'Under the Dome' at Comic-Con: Full new episode answers some questions, raises more

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The final day of Comic-Con 2013 saw mystery, sci-fi and thriller fans gather together to watch the fifth episode of "Under the Dome" Sunday (July 21), a full day before it's scheduled to air on CBS. Prior to the "Under the Dome" panel featuring the show's cast and producers, the episode played out in its entirety, answering some questions and raising many more.

Over the previous four episodes the residents of Chester's Mill have attempted to adjust to life under the dome, an enigmatic and nearly impermeable barrier that inexplicably descended over the town in the first episode. Those not caught up on "Under the Dome," or who would rather watch the episode unfold on-screen, should avoid the following plot spoilers and skip down to the panel recap below.

The dome has strange powers 

Monarch butterflies swarm the outside of the dome -- but Joe says they shouldn't be anywhere near Chester's Mill. Clearly the dome is having some effect on the natural order, and it's definitely affecting the people in the town. It even seems to be altering magnetic fields. More mysteries about the dome emerge with every episode -- when will we get some answers?

Expect some reunions

Some of the residents of Chester's Mill have relatives outside the dome, but the military hasn't let anyone near it since it fell. In episode 5, though, some family members will be reunited, albeit on opposite sides of the soundproof barrier. Though Barbie is suspicious, Norrie understands immediately. "Haven't you ever been to camp?" she asks. "They're giving us our own visitors day." Not all the reunions are happy, though.

Angie's not out of the woods yet 

Although Big Jim finds Angie in his son's improvised dungeon at the end of episode 4, don't expect her to be rescued just yet. Big Jim is one of the most complex characters on the show -- and the question of whether he's a good guy or a bad guy has definitely not yet been answered. Angie does make some progress in this episode, though it may all be in vain in the end anyway.

The good reverend gets crazier

Reverend Lester Coggins is not a likable character, and it doesn't look like he's going to get better any time soon. In fact, he gets much worse in episode 5. "I'm not scared of you anymore, Jim Rennie," he says to the councilman. "All I fear is the wrath of our Lord." He may come to regret that statement by the episode's conclusion.

Barbie's got a storied past with the military

Barbie's past in the armed forces is no secret, but it seems he was no mere grunt. "It's an honor to meet one of the jackrabbits, sir," a soldier tells him through the dome's barrier before dropping a bomb -- quite literally -- on the dome itself. You'll have to watch to find out what happens after that.

The panel 

During the panel following the episode screening stars Dean Norris (Big Jim), Mike Vogel (Barbie) and Rachelle Lefevre (Julia Shumway) spoke with fans alongside executive producers Brian K. Vaughan and Neal Baer.

"I've been coming to Comic-Con for a decade, but this is my favorite so far," Vaughan says during the discussion. "Under the Dome" is based on a book by  Stephen King, and Vaughan, who writes comics in addition to television, revealed that he became involved with the show after a friend informed him he was "name-dropped" in the book by a character who likes his comics.

Norris discussed his character's relationship with his psychotic son, who kept his girlfriend locked in a dungeon-like bomb shelter throughout the first four episodes. "We learn a lot about Junior, and his deceased mother actually comes into play," Norris says. "I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the -- the seed doesn't fall far -- far from the tree? Something like that."

In a previous episode, Junior ventured into some underground tunnels to discover how deep the dome goes. That very question will be answered in Episode 7, Baer revealed in response to a question from the crowd during the Q&A portion of the panel.

Another audience member asked whether the show was altered when it moved from Showtime to CBS in pre-production, and Vaughan replied that they had to change "very little." "Fewer naughty words, maybe, but just as many brutal killings," he says.

The panel members discussed the show's popularity -- it's reaching 20 million viewers per week - and the challenges of adapting King's work, not to mention more of the mysteries surrounding the dome itself. Watch out for Zap2It's interviews with the cast as Comic-Con coverage continues to arrive throughout the coming week.

"Under the Dome" airs Mondays on CBS.
Photo/Video credit: Getty Images
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