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‘Under the Dome’ Producer Talks Departing From Novel, Season Finale’s Big Twist

Neal Baer tells TheWrap what viewers can expect on Monday’s season-ender

The producers behind CBS’s summer hit, “Under the Dome,” were pretty confident they would get a second season. So confident, Monday’s season finale didn’t change very much after the renewal order came through.

“We wrote the series the best way we could and by the time the show premiered we were pretty much done,” executive producer Neal Baer told TheWrap.

“In June, we pretty much shot all the episodes and started work on the last three,” he continued. “So, we were prepared to maybe make some changes in the last episode had we not been picked up. Within the first few weeks, it was looking good and we were hopeful, so we just went on the route we were going on, which ends with Monday’s show.”

Also read: ‘Under the Dome’s’ Jolene Purdy: I Wasn’t Supposed to Be Alive This Long

TheWrap spoke with Baer about the decisions made in Season 1, departing from Stephen King‘s novel and the surprise revelations on Monday’s season finale.

Note: Mild spoilers

TheWrap: Jolene Purdy, who played Dodee, told us that she was under the impression that the producers had always counted on three seasons. Is that true?
Neal Baer: No, we were hopeful we’d have a number of seasons but we didn’t have a number planned. We just hoped the audience would continue to embrace it as it has and keep it going, but we don’t have a set number of seasons in our pocket.

At what pace do you plan to reveal the biggest secrets of the dome?
We have so many new mysteries to unfold relating the mini-dome, the caterpillar, the monarch, who’s the monarch, what do the pink stars mean, so we’re always every week revealing something. In the finale, we reveal how Big Jim [Dean Norris] realizes how he’s connected to the pink stars and his dawning realization that he feels like he’s chosen to lead. He’s always wanted to lead. He’s always been very active as a leader, but now he feels truly chosen. We learn who the Monarch is in the last episode, as well.

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Right now, I’d say that Barbie [Mike Vogel] seems to be a good bet for the Monarch. How surprised will we be when that person is revealed?
I think you’ll be surprised who the Monarch is. It’s going to be great. It all comes together. Barbie saved Julia [Rachel Lefevre] and the storm stopped. But, Junior [Alexander Koch] saved Angie [Britt Robertson] and the storm stopped. And Joe [Colin Ford] was driving the car that saved Julia. So, we have a number of folks who could possibly be the Monarch and we hope that it will be surprising.

It doesn’t seem like you’re beholden to the novel very much.
No, the novel is a great springboard for the characters and the setting and the format. But with Stephen King‘s blessing, we veered off into our own world with the mini-dome and the egg and all of that. We’re certainly inspired by many events like the food riots, the water shortage but there’s such a vast canvas of characters in the novel that we just can’t cover on the show. So, we have an amalgamation of characters and invented some of our own that could tell the story in a way that’s good for television rather than what’s good for a novel.

So, how close to the novel’s ending will you stay?
We’re not going to end as the novel does with teenage aliens doing experiments with people on earth. But, we will have a major revelation that involves an understanding of the dome and what’s behind it in a shocking way, a truly shocking way, I think. Also, what I love about the show is you never know who is going to appear.

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Were there any characters or actors whose performance made you want to develop their character in a new way?
We really wanted to make Junior complex. So, despite the fact that he locked Angie in the fallout shelter, we thought ‘Is there any way to redeem him?’ And then we realized that maybe Angie really was sick. His actions weren’t acceptable in what he did, but maybe he was right and maybe he was trying to protect her in this way and it turns out she was sick, she had a seizure and she’s one of the four hands. So, we really did try to make Junior multidimensional after once starting him off in such a dire psychotic way. He still is pretty unbalanced, but in a very interesting way that’s hard to be sure. He’s been a very fun character and Alex, the actor, it’s his first role, so it’s been really gratifying to work with him.

You haven’t been shy about killing characters we’ve come to like.
Nope, nobody’s safe under the dome.

So, we should be on alert as to who’s going next?
Yes, or maybe vice-versa.

So…who’s coming in?
Yeah [laughs]. I think you’ll be surprised by the ‘vice-versa.’

“Under the Dome” airs its season finale at 10/9c on CBS.