Dallas (the next generation): Season 1, Episode 8

“Turns out we’re not so different after all. We’re both just trying to make our fathers proud” – Christopher Ewing

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Previously, on Dallas: With John Ross banned from drilling on Southfork thanks to a handy document separating the mineral rights from the land rights, things got a little fraught.

  • Vicente from Venezuela, restive at the non-appearance of the oil he was promised, threatened to exercise his right to take Southfork in lieu of payment
  • Christopher learned not only that Rebecca was pregnant and that he was the father, but that she’s actually having twins
  • Dastardly Harris Ryland gave Bobby an envelope detailing Ann’s Dark Past, which he summarily burned without looking at it
  • Marta/Veronica took her stalking of John Ross to new levels by pretending to have kidnapped Elena
  • John Ross had the bright idea of setting Vicente on her, which led to the unfortunate result of her being thrown out of a very high window
  • And the cops turned up at the ranch to arrest John Ross for her murder.

This week, there was more toing and froing about the land/drilling rights to Southfork, and Rebecca moved closer to a reconciliation with Christopher, while Christopher returned to “the lab” to work on his methane drilling thingy. But the most pressing thing on everyone’s minds (including the good guys) was how to get John Ross out of jail. After all, he’s a Ewing – he may be an asshole, but he’s their asshole, and for this family that’s the most important thing.

John Ross has indeed made an unholy mess out of the situation JR left him to deal with – there’s no oil flowing, he’s about to lose Southfork to the Venezuelans and he’s in stir for a murder he didn’t commit. Just when things couldn’t seem to get any worse, Vicente popped in for one of his ‘little chats’.

With JR still taking a back seat this week, Harris Ryland nowhere to be seen and Marta/Veronica dead, it was up to Vicente to be main bad guy this week, and Carlos Bernard seized the opportunity with relish. “Disloyalty is dangerous,” he purred menacingly at the incarcerated John Ross, adding, “pointing fingers in the wrong direction could be hazardous – to you, and to your family.” And, presumably, to your fingers.

John Ross was probably relived at being spared yet another anecdote about what it’s like “in my country”, but any relief was short lived, because Vicente had a couple of thugs beat the crap out of him in a corridor, promising to kill him the next time if the oil wasn’t forthcoming. Like JR, he still has shreds of decency – he could probably get out if he told the truth about his affair with Marta/Veronica, but he doesn’t want to hurt Elena’s feelings. Very thoughtful, but not much use when you’re being repeatedly kicked in the crotch.

With the stakes clearly outlined by John Ross’ wounds, the Ewing clan closed ranks to find ways to help him. Bobby too was menaced by Vicente, but the “nice Ewing” has a core of steel and isn’t intimidated that easily. Nevertheless, he was prepared (after a chat with his mother’s gravestone) to sacrifice his principles and start drilling if it would save John Ross’ life.

Sue Ellen, once more forced to choose between political integrity and her son, made the wrong choice yet again. “The only way I can see to help John Ross is if I cross a line. A big one,” she agonised to Ann. “And if I do that, what does that make me?” “A mother,” said the sympathetic Ann, having stooped to a few dirty tricks herself. But then, Ann’s not standing for Governor of Texas, a competition in which Sue Ellen seems to be taking victory for granted.

After having previously tried to bribe Harris Ryland with an offer of high office (unnecessarily since he’d already done what she wanted), she was at it again, using a mixture of bribery and blackmail to try and force the coroner to rule Marta/Veronica’s death a suicide. This is obviously going to come back to bite her, especially given the platform she’s running on:

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And yet again, she’s ruining her reputation all for naught. It was Christopher who had the answer – placate Vicente with a large ice cube. Yes, the process of “using carbon dioxide to extract methane from hydrates” was valuable enough that Exxon were sniffing around it, so Chris figured Vicente would take it as a replacement for his cherished oil – after a quick demo in the living room that seemed a bit dangerous to me:

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Vicente was impressed enough by a man burning an ice cube on his table to favour him with a “where I come from” anecdote; an actually relevant one this time, as he revealed his bigger plan to seize control of Venezuela’s energy industry from President Chavez. Topical! Also probably bollocks…

Never mind, Vicente was impressed enough with the methane to leave Southfork alone and let the police find the secret camera footage showing that Marta/Veronica was alive when John  Ross left her. Of course, Vicente removed the footage of his own men chucking her out of a window – in his country, that sort of incriminating evidence can get you dancing the joropo in a Chavez prison.

Family matters

The Southfork cemetery gave us the chance to remember Miss Ellie’s second husband, after Jock’s death:

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Clayton Farlow (portrayed by 1950s king of the musicals Howard Keel) was another oilman who was perhaps ill-prepared for the sheer madness incurred when marrying into the Ewings, and for ten years he endured the wrath of JR. Eventually fed up with the dastardly Ewing’s inability to accept a “replacement” for his father, Clayton took Miss Ellie off on a big trip and then returned without her, giving a less than convincing explanation that she was fed up of dealing with all the Ewing conflict. This is the first time we’ve found out when she actually died.

Who’s double crossing who this week?

In yet another all too brief appearance, JR was shown to still be carrying on his arcane schemes to screw over Cliff Barnes by using his henchman Frank to betray him. Even JR seems to realise that this isn’t really going anywhere, as he hotfooted it back to his Dallas to lurk, crestfallen, over his stricken son’s bedside. Now that would be a scary vision to wake up to.

Elsewhere in the family, Rebecca might be mending fences with Christopher, but her stubbly, shifty brother Tommy was having none of it. He’d heard about Exxon’s interest in Christopher’s methane drilling whatsit, and with billions at stake, he’s not about to let Rebecca’s conscience and pregnancy get in the way of his hirsute evil.

This week’s big cliffhanger

And just to hammer the point home, Tommy grabbed an unwilling Rebecca and gave her a big sloppy kiss. But any worries about Luke/Leia incest shenanigans were quickly put to rest when he sneeringly revealed that (gasp!) he’s not her brother after all!

Another satisfyingly bonkers episode, with Vicente stepping up well as main bad guy – it’s just a shame that he’s presumably now satisfied with the methane doobry, as he’s unlikely to take much more part in the proceedings. But with only two more episodes to go, surely it’s time for JR to return from his extended vacation taunting Cliff Barnes and take back the crown as king of the Dallas baddies….