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DALLAS versus KNOTS LANDING versus the rest of them week by week

Discussion in 'Dallas - The Original Series' started by James from London, Sep 18, 2016.

  1. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Winner EXP: 18 Years

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    25 Jul 12: DALLAS: No Good Deed v. 25 Feb 15: EMPIRE: The Lyon's Roar v. 29 Nov 15: BLOOD AND OIL: Rats, Bugs and Moles v. 06 Dec 17: DYNASTY: The Best Things in Life

    With the end of their first seasons in sight, there’s an exciting sense of events building towards a climax on DALLAS, EMPIRE and BLOOD AND OIL. DYNASTY, which isn’t even halfway through its first season yet, may not share the same sense of urgency (this week’s episode finds time for an archly ironic subplot in which Blake and Fallon compete to give their business clients the most outrageously extravagant Christmas gifts), but some of its scenes carry a surprising amount of bite. It’s a really strong week all round. Semi-forgotten story threads — such as Andre and Rhonda’s open marriage and Lucious’s “Come out and you’re on your own” ultimatum to Jamal on EMPIRE, plus Anders’ knowledge of Cristal’s true identity and the fatal accident Steven unwittingly caused while working for Carrington Atlantic on DYNASTY — resurface with satisfyingly dramatic results.

    One way or another, prisons loom large this week. Following Fake Marta’s death, John Ross is behind bars on DALLAS (“I have hired the best criminal defence attorney in the country,” his mother assures him) and the scene where he is savagely beaten by some Scary Venezuelan inmates is Soap Land at its most violent and gritty. At the other end of the scale, the final scene of BLOOD AND OIL sees Hap Briggs’ wife Carla, clad in a slinky party dress, led away in handcuffs having been arrested “for bribery of a public official, trading in influence and violation of the RICO Act.” EMPIRE, meanwhile, begins and ends with Cookie flashing back to her past life as a prisoner. In the opening scene, we see her at the start of her seventeen-year sentence saying goodbye to her three kids, all of whom are too young to understand what’s happening. At the end of the ep, we see her alone in her cell, singing quietly to comfort herself. It’s an effective way of grounding the character; however outlandish Cookie’s behaviour may get in the present, it’s always tethered to what's happened in her past. There’s a similar juxtaposition on DYNASTY between Cristal’s glamorous present and her grim past when she flashes back to a time when she was barefoot, pregnant and living with her sister Iris, whom she can hear being beaten by her boyfriend (another Scary Venezuelan) in the next room.

    John Ross is hospitalised following his beating and Sue Ellen is left with a moral conundrum. “For the past twenty years,” she tells Ann, “I’ve tried to walk this side of right, but the only way I can see for me to help John Ross is if I cross a line, a big one, and if I do that, what does that make me?” “A mother,” Ann replies. John Ross is not the only murder suspect lying unconscious in a hospital bed — BLOOD AND OIL’s Garry is too. He regained consciousness last week, just long enough to mumble Billy LeFever’s name. Before he can wake up again and say anything else, Billy pays a visit to his bedside where it looks like he’s about to switch off Garry’s life support thingy — but then he’s interrupted by the ever-suspicious Sheriff Tip.

    Down the corridor in the DALLAS wing of Soap Land Memorial Hospital, John Ross also receives an unscheduled visitor. This one, however, is shrouded in mystery. First, we see a pair of cowboy boots, followed by a door swinging open, then a glimpse of a darkened figure, before the silhouette of a Stetson against a hospital curtain pretty much gives the game away — yep, instead of the C21st equivalent of Katherine Wentworth or Pamela Lynch or even Mary Frances Sumner’s boyfriend wielding a fatal syringe, it’s JR. He looks down at his sleeping son, a concerned expression on his face, before reaching out and touching his hair.

    While Sue Ellen contemplates crossing over to the dark side and B&O good guy Billy comes dangerously close to committing murder, it transpires that Soap Land’s bad guys have their limits — or at least, some of them do. When a bruised and battered John Ross regains consciousness, he refuses to point the finger at Vicente for killing Fake Marta for fear of endangering the rest of the Ewings. “These people are dangerous, Christopher,” he tells his cousin. “I’ve already put our family through enough … If I wasn’t so damn desperate to drill that oil, to measure up to JR —” Hap Briggs likewise exhibits some unexpected family loyalty when Carla suggests pinning the blame for the stolen report on one of his children. “I already have one ex-wife,” he reminds her. “If you ever even think about throwing my kids under the bus again, you’ll be the second.” But Carla will not be stopped. “When it comes to protecting Briggs Oil, I can and will do whatever it takes,” she vows. And that is what leads to her arrest at the end of the ep.

    Whereas John Ross refuses to drag his daddy down with him (“This is my mess to clean up, not JR’s”), DYNASTY’s Steven, EMPIRE’s Andre and B&O’s Wick all continue to plot behind their respective father’s backs. Meanwhile, Sue Ellen finally crosses that line she was so worried about to help her son. It’s fair to say none of these schemes goes according to plan.

    On EMPIRE, Andre puts himself forward to become the interim CEO of the company, which means he would automatically assume control should Lucious becomes incapacitated. “And if I’m the temporary CEO, it shouldn’t be too hard to go from temporary to permanent,” he reasons. B&O’s Wick, meanwhile, still eager to pay his father back for sleeping with his girlfriend, agrees to wear a wireless transmitter for the FBI. “Get your father talking about how he illegally acquired the USGS report and we’ll have enough evidence to put him away for twenty-five years,” they assure him.

    DALLAS, BLOOD AND OIL and DYNASTY all feature a black law enforcer who is only too willing to assist his respective show’s richest (and whitest) characters. While it might be unfair to describe DALLAS’s Sheriff Derrick as the Ewings’ pocket cop — there has been no indication thus far that he is in any way crooked — he nonetheless makes special visits to Southfork to keep Bobby abreast of John Ross’s case and agrees without question to Christopher’s request to run a background check on Rebecca. Like Derrick, BLOOD AND OIL’s Sheriff Tip seemed pretty much incorruptible back when the series began, but since then his buddy-buddy friendship with Hap Briggs has made him appear increasingly suspect. This week, he goes so far as to slip Hap the following titbit: “One of my deputies overheard the federal agent on the phone and it was crystal clear — the informant is in Hap Briggs’ executive ranks … I’m telling you this because we’re friends.” Hap subsequently has all his employees, including kin, searched for some kind of surveillance device, Wick only manages to escape detection by the skin of his teeth. The prize for Soap Land’s most corrupt cop, meanwhile, goes to Police Chief Stansfield on DYNASTY.

    When Steven was arrested for Matthew Blaisdel’s murder at the beginning of the season, he didn’t undergo anywhere near the kind of ordeal John Ross has since Fake Marta’s death. (In fact, he was out on bail so fast we never even saw him behind bars.) He makes up for that this week when his investigation into Stansfield results in him being apprehended by some heavies who place a hood over his head and bundle him into the back of a truck. The real shocker comes when the hood is removed and Steven comes face to face with his abductor — his own father. “How else am I supposed to get you to understand who serious this is?” Blake asks him. “Next time it is going to be Stansfield … I know what he’s capable of and I know he can get away with it … If you care about this family, you will leave this alone.” This gives Steven something else in common with John Ross — both have awakened an enemy that now endangers their entire family. But whereas John Ross has been scared into silence, Steven is more determined than ever to nail Stansfield. “I’ve never seen my father the way he was last night,” he later confides to Jeff. “He was scared. That tells me he’s lost control of Stansfield.”

    To become Empire’s interim CEO, Andre needs to win a board member over to his side and decides that Janet Blakely, an attractive former model, is his best shot. “Guess what she likes even more than Mr Blakely?” he asks wife Rhonda. “Girls — blondes in particular. If only I knew someone who could entice her to vote for me. Know any hot blondes who like to use sex for power?” Rhonda, who is, of course, a hot blonde, takes the hint and is happy to help. Even when she and Andre are en route to dinner with the Blakelys and he tells her there has been “a slight change in strategy” and it is now Mr Blakely who wants to sleep with her, she remains unfazed. That’s before they get to the Blakely apartment and she realises sees he’s a fat old man in a wheelchair.

    There’s more pimping on BLOOD AND OIL. Now that Sheriff Tip’s tip-off has rendered Wick’s transmitter useless, the Feds come up with an alternative device — an exact replica of Hap’s phone, only with a listening device inside of it. They task Wick with the job of swapping the duplicate phone for the real one, but how can he get close enough without alerting his father’s suspicions? Enter Jules, who has just discovered Hap’s had another woman on the go all along. “I can see now what a bastard he is,” she tells Wick, insisting that it’s now him (Wick) she loves and Hap she hates. “What if I told you there was a way to get back at him?” Wick asks her. And so it is that Jules, eager to prove her allegiance to Wick, agrees to have sex with Hap one last time, in order to switch the phones. After she’s done the dirty deed, however, Wick rejects her anyway. “I love you,” she insists. “Last week you loved Hap,” he reminds her, “and today you made it possible to put him in federal prison. That’s a hell of a way to love someone, isn’t it, Jules? I think I’ll get out while I can.” Jules subsequently gets drunk before taking an overdose of pills.

    Back on EMPIRE, Rhonda likewise hits the bottle when faced with the prospect of sleeping with a disabled old man. When Mr Blakely casually mentions over dinner that Stephen Hawking can still get an erection (“There are some men that can’t be held back, even by a wheelchair”), she promptly throws up over the table, thereby bringing the evening to an abrupt end. On the drive home, she tells Andre she’s had enough of their extra-marital games. “Maybe you could just be a man and not turn your wife into a geriatric whore,” she suggests, “because I am so over it.”

    In the event, all of Andre’s scheming comes to nought when Lucious vetos him as interim CEO and accuses him of “campaigning behind my back.” Over on DALLAS, Sue Ellen’s scheme also backfires. First of all, she pays a visit to the coroner presiding over Fake Marta’s autopsy and, using a combination of bribery (“I’m going to be the next Governor of Texas — you could be the next Chief Medical Examiner”) and blackmail (“You have been writing more prescriptions than Michael Jackson’s doctor — which is odd since all of your patients are dead”), strong-arms him into ruling Fake Marta’s death a suicide. But then, having sacrificed her integrity, broken the law and jeopardised her political future, she realises she needn’t have bothered as the charges against John Ross have been dropped anyway. To muddy the waters still further, she learns from the medical examiner that Fake Marta didn't commit suicide: “The victim had defensive wounds. Since your son is innocent, that means I just let the real killer walk.” “… No-one has to know about this,” she insists, that moral line she crossed now a long way in the distance.

    Fake Marta’s isn’t the only death to have been falsely ruled a suicide in recent weeks. A few episodes ago, Matthew Blaisdel’s friend Willy was found dead from a seemingly self-inflicted gunshot wound alongside a suicide note confessing to Matthew’s murder. But now that Claudia has admitted to killing Matthew, Steven tells Jeff that he’s pretty certain Stansfield bumped off Willy himself “and made it look like a suicide ... to keep suspicion off me and my dad … Stansfield went rogue.”

    So, while Wick bugs his father’s phone on B&O, Steven bugs the fountain pen on his father’s study desk before summoning Stansfield in for a meeting. He raises the subject of Willy’s “suicide," but Stansfield is too wily to incriminate himself. “I don’t know anything about that,” he says, “but it does remind me of another coverup … to do with an oil rig worker who died in the field. Nothing too unusual except the faulty rig had just been inspected, signed off on by some inexperienced, unqualified kid... The guy fell and snapped his neck and died instantly. Now luckily for Carrington Atlantic, the idiotic inspector was the boss’s son … His daddy paid his best field engineer Blaisdel to bury the truth — all so you could keep living in your sanctimonious bubble.” So, instead of Steven incriminating Stansfield on tape, Stansfield has just done the same thing to Steven. And so another fine plan bites the dust.

    As Steven reels from the discovery that he is responsible for one death, B&O’s Cody LeFever is shocked to learn of her husband’s participation in another. Moreover, she hears about it from the dead man himself. Having received word that Garry has regained consciousness, she rushes to Soap Land Memorial to ask him why he spoke her husband’s name in last week’s ep. “They chased me off a cliff,” he replies, referring to Billy and Wick. “I was bleeding. I begged for help, for mercy … He just walked away and left me for dead.” These turn out to be Garry’s last words before he finally dies of his injuries. Cody reacts the way many previous Soap Land wives have upon realising that the Mr Perfect they married has feet of clay: she packs a suitcase, tells her husband she doesn’t know who he is anymore and walks out the door while muttering something about needing time to think. Back on DYNASTY, Steven deals with his bombshell altogether more decadently — by snorting lines of cocaine as he arranges to hook up with his junkie ex, Ted Dinard, in New York.

    It’s at a party to celebrate the thirty-fifth anniversary of Briggs Oil that Wick’s plan to bring down his father goes wrong. Persuaded by his daughter to cut loose on the dance floor, Hap removes the jacket containing his all-important phone and it ends up in the study. And so the phone records Carla, rather than Hap, discussing the illegal deal they made with a crooked politician, which is why she’s the one who ends up in handcuffs.

