‘Dallas’: The One Where J.R. and Christopher Switch Personalities

"Dallas" (TNT)

This week, ‘Dallas” tells the story of two cousins. One is a bitter, mean drunk. The other is a stand up guy who will do whatever it takes to help his friends and family. The twist is that this week the good cousin is John Ross (Josh Henderson) and the bad boy is Christopher. This season is turning out to be a study of grief, with the tragic deaths of Christopher and Pamela’s innocent unborn twins contrasting with that of the beyond worldly J.R.’s. In its own way, it’s as brutal and dark as any of the prestige cable dramas. This week in the midst of the melodrama was a pretty powerful emotional punch.

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The episode opens with a musical montage. Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) sadly setting up the nursery she built for the twins, unable to bear the thought that they are gone, is contrasted with Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) packing up the nursery at Southfork, melodramatically smashing the cradle he finished last season into a hundred pieces. I admit to getting a little verklempt.

“Mama gave you half of Southfork. Welcome home, John Ross.” – Bobby

Three weeks later, John Ross (Josh Henderson) phones Pamela. He’s joking about holding onto his man cave even though he is now living at Southfork, but he’s really trying to make her feel better. She claims hr mom is taking care of her. Bobby (Patrick Duffy) gives him a photo of J.R. with a young John Ross that I assume was from the original series. This gesture seems to turn our favorite bad boy into a near-mensch for the rest of the episode.

“My children were murdered and I need to know why.” – Christopher to Bobby and John Ross

Team Ewing prepares to meet with TESHA, the government organization investigating the rig explosion. Bobby points out that Cliff had motivation to sabotage the rig but there is no proof. The  TESHA rep thinks there was a technical glitch. The sensor wasn’t working. Sue Ellen (Linda Grey) reminds him that last week another TESHA rep Mr. Richards said that there were two explosions, indicating a bomb. Now the agency is denying it. They find Ewing Energies liable and issue a 1 billion dollar fine. That is an insane, Exxon Valdez number. Bobby and Christopher both tell the guy he can shove it up his ass. In heaven. J.R. pumps his fist.

At a  bar, a buzzed Christopher confronts Richards who claims he was wrong about the two explosions. Christopher wants to know who told him to shut up.  When a bouncer drags him away, he punches him. Then he accuses Elena of being glad his babies are dead. She slaps him. Christopher is in the rarely mentioned total butthead phrase of the grieving process.

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“You’re going to be here a long time.” – Pamela to John Ross

Christopher suggests to John Ross that they talk to Pamela to see if she can give them information on Cliff. Newly sensitive John Ross points out that it will be a little awkward to tell Pamela that her dad might have murdered her children. John Ross sincerely advises Christopher to take a few days off, before he explodes like a poorly calibrated methane rig,  but Christopher is not having it.

John Ross finds a drained drugged Pamela on the balcony.She admits she sent Afton home. He refuses to leave until he knows she’s okay. “You’re going to be here a long time,” she tells him. He does his best Ryan Gosling impression for a while longer, because he really does care about her.  Then he tells Pamela there’s something she needs to know about the explosion.

Later, Elena assures Christopher the explosion wasn’t his fault. He apologizes for accusing her for dancing on his babies graves. Next he reaches out to Pamela who says John Ross told her the rig was sabotaged and that Chris’s technology was not to blame. She pleads, “Promise me that when you find out who did this, you’ll make them pay.” The kinder, gentler John Ross has, in an attempt to spare her feelings, set Pamela up for even worse pain.

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“When the Ewings unite nothing can stop us. You’re either on our side or you’re among the casualties after we have taken down everyone who has screwed us.I hope you’re on our side.”Sue Ellen  to Mr. Richards

Richards whines to Sue Ellen  about Christopher saying mean things to him. She retorts, “If he strangled you, I’d sit back and watch the show.”  J.R. left Sue Ellen his wit. She builds to a dramatic speech about how going along with the cover up of the explosion has made him Ewing enemy number one.

