‘Dallas’: J.R. Returns to Drop Some Bittersweet Wisdom

Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing in "Dallas" (TNT)

Guess who’s back, back again? J.R’s back. Tell a friend. After a few episodes of post-taped spliced in scenes while the man, the, myth, and the eyebrows were in Vegas, J.R.(Larry Hagman)  is back where he belongs, in the center of the action, in good old Texas. This week’s episode of “Dallas” traded in most of the scheming and doublecrossing for poignant family drama and it actually worked. They may have billions of dollars and the world’s largest ranch, but deep down the Ewings are a believable dysfunctional family, with ordinary problems like sibling rivalry and parental favoritism. There were still plenty of surprise plot twists: Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo) recruited Tommy (Callard Harris) to help her go after the Ewing fortune, Harris (Mitch Pileggi) is blackmailing Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), Tommy was in league with Cliff Barnes’ henchman Frank, and either Rebecca or Tommy (come on, it was Tommy) ended up dead, their blood spattered artfully on a couple of stuffed monkeys. But it was the vulnerable J.R., who was terrified that Bobby would die and hurt that nobody ever told him that his brother was sick, who was the heart of the episode. The slightly kinder but not at all gentler J.R. has as much to teach us as the magnificent bastard. Read the week’s best quotes carefully, then tell your relatives how much you love them.

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“When dealing with people, I suggest more carrot, less stick.” –  Harris to Sue Ellen

This was not a J.R. scene, but Harris pouring Sue Ellen a glass of wine after telling her that he knows she tried to blackmail the coroner next week was a J.R. move, though if the eyebrows find out he tried to use her alcoholism against her, there will be hell to pay. Apparently, the corrupt coroner told Harris hat happened. Sue Ellen should have stuck to bribing him instead of threatening to expose his drug problem, as Harris pointed out. His attempt to get her to launder money through her PAC was pretty topical. Unfortunately, we never got to find out the name of Sue Ellen’s PAC. The thirteenth step? The First Wives PAC? How Do You Like Me Now, J.R. Inc.?

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“I’ve never kicked an old man’s ass, but today’s as good a day as any.” – John Ross to Bum

John Ross (Josh Henderson)threatening Bum with a beat down to get him to tell J.R. about Bobby was pretty hilarious.Lil’ J.R. is still covered with cuts and bruises from getting jumped in prison. Bum is a sleazy ex-con. The safe money would have been on the geezer with the bad haircut. However, Bum did tell J.R. to get his butt back to Texas, making this John Ross’s only 100 percent effective scheme.

“I own the deed to this ranch and the man in that room is my baby brother. Until those two things change, I’m not going anywhere.” – J.R. to Ann

J.R. returned to Southfork, and seemed surprised that he was not welcomed with open arms. Ann (Brenda Strong) banned him from seeing Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and attempted to kick him off the ranch. J.R. reminded her that he owns the source of all their conflicts, if not the oil beneath it. You’ve got to appreciate his chutzpah at using bis brother’s medical crisis to assert his dominance. And, he was right. hat gives Ann the right to decide who Bobby should see? He’s got a brain annyeurism, but he’s not mentally incompetent.

“You’re confusing emotion with business. This land is finally mine like it should have been all along… Southfork isn’t just a piece of dirt. It’s as much a part of me as my blood and my bones. And I paid a hell of a price for it. I thought you of all people would understand. You better look for a new place to live. I’m too old to have a roommate.” – J.R. to John Ross

This speech was epic. John Ross, having realized that Bobby and Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe)love him enough to sacrifice their own interests to help get him out of jail, asked J.R. to sign over the ranch to Bobby so that Christopher would agree to let him do some magic good for the environment drilling on Southfork. J.R. let him have it, simultaneously accusing his son of having gone soft, and opening up about why he cares so damn much about Southfork. The man could buy 100 ranches, but he once this one because it would mean that he was the chosen son, the one that his parents loved best. Then he proved he was just like his own father Jock by kicking him off the ranch. But was John Ross seriously planning to share a bedroom with has dad, like they were in college? I’m sure Bobby would have let him sleep in one of the guest rooms.

“I spent my entire life missing him, wanting to be with him, wanting to be him. He’s J.R. Ewing. I always thought if I was more like him, then he’d be proud of me, that would be enough. But it isn’t. I love my father but he’s so lost in his own anger and bitterness that there isn’t room for anybody else.” – John Ross to Elena

John Ross proved that he is more than the Diet Coke of J.R. and actually learned and grew from his mistakes. Who among us hasn’t wanted to be J.R. Ewing? Who among us would seriously want to have J.R. for a father for reasons other than the trust fund? He was so inspired that he decided to start an awesome new company with Christopher that would merge Elena’s magic oil drilling technology and Christopher’s earthquake causing natural gas technology. The cycle has been broken! Also, this seems likean appropriate place to ponder whether Exxon actually paid for product placement. Last week, the real oil company tried to buy Christopher’s fake technology. This week, Tommy told Frank that he should pay more for him to steal it because oh my God Exxon! And Christopher and John Ross decided that if it weren’t for J.R. and Bobby’s feud, Ewing Oil would be as big as Exxon. What’s the message here: Exxon would be a green company if the technology existed? Exxon is already responsible for an oil spill in Alaska, so why not earthquakes in China? Exxon: the company that wants to be in business with the teenager that was shagging Gabi on “Desperate Housewives“?

“Well, I’m not gonna stand here and listen to you write your obituary. If you’ve got something to say to me, you say it when they get that thing fixed in your head…. You’re welcome. No need to get emotional. If you die, I’ll get that all back.” – J.R. to Bobby

Ultimately. J.R.’s heart grew three sizes and he decided to sign Southfork over to Bobby. He even told Bobby that he wanted him to live so he could tell J.R. how much he loved him on a regular basis. He just slammed the deed down on the bed, and pretended he wasn’t totally destroyed by the prospect of losing both his brother and his son’s respect. It was 40 years of history summed up in one awesome three minute scene. Of course, as soon as J.R. pointed out that if Bobby didn’t survive the surgery, he’d get everything back, Bobby’s head more or less exploded and he was rushed to the hospital.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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