    It’s also party time on EMPIRE and DYNASTY. (There again, when is it not party time on EMPIRE and DYNASTY? Scarcely an episode of either goes by without some kind of glitzy gathering.) This week, it’s the White Ball on EMPIRE and the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony on DYNASTY. As ever, Soap Land gatherings are an opportunity for female characters to dress glamorously while exchanging catty remarks. At the Ball, Cookie has her first encounter with Hakeem’s older girlfriend (Naomi Campbell) whom she immediately identifies as “a cougar bitch who’s clearly taking advantage of his mommy issues … You need to stay your tired ass away from my son.” (As if Naomi Campbell’s ass has ever been even remotely fatigued.) On B&O, Carla also plays the age card when Hap’s first wife Annie shows up to celebrate the company she claims to have started: “I never forget an anniversary.” “I’m happy to see that your advanced age hasn’t caused memory loss,” replies Carla sweetly. Both bitchy exchanges end with an oral sex gag (no pun intended). “Don’t mess with me, Cookie — I’m not one of your jailbird mates, OK?” warns Naomi. “I wish you were,” Cookie purrs in reply. “You probably would have made a good bitch for me — you look like you got a long tongue.” This makes Annie’s putdown to Carla — “I got into the oil business on my own two feet, not on my knees” — sound positively demure by comparison. Meanwhile, at the Christmas tree ceremony, Fallon performs DYNASTY’s stunt of the week by locking a naked Michael and Kori on the roof of the city library.

    Elsewhere at the White Ball, Lucious delivers an uplifting speech to Jamal about their family legacy (“You gotta remember why God put us on this planet, Mal — regardless of how we fight or how we feel about each other or try to hurt each other — the music, man. The music, that’s forever … Tell your truth in the music”) which has the unintended effect of inspiring Jamal to use music to publicly come out there and then. He takes to the stage and alters the gender pronouns of one of his father’s best-loved numbers to get his message across. ”It’s the kind of song that makes a man love a man,” he sings. Sure enough, the performance makes headlines. “He came out,” Cookie shrugs. “The world is still spinning, Lucious. No-one cares that he’s gay.” “But I do. I care so much,” Lucious insists, his voice trembling. “This is not a family, it’s a disgrace!” Bobby Ewing expresses a similar sentiment on a visit to his mama’s grave. “Our family is as fractured and dysfunctional as always,” he sighs. (Bizarre but touching: we now have scenes of both Bobby and Miss Ellie delivering soliloquies at each other’s gravesides.)

    Despite the influx of non-caucasian faces in C21st Soap Land, there hasn’t been any sense of the shows “tackling” race as an “issue”. Happily, we’re kind of beyond that now. But neither does Soap Land ignore the subject the way it mostly did in the ‘80s. Rather, conventionally soapy storylines — father/son issues, corrupt cops — are informed by the characters’ racial identities, thus adding another layer to them. On EMPIRE, for instance, Jamal starts dating Ryan, a filmmaker, who is also black (as well as Australian). They discuss the difficulties of coming out to their fathers. “The joys of being the son of a black man,” says Ryan ironically.

    On DYNASTY, Jeff Colby’s contempt for Stansfield being Blake’s pocket cop is all the more significant because they are both black. “Clearly you’ve forgotten the value of your freedom or you wouldn’t have taken a gig as an errand boy for some corrupt and unremarkable white man,” says Jeff. “We can’t all be overnight billionaires,” Stansfield sneers. “Before I was rich,” Jeff replies, “I was just a kid who looked up to you. I’d see you on the news, taking down bad guys, taking care of people. My daddy couldn’t get it together, but you showed me it was possible to in a world where we have to work twice as hard to get half as far.”

    Things get really complex in a blistering showdown between Lucious and Andre on EMPIRE. “I voted against you because I can’t trust you,” Lucious informs his son. “The moment you brought that white woman into my house, I knew then I couldn’t trust you. I knew then that you didn’t want to be a part of my family.” “… You know why my family hates me?” Andre snaps back. “Because I’m not talented — not the way you want, right? Because I studied in school and got good grades and went to college. You hate me because I want to be accepted.” “And they will NEVER accept you!” Lucious shouts. “They will accept your money, Dre, but they will never accept your black ass and I don’t give a damn how many white women you marry, they will NEVER accept you!” In part, Andre is following in the classic Soap Land tradition of Adam Carrington, Richard Channing, JR Ewing and now John Ross — no matter how hard he works or how frantically he schemes, he can never fully win his father’s approval. But the racial aspect adds a fascinating extra dimension: Andre needs to succeed in the “white” business world because there is no real place for him in his own (black) family as he has no musical ability. An unexpected link later arises between Lucious’s relationship with Andre (“The moment you brought that white woman into my house, I knew then I couldn’t trust you”) and the one between Blake Carrington and his as-yet-unseen daddy Tom. “My own father didn’t come to our wedding because he didn’t approve of her pedigree,” admits Blake to Anders during a discussion about Cristal.

    Like Steven on DYNASTY (doing coke) and Jules on BLOOD AND OIL (overdosing on pills), Andre on B&O also winds up pounding on the self destruct button. In a really powerful scene, we find him sitting alone in the same recording booth where he’d watched the rest of his family singing together earlier in the episode. He puts a gun to his head and pulls the trigger. When the chamber proves to be empty, he howls in despair.

    Amidst all the deceit and the self-destruction, there are a couple of genuinely touching reconciliations this week. “Why’d you do it — after everything I’ve done?” asks John Ross after learning that Christopher exchanged his precious methane whatnot with Vicente for evidence that would prove him (John Ross) innocent of murder. “I realised … we’re not so different after all,” Christopher replies. “We’re both just trying to make our fathers proud.” They shake hands. It’s a simple enough exchange yet oddly moving in a way equivalent reconciliation scenes between JR and Bobby on the old series never were (and probably weren’t intended to be). It’s hard to pinpoint the difference exactly — except to say that it’s as if everyone on New DALLAS has had a layer of skin removed; they’re all that bit more sensitive, that bit more vulnerable. Everything matters. Meanwhile, at the start of this week’s EMPIRE, Hakeem and Andre agree to put their differences aside in light of their father’s illness (“Look, we just gotta do whatever it is to make Dad happy”), only to soon start squabbling again. However, towards the end of the episode, there is a surprisingly sweet scene where the normally spoilt and self-involved Hakeem visits Jamal after the latter has come out. “I came, brother to brother, to tell you how proud I am of you … It’s the bravest thing I’ve seen in my life,” he tells him, and Jamal rewards him with a big old hug.

    There’s yet more reconciliation in the air towards the end of DALLAS as Christopher’s attitude towards Rebecca starts to soften. “I’m so tired of being angry … I wanna let it go, Rebecca,” he admits, “but I’m not sure I can. I need to know there’s nothing else you’re not telling me. I need to be sure there are no more secrets.” “There aren’t,” she insists — thereby setting us up for a great final scene where she receives a visit from her gold-digging brother Tommy whom she thought she’d gotten rid of. He’s still after Christopher’s methane extraction thingy: “The technology’s worth billions!” When Rebecca tries to argue with him, he kisses her full on the mouth, causing our minds to reel for the few seconds it takes for him to come up for air and deliver his next line: “Man, are you so deep in this lie that you still think we’re brother and sister?” (It’s a suspended moment similar to the one on Old DALLAS when Clayton admitted to Ray and Donna that Jessica was Dusty’s mother a full five seconds before adding that he wasn’t his father.) While we’re still wrapping our heads around the idea that Tommy and Rebecca aren’t siblings after all, he gives her an ultimatum: “If you don’t steal me that technology, I’m gonna tell Christopher everything!”

    Rebecca isn’t the only character caught between a rock and a hard place. Lucious is torn between the two women in his life, his ex-wife and his fiancee. “You want Cookie’s nookie? Ditch the bitch,” says the former. “Marry me tomorrow,” instructs the latter. Lucious being Lucious, he agrees to both demands. Meanwhile, the Scary Venezuelans on DYNASTY track Cristal down and demand $30,000. She turns to Anders for help, which leads in turn to another reconciliation. “It is my duty to protect this family, including those that I can no longer pretend aren’t part of the family,” he declares, before helping her pay off the bad guys. However, their truce comes to an abrupt end when he discovers that she has been taking an IUD behind Blake’s back (which calls to mind Original Monica’s quip about Sable: “Mother is so straight she once thought the IUD was a federal agency”). This time, Anders refuses to keep the truth from Blake. “I will protect the secrets of your past but I won’t lie if it affects his future,” he tells Cristal.

    Flattery of the week: In the opening scene of EMPIRE, Cookie tells Lucious he is “still the only man I’ve ever been with.” “I’ve been with a whole lot of women, Cookie,” he replies, “but I was always looking for you in them.” Jeff similarly compliments Fallon on DYNASTY when she asks about the woman he spent Thanksgiving with: “I was with someone and she was hot — but she wasn’t you.” (The reality is she wasn’t anybody — she’s a lie he made up to conceal the fact that he was actually visiting his father in prison.)

    And this week’s Top 4 are …

    1 (1) DALLAS
    2 (2) EMPIRE
    3 (3) BLOOD AND OIL
    4 (4) DYNASTY
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2020
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  2. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 18 Years

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    That was a biggie, James!
    I am very intrigued by EMPIRE's André, he seems like a great schemer with issues.
    I really liked Carla, she didn't have a fixed position in the story. Sort of an anti-Donna Krebbs, with a touch of Hillary Clinton.
     
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  3. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Winner EXP: 18 Years

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    I know! I thought I was gonna be writing it for the rest of my life.

    Yeah, I think he's the most interesting character on that show.
     
  4. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Winner EXP: 18 Years

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    01 Aug 12: DALLAS: Family Business v. 04 Mar 15: EMPIRE: Unto the Breach v. 06 Dec 15: BLOOD AND OIL: The Art of the Deal v. 13 Dec 17: DYNASTY: Rotten Things

    DALLAS and BLOOD AND OIL began the season with the same conundrum: what do you do when you discover a huge untapped oil reserve under a piece of land that cannot be drilled (Southfork on DALLAS, the Black Elk Indian reservation on B&O)? Nine episodes later, both shows come up with the same answer: you slant-drill it from an adjacent property. “We can drill from the Henderson rig, down and under the ranch,” Elena explains, showing Bobby a map of what she is proposing. “This is a way to get the oil without having to go against what you promised Miss Ellie,” adds John Ross. A similar map is produced on BLOOD AND OIL. “We siphon out their oil with our straw from our land,” Hap Briggs explains. “The land remains pristine and we all get rich,” adds Carla.

    Bobby’s meeting with Elena and John Ross is interrupted when he suffers an aneurysm which may or may not be related to the treatment he’s been receiving for his cancer. The episode takes an unexpected interest in the impact this has on John Ross who didn’t know anything about his uncle’s illness before now. “Why didn’t anyone tell me? Why didn’t you tell me?” he asks Elena. “Bobby asked me not to,” she admits. “He thought … you and JR would use it against him to get Southfork.” John Ross’s first response is to pin Bum against a wall and order him to find JR: “Tell him his brother’s dying.”

    Slant-drilling might sound like the best solution for both the Ewings and the Briggs, but in each case, there is a complication. Christopher is angry when he learns that his cousin is still intent on getting his hands on Southfork oil, but agrees not to oppose the operation on one condition: that John Ross persuades JR to sign the deed to the ranch back to Bobby. “It’s about giving my father some peace of mind,“ he explains. “You keep saying you wanna fix the damage you’ve done. I know you love your father, but your whole life, my father was there for you when JR wasn’t. The John Ross that I used to know loved my father and if any of that person is still inside of you, you’ll do whatever it takes to get Southfork back for him.” This brief speech conjures up several conflicting elements of the DALLAS saga: the richly complicated relationship which exists between the cousins in the present, the more innocent Omri Katz and Joshua Harris versions who grew up together in the original series, and a slightly reconfigured (and more poignant) backstory in which JR was an absentee father to John Ross. It’s a heady mix.

    Meanwhile, the complicating factor on BLOOD AND OIL is that Hap is not the only one who owns a parcel of land adjacent to the Indian reservation — his ex-wife Annie and Billy LeFever do too, which means they are also in a position to slant-drill for the oil. So the race is on to get the rights from the Indians. “All we have to do is persuade the chief …” begins Carla in one scene; “… that we are the only partners that can drill that oil,” continues Annie in another.

    Having learned of Bobby’s illness, JR returns home, but refuses to consider the idea of “signing Southfork over to anybody … This land is finally mine like it should have been all along!” he barks at John Ross.

    “I’ve spent my entire life missing him, wanting to be with him, wanting to be him … I always thought if I was more like him that 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 there’s no room for anybody else.” John Ross’s movingly delivered account of growing up with and without JR is mirrored by both Andre’s despair as he talks to his brothers about their dad on EMPIRE (“He’ll never see me, man, not like he sees you. No matter what I do, he’ll never see me — God!”) and Sam’s description of his upbringing on DYNASTY (“I grew up feeling completely worthless, thinking why should anybody care about me if my dad didn’t?”).