Richards meets with the other TESHA guy who makes it clear that the organization was always in collusion with Harris. He reminds Richards that he did many shady things in the past that will be exposed if he comes forward. Then he forces him to resign, which would seem to remove a lot of his leverage. TTESHA is not very good at being a villain. Sure enough, Richards mails Sue Ellen documentation that proves Harris was one of the biggest donors to the governor’s campaign which was why he needed her to lose the election, and why the governor now does his bidding. Except Harris was cozying up to Sue Ellen until she refused to be his puppet. So I guess he was working both candidates. Hey, the writers had to restructure the entire season. There are going to be a few continuity glitches.

“There are 20 years of that little girl’s life that you don’t know anything about. I think you should talk to her.” — Sue Ellen to Ann

Harris (Mitch Pileggi) is the big bad, and he’s also completely nuts thanks to his Mama. The Rylands are essentially a Tennessee Williams play. He hands Emma (Emma Bell) a dossier on Drew with his police record. She tells him she already knows about his past. Shouldn’t she be bonding with Ann? Why don’t we see the two of them together given that Ann spent decades searching for her? All Emma cares about is Drew, whom she promptly asks out to spite her father. She may be a drug addicted slut, but her years in Europe seem to have given her very modern ideas about gender roles. Ryland’s henchman spies on them. Drew is late because he is staring at a newspaper headline about the explosion. He feels terrible about his role in the deaths of the twins. She texts him After she texts him aht an old guy is hitting on her, he leaves to join her.  But in his way out the door Ryland and his henchman knock him out and throw him into the the trunk of a car. Then Harris uses Drew’s phone to text Emma: “Can’t make it. Better offer.” You have to hand it to Harris. Not every dad can combine being over protective and making his daughter feel worthless.

Sue Ellen catches Emma flirting the geezer. Ryland shows up and orders her into his car. The old dude hilariously asks if Harris is her husband. Harris tells Emma a creepy story about having her horse euthanized about it kicked her as an analogy for what he did to Drew. Harris tells her she forced him to take action for her own good. “No more looking for trouble, okay?”

Sue Ellen tells Ann (Brenda Strong)  what she saw, adding that she thinks Emma was high. It takes one to know one, Sue Ellen.  She recommends that Ann actually spend some time with the daughter she was so desperate to have back in her life. Thank you, Sue Ellen.

“The Komodo is venomous and its bite is poison. So it bites it’s prey, a buffalo usually, and then he waits. The Komodo is strong but the buffalo is stronger. He can’t take it down at full strength. So the dragon waits while the buffalo gets weaker and weaker.”  – Harris

Bobby shows Team Ewing  J.R. the pieces to the puzzle that is J.R.’s  master plan. Somehow Cliff, Pamela the Original and Harris are connected. J.R. found Cliff’s mother, Rebecca’s will which leaves Cliff, Pamela and their other sibling each a third of Barnes Oil. If they can’t find Pamela: the Victoria Principal Version, a third goes to Christopher because it’s a living trust. Boy is Christopher in a position to get some sweet revenge.

Carlos phones Bobby to inform him that he found the woman J.R. met with in Mexico. She’s a trashy hostess named Rhonda. J.R. was asking  her questions about the narcotrafficers who owned the restaurant where she worked and the American who met with him. She I.D.’s the man as Harris. Bobby wonders if Harris is transporting drugs across the border. i hope they are cleverly hidden inside the women’s shoes he had Drew moving.

Unfortunately, Harris is one step ahead of them. As Harris recites a monologue about Komodo dragons that is so long Hamlet would find it self-indulgent, the state of Texas seizes the Henderson property using eminent domain. Since Southfork isn’t ready to drill, Ewing Energies is effectively shut down, leaving  the company unable to pay the billion dollar fine. Well played, Harris.

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

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