‘Dallas’: J.R. Dispenses His Final Pieces of Wit and Wisdom from Beyond the Grave

Larry Hagman in Season 2 of "Dallas" (Skip Bolen/TNT)

I watched the first post-J.R.episode of “Dallas” Monday night with trepidation. Though Larry Hagman was usually only in a few scenes each episode, J.R. was the person viewers tuned in to see.  There was every possibility that the show would crumble without him. It definitely felt like something was missing. But it helped that the other characters were mourning him just like I was. The quest to avenge J.R.’s death and expose his killer gives the season a new dramatic urgency. It’s not the same, but to my relief, “Dallas” was still entertaining and imminently quotable.

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“Ann gets my dove hunting gun, unless she is the reason we’re reading this will.” — J.R.

The episode begins with the reading of  J.R.’s will. Well, technically it begins with Emma (Emma Bell) literally throwing herself at John Ross (Josh Henderson). He can’t resist temptation and shows up late. Everyone silently scolds him, except J.R. who is up in heaven pleased that his son shares his fondness for women with substance abuse problems. J.R.’s will is as hilarious as the man was. He left Bobby (Patrick Duffy) his collection of cowboy boots. Gary (Ted Shackelford) gets his prize bottle of Scotch, which is deliciously mean.  Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) gets a copy of Machiavelli’s The Prince with advice on how to be smart and sneaky. Oh, J.R., Christopher will never be either of those things. Ann gets J.R.’s dove hunting gun with the codicil, “Unless she is the reason we’re reading this will.” Its hilarious how everyone in the family has laughed off Ann shooting her ex-husband in cold blood. J.R. leaves Sue Ellen his heart. Awww. He also gives her half of his oil rights under Southfork. John Ross gets the other 50 percent, and a public acknowledgement that  J.R. was a lousy father.  Then the lawyer opens reads a letter from Miss Ellie! Way to have a character who died decades before this version of the show launched drive story. Well played writers. She writes that she left Southfork to Bobby because J.R. was a lousy rancher. But now John Ross gets half the title of Southfork. Bobby is not pleased about this. He’s the good brother, but he likes all the privileges that come with wearing the white hat.

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“You should have thought of that before you decided to screw me. Well actually, you screwed my cousin.” — Christopher to Alison

Just as J.R. predicted, Cliff (Ken Kercheval) and Harris (Mitch Pileggi)  team up, forming a mini league of elderly supervillains with the common goal of destroying the Ewings. Cliff promises he can get Harris enough money to buy Ryland Transport out from under Judith. Did we know she controlled the purse strings? Harris is a lot less threatening now that he’s a Mama’s boy. Their first goal is to kill Christopher’s deal to supply the city with methane powered vehicles. Hot to trot city employee Allison (Annie Werschling) tells him that Barnes underbid him. But she’s willing to reconsider if Christopher sleeps with her. This blatant sexual harassment storyline  is weirdly progressive when a woman does it to a man. Way to lean in, you crazy red head. Christopher is of course far too moral to prostitute himself.

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Bobby decides that, now that J.R. is dead, it’s time to drill on Southfork. He lectures John Ross about not having the right to whine about being cheated out of his birthright the way J.R. did. He thinks they all have to channel their inner J.R. to beat Barnes. In fact, Find your Inner J.R. would be an amazing self help book. John Ross flirts with Alison, pretending that he  is on Team Oil. They have a hilariously innuendo laden conversation about their shared love of running.  Then he asks her to throw the deal to the oil side of Ewing energies. In return he will help finance her senatorial campaign. Alison is certainly scandalous enough for politics. Then have sex. Two women in one episode, John Ross is basically an attractive Deuce Bigelow. Except that, of course, Bum is photographing their tryst. He tells Christopher “Welcome to the dark side.” Christopher shows Alison the photos and blackmails her, with a trace of J.R.’s snark. Maybe he did read The Prince.

Legion of Elderly Doom

Meanwhile, Harris plans to sabotage the rig. He is also behind Drew transporting stolen goods from Mexico and quite possibly is responsible for whatever happened to Lucy’s face. Emma has yet another personality change and asks Drew out on a wholesome date. When Harris learns they had burgers in the park he seethes and decides to force Drew to plan a bomb in the rig so that he will be able to blackmail him down the road. He may be evil, but he’s one heck of a multi-tasker. Drew has no interest in industrial sabotage, but Harrris’s henchman threatens to kill Elena, Instead of doing the smart thing — telling Bobby, he goes along with it, and builds a bomb that is set to detonate when the city employees are inspecting it. The henchman calls Cliff to inform him that Pamela, who has mended fences with John Ross, is on the rig. Cliff tells him to detonate it anyway. Damn, Cliff is cold. As everyone celebrates the succesful demo the bomb explodes.

“Since you are dead to me, you are no longer family.” — Judith to Harris

Harris refuses to apologize to his mother for telling her that he hates her. She decides to return to London. She is going to freeze his bank accounts and remove him as head of Ryland transport. This all could have been avoided if she hadn’t given birth to a son who was the same age as her. He gives her the soap opera classic accidental near the stairs that results in her falling down several flights. Is she dead? Tune in next week.

“Once a bitch, always a bitch.” — Valene to Sue Ellen

Sue Ellen (Linda Grey) is still drinking like a fish. She cruelly tells Gary she was just flirting with him for the oil rights, but now she doesn’t have to pretend. Gary sees through her, says he cares about her too much to let her throw her life away. So she persuades Valene (Joan VanArk) to come to Dallas in the hope that she will reconcile with Gary. Then she pulls down the shades and pouts herself a drink, toasting her photo of J.R.. Valene thinks Sue Ellen lured her to town just so she could rub it in her face that Gary is into her. Valene vows to prove to Gary that she is a manipulative monster. I could watch a whole episode of them fighting.

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

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