    There was a very touching moment in the opening episode of New DALLAS where Bobby, visiting JR in the nursing home, gently kissed him on the forehead and told him he loved him. This wasn’t exactly news — we’ve known since early on in DALLAS’s original run that, despite all their differences, Bobby cares about his brother deep down. However, I’m not sure I’d truly felt it until that scene. And I've never felt it more strongly than in this episode when Bobby, weary and in pain, says to his brother, matter-of-factly, without sentiment, “JR, I love you. No matter what.” It’s as moving as anything in DALLAS history, including Swan Song.

    John Ross’s describing JR as “lost in his own anger and bitterness” and Sue Ellen reminding him that “the depression that put you into that nursing home happened because all you really cared about was you being on top, and when it all fell apart, you realised you had nothing” recall the suicidal JR at the end of the original series, but in richer, more interesting terms than he appeared at the time. “Well, I’m back, honey, and I’m gonna be bigger than ever!” JR insists, turning on the old bravado. “And you still have nothing,” replies Sue Ellen sadly. Somehow it’s all so poignant, so moving. The actors — Hagman, Henderson, Gray and especially Duffy — are as good, if not better, in this episode than they ever have been. They imbue their characters with more than what’s in the script: a sense of history, an awareness of their own mortality, a humanity. As wonderfully soapy as Bobby, JR, John Ross and Sue Ellen have always been, for the first time they truly feel like real people.

    This shift is neatly symbolised by the framed photo that catches JR’s attention as he sits behind the desk in the Southfork study for the first time. It’s a picture of himself and Bobby in younger days — or to be more accurate, it’s a snap of Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy on what appears to be a real-life fishing trip. They look happy and relaxed together in a way we’ve never really seen on screen before: Duffy displays his catch with one hand and gives a thumbs up with the other while Hagman has an arm around his shoulder. They look less like stylised soap characters and more like regular human beings. There’s an equivalent moment in Burden of Proof, the Season 4 episode of KNOTS LANDING where Richard Avery leaves the cul-de-sac for good. At one point, the camera lingers on a framed picture of him holding a baby. It’s meant to be his screen son Jason, but it can’t be — the child is younger than Jason was when KNOTS started. Presumably, it’s the actor with his own son. This KNOTSian blurring of the real and the fictional is very potent. In the same way, when Bobby says to JR, “Nobody lives forever”, one is reminded of Larry Hagman’s real-life health issues as much as Bobby’s fictional ones.

    The opening scene of EMPIRE is great and recalls some familiar scenarios from Soap Land’s past. Lucious and Anika meet with their wedding planner to discuss their outrageously lavish big day (“More doves, more champagne, more everything!”), even though we know that Anika is secretly planning some kind of revenge on Lucious for cheating on her with Cookie. (Shades of Abby Ewing going ahead with her wedding to Charles Scott even after learning of his scheme to defraud her.) Then in barges Cookie, accompanied by faithful lieutenant Porsha, who informs Lucious that Anika has joined forces with his arch-nemesis: “She working with Beretti … Yeah, while you up here planning weddings, this bitch planning how to steal everything you got!” She and Porsha then march upstairs and proceed to toss Anika’s clothes over the balcony. Cookie’s “Get these damn ugly ass debutante clothes outta here!” is her version of Alexis Colby’s “Take this junk and your blonde tramp and get out of my home!” Following on from all this fun soapy stuff is a really good, emotional argument between Anika and Lucious. “This is not even me!” Anika yells tearfully as if insisting she is not by nature a two-dimensional Soap Land schemer. “I am not a treacherous person, Lucious, but you — you — you have twisted my love and made it some awful thing!”

    Another cheated on mistress strikes back on BLOOD AND OIL as Jules makes a super quick recovery from her overdose to fill Hap in on his son’s duplicity (“Wick knows about us … which is why he asked me to bug you for the Feds”) before cutting her ties with both Briggs men: “The two of you can take your manipulative arses and … go to hell.” This puts Anika and Wick in similar positions. Both have secretly plotted revenge against the man who betrayed them (her fiancee, his father) and both are found out this week. For their part, Lucious and Hap each behave as if they were the injured party. “Are you playing me?” a wounded sounding Lucious asks Anika. “What kind of son did I raise that betrays his father?” an indignant Hap asks Wick. “You are accusing me of betrayal, after all those women, all those lies and now her?!” replies Anika, pointing towards Cookie. “You were sleeping with my girlfriend!” shouts Wick at Hap. “I wanted to make you pay for all the times you made me feel like crap. I wanted to see you rot in jail.”

    Wick’s warning to his father (“You are an old man, Hap … At some point you’re gonna look back on your life and the only thing you’re gonna see is oil, the only thing you love and maybe the only thing that loves you back”) mirrors Sue Ellen’s words to JR: “All you really cared about was you being on top and when it all fell apart, you realised you had nothing … You still have nothing.”

    While this week’s DALLAS, EMPIRE and BLOOD AND OIL mostly consist of in-fighting amongst their existing characters, DYNASTY adds no less than four long-lost relatives to the mix: Cristal’s sister Iris (a grumpy gold digger), Blake’s father Tom (a fun bigot), Jeff and Monica’s father Cecil (a prison inmate) and Sam’s father Alejandro (who, despite being stabbed to death by Cristal in a flashback, shows up alive and well and calling himself Diego Calastana at the end of the ep: “Blake Carrington, what a pleasure it is to meet you — I’ve been looking forward to this for quite some time.”)

    In the opening episodes of New DALLAS and New DYNASTY, Christopher Ewing and Blake Carrington married Rebecca Sutter and Cristal Jennings respectively, neither realising that his new bride was lying about her identity. Since then, both women have come clean — up to a point. There’s still more to tell and Rebecca’s phony brother Tommy and Cristal’s scheming sister Iris are threatening to spill the rest of the beans to their respective husbands. “The plans to Christopher’s rig or I put a bullet in your little fairytale,” snarls Tommy. “If I tell your husband what really happened, who do you think will be on a flight out of Atlanta?” threatens Iris.

    There are three physical altercations between Soap Land siblings this week: brother versus brother versus brother on EMPIRE, sister versus sister on DYNASTY and brother versus sister on DALLAS. And there is a musical component to all three.

    We’ve never seen the three Lyon brothers alone together until this week. Following Anika’s defection, the family and the company are in crisis mode (“We at war!”) with everyone focused on either signing new clients or keeping existing ones from jumping ship. Alas, eldest son Andre has chosen this very week to stop taking his bipolar medication and is acting more irrationally than ever. When Hakeem questions his manic behaviour, he starts teasing him. Then Jamal teases Andre in return, only for Andre takes it the wrong way and before you know it, all three brothers are slamming each other up against walls. Oh, and did I mention this entire fight scene takes place in an elevator? All of a sudden, they get stuck between floors. Whereas the equivalent scenario involving Bobby and JR on old DALLAS was just a random occurrence, this time the elevator breakdown is part of the bigger storyline. (“The elevator’s not a malfunction,” reports the security chief. “We’re being hacked from the eighteenth floor — elevators, phones, internet.”) During the DALLAS stuck-in-an-elevator episode, JR flashed back to a conversation with Bobby from the beginning of the series where he pointed out that as the eldest son, he’d borne the brunt of their father’s disciplinarian approach to parenthood (“While you were out there sowing your wild oats … I was here, busting my butt under our father. And let me tell you, he’s not an easy man to work for”). Here, Andre makes the same point to Jamal and Hakeem, but in a far less cool and collected way than JR did. “You got no idea!” he screams in their faces. “You weren’t even there when it was really hard … You were just babies … I made Empire — 8:00 to 10:00! 8:00 to 10:00! 8:00 to 10:00 every day! I’d go home and work!” Jamel tries to calm him down by reminding him of the song he (Andre) used to sing to his brothers when they were small and scared — ‘Lean on Me’ by Bill Withers. Tentatively, the brothers all start singing and end up in a three-way embrace. That probably sounds disgustingly cheesy, but it’s beautifully done.

    By way of contrast, Fallon and Steven deliver a rendition of ‘Good King Wenceslas’ at the Carrington Christmas party so lacklustre that it prompts Sam to burst into an impromptu salsa routine in an attempt to liven things up. (And very good it is too — if he’d busted these kinds of moves on EMPIRE, he and Jamal might still be together.) Cristal joins in, which triggers Iris’s jealousy: “Now that you’re part of this family and have all this money, you think you can just push me out and take my son?” A sisterly catfight ensues, during which the enormous Carrington Christmas tree is overturned, just as the one in Merry Christmas, Charley (FALCON CREST Season 9) was during Ian St James and Frank Agretti’s fight to the death twenty-three years earlier.

    Speaking of fights to the death, the final and most violent Battle of the Siblings takes place in the closing minutes of DALLAS between fake brother and sister Tommy and Rebecca Sutter. Rebecca’s refusal to steal Christopher’s top-secret plans for him means that Tommy has lost a deal worth a fortune. So when he shows up at her apartment, he is angry enough to strike her across the face as soon as she opens the door. “I was fine living off the little cons I was pulling,” he rants. “Then you show up, wiggle your ass, tell me I’m going to make millions off this Texas oil kid … I did everything you asked me to.” He grabs her by the neck and pushes her onto the bed, one hand over her throat and the other pulling at her jeans. It’s not clear if he’s gonna rape her or kill her or both. (This makes Rebecca, following Cody on B&O, the second pregnant woman to be violently attacked so far this season.) She whacks him with an alarm clock, rushes to her purse and pulls out a gun. He grabs for it and they struggle — just as Krystle and Claudia, Sean Rowan and Dex, and JR and Nick Pearce have before them. Inevitably, the gun goes off and then just as inevitably, the camera cuts away before we can see which of them was hit. In place of a shocked or screaming bystander, we cut to a shot of the two identical chimps Rebecca and Christopher bought earlier in the ep, and which are now splattered with blood. (This cuddly toy/gunshot juxtaposition recalls another moment from Merry Christmas, Charley when Emma unzipped a stuffed rabbit and pulled out the weapon she then shot her husband with.) Rather than Sammy Joe’s salsa or Bill Withers’ 'Lovely Day’, the musical element in this scene is Johnny Cash singing ‘The Man Comes Around’ on the soundtrack. Using preexisting pop music in an extra-diegetic way was never part of the original DALLAS aesthetic, of course, but suddenly Cash and DALLAS feel like a perfect fit — lean and brooding, western and mythic. (And let us not forget that a Ewing mother-in-law, Lilimae Clements, once claimed to have sung on stage with Cash’s mother-in-law, Maybelle Carter.)

    “Can you imagine what Ewing Oil would have been today if our fathers had been allies instead of enemies?” John Ross asks his cousin towards the end of this week’s DALLAS. “It didn’t have to be this way. Jock — he set them against each other.” “And we carried on the family tradition,” replies Christopher. He then suggests they break the cycle and go into business together: “Ewing Energies has a nice ring to it. Don’t you think?” The way they sell the idea to Bobby (“We thought it was time for a little peace in this family”) makes it sounds like a can’t lose proposition. Even JR finally comes around and signs the deed to Southfork back to his brother. There’s further family bonding on EMPIRE as the Lyons come out ahead of Beretti and Anika, and celebrate with another singalong. But the harmony of both families is shattered by a medical crisis. Bobby suffers a second attack at Southfork while Andre has a complete meltdown in the Empire boardroom. “You are my son and I love you,” Lucious tells him. “You love me too?!” Andre sneers. “He loves me too! You choosing me to take over Empire since you love me?” “You know I haven’t decided which one of my sons —“ Lucious begins. “Piece of business advice from that Wharton education you paid so handsomely for,” Andre whispers, pressing his forehead against his father’s. “You pick the one who knows you’re a murderer.” It’s a brilliantly chilling moment and recalls John Ross’s earlier observation about what his grandfather did to JR and Bobby: “It didn’t have to be this way. Jock — he set them against each other.” Bobby and Andre are each taken away by ambulance.

    The separation of BLOOD AND OIL’s super couple, Billy and Cody, continues to follow the blueprint laid down by similar estrangements in ‘80s Soap Land — the introduction of potential love interests leading to further complications and misunderstandings. While visiting Jules in the hospital, Cody is mistaken for a nurse by a handsome doctor who reprimands her for not being at her post. It’s the cutesiest of meet-cutes. When they later run into each other in a bar, Billy sees them together and jumps to the wrong conclusion. Annoyed, Cody deliberately flirts with Dr Meet Cute to make Billy jealous. So Billy gets drunk and kisses Emma the sexy geologist, and Cody ends up seeing them together. So far so enjoyably hackneyed — but there's a twist! At the end of the ep, the two companies competing to slant-drill under the Indian reservation (Hap, Carla, Lacey and AJ on one team, Annie, Billy, Emma and Wick on the other) sit down with the leader, Chief Elaine Whitecloud, and make their respective sales pitches. “The only deal I’ll make is in the interest of my people,” the chief declares. “I’ve asked my son to join us. He’s my best adviser and especially good at cutting through the bull.” And in walks Dr Meet Cute!

