecca (Karla Crome), who will butts heads with new leader Julia. "This season is about faith vs. science with this notion of what can be understood scientifically and what can only be understood based on faith," Baer says. "That's a theme that occurs throughout the season and it's illustrated through some of the trials that the inhabitants of Chester's Mill face: A plague of pretty desperate proportions, acid rain and dust storms and things like that."

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Among the changes within the dome is a sudden magnetization just as Barbie (Mike Vogel) faces the gallows, causing widespread destruction and death. "I don't think it's punishment, per se, but I think it's a warning," Baer says. "It's a wakeup call that the dome has certain abilities and one is to de-magnetize, which can certainly shake up the town. It also has an effect on the inhabitants and it's very grim. It's a true wakeup call in the first episode for Big Jim [Dean Norris]."

But Big Jim is not the only character to be tested as the second season explores themes of "transformation," Baer says. "This year is about who these characters are being put to the test as they try to get out from under the dome. We see what they're really made of. And there's much to be revealed. We really wanted to tell the story of stewardship. Are they good stewards of their environment? Can they work together to make their lives work under the dome?"

Julia, especially, will be tested as she faces what it means to be the leader of Chester's Mill, something that doesn't sit well with many of Big Jim's supporters in town. "There will be certain conflicts that really play out in Episode 4 and 5 between Julia and Big Jim," Baer says. "Who's really in charge? Julia does [have confidence in herself], but at times she does wonder when things go wrong, which they do in a number of ways that shake her confidence to the core. She does have a crisis of confidence in latter episodes. Big Jim feels that he's been chosen and has his own crisis of faith when he learns something that truly shakes him to his core."

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However, it's not just her leadership that faces scrutiny. Her budding relationship with Barbie could be foiled by the introduction of Rebecca and Sam Verdreaux (Eddie Cahill), Big Jim's brother-in-law, who's been an alcoholic recluse since his sister, Junior's (Alexander Koch) mother Pauline (Sherry Stringfield), killed herself years prior. "Julia and Barbie face a very, very trying situation in their relationship in Episode 3 that really puts their relationship to the test with Sam Verdreaux standing by," Baer teases. "Sam has a very unexpected relationship that's there in Episode 1 for all who wish to see it."

Do you hope the residents of Chester's Mill can escape the dome this season?

Under the Dome returns Monday at 10/9c on CBS.

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

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