Dallas (the next generation)–Season 1, Episode 9

“I’m back honey. And I’m gonna be bigger than ever.” – JR to Sue Ellen

JRWhisky

Previously, on Dallas: Last week the Ewings all pulled together to help John Ross, who was in a spot of bother in prison for a murder he didn’t commit.

  • Vicente from Venezuela had John Ross beaten up; in his country, you don’t wait too long for your oil
  • JR, still planning some fantastically elaborate deception of Cliff Barnes, took time out to lurk over his son’s bedside in a quick cameo
  • Bobby, after agonising to Miss Ellie’s gravestone, decided to allow the drilling on Southfork so that Vicente would release the evidence exonerating John Ross
  • Sue Ellen went at it from a different angle, using her not-yet-Governor position to bribe/blackmail the coroner into saying it was suicide
  • Christopher, shocked at Bobby’s decision to drill, made a sacrifice of his own and offered his methane process to Vicente instead of the oil
  • Satisfied by the sight of a burning ice cube on his table, Vicente released the evidence and John Ross was freed
  • And we discovered that Rebecca’s brother Tommy is still after the methane process. And (gasp!) he’s not her brother after all!

This week, with Vicente presumably on his way back to Venezuela a happy Bond villain, you’d think the Ewings could relax for a bit, and take stock. After all, Tommy’s not much of a threat, is he? But other problems are lurking in the wings, and not all of them are people. The Ewings, however, seem blissfully unaware of this, and decide to relax for a bit, and take stock.

Yessir, it looks like a nice peaceful time on the old Ewing ranch. Sure, there’s still the problem that JR actually owns the place, but he’s been AWOL for so long it doesn’t seem that urgent. Bobby was working on how to rectify that. Christopher took the time to rebond with Rebecca over a shopping trip, coming back with some twin cuddly monkeys for his twin babies. What could possibly spoil such an idyll?

Well, Tommy for a start. Yes, he’s not much of a villain compared to Vicente or JR, but he wasn’t nice to Rebecca, threatening to twist off the cuddly monkeys’ heads if she doesn’t get him Christopher’s lab keycard pronto. But she’s still got that whole conscience thing going on, and even when presented with an opportunity to filch it out of Christopher’s fancy sportscar she couldn’t go through with it. Makes you wonder how she ever made a living as a con artist.

Bobby, bless his optimistic soul, was still trying to reconcile the family – something of a doomed operation, but he’s not giving up even after 33 years. Unfortunately, just as he was metaphorically banging John Ross’ and Christopher’s head together, something finally gave way in his own head and he had a crippling aneurysm. That’s the lesson of Dallas; not only do nice guys finish last, they keep suffering lethal infirmities for their troubles.

It might be a blessing in disguise though, as it provoked yet another round of revelations about the various secrets everyone was keeping. John Ross finally found out about Bobby’s cancer (though that’s cleared up apparently), and was racked with guilt for behaving like a bastard (or JR, anyway) when he found that Bobby had been prepared to drill to save his ass. This led to a round of soul searching on John Ross’ part, including an ill-advised attempt at emoting: “I love my father. But he’s so lost in his own anger and bitterness that there’s no room for anybody else.”

Bobby apparently needs yet another operation, but first the doctor needs to get his blood pressure down. Good luck with that; have you seen what goes on in the Ewing household? As if to make it even worse for poor old Bobby (but better for us) JR was finally back. Having learned of his brother’s various ailments, he was full of contrition. Well, a bit anyway: “OK I admit, I have lapses when I do wrong now and then.”

Ann was less than pleased to see him (would you be, after he’s caused all the plots of this season) and chased him away with threats of shooting in a “vital area, since you have no heart”. Having correctly diagnosed him as a sociopath, she then unwisely left the ranch with him still there.

He wasn’t alone for long though; when Sue Ellen found out he was there she went absolutely ballistic, and we were treated to a classic JR/Sue Ellen showdown just like in the good old days. She slapped him, they shouted at each other, she stormed out, leaving him looking oddly satisfied. That’s probably as close as their relationship ever gets to sex.

Sue Ellen’s got more to worry about than just JR though, as Harris Ryland popped up in a creepy cameo to leer at her political corruptibility. “What sets you apart is your malleability to my needs,” was the line Mitch Pileggi delivered with enough slime to make anyone shudder.

He also taunted her with what looked like the largest glass of wine you can get, but she’s not falling off the wagon – yet. Unfortunately, Ryland’s knowledge of her attempts to bribe/blackmail the coroner, together with his attempt to use her campaign to launder dirty money, have finally persuaded her to give up the gubernatorial race she previously seemed so confident about. Just as well really; after George W Bush and Rick Perry, I doubt any Texan would believe in her “honesty” anyway.

Still taking stock, John Ross and Christopher found a quiet moment to reflect on their fathers’ feud. “Jock, he set ‘em against each other,” opined John Ross; leading both to the idea that they could do better. This involved a wary alliance as “Ewing Energies”, with room enough for John Ross’ love of oil and Christopher’s love of… well, whatever that methane thing is all about.

And JR too was struck with a sudden unexpected bout of decency. Faced with the prospect of his brother’s death, he signed the deed for Southfork back over to Bobby free of charge. “If you die, I get that back,” was his halfhearted attempt to still be a bastard about it.

So now, we’re right back where we started, plotwise – with the added benefit of John Ross turning away from the Dark Side. But there’s still an episode to go. What more can there be to do?

Who’s double crossing who this week?

Well, there’s still Tommy. Ryland might have had his villainy thwarted by Sue Ellen preemptively pulling out of politics, but Tommy was still very keen on getting that methane process. Apparently, he had “one of the richest guys in the world on the hook”. And his contact turned out to be none other than Cliff’s scary “driver” Frank Ashkani. Looks like there might have been a point to JR’s anti-Cliff scheming after all..

This week’s big cliffhanger

Three for the price of one this week, in a montage dramatically soundtracked by Johnny Cash’s apocalyptic When the Man Comes Around. Lou the Lawyer got onto Bobby with the news that fake Marta had a Cloud account full of data that just might incriminate JR in the fraud to buy Southfork. Is Bobby prepared to risk his brother being sent to jail after he’s just been given Southfork back? “Let me know what you find.”

If he can, anyway. After hearing that, and the good news that John Ross and Christopher were burying the hatchet (not in each other’s heads for once), Bobby’s poor overheated brain could take no more of the intense drama and he keeled over with another aneurysm.

Rebecca, for her part, had had enough of Tommy being ineffectually nasty, and popped to the bank to withdraw her gun. As you do. Inevitably, Tommy turned up for a bit more threatening, there was a struggle, and the twin cuddly monkeys were spattered with blood. But whose?

With only one more episode to go, this triumvirate of gasp-making cliffhangers is enough to ensure you’ll be rushing back for next week, to catch the season finale…