    And this week's Top 4 are ...
    1 (1) DALLAS
    2 (2) EMPIRE
    3 (3) BLOOD AND OIL
    4 (4) DYNASTY
     
  5. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Winner EXP: 18 Years

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    08 Aug 12: DALLAS: Revelations v. 11 Mar 15: EMPIRE: Sins of the Father v. 13 Dec 15: BLOOD AND OIL: Departures v. 17 Jan 18: DYNASTY: A Well-Dressed Tarantula

    An eventful week that includes a season finale, a series finale, three proposals of marriage and four fatal shootings.

    The lives of Rebecca Ewing and Cristal Carrington continue to run along parallel lines as they have all season. Both start the week haunted by flashbacks of the violent men they have killed in self-defence: Tommy Sutter, who hits the deck at the start of this week’s DALLAS after being shot at the end of last week’s (making him Gunshot Fatality #1), and Alejandro Rayas, whose stabbing at Cristal’s hands was revealed on last week’s DYNASTY.

    While Rebecca is faced with the disposal of Tommy’s body, Cristal comes face to face with Alejandro himself — back from the dead and sitting in her office at Carrington Atlantic. He has a new identity and threatens to kill her unless she persuades Blake to do business with the shadowy Venezuelan company he represents (not to be confused with the shadowy Venezuelan company Vicente Cano represents on DALLAS — although both companies are so shadowy, they might as well be the same one).

    Before the end of their respective episodes, both women will have similar accusations levelled at them. Rebecca is branded “a lying piece of garbage” while Cristal is called “a congenital liar” and “a lying, cheating stabber of men.”

    Watching Rebecca frantically cover up any evidence of Tommy’s death, one is reminded of Abby Ewing doing the same thing following Peter Hollister’s demise on KNOTS LANDING. Rebecca has mysterious helpers who transport the body by laundry cart, just as Abby did herself, leaving her behind to scrub her apartment clean. As New DALLAS is on a C21st subscription network rather than a 1980s commercial one like KNOTS, the crime scene is far more sanguinary. As Lady Macbeth might have said, “Who would have thought the young man to have had so much blood in him?”

    Rebecca then joins Christopher at Soap Land Memorial Hospital where he and the rest of the Ewings are awaiting news of Bobby following his collapse. Christopher’s feelings towards Rebecca have softened so much he has put his wedding and engagement rings back on and asks her to the same. However, she gave her rings to Tommy a few weeks ago in a failed attempt to buy him off. So, in much the same way that Abby was obliged to dig up Peter’s corpse from its burial place to salvage his car keys, Rebecca is forced to unzip the body bag in which Tommy has been stashed and rummage through his pockets to find the receipt for the pawnshop where he hocked the rings. But when she visits the pawnshop, the broker tells her the rings have already been sold. She begs him to retrieve them from the buyer. “I’ll re-buy them from you for double what they paid,” she pleads, sliding a wad of notes across the counter.

    “I can’t believe some of the stuff people pawn — engagement rings, vintage porn,” remarks Steven Carrington, the second character to drop by the Soap Land Pawn Shop this week. While EMPIRE’s Lucious has placed Andre in a psychiatric clinic following his meltdown, DYNASTY’s Blake has booked Steven into a rehab facility following his cocaine relapse, but Steven refuses to go. “What’s wrong with me can’t be cured by a 12-Step programme,” he insists. In response, Blake freezes his bank accounts. “I need to get my hands on some cash,” Steven tells Sam — hence the visit to the pawnshop. Worried lest he blows the money on blow, Sam insists on tagging along. “For a lot of people, pawn shops are a part of life,” he explains to Steven. “Growing up, it’s how my mom put food on the table some days … A pawn shop is also a doorway to opportunity, like when I pawned my neighbour’s bike for Coachella tickets.” Steven pawns his “premium brand timepiece” for $20,000. Not bad — if not as impressive as the $30,000 Hakeem Lyon claims his diamond-encrusted watch is worth on this week’s EMPIRE.

    To Sam’s relief, Steven doesn’t want the money for “coke or meth or moon rocks,” but as recompense for the widow of Dominic Ortega, the Carrington Atlantic employee whose death he inadvertently caused. DYNASTY isn’t especially interested in Ortega — we only glimpse his wife from a distance — but given how glibly Matthew Blaisdel’s demise was treated by the Carringtons, it’s refreshing to see that his death at least matters to Steven. While Steven chooses to tackle his psychological problems through direct action rather than rehab, Andre’s gorgeous music therapist makes an unconventional suggestion regarding his treatment on EMPIRE. She gets down on her knees in front of him and starts … praying. Hmm, sexy praying — it could catch on.

    The first of the week’s three marriage proposals comes from John Ross on DALLAS when he invites Elena to view the empty office space he has chosen as the new headquarters of Ewing Enterprises. But it’s not just any empty office space. “Jock’s office, Bobby’s office and right here, JR’s,” he says walking around. “I remember sitting behind Daddy’s desk looking at this view, just wanting to sit where he sat one day …” “This was Ewing Oil,” Elena realises. “Christopher’s always saying that the Ewing name means nothing to me. Well, maybe this will finally prove to him that it does,” he tells her. So it’s not just his daddy’s approval that John Ross seeks, but his cousin’s as well. Then comes the romantic bit as he produces a black diamond engagement ring and gets down on one knee. “When I saw this ring, it reminded me how light reflects off oil,” he says. “The first time I saw that I thought nothing could be more beautiful. Then I saw you. I love you, Elena Ramos. My life and everything that I want it to be is better with you … Marry me.” Elena accepts immediately — how could she not?

    Over on EMPIRE, Lucious likewise chooses an office environment in which to pop the question. “I’m asking you to be my one again,” he tells ex-wife Cookie, as he gestures to the Empire empire in which they are standing. “We built all this, we fought for this, we defended this.” His proposal may not be quite as romantic as John Ross’s, but he’s confident Cookie will accept it anyway. Indeed, as she admits, “When I first got out of prison, I had a stupid fantasy about us getting back together.” Since then, however, she has moved on and is now enjoying a clandestine affair with Lucious’s head of security, Malcolm. She declines the proposal, telling Lucious, “You don’t care about nothing but yourself … You just don’t wanna die alone.” When Cookie first strode into EMPIRE — an ex-wife deprived of raising her children, still hung up on her former husband and hungry for a piece of the pie, and with a cracking backstory to boot — she was the black C21st century equivalent of '80s Alexis Carrington. So the sight of Black Alexis turning down her ex’s marriage proposal and walking away with a smile on her face feels like a major victory, one that White Alexis never even came close to achieving.

    There is further ex-husband and wife office action on DALLAS when Ann visits Harris Ryland to concede defeat: “You’ve won, Harris. I let you back in … You sent me that necklace, brought up the past, made me a wreck, antagonised my husband … and now Sue Ellen — I know you’re blackmailing her just to get to me.” She even offers to sleep with him if he’ll stop using what he has on Sue Ellen to force her to launder money for him. “Unfortunately, I need that money cleaned so I can’t,” Harris replies, “but … since you’re here and in the mood, how about it?” Tearfully, she starts to unzip her top — to reveal a microphone attached to her bra. “Extortion, blackmail and a confession to money laundering, all recorded,” she explains. “You make a move against me, Sue Ellen or any member of my family — you’re going to jail.” Having succeeded where Wick Briggs and Steven Carrington failed, Ann is officially Soap Land’s Spy of the Season. To commemorate her victory, she punches Harris in the mouth and promises to shoot him the next time he makes a pass at her.

    In fact, things in the Ewing garden are looking rosy all around. “We’re all moving forward,” Christopher says to John Ross, “me, Rebecca and the babies; you and Elena.” “Your daddy’s on the mend, we got offices, we got energy,” John Ross adds. But then the past returns to bite them all in the ass.

    First, the lie John Ross told Elena when they got back together — that he had nothing to do with stealing Southfork from Bobby, that it was all JR’s doing — comes back to haunt him. “The videos that Veronica Martinez took prove that you brought her and the Venezuelans in on the deal before JR was involved. You are the one who asked her to impersonate Marta Del Sol,” Bobby’s lawyer informs him. “JR’s the one who stole Southfork, not me!” John Ross protests. He appeals to Christopher for understanding — again, it’s striking how much he wants, maybe needs, his cousin to believe in him: “You know I’m trying to do the right thing here, put all this behind us, help bring this family back together.” But Christopher ain’t buying it. “You can’t lie your way out of this,” he tells John Ross coldly. However, the reaction that really hurts is Elena’s. “You lied about everything!” she exclaims. John Ross begs her for another chance: “Look what I’m doing. I’m helping Christopher … I got JR to give Southfork back. I’m trying to do the right thing because that is the man I am today — with you … Do not give up on me!”

    “Everything you touch, you destroy,” Cookie tells Lucious on EMPIRE. “This place — it takes everything that’s good and turns it bad,” echoes Billy on BLOOD AND OIL, referring to Rock Springs, the town he and his wife arrived in ten episodes ago. “Sometimes I just think I was happier in Florida … I’d give anything to go back to that version of me, of us.” It’s like he’s cancelling the show right in front of us. Cody’s already packing to go home and wants Billy to go with her, but he isn’t sure if he can give up his chance of striking it rich. His dilemma is compounded when Dr Meet Cute tells him the mineral rights to the oil underneath the Black Elk reservation are his — on the proviso that he stays in town to oversee the project: “I need you here on the ground, front and centre — you’re the one that I trust.”

    Can Billy walk away from his dream? Hap Briggs doesn’t think so. “That’s my son, from tip to tail,” says JR, looking at John Ross at the end of DALLAS and Hap makes a similar observation about Billy. “We’re not so different, you and me,” he tells him. “You came into town like I once did, too damn brash and too stupid to even consider failure as an option. What we had was a dream. Do you know what happens when you abandon your dreams? They don’t dry up and blow away. They lodge in your gut and gnaw away at you until there’s nothing left except the memory of what you once wanted to be.” Dreams, literal and metaphorical, have been a recurrent theme throughout Soap Land’s history, but they’ve never described quite in such menacing terms.

    And so the relationships between B&O’s Billy and Cody and DALLAS’s Elena and John Ross hang in the balance. “Tomorrow’s Christmas Eve,” Cody tells Billy. “I’ll be at the Tack Room at midnight, bags packed, car loaded. If you’re not there, I’m leaving without you. It’s now or never because I’m not looking back.” “Meet me tomorrow at the Ewing Energies space,” John Ross begs Elena. “It’ll be a new beginning for us. Please.”

    Over on EMPIRE, Jamal’s cute little daughter Lola has been staying at Lucious’s house ever since her mother Olivia abandoned her. There are echoes of Blake and Steven fighting over Danny on Old DYNASTY in this week’s ep when Lucious objects to Jamal’s decision to have Lola live with him instead: “Lola don’t need to be raised in that kind of lifestyle, son.”

    Lola tells Jamal about a recurring nightmare of hers: “The scary bird is going to get us … He tries to hurt Mommy.” Later in the episode, he learns that the scary bird is Olivia’s boyfriend Reg. Christopher is similarly disturbed when he sees bruises on Rebecca’s body and correctly guesses that they were inflicted by Tommy. Not realising Tommy is dead, Christopher goes to his motel room to confront him. There, with exquisitely soapy timing, he intercepts a phone call intended for Tommy — from his sister, the real Rebecca Sutter!

    There are further tales of abusive relationships on DYNASTY where Cristal is dismayed to learn that her sister Iris has been secretly conspiring with her violent ex, Alejandro, to extort money from Cristal and the rest of the Carringtons. “You betrayed me for someone who almost killed you?!” she asks in dismay. “He made mistakes, so did I,” Iris shrugs, “but I never asked you to hurt him, to tear my family apart.” “I saved you!” Cristal protests. “No, you saved yourself,” replies Iris, “and ever since then, when I wanted to come here and have a taste of the life you had, you found some reason to keep me in Caracas, begging you for every dollar. Well, I’m done asking.”

    Back on DALLAS, Christopher confronts Fake Rebecca. “Who the hell are you?!” he demands to know. Just as John Ross did when faced with his murky past, she tries desperately to convince Christopher that she has changed: “I don’t wanna lie anymore. I’ve done everything I could to get out from under things.” When he refuses to believe her, she goes on the attack. “I’m not the only one who lied in this marriage,” she points out. “You’re still in love with Elena.” This clearly hits a nerve because the next thing Christopher does is deliver the third marriage proposal of the week, to Elena. Not since a previous Hispanic heroine from the wrong side of the tracks — Pilar Ortega in FALCON CREST — has a Soap Land gal been proposed to twice in the same episode. What’s more, Christopher’s proposal is almost as swoonaliciously romantic as the one Elena received from John Ross twenty-three screen minutes earlier: “When you were nine and your father died and I saw you crying, that was the day I knew I wanted to do anything I could to make you smile again. When we were fifteen and we raced horses across this ranch and you won and I kissed you for the first time, that was the moment I knew I loved you. When we were twenty-two and we kept each other up all night studying … and then we came home after and made love, that was the day I knew I wanted to marry you … We’ve wasted too much of our lives not being together and I don’t wanna waste another minute without you.” He then produces an engagement ring. “I know you gave this back to me, but it’s yours. It’s always been yours.” Elena may not immediately accept this proposal the way she did John Ross’s, but the final time we see her and Christopher this season, they are ripping each others’ clothes off in a hotel room so I’d say it’s looking pretty hopeful.

