The TV Junkies (2015)

This season of Under The Dome has been interesting to say the least. Not only have most of the townspeople been taken over by some alien force and been forced into an odd sort of kinship, but the town’s two heroes have been separated. Julia (Rachelle Lefevre) avoided the cocooning and the alien force but Barbie (Mike Vogel) did not.

Having Julia and Barbie separated for a large part of this season has been rough on fans, including some of us here at The TV Junkies. Jarbie fans have been begging for the two of them to get back together and we can’t help but join them in asking–is it ever going to happen? While the storyline can be addicting at times, Barbie’s behaviors have been problematic this season. Why is he so weak at resisting the dome’s control when others have escaped it so easily? How could he possibly be in love with Ava when we know how much he loved Julia?

With all of these questions we thought it best to go directly to the source and were lucky enough to have a chat with Barbie’s portrayer, Mike Vogel. Here’s what he had to say:

Barbie hasn’t exactly been Mr. Popular this season. How did it feel to go from playing the hero to the bad guy in the matter of a few episodes? Have the fans given you a hard time about it?

Mike Vogel: Yeah and I kind of like it. It’s always been sort of my pet peeve with Barbie. I don’t want to make him so clean. I don’t want to make him so cut and dry. Heroes do bad things sometimes you know? They’re not right a hundred percent of the time. They’re never wholey valiant and have the best judgement. I think what’s been fun is that I had a bit of a cop out because it’s not technically me doing it. It’s this alien force in me. But it’s allowing me to do the fun stuff that’s uncharacteristic of Barbie. So it’s been a fun time of taking a lot of flack from fans and I’ve enjoyed watching them. It’s always nice to see people responding that way because it means they’ve responded to your character in the first place. What they’re seeing is upsetting them but they want to keep watching.

Barbie has always been one of the strongest characters on the show but of the core cast he’s been the weakest at resisting the Dome’s control. Why do you think that is?

Mike Vogel: Well, you know I’ve had a lot of the same questions but I think in TV land justification and what we’ve been playing is that with Eva, she’s sort of the virgin mother or the mother to the new queen and it’s going to be my child, so anytime I interact with her the pull becomes greater towards that side. So this entire time this thing is leading me to this destiny to bring the new queen into existence. And certainly when the two of them slept together, that’s sort of sealing my fate. Not unlike real life right?

One of the things that really bothered me right from the beginning of the season was how Eva has called you Dale. You’ve always been Barbie to us. Did the writers do this on purpose to separate out the two sides of him or was there another reason?

Mike Vogel: You know it was actually Kylie (Bunbury) that made that choice. And I kind of liked it. First of all, it kind of gives fans a scapegoat to say, “We don’t like Dale, we want Barbie back”, when actually they’re the same person, but OK. Way back in the very beginning Kylie said that she wanted what she and Barbie had to be different so “How about I call him Dale instead of Barbie?” And it’s actually kind of worked out. It kind of creates a separation between the two lives, between the two worlds. Admittedly at times the story moves really quick so the Dale and the Barbie kind of seperates things a bit and can take away some of that confusion. I understand the distaste that people have for it, but I kind of like how it worked out.

Throughout Under The Dome’s crazy story, Julia and Barbie’s relationship has become the heart of the show. Have you been surprised at all by the fans’ reaction to Jarbie’s relationship?

Mike Vogel: Yeah I have, and flattered. It’s always nice when things work out this way. I have the best dance partner in the world as Rachelle would like to say. We both care deeply about the work. When we’re on set together we care about putting in a performance that does this justice and that for ourselves is satisfying. Admittedly we’re not making high art here, but I want to walk away from the day knowing I’m really satisfied with what I did. That’s why this season was hard for both of us because we spent a lot of time away from one another. And it was always sort of a welcomed treat to get to come back together and have scenes together. Even when we were opposing one another, to be able to do things together it kind of fills a bit of a void. And it’s been nice to see the fans respond to it. I’m sure that’s what the writers and creators wanted and I’m glad it stuck. Because a lot of the times it doesn’t, a lot of the time the chemistry just doesn’t work and people don’t latch on like you’d hope. But in this case it worked and I’m proud to be hashtag Jarbie (#Jarbie).

Oh, it’s definitely working. This season has been rough on the Jarbie fans out there though. Were you worried at all that you might lose a few fans by keeping the two of them separate for a good part of the season?

Mike Vogel: Yeah, I mean there was always a thought in the back of our minds and certainly it was a gamble for the show and a gamble for CBS. It’s not normal CBS fare. I think what it is is that cable has become so good and the average TV watcher has become so smart and things are changing so much that you’ve got to bring that game. The gamble is, can we walk that line? Keep them interacting and together even when they’re opposing one another? Keep them together enough that the fans keep riding that seesaw back and forth? To have an audience pining for it, that’s the victory. So yeah, there was a little bit of a fear that people might not get it or love it, but I think they brought it back together at just the right time and it’s full on from here on out.

Last week we saw what looked like Julia finally getting through to Barbie. Is that what happened or was Barbie still faking it? It’s hard to trust him after that crazy episode.

Mike Vogel: It is hard to trust him and people are just going to have to see this week if it sticks. Barbie is absolutely still being pulled in a couple different directions and as a faithful guy and as a man of integrity he’s not going to give up on that kid. So he has a decision to make. I think some headway was definitely made last week, I’ll say that. Some headway in the right direction.

How did you feel about his love for Julia being the feeling that brought on his resistance to the Dome? Because for all the shippers out there that was pretty perfect ending to that story arc.

Mike Vogel: Right. [laughs] I think it was a good way to go. I think that what we have found what brings people back from this force is an emotion, a certain emotion that they’ve struggled with. And I think for Barbie, given his familial history and his past, love was the one that won over. And it wasn’t easy. They went in to that episode thinking that it was pain that brings someone back. And all of those torture scenes where we thought he was back and then nope. It was fun to do all that. I think it’s a satisfying conclusion that what brings Barbie back is the love. Being face to face with what he was about to do to Julia and seeing this raw surrendered love thing. ‘I love you, do whatever you think you’ve gotta do, but I’m here for you.’ I think that was a great way to bring it back around.

Were Barbie’s feelings for Ava real or were they something that was created by the dome for its benefit and how are they going to factor in as things move forward?

Mike Vogel: Well I think it’s both ends a bit. When they told me this season that they were going to do a love triangle I kind of balked at it a bit. I said, “How do you a love triangle in a town with a dome where we’ve seen everybody in the town? Now magically someone else is going to pop up that I fall in love with, I just don’t buy it”. But when they told us this whole bit about the matrix and this alternate reality it really started to make sense. This is a plausible thing. In his mind Julia has been dead for a year. In his mind he and Ava have been together for a year. Julia and Barbie were together, if you look in real time, for like 4 weeks. Now it was a bit of messing with your mind but to them it feels real. So I can buy it now. He made peace with Julia being gone and he had moved on with Ava. I think it gave a realistic, OK not realistic, but a sci-fi realistic reason as to why these two (Barbie and Julia) could end up in the trouble that they were.

What else can you tell us heading into these last four episodes?

Mike Vogel: Well Barbie is going to have to deal with fatherhood. And it will be extremely and completely unexpected, how it all turns out and how it all comes around. But certainly what was set in motion last week will continue to run its course. We come to I think a satisfying season finale for the fans where there may be life outside the dome. And it opens up a whole new set of questions.

As of right now the show hasn’t been renewed for a fourth season, do you think that it can continue after this season’s finale?

Mike Vogel: Oh absolutely, absolutely. That is the intent and people will see that and where it’s going.