    It's apparent from the trip down memory lane Christopher takes Elena on during his proposal that they are the same age — thirty-one. It’s also Fallon’s twenty-fifth birthday, which means she was born two years after the original DYNASTY reunion mini-series. While Christopher recalls that Elena was nine when “your father died and I saw you crying," Steven claims that Fallon was seven when she “found out what private equity investments were.” “I’ve wanted control of my trust ever since,” she replies. “While other girls were crushing on Chad Michael Murray, I was fantasising about rebalancing my portfolio.” I’m not sure how literally we’re meant to take this claim, but it nonetheless highlights a crucial difference between Fallon and her male counterparts on the other soaps. While John Ross and Christopher on DALLAS, the Lyon boys on EMPIRE and B&O’s Wick and Billy are all driven by a conflicting need to simultaneously learn from their fathers (or father figure, in Billy’s case), gain his approval and break free of his control, Fallon appears not to suffer from any such internal dilemma. She does not doubt her own business skills, has no real need for her father’s approval and, give or take a few million dollars, is pretty much his equal. Also, she’s meant to be hungry and ambitious, yet she has the persona of a spoiled, indolent princess. All of which makes her a hard character to pin down, identify with or root for. On the plus side, she looks nice and has some great one-liners.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2020
  6. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Winner EXP: 18 Years

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    (continued)

    DALLAS and DYNASTY each include a shock parent/child reunion. On DALLAS, the shock belongs to the viewer (well, to me anyway — I’m not sure how I didn’t twig who Rebecca’s father was beforehand, but the penny didn’t fully drop until the moment her eyes light up when Christopher shows up with a bag of Chinese takeout: “Like when we were dating. I got you spring rolls, wonton soup and your moo-shu.”) On DYNASTY, the shock belongs to Sam when the Spanish-speaking man who approaches him in the park (and whom Sam initially appears to think is trying to pick him up — a possibility he seems quite happy to explore) turns out to be his previously dead dad.

    “You’re just like your Aunt Pamela when it comes to the Ewings,” Cliff Barnes tells his daughter Rebecca as he emerges from his private plane. “I never could trust her and I can’t trust you.” “For years, I’ve imagined this moment,” Alejandro tells his son Sam in their native tongue, “what I’d do, what I’d say, but there are no words.” “I gave up two years of my life for you so you can finally settle things and be at peace,” Rebecca reminds her father. “For the longest time, I thought you’d abandoned us,” Sam tells his. Both scenes conclude with the father making plans for the future. “I’m giving you a second chance to make me proud,” says Cliff. “I want you to get me a piece of Ewing Energies so we can put that family down for good.” “Now that I’ve found you, I have a plan so we can be a family again,” says Alejandro,” but I need time and your trust.” “I won’t lose focus again,” promises Rebecca while a teary Sam nods in agreement.

    While Rebecca Barnes prepares to avenge the Ewings for wrongs done to her father, Jeff Colby plots to pay the Carringtons back for putting his father in prison. “I have Fallon Carrington in my pocket,” he assures Cecil over the phone. “Everything she owns, her assets, her stake in Carrington Atlantic, could all be mine — when I marry her.”

    This being the last episode of BLOOD AND OIL, things are moving fast, and somewhere along the line, exes Hap and Annie Briggs go from being adversaries to business associates. “There are huge advantages to pooling our resources,” Annie assures her startled partner Billy.

    The centrepiece of both EMPIRE and BLOOD AND OIL is a contract signing deemed so significant that it warrants a family party to mark the occasion. While the Lyons gather at Lucious’s house to sign the IPO transfer thingy, the partners in the Black Elk deal convene at Hap’s to sign their contract. In each instance, one character is conspicuous by their absence. Even though Andre is considered instrumental to the EMPIRE deal (“We wouldn’t even know what IPO was if it wasn’t for you,” Jamal tells his brother. “It’s all cos of you, Dre”), he is too hurt by his father’s refusal to visit him at the clinic to attend: “Dad doesn’t wanna see me like this? Well, this is who I am.” Instead, he gives wife Rhonda proxy to act on his behalf. This leads to some juicy friction between father and daughter-in-law. “I’m not signing over Andre’s stock to some little country club queen just because his feelings are hurt!” Lucious huffs. “I’ve been with your son for ten years and you don’t know a damn thing about me,” Rhonda snaps back. “I came from nothing and I worked my ass off … Nothing has ever been handed to me and I have never expected anything to be either.” In a parallel world once removed, one could almost imagine such an exchange occurring between Jock and Sue Ellen on DALLAS — he didn’t know a damn thing about her either.

    Over at the Briggs’ party, it’s Billy who’s the no-show — the contract signing clashes with the deadline Cody gave him to leave town and save their marriage. “If he doesn’t show up to sign, our alliance is over before it begins,” worries Annie. “If I know my boy Billy, he’ll be here,” Hap replies confidently. And so it proves. Billy signs on the dotted line, hoping Cody will understand. “It’s not just my dream, it’s our dream,” he reasons.

    The two gatherings turn out to be hugely eventful: each includes a gatecrasher with a gun, a fatal shooting, a climactic revelation and a character bribed into leaving and/or being exiled from Soap Land forever.

    First of all, the gatecrashers: At the EMPIRE party, Jamal’s baby mama Olivia arrives unannounced with boyfriend Reg in tow. Olivia is oddly subdued while Jamal notices a tattoo of a crow on Reg’s arm and connects it to the scary bird Lola described in her dreams. “Does he hurt her?” he asks Olivia. “Help me,” she whispers, a scared look on her face. As Jamal turns to confront him, Reg pulls out a gun and grabs Cookie. At the BLOOD AND OIL party, a Saudi Arabian baddy, glimpsed earlier in the episode, lurks outside the house. When Lacey Briggs comes out to retrieve a sweater, he pulls out a gun and grabs her.

    Thinking Reg is after money, Hakeem offers him his diamond-encrusted watch. (That’s how we know it’s worth $10,000 more than the Soap Land pawnbroker paid Steven Carrington for his.) However, it’s not money Reg wants, but revenge. Turns out he's crazily possessive over Olivia and wants to kill Jamal for getting her pregnant, even though it happened years before she and Reg got together. Evil Saudi Man’s motives are less convoluted. “Don’t move, just listen, I want the USGS report,” he hisses at Lacey.

    While Billy attempts to rescue Lacey only to be knocked unconscious, Lucious tries to save Cookie by making a terrible admission — that it was him and not his son who impregnated Olivia during her brief marriage to Jamal: “I put the baby in her, not him … Shoot me!” Both gunmen are then abruptly shot dead by a professional: the Saudi thug on B&O by Sheriff Tip; Reg on EMPIRE by Lucious’s security chief (and Cookie’s secret lover), Malcolm. (Gunshot fatalities #2 & 3.)

    It looks like Lucious is not the only Soap Land father to have impregnated his son’s woman. Jules is pregnant on BLOOD AND OIL and, unsure which Briggs man is the daddy, goes to Dr Meet Cute for a DNA test. Soap Land being what it is, it doesn’t take long for Carla to learn the results. “Does my husband know he’s gonna father another child?” she asks Jules. He doesn’t.

    This brings us to the two characters, both female, who are “bought off” during the EMPIRE and BLOOD AND OIL parties, in much the same way Val Ewing and Alexis Carrington allegedly were during in the 1960s and 70s. First, it’s the turn of Naomi Campbell on EMPIRE. Lucious, unhappy at how much influence she is exacting over Hakeem’s career (Cookie amusingly refers to her as Yoko), tells her to name her price, just as JR did Pam in the opening episode of DALLAS. “I need to know how much it will cost to make you … go as far away from my son as humanly possible,” he tells her. “There’s no amount of money, Lucious, that’s going to make me go away from Hakeem,” she replies confidently. “You are in debt up to your neck,” he points out, before instructing Malcolm to “put her on the first flight to London. One way.” Angrily, Naomi Campbell tears up the cheque he has just written her: “I don’t want your money and as soon as I hear that you’re dead, I will take the first flight back …” “He’ll forget you in a month,” Lucious assures her. ”And in six months you’ll be rotting in a wheelchair like a vegetable with a colostomy bag trailing behind you. You are a disgusting, despicable human being and I wish you a miserable death when you go to hell!” Naomi snarls as she is dragged off the show. Imagine Joan van Ark delivering that speech to Larry Hagman. Lucious then lies to Hakeem about his girlfriend the same way JR did to Lucy about her mama. “Did she take your money?” Hakeem asks. “What do you think?” Lucious replies before bragging to his family, “I saved him from a con artist!”

    Back on B&O, Carla makes Jules a similar offer to get out of town: “I will pay you fifty per cent over market value for the Tack Room and provide a generous allowance for you and your child for the rest of your lives. In exchange, you move away, you never speak to Hap again and you never tell him about your baby.” Jules starts to respond with the usual Soap Land spiel about how she’s not for sale, but then Carla points out that “you betrayed Hap and he hates you for it — and when he finds out about the baby, he’ll sue you for custody and he’ll win. Chances are you will never see your child again.” Over on DALLAS, Christopher vows to make this threat a reality for Rebecca: “I’m gonna send you to prison and then I’m gonna see to it that those babies you’re carrying never know what a lying piece of garbage you really are.”

    Jules agrees to the deal, but unlike Naomi Campbell, gets to have her cake and eat it. Not only does she take Carla’s money, but due to one of those crazy medical mix-ups that occasionally happen in Soap Land, it turns out Hap isn’t the father of her baby after all — Wick is, and he agrees to leave town with her. Over on DYNASTY, Steven’s leaving too. “I don’t know where yet, but you can always come and visit,” he tells Fallon. Rather than taking money to leave, he is the one bestowing gifts — a birthday present for Fallon of a cigarette lighter he found in the pawnshop. “It reminded me of the one Mom used to have,” he explains.

    Remember those chances of a fresh start that were proffered early on in this week’s DALLAS and BLOOD AND OIL? “Meet me tomorrow at the Ewing Energies space. It’ll be a new beginning for us,” John Ross urged Elena. “I’ll be at the Tack Room at midnight … If you’re not there, I’m leaving without you,” Cody told Billy. We wait to see if these appointments will be kept. It feels like there’s a lot at stake — as if the souls of John Ross and Billy are up for grabs. If Elena shows up to meet John Ross, it means she still believes in him and he can be saved. If Billy shows up to meet Cody, it means he has chosen love over money and he will be too. Alas for John Ross, Elena does not appear. Instead, she sends her mother Carmen to hand back the engagement ring. Over the top of this scene, we hear Sue Ellen delivering a speech to her political supporters. A shot of John Ross’s face as he realises he’s lost Elena is matched by his mother’s voice saying, “I have lived a life of mistakes and regret and truthfully, there were times I thought I was beyond saving.”

    Things work out better for Billy. Hap tells him how shocked Chief Whitecloud was to discover that her son, Dr Meet Cute, “was using the oil deal to try and break up your marriage” and has agreed “to give us the deal, no strings attached … You’ll be a part of it, no matter where you are.” This means Billy gets to live happily after with the love of his life and be unimaginably rich.

    Still brooding in his empty office space, John Ross receives a visit from his daddy. Rebecca Barnes and Jeff Colby might be obediently following their fathers’ orders, but John Ross is calling the shots with his. “You want in on Ewing Energies?” he asks JR. “You stop teaching me about the oil business and you start teaching me every dirty trick that you know. And when I take this company from Christopher and Elena, I’ll cut you in … If you screw me, I’ll make sure you don’t see a dime of that oil sitting underneath Southfork and I will put you back in that home for good [just like his big brother James once did]. Got it?” JR smiles approvingly as his son crosses back over to the dark side.

    Before riding off into the sunset with Jules, Wick Briggs is summoned by his father to a private room for the confrontation we’ve been waiting for all season. Hap now knows Wick was the masked intruder who held him at gunpoint in B&O's pilot episode — so what’s he gonna do about it? Well, first of all, he pulls a gun on him. (“How does that feel, Wick — to be looking down the barrel of a gun and somebody that you love is pointing it at your face?”), which is quite exciting, but then he something really unexpected. He starts to cry and then apologises for being a bad dad. “Forgive me, Wick,” he weeps, “so that I can forgive you and we can move forward.” Wick gets a bit weepy too and they embrace. All the while, you’re waiting for Hap to suddenly pull out a knife and stab his son in the back — or for his eyes to narrow so you know he’s at least thinking vengeful thoughts. But it doesn’t happen. They just ... hug.

    After Lola is reunited with her mother on EMPIRE, another endangered toddler is reunited with his father on B&O when Khalid, AJ’s kidnapped son, is found hiding in a closet following a police raid on a house occupied by the Bad Saudis. (Gunshot fatality #4: the woman AJ had been liaising with earlier in the season takes a bullet to the forehead.) Whereas the Lyons bid a fond farewell to Lola before Olivia takes her back home, AJ tells Lacey that he and Khalid are staying put in Rock Springs: “We’re already home.” Khalid’s mother, AJ’s soon-to-be ex-wife, apparently has no objection to this (“She knows Khalid’s best life is here, and so is mine”), which is just as well considering BLOOD AND OIL has just thirteen minutes left to run at this point and there isn’t time to embark on a whole new custody battle storyline.

    In fact, everyone on B&O gets a nice, neat happy ending, which feels like a bit of a cheat. For FALCON CREST and the original DYNASTY reunion to reach similarly upbeat conclusions, both soaps required their chief antagonists, Angela Channing and Alexis Colby, to abruptly acquire an air of benevolence towards those they’d spent an entire series waging war against. Likewise, Hap and Carla Briggs, easily the most coldly ruthless couple in C21st Soap Land, are suddenly suffused with warmth and benevolence towards their fellow man. In the final scene of the series, in which they stand arm in arm, gazing serenely out over their property (“Look at all this. As far as the eye can see, it’s ours.” “ …This place isn’t for everybody, but it’s definitely for you and me”), they look and sound just like Bobby and Ann in their final scene of DALLAS’s first season as they gaze contentedly out over Southfork. (“Feels like home again.” “Yeah.”)

    This season finale of DALLAS was apparently filmed before a second season had been confirmed. Had this week’s ep turned out to be its last-ever instalment, it would, ironically, have served as a more satisfying conclusion to the series than B&O's finale, which was clearly constructed with cancellation in mind. Although aspects of the DALLAS saga remain unresolved, it still manages to come full circle with the next chapter of the Barnes/Ewing feud about to commence and JR agreeing to make John Ross over in his own image. The very last shot, where the camera pulls back and back from John Ross and JR standing at the window of the old/new Ewing offices until they are indistinguishable from the rest of nighttime Dallas skyline, mirrors the opening shot of the very first episode of DALLAS where Bobby’s car is just one among many driving along the Dallas highway. Whereas this episode of DALLAS leaves some loose ends to dangle tantalisingly in our imaginations, every plot thread on BLOOD AND OIL has been so neatly tied up that one need never think about it again.

    And the Top 4 are …

    1 (1) DALLAS
    2 (2) EMPIRE
    3 (3) BLOOD AND OIL
    4 (4) DYNASTY
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2020
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  7. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 18 Years

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    I love soap confusion, and I wondered if I had voted for this one in the Phone Call Battle. I did!
    It's almost like Alexis in Denver and Caress in Caracas.
    I thought it was convincing (enough) in the first episodes about Carrington-Atlanta, but once she started to venture it became lots of everythings but nothing in particular.
    And now it's my turn to ponder...is there a connection between Cliff and Chinese takeout?
    That would have been awesome. In fact, I would have preferred a dark ending for all characters to illustrate that "this place" does indeed affect people in the worst way possible. A Dakota tragedy, as it were.
     
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  8. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Winner EXP: 18 Years

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    Oh yes! I never made that connection. Iris has the same sense of hard-done-by entitlement as Caress but isn't as much fun somehow.

    Yes. I think you've just passed the first reference to it on Capricorn Crude (the detective JR has bugging Cliff's phone reports that "he sent out for Chinese food for one"), but it gradually becomes a running gag that all Cliff ever wants to eat is Chinese, much to the annoyance of all his girlfriends except Jamie.

    Exactly. I was secretly rooting for Cody to go off with Dr Meet Cute.
     
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  9. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Winner EXP: 18 Years

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    28 Jan 13: DALLAS: Battle Lines v. 18 Mar 15: EMPIRE: Die But Once v. 24 Jan 18: DYNASTY: I Answer to No Man

    “Twenty-two years ago, I had a daughter,” Ann Ewing informs Bobby on DALLAS. “Before Steven and Fallon were born, Alexis and I had a son,” Blake Carrington tells Cristal on DYNASTY. “When Emma was eighteen months old,” Ann continues, “I was at the State Fair. I turned away for a moment and when I turned back, she was gone. Someone had taken her.” “When he was six months old,” Blake explains, “someone broke into the house and took him.” “Everyone searched, but Emma was never found.” “We did what the police told us [but] … I never saw Adam again.” Whereas Ann’s bombshell acts as a prelude to an even bigger one — that her ex-husband Harris claims to have found Emma and is willing, for a price, to tell Ann her whereabouts — Blake’s revelation, which comes towards the end of this week’s DYNASTY, serves to explain his behaviour during the preceding screen hour, an unusually focused episode of DYNASTY that concentrates entirely on Fallon’s abduction by Iris and Alejandro.

    “You don’t negotiate with a terrorist!” Bobby exclaims after Ann admits she has already given Harris what he wants (the tape she made of him admitting to extortion). His sentiment shared by Blake who refuses to meet Alejandro’s demand of $15,000,000 for Fallon’s return. “Giving in to their demands this early would only leave us more vulnerable down the road,” he tells his family. “Fallon is my daughter. We’re doing it my way.” Unusually for New DYNASTY, it feels like there’s something genuinely at stake here and, for the first time, Blake comes across like a real Soap Land patriarch.

    “I didn’t want you to come. I was hoping I’d never see you again,” Ann’s daughter Emma tells her when they finally come face to face. A mother rejected by the daughter she had given up for dead — it’s the soapiest of scenarios, yet played with total conviction. As a result, Ann spends most of the episode careening between joy and anguish.

    An unspecified amount of time has elapsed between the end of last season’s DALLAS and the beginning of this one, but in the interim, the empty office space we left John Ross and JR standing in has been transformed into the swanky new headquarters of Ewing Enterprises. Accordingly, after spending most of the first season in jeans and work shirts, the Ewing men are now slickly decked out in business suits while the women are doing the C21st equivalent of power dressing. Conversely, EMPIRE’s resident workaholic, Andre, is no longer comfortable in the corporate world: “I feel like nothing fits anymore. You know, this suit and tie, these shoes — nothing fits.” He tries to explain the change to his father: “There was always something missing, Dad, a void I filled with darkness, but now I’m getting to know my God and he is filling that void with a higher purpose.” “God? … What do you know about God?” scoffs Lucious. “There’s no higher purpose than being a maker of music. That’s the voice of God.”

    Andre isn’t the only character to have undergone a transformation. As she explains to Bobby and Christopher in the Batman-esque surroundings of Barnes Global, Fake Rebecca is now New Pamela: “I’m Afton’s daughter … Cliff Barnes is my father.” “I don’t have to play weak anymore,” she later tells John Ross. To illustrate the difference, she’s wearing darker eye makeup than when she was Christopher’s sweet wife. There are echoes of her Aunt Katherine in this metamorphosis from Goody Two Shoes to Ruthless Go-Getter, but whereas Katherine spent three seasons indicating to the audience that her niceness was a sham, New Pamela spent the first year of New DALLAS lying the way people do in real life, i.e., with a straight face, which means the audience was as much in the dark about her true nature as the characters on screen. Come to think of it, we still are. How much of her quest for revenge has to do with her daddy’s vendetta against the Ewings and how much is because of her own broken heart has yet to be determined. It’s the kind of ambiguity that didn’t exist in Katherine’s day, but which New DALLAS specialises in.

    Cliff’s instructions to his daughter are to “make sure Christopher Ewing does not get an annulment and that you get a piece of Ewing Energies in the divorce.” Between seasons, however, Christopher has tracked down the real Rebecca Sutter. As the chief witness to Fake Rebecca/New Pamela’s identity theft, she now replaces Southfork as the DALLAS asset everyone wants a piece of. She begins the episode as the ace up Christopher’s sleeve and ends it as John Ross’s bargaining chip. “What would you possibly have to offer that would make me wanna get in bed with you?” New Pamela asks him when he proposes that they join forces. With perfect Soap Land timing, the doors of her penthouse elevator slide open. “You remember the real Rebecca Sutter,” says John Ross by way of introduction. “She’s Christopher’s secret weapon. But if you’re in, she’ll be ours.”

    There are two Soap Land celebrity cameos this week, racing driver veteran Ricky Rudd on DALLAS and rap icon Snoop Dogg on EMPIRE. Rudd is marginally worse than Snoop at playing himself. Happily, both are given the opportunity to show what they do best. For Ricky, that means driving around a track really fast in Christopher’s new methane-powered car; for Snoop, it means performing his groovy Funkadelic-sampling single ‘Peaches N Cream’. As DYNASTY is pretty much an immediate-cast-only affair this week, there is no room for cameos, but a reference to the real-life kidnapping of John Paul Getty Jr adds some verisimilitude to the Carringtons' debate on how best to deal with Alejandro’s ransom demands. “Getty strung out his son’s kidnappers for months,” says Anders. “Kid lost an ear. He was never the same,” Steven points out. “They didn’t kill him,” counters Blake. Having referenced a genuine tragedy (Getty Jr, who never recovered from his ordeal, subsequently developed a drug problem that led to a stroke, permanent paralysis and premature death), DYNASTY then satirises it. While on the phone to Blake, Alejandro pulls out a knife, and Blake can hear his daughter’s screams over the line — but instead of her ear, Alejandro has cut off some of her hair. “How am I supposed to live like this? Bangs?! … You should have shot me!” she sobs.

    There’s another notable cultural allusion on DALLAS. Appealing for leniency on behalf of her brother Tommy (whom she believes is merely missing rather than dead), Rebecca Sutter tells Christopher that she’s “seen enough LAW AND ORDER to know it’s you he wronged and it’s you who can press charges.” This means that not only is LAW AND ORDER, in all its forms, a fictional series within the Ewingverse, but so is THE WIRE, THE X-FILES, HOMICIDE LIFE ON THE STREET and every other show that HOMICIDE’s Detective John Munch made a cross-over appearance in. (Also, thanks to that copy of the National Enquirer Sammy Jo bought in 1983, all of these shows are now fictions within a fiction within a fiction.)

    JR drops by the new Ewing offices “to deliver some muffins to the pretty little secretaries,” he tells Bobby. “Who could’ve guessed so many would turn out to be men? I mean, where’s the fun in that?” While the office staff at Ewing Enterprises are somewhat anonymous thus far, Lucious and Cookie’s assistants, Becky and Porsha, remain consistently good value on EMPIRE. They’re like funnier, more characterful versions of Sly and Phyllis, the old Ewing Oil secretaries on DALLAS. “You use your inside voice when you talk to Becky,” scolds Becky when Lucious yells at her. Porsha, meanwhile, frantically backtracks after realising she’s said too much to Lucious regarding Cookie’s assignation with Malcolm: “I don’t know where she at. I don’t know nothing. I ain’t know nothing since Y2K!” In other underling news, there’s an unexpectedly sweet scene towards the end of DYNASTY where the normally cold Anders consoles Sam on the loss of both his parents — the kidnapping ordeal having ended with Iris (Sam’s mother) shooting dead Alejandro (his father) before going on the run. “You’ll always have family here,” Anders assures him, even going so far as to offer an awkward embrace.

    “We’re not so different, you and me,” Hap Briggs told Billy LeFever in the final episode of BLOOD AND OIL. “We’re not so different, you and I,” John Ross tells New Pamela in the final scene of this week’s DALLAS. “Is this the part where you say we’re not so different after all?” Michael asks Jeff on DYNASTY just after they’ve exchanged punches over Fallon. Jeff refuses to follow this trend, however. “You and I are nothing alike,” he replies. “You fight like a guy that has something to prove. I’ve already proven it.”

    On the most recent episodes of DALLAS and EMPIRE, John Ross and Lucious proposed to Elena and Cookie and were rejected. This week, their hearts have hardened. “Love is for pussies,” John Ross declares during the pre-credit sequence that opens DALLAS’s new season. At the end of the episode, he makes New Pamela a proposition. “We want the exact same thing — to destroy Christopher and Elena and make them hurt like they hurt us … Let’s help each other. And when we’re done, we take Ewing Energies.” Lucious becomes equally vengeful after learning about Cookie’s fling with Malcolm. He revokes her security clearance at the Empire offices and has her barred from the building. “You think you own me? You are sick!” she yells at him. “Are you gonna leave on your own or do I have to escort you?” he replies coolly. It feels a bit like JR throwing Sue Ellen off Southfork. As her lover, Malcolm has been playing Dex to Cookie’s Alexis, tolerating her preoccupation with her ex-husband and their family even as he’s seducing her in front of an open fire. However, when he asks her to move away to Washington with him, she declines to play Billy to his Cody. “Malcolm, you are a beautiful man but I can’t. I can’t leave all of this. I worked too hard,” she tells him sadly.

    With EMPIRE’s first season finale coming next week, you can feel the show is hurtling towards some kind of explosive climax. As well as Lucious and Cookie’s blow up, Hakeem is furious at his father for sending Naomi Campbell away and vents his anger by dissing him during an onstage rap. Lucious responds by knocking him to the floor with one punch. Next thing we know, Hakeem has announced his intention to leave the family record label — which in EMPIRE terms, is as serious as Bobby and Pam moving out of the family home at the end of the original DALLAS’s second season. Worse follows when Lucious discovers Hakeem literally in bed with the enemy — his own former fiancee Anika. Both of them lock eyes with Lucious then just keep doing what they’re doing.

    Trend of the week: women in business. While New Pamela is after a slice of Ewing Energies (“I would like 30% of your ownership,” she informs Christopher), Elena already owns 10% but is hungry for more: “I wanna earn a bigger stake in this company. I wanna be a partner.” Meanwhile, Cookie is shocked to discover that, contrary to what she was told, she was never on Empire’s board of directors and what’s more, her firstborn son was in on the deception. “Andre knew the day he made that deal with you that a convicted felon can never serve on the board of a publicly-traded company,” Lucious tells her. At the end of DYNASTY, a newly free but fringeless Fallon (“They might have stolen my hair but they’ll never steal my hustle”) informs Jeff that she wishes to end their partnership, both professionally and personally. “I know I was only tied up for a day,” she explains, “but it made me realise I have been tied to someone my entire life. I need to see this through on my own.” It’d be nice to be able to root for her here but, as with most of Fallon’s decisions, it feels kind of arbitrary.

    Running out of family members he hasn’t alienated, Lucious turns to gay black sheep Jamal to help him out of a writer’s block and they conjure up a song together in front of our eyes. The creative process is notoriously hard to dramatise, especially in a Soap Land setting, which is one of the reasons the fashion-based soaps didn’t really work — a designer getting an idea is far harder to manifest on screen than, say, an oil well erupting. However, EMPIRE pulls it off here by utilising the richness and history of the characters’ relationship. Hoping to inspire Lucious, Jamal takes him back to the small house they used to live in — the house where Lucious dumped Jamal in a trash can as a little kid when he found him wearing his mother’s shoes. And it doesn’t hurt that the actors are so musically adept. (Turns out Lucious plays a mean Spanish guitar.) With Hakeem turning away from his father and Andre turning to God, Jamal is now first in line to assume control of Empire — but first, he has to prove he has what it takes. “Do you want Empire or don’t you? Cos if you want it, you gotta be willing to take it!” Lucious tells him, sounding not unlike Jock Ewing during his “Real power is something you take” speech. Nice boy Jamal heeds his father’s words and ends up holding the family nemesis Beretti over the ledge of a building and threatening to let him drop unless he signs over “the rights to Lucious Lyon’s masters in perpetuity, do you understand me?!”

    When New DALLAS and EMPIRE began, Bobby Ewing and Lucious Lyon were told they were dying. Eleven episodes later, Bobby’s medical tribulations appear to be behind him, and now it turns out that Lucious, like Jason Colby before him, has been misdiagnosed. Instead of dying of ALS, he’s suffering from a serious, but far less terminal illness called myasthenia gravis or MG. This should feel like a massive cop-out, but as with Jason and Bobby, the dramatic pay off is worth it. (Ironically, the one character who genuinely is dying — JR — is playing it so close to his chest that no-one, including the viewer, knows anything about it.)

    The news of his reprieve seems to imbue in Lucious a sense of omnipotence. “Let’s see who’s more powerful — your God or your daddy!” he tells Andre. Realising that Andre’s religious awakening has as much to do with his gorgeous music therapist Michelle (played by Jennifer Hudson) as it does the Lord, Lucious offers her the chance to make a gospel record at Empire. Thrilled, she accepts. As far as Andre is concerned, this means she is now contaminated. “My father is the Devil and you just spread your legs for him,” he says.

    Like ‘80s Blake Carrington when his sight returned, Lucious elects to keep the news of his “recovery” a secret. However, the medication he’s on for his newly diagnosed condition causes him to hallucinate — he sees Bunky sitting at the bottom of his bed — and to ramble. Oh, how he rambles. “You can’t be here, man, I killed your ass just like Shine’s boys,” he tells Bunky’s ghost. “I’m not dying … I’m about to come back like a phoenix from the ashes. I’m-a rise up from the dead like Jesus. I’m your messiah!” And who should be present to hear this revelation but Cookie? ”Bunky was my cousin, you son of a bitch,” she murmurs before placing a pillow over Lucious’s face. “It’s over.”

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (2) EMPIRE
    2 (1) DALLAS
    3 (4) DYNASTY
     
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  10. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 18 Years

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    Thanks, I noticed there was something about that building but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Old Pamela's batmobile would have looked real nice in that setting.
    Gosh, that sounds so glossy-greedy-wicked-1980s-soap, like Alexis and Ben Carrington.
    A very predictable and automatic response because these soap characters are conditioned to think that nothing worthwile could exist outside SoapLand borders.
    Although Diana Fairgate-Fenice seemed to be doing just fine in New York.
    What a wonderful, bombastic thing to say!
    And God swats him as if he were a fly.
     
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  11. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Winner EXP: 18 Years

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    28 Jan 13: DALLAS: Venomous Creatures v. 18 Mar 15: EMPIRE: Who I Am v. 31 Jan 18: DYNASTY: Promises You Can't Keep

    It comes as no surprise to learn Lucious survived Cookie’s attempt to suffocate him with that pillow at the end of last week's EMPIRE. It seems he woke up just in time and she backed off. The following day, he summons his three sons to tell them he’s no longer dying and wishes to make amends for past wrongs. “I woke up this morning so conscious of the harm I’ve done to each and every one of y’all,” he says. To compensate for banishing Naomi Campbell to England, he gives Hakeem a jet. As consolation for “trying to break your faith”, he gives Andre $100,000,000 to start something called the Lyon Foundation. But these gifts pale into insignificance next to what he gives his remaining son: “The empire is yours, Jamal.” Jamal may have started off parading in his mama’s high heels when he was a little kid, but he ends EMPIRE’s first season walking in his father’s shoes. Oh, and Lucious has one extra surprise for Cookie: security footage of her attempt on his life which he plays for Jamal to turn him against her.

    Now that Jamal is running Empire, his previous position as Soap Land’s rich kid living in a crummy apartment, determined to make it on his own, is taken by Steven on DYNASTY. He even has the same roommate as Jamal did, only back then he was Jamal’s boyfriend Michael and now he’s Steven’s ex Sam (or maybe they’re back together again, I’m not quite sure). However, Sam is far less stoical about his new surroundings, pithily described by Fallon as “a Craigslist decorated co-op”, than he was when he was Michael.

    This week’s DALLAS and DYNASTY each include a storyline about a corrupt politician which contains all the ingredients one would expect in Soap Land: a sexual scandal, bribery and blackmail. Her dreams of being elected governor now dashed, there is still a criminal case hanging over Sue Ellen’s head. “The state attorney wants to indict me on charges of bribery,” she tells JR. He offers to take care of the situation: “I’ll make sure that twit never presses charges.” For all her talk of walking the straight and narrow, she agrees — as she later admits to Ann, it was either that or pick up a drink (“For the first time in his damned life, JR was the lesser of two evils.”) JR approaches the state attorney who refuses to consider dropping the case. “I don’t have any skeletons in my closet for you to pull out and parade,” he informs JR confidently. “I’m an honest state attorney.” Later on, JR interrupts his golf game to bring up the subject of “a certain charity tournament in Austin last year, some widows and orphans fund … Wasn’t there some big scandal — a hospitality tent on the thirteenth tee? Now, I hear the girls there were very, very hospitable. Jake here took pictures.” The smug expression is wiped from the state attorney’s face and the charges against Sue Ellen are dropped. As JR’s schemes go, this one is pretty basic, but knowing that Larry Hagman’s time is running out, it’s great to see him in action one last time. The fact that he’s acting on Sue Ellen’s behalf makes it all the more touching — legally and morally corrupt, but still touching.

    Things are even more ethically complicated for Cristal on DYNASTY. When Blake asks her to play hostess at a fundraising party for Senator Daniels, she happily agrees — until she hears from an old reporter pal, Rick Morales, that Daniels has a past as a crooked judge and that one of the people he took bribes from was Blake. Rick plans to expose Daniels in the press, which means that he and Blake could both end up in prison. When Cristal confronts him, Blake admits that the story is true. She is appalled — until he tells her that he only bribed the judge once, and did so for the sake of his kids. “When Alexis left, she wanted full custody of my children,” he explains. “I had enough dirt on her to keep that from happening, but I also knew that if I revealed it in court, it would devastate Fallon and Steven … I knew she would take my children and leave the country … so I turned to Daniels and he … ruled the case in my favour.” Touched, Cristal asks Rick not to run the story. When he refuses, she threatens to go over his head to his boss: “He’s a friend of the family and I could have him end your career …” “It’s not just your husband who’s one of them. It’s you too,” Rick tells her. Cristal stands by her man — until she meets Daniels’ wife, Melissa, who tells her about the senator’s “new anti-immigration stance - build the wall, SB 1070 kind of stuff.” Cristal realises she and Blake are “supporting someone who would have had me deported at the border.” (As if to counterbalance this allusion to Trump’s real-life anti-Mexican crusade, Patti LaBelle, aka Lady Marmalade herself, cameos on EMPIRE and gives a shout out to the Black Lives Matter movement.) “Sometimes you have to compromise your values for the greater good,” Blake argues when Cristal asks him about Daniels’ policy. “What’s greater than your values?” she shoots back, but he doesn’t give her a satisfactory reply.

    On the subject of values, Jamal’s promotion on EMPIRE receives a mixed reaction from those around him. Not only are his brothers resentful, but some of Empire’s clients ain’t too thrilled either. “Last time I checked, hip hop was born from the struggle of real men … Ain’t no place in this game for them bitches!” yells rapper Black Rambo at a press conference — an acknowledgement of the homophobia that is part of hip hop’s real-life history. A discussion on how Empire should publicly respond to this outburst leads to a juicy conflict between Jamal and Andre. When Lucious suggests issuing a statement that “Bigotry has no place at Empire”, Andre warns that such a stance would “weaken the stock price and cost shareholders millions.” “Thank you, Andre, thank you for the support,” retorts Jamal coldly. “It’s not about you, it’s about Empire,” Andre snaps back, “or is Empire now the cult of Jamal?” The lid on this very interesting can of worms is closed a little too easily (at least for now) when Jamal takes on Black Rambo in a rap battle and emerges victorious, the crowd who were digging Rambo’s anti-gay rhymes having been miraculously swayed by Jamal’s vocal acrobatics.

    Back on DYNASTY, the bad news keeps on coming for Cristal. When Melissa Daniels casually mentions “the trips to Bora-Bora, courtesy of Blake Carrington” she and her husband continue to receive, Cristal realises that Blake lied when he said his pay-out to Daniels was a one-time thing. “Their little quid quo bro has been going on for years,” Melissa assures her.

    Melissa inflicts upon Cristal the same kind of jaundiced advice about the perils of marriage to a wealthy man that Sue Ellen used to on Pam: “Being married to someone as powerful as Blake can wipe out your identity … but what’s integrity when you can have this bracelet? It cost more than the home I grew up in.” Her bitter experience also serves to place Blake and Cristal’s marriage in a wider context, which is a good thing.

    In the end, Cristal Solves All. She learns about the senator’s extramarital affairs from his wife, but rather than confront him directly the way JR does the state attorney, she offers the details to Rick Morales in place of the exposé he had planned. The ensuing headlines wreck Daniels’ career, but without harming Blake. “I protected you from the scandal, but I also had to protect my integrity and that meant ending Daniels’ campaign one way or another,” Cristal explains to her husband who is impressed by her ingenuity. This is a nice little self-contained story with some well-drawn guest characters. (As well as Melissa, Rick the reporter is very likeable. I particularly enjoyed the picture he paints of Cristal’s days as a lowly PR associate: “Your dungeon’s cubicle used to reek of Ming’s Chinese takeouts from all those late nights.”) One could easily imagine it working as a stand-alone episode in either ‘80s DALLAS or FALCON CREST’s first seasons.

    As the political aspirations of Sue Ellen and Senator Daniels each come to a messy end, those of another Soap Land character are only just beginning. Steven tells Fallon and Sam that he’s “done fighting a system that’s just gonna protect the one per cent… I’m ready to change it … I’m running for office.”

    Bobby Ewing’s quest to solve the mystery of Ann’s vanishing-then-suddenly-reappearing daughter Emma leads him to the Ryland mansion which evokes a similar vibe to FALCON CREST at its darkest and most gothic. There, he encounters Harris’s mother Judith, who’s like the Evil Queen from Snow White with a Texas twang, and Emma herself, a brainwashed hybrid of FC’s Emma and Lance, who has been hidden away for years by her father and grandmother to deprive Ann of raising her. “It was you,” Bobby realises, looking at Judith. “You and Harris took Emma from her stroller at the fair … You kidnapped her.” “… I wasn’t kidnapped,” Emma insists. “My father rescued me that day at the fair. He saved me from my mother.”

    Two key witnesses prove unreliable this week. The first is on DALLAS. Christopher has pinned all his hopes of getting an annulment on Rebecca Sutter’s promise to testify against Pamela, but having been bought off by John Ross, she changes her statement on the stand. The judge consequently rules against the annulment meaning the marriage must be terminated in the divorce courts, thereby enabling Pamela to make a claim for part of Ewing Energies in the settlement. Rebecca then turns into a liability for Pamela and John Ross when she refuses to leave town as arranged (much as Garry did for Wick Briggs on BLOOD AND OIL). “I wanna find my brother,” she insists.

    While Fallon Carrington continues to make a weekly song and dance about being a young woman in business, Elena Ramos quietly pulls off a coup for Ewing Enterprises on this week’s DALLAS and advances the plot at the same time. “I closed a deal today that gets us four fixed oil platforms in the Gulf … Each one is sitting on a goldmine of methane!” she tells Christopher. He and Bobby are so delighted, they agree to give her a portion of their shares of Ewing Enterprises. To their surprise, John Ross is all for the idea: “You have earned it, Elena, and not just a bigger share of the company — an equal share. How about it, fellas? We each give five per cent, making it equal!” Thrilled, Elena hugs him — but John Ross has an ulterior motive. As he later explains to JR, Elena is in debt to Sue Ellen and “until she gets that loan repaid, all her assets are vulnerable”, including her shares in Ewing Enterprises. “Son, you got the devil in you,” JR chuckles appreciatively. Among other things, this development paves the way for Sue Ellen to become a more central part of the action. “Once you and your mama take over the company, I get my piece like we agreed on,” JR reminds his son.

    Compared to Elena, Fallon travels a much more convoluted road to conclude a deal which I’m not sure amounts to much more than episode filler. In a corporate variation on the meet-cute, she is in the lobby of Morell Corp when she catches a man checking out her ass and calls him a pasty-faced, porn-addicted perv. He insists he wasn’t checking out her ass; he simply noticed she had some bacon stuck to the back of her skirt. Inevitably, it turns out that the future of the company depends on keeping the man Fallon just insulted, Tim Myers, onside. (“If Tim doesn’t agree to renew the lease, he could shut us down,” Jeff explains.) Fallon frantically tries to make nice, but Myers remains impervious to her charms. Eventually, he tells her he will renew the all-important lease if she beats him at poker. “And if I lose, what do you get?” she asks. “I get you,” he replies. (Turns out he really was checking out her ass and he really is a pasty-faced perv.) Fallon wins, of course, which allows her to yet again crow how about brilliant she is at everything. “Out of curiosity, what did you have?” Tim asks following their poker game. “More balls than you, Tim,” she gloats. “That’s why I’ll always win.” (While New Pamela reminds Frank Ashkani that she was “top of my class in business school”, Fallon finds time to brag that she was “pre-law, first semester at Wharton”. Other Soap Land Wharton alumni include DALLAS’s James Beaumont and KNOTS LANDING’s Charles Scott.)

    There are some notable literary references this week. As evocative quotations go, John Ross reciting the final words of The Great Gatsby to New Pamela (“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”) is up there with Steven quoting Much Madness is Divinest Sense to Claudia on ‘80s DYNASTY. “The way you were looking off out there reminded me of the way that Gatsby looked off at the light at the end of Daisy’s pier,” he tells her, echoing part of the proposal speech he delivered to Elena at the end of last season: “When I saw this ring, it reminded me how light reflects off oil.” I love the callback to his dyslexia: “I’m not that good of a reader, but I have read The Great Gatsby about a dozen times — it’s nice and short.”

    Over on EMPIRE, Anika commends Hakeem, somewhat condescendingly, on his choice of reading material. “A Curious Mind — this is an inspirational book, Hakeem. I’m happy you’re reading this!” she remarks. (A quick google reveals this to be a meta moment — A Curious Mind was written by one of EMPIRE’s producers.) “You know who else you should read?” she continues. “Machiavelli.” “You talking about the Italian guy, he be writing books about power?” he asks. “I already read that.” (So has Paige Matheson. She quoted him to Greg Sumner in 1991: “Among other evils which being unarmed brings you, it also causes you to be despised.”) “So you also know that he had a disdain for what he called ‘effeminate princes’?” Anika replies. “I’m not talking about Jamal being gay, I’m talking about a battle we can win. You are gonna be a much better king now that you have to fight for it.” “Fight for what?” he asks. “Have you ever heard of a hostile takeover? We’re gonna need Andre,” she tells him.

    It so happens that Hakeem has already had much the same discussion with his mother, which leads to Hakeem, Anika, Cookie and Andre meeting to discuss how best to take Empire for themselves. There’s just a little something Cookie and Anika need to get out of the way first — the cat-fight they’ve been building up to all season. It’s more chaotically violent than Alexis and Krystle’s initial contretemps back in ’82, but similarly funny and exciting. It starts with Cookie hurling a cocktail in Anika’s “bitch ass face” before knocking her to the floor with one blow. Anika then grabs Cookie by the hair and punches her in the stomach. “Who Boo Boo Kitty now, bitch?!” she asks. By way of reply, Cookie rips the pearls off of Anika’s necklace and throws her onto a pool table, then clambers on top of her and proceeds to strangle her. At this point, Andre pulls Cookie away. She appears to calm down but then makes one more lunge at her opponent. Hakeem appeals for reason: “We all here outta hate for the same man, right?” “Mom, if we’re gonna make a play for Empire, we need her,” Andre adds, going on to explain that Anika can introduce them to Tony Trichter, “a famous corporate raider” who is “the best at hostile takeovers” “… OK, I will work with Boo Boo Kitty this time,” concedes Cookie grudgingly.

    Trichter tells them the most effective way to assume control of a company is to “nail the CEO with a good scandal” — such as the murder of his ex-wife’s cousin, perhaps? This puts Cookie in the same position Blake was apparently in when he “had enough dirt” to use against Alexis in their divorce, but didn’t want to hurt their children. Besides, as flashbacks remind us, Cookie wouldn’t rat on Lucious seventeen years ago and she promises Jamal she won’t rat on him now. As far as she is concerned, Bunky’s death is “between him and the Lord, baby.”

    Trichter agrees to invest $150,000,000 of his own money into the takeover of Empire on the condition that the company then release his talentless grandson’s hip hop album. “Four hundred — he ain’t no Tupac,” counters Cookie. They settle on $250,000,000. Meanwhile, John Ross and New Pamela do some negotiating of their own while circling each other in her apartment. “Fifty per cent of my shares of Ewing Energies after the divorce in exchange for Christopher’s methane patent,” she proposes. “If I’m giving you the whole enchilada, I expect the same — a hundred per cent of your shares,” he counters. She barters him down to seventy per cent then interrupts their sexy haggling with an even sexier kiss, which John Ross breaks away from. “Hell, I’d’ve take taken fifty,” he smiles. “Pleasure doing business with you.” With that, he exits the penthouse, leaving Pamela high and dry. As he travels down in the elevator, it looks like he’s already grasped what it took his mother years to learn about his father — that the chase is everything. Sure enough, he’s only descended a couple of floors when the elevator starts to go back up again. The door slides open to reveal New Pamela waiting for him. He marches towards her, grabs her, they start pulling at each other’s clothes and then disappear from view.

    As well as secret plots to take over Ewing Enterprises and Empire, there is also one afoot to seize control Carrington Atlantic. Jeff explains to Monica the real reason he’s so determined to marry Fallon: “It’s the only way I’ll have influence over her CA shares — my first step in taking the company away from Blake.” At first, Monica is against the idea (“This is insane!”) but changes her mind by the end of the episode. “You wanna make them pay for what they’ve done?” she asks Jeff. “Well, so do I … We’re just getting started.”

    The resentful family black sheep has long been a familiar fixture in Soap Land — Andre Lyon and John Ross Ewing are simply picking up where Adam Carrington and Richard Channing left off — but now we also have another variation on the character: the quasi-family member who is continually taken for granted until they decide they’re not gonna take it anymore. DALLAS has Frank Ashkani, the protege whom Cliff Barnes treated “as his own, gave him an American education, college degree, fancy suits — everything but the heir-to-my-fortune part.” EMPIRE has Vernon Turner, Lucious’s consigliere who thinks of himself as a second father to the Lyon sons and encourages them to call him Uncle, but whose guilt over covering up Bunky’s murder has led him to relapse on cocaine.

    Whereas Jamal has waited a whole season to be crowned King of Empire, New Pamela simply sweeps into a board meeting at Barnes Global and interrupts Frank to announce the company’s change of focus away from casinos and back to alternative energy. Adding insult to injury, she then assumes Frank's place at the head of the table. “You disrespected me in front of the board. Don’t do that again,” he snaps once they are alone. “You have to stop thinking of me as your father’s driver.” She is unrepentant and he gets his revenge by sending Christopher Tommy’s cellphone which contains some incriminating voicemail messages from Pamela and Rebecca Sutter.

    Meanwhile, Andre takes his business defeat out on Vernon. “Empire should be mine and you know it … You stabbed me in the back!” he shouts. “You still my family,” Vernon insists. “I raised you.” “… You’re not my family. You’re just my dad’s thug and now you’re Jamal’s thug. That’s all you’re ever gonna be!” sneers Andre. This hits a nerve with Vernon and an ugly brawl ensues.

    Andre’s wife Rhonda only has two speaking scenes in this finale episode, but somehow manages to cram half a season’s worth of story lines into them. When we first see her, she is walking out on Andre (“You conceded Empire to Jamal without even putting up a fight!”). In the second, she returns to discover Vernon knocking seven bells out of her husband. So she picks up a candlestick, a large brass candlestick, and whacks Vernon with it, whereupon she becomes the third woman in as many weeks, following DALLAS’s Pamela and DYNASTY’s Iris, to kill a man in self-defence (“He doesn’t have a pulse!”). Andre wants to call the police, but she pleads with him not to: “There’s gonna be an investigation and a trial and who knows what can happen? I can’t take that … BABE, I’M PREGNANT!” This gives her and New Pamela even more in common: both are pregnant, both have unintentionally killed someone and both have covered it up as if it were a murder. Whereas much was made of the disposal of Tommy Sutter’s body in the season finale of DALLAS, EMPIRE skips over that bit and the next thing we see is Andre and Rhonda standing at Lucious’s side for the symbolic bell-ringing that signifies Empire is now a publicly-traded company.

    Several characters face the possibility of imprisonment this week — Sue Ellen for bribing a medical examiner, Blake for bribing a judge, Rebecca Sutter for perjury and conspiracy to commit fraud — but it’s the man who has managed to evade his terrible crime for an entire season who finally ends up under arrest — Lucious Lyon.

    “You did this to me … You’re a ghetto rat!” shouts Lucious at Cookie, as he is placed in handcuffs after the bell-ringing ceremony. But it wasn’t Cookie who reported him to the authorities. “Vernon Turner’s disappeared … He’s my star witness,” mutters the FBI agent who just arrested Lucious. It’s at this point that we realise it was Vernon, not Cookie, who snitched on Lucious — and now he’s dead. Nevertheless, the timing of the arrest could not be better for Cookie and co’s planned takeover. Lucious is still being led away by the cops when Becky tells him “the news of your arrest has already hit and now the stock is plummeting … Everyone’s talking about a hostile takeover.” The scene goes into slow motion as he passes Andre and Hakeem and sees the smug expressions on their faces.

    A patriarch locked up as his sons look on smiling, his wife and mistress teaming up to rob him of his power: this feels like a mashup of James Beaumont tearing up JR’s sanatarium release papers and Sue Ellen joining forces with Kimberly Cryder to prevent JR getting West Star, only with more gravitas. The season ends with Lucious vowing from behind bars to get back at those who betrayed him: “You may think you’ve gotten away with it, but don’t fool yourselves … Lucious Lyon will return.” His final words, delivered direct to camera, strike the same vengeful note as Monica Colby’s “We’re just getting started” at the end of DYNASTY: ”Game time, bitches.”

    And this week’s Top 3 are …

    1 (2) DALLAS
    2 (1) EMPIRE
    3 (3) DYNASTY
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2020 at 5:43 PM
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  12. Willie Oleson

    Willie Oleson SoapLand Battles Moderator EXP: 18 Years

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    And again I had no idea what it was going to be. Empire looks so exciting at the moment, but then you also have this:
    Which reminds me of another main prime time soap character who didn't survive the pillow smothering (although he was already in a coma-ish state).

    That's….very convenient plotting.

    Yeah, it reminds me of the uplifting against-all-odds movies where the romantic underdog defeats the popular ski/surf/race hunk, backed with a Footloose kind of soundtrack (or something equally cheesy).
    Good, very good!
     
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