"Adoption" Directed by Larry Hagman. "Adoptions are very routine. There's rarely a problem," claims Bobby's attorney. Tell that to Jeff Farraday, back in Dallas sans tache. (Given his track record, he probably sold it. To John Beck.) Miss Ellie stops by the Krebbs' house to invite Donna to the ranch for dinner. (For once they're having something that doesn't look like it came from a cow--unless it's a cow that's shaped like a chicken. With Ray recent hands-off approach to ranching, anything's possible.) "Think you can trust me with your china?" Donna asks wryly, holding up one of several pieces of broken crockery. "Over the years I've thrown a few plates myself," Ellie replies (foreshadow alert! foreshadow alert!). "I caught [Ray] with another woman," Donna explains, "and I was just so upset when I got in that I lost control. I don't think that I've ever been so mad. Ever." (Another dramatic event in the Krebbs house that didn't make it to the screen, but I guess there's only so much plate throwing one season can take.) "Deep down inside, I feel like Ray wanted me to catch him," intuits Donna and of course she's correct--which means that JR, by arranging for Donna to find Ray and Bonnie together, acted an agent for Ray's subconscious, self-destructive need. The valid point Marky makes about Sue Ellen, "she wasn't so much seduced back by JR's deceptive ploys, but by her own. And it clearly reflected how much she was the architect of her own repeated destruction" can be applied equally to Ray. And perhaps also, in a more roundabout way, to Cliff. In this episode, Cliff discovers a connection between Ewing Oil and Olco Industries. Not only do the two companies do a lot of business together, but JR and Wally Hampton were frat brothers. (Can you imagine the kind of hazing rituals those two indulged in? Ouch!) It's always struck me as unlikely that JR would not expect, or even intend, Cliff to make this connection. "Did you really think I'd take that job Wally Hampton offered without checking it out first?" asks Cliff during a confrontation scene with JR. "Like the greedy frog to the juicy fly, I thought you'd snatch it up right up," JR replies. "I must have you worried," Cliff concludes. "I must have you really worried." Isn't this, in fact, what Cliff wants to believe--that he now has what it takes to both undermine and outsmart JR? "There's no way you keep me from seeing Sue Ellen anymore," he continues. (It appears to have escaped Cliff's attention that he has already stopped seeing Sue Ellen, albeit temporarily. They haven't shared a scene for two weeks. The writers needed to keep them apart to enable JR's courtship of Sue Ellen to progress.) "I plan to marry her one of these days." "Barnes, you're gonna have to step over my dead body to do that." "Whatever it takes." It's not hard to imagine that JR has used the Wally Hampton scheme as a red herring, a way of lulling Cliff into a false sense of security before springing the real trap on him. (Larry Hagman's grim expression at the end of this scene doesn't quite bear that theory out, however.) The episode contains a classic example of 'When Storylines Collide'. Two separate plot strands, Christopher's adoption and the tentative reconciliation of JR and Sue Ellen, draw ever closer before finally converging towards the end of the episode as Bobby is obliged to ask Sue Ellen for an affidavit disclaiming any knowledge as to the paternity of Kristin's baby. The dance begins as Bobby calls Sue Ellen "to get together for a few minutes early next week. I have a few things I'd like to talk to you about," only seconds before JR arrives at her door with an invitation to dinner at the ranch. "Sue Ellen, those memories of our first meeting were very special to me and I'd like to make that the start of a new friendship between us." So it is that JR, Sue Ellen and John Ross arrive in the Southfork kitchen where John Ross pulls off his most complicated piece of dialogue thus far: "Hi, ganma!" Everyone laughs with relief (who knows how many takes it took to get that line in the can?) and then celebrates in the time honoured family tradition of all licking the cooking spoon. Ewin' saliva--mm hmm! As the family gathers for dinner, Sue Ellen initiates a conversation with Donna. A rare exchange not on the theme of "A Ewing is a Ewing is a Krebbs", the awkwardness between these two women is very nicely conveyed. Sue Ellen, aiming for nothing more than social chit chat, ("Donna, it's so nice to see you again") inquires after Ray. In reply, Donna (to paraphrase James Cagney's no-nonsense definition of acting that was recently posted on the forum by Crimson) just plants her feet, looks Sue Ellen right in the eye, and tells the truth: "He's not doing too well... His whole world seems to have crumbled." This is possibly more information than Sue Ellen was anticipating, but her polite responses--"Will he be here tonight?" she asks--only drag her in further. "No, he'll probably be at the Longview Bar," replies Donna. "Well, I'm, er, sorry to hear that Ray's havin' a hard time, Donna. Um, what are you gonna do?" "I don't know yet." " ... Oh, I've gotta admire Donna," interjects an amused JR. "Ray's been treatin' her very badly. She's holdin' up real well." He pats her on the shoulder for good measure. Bobby and Pam, meanwhile, are both shocked (for slightly different reasons) to see Sue Ellen back at Southfork. After dinner, Sue Ellen asks Bobby what it is he wants to discuss with her, and he tells her the conversation will keep. Clearly, he is worried how her renewed closeness with JR will affect his already delicate task. For her part, Sue Ellen is far less hostile towards Bobby than she was throughout Season 3 (when she treated him like dirt) or during their brief, terse meeting at the Southern Cross at the beginning of this season. A nice juxtaposition between the domestic and the devious comes when JR steals upstairs to his room during the post-dinner booze up. As John Ross, evidently exhausted from delivering his two words of dialogue, takes a nap face down on the bed, JR makes a call to the Braddock County Sheriff's Department: "Fenton, I'm kind of worried about my brother. No--Ray. He's been takin' my daddy's death pretty hard and I'm afraid he's gonna get himself into some kind of trouble. Could you have a couple of your boys pick him up? He'll be at the Longview Bar. And Fenton, I'm not gonna be able to get to your place until after midnight so just hold him there for me. I appreciate it, bud." (Thus begins the animosity between Sheriff Washburn and Ray which will come to a head at the end of Season 5.) In an episode that features several strong two-hander scenes--Ray and Donna, Donna and Bonnie, Bobby and Sue Ellen--JR's visit to the jail is the best. "Nice little place you got here, Ray," he observes as Ray sits huddled on the floor of his cell. "It's not often a Ewing spends the night in jail." (Seems to be averaging out at once per season--it was Sue Ellen's turn last year and it'll be JR's the next.) "You've fallen as long way since Daddy died," JR continues. "Now I'll admit I was in trouble for a while, but I pulled myself out. Life goes on, Ray. If you're a Ewing, it does." "You never loved him." "Didn't I?" "Not the way I did." And it's true. There was something untainted, unconditional about Ray's love for Jock. Their relationship wasn't corrupted by the desperate need for approval that JR, and to a lesser extent Bobby and even Gary, had towards their father. Untainted, that is, until Ray discovered he was a Ewing. "You loved him so much you're willing to drag his memory down in the gutter with you right now," says JR. Ray gets to his feet and moves towards him, grabbing the cell bars that separate them. "No, I'm not!" he snarls. "Ray, you're carryin' ten votin' shares in his company," JR tells him calmly. "A company that was his life. Now do you in your wildest imagination think that he'd ever have given you those shares if he could see you now? You don't deserve them." "Is that it? The votes? I don't want the damn votes!" shouts Ray. "Well get rid of 'em. Sign this, right now." Then there's a lovely moment of Hagman directing himself where JR wedges the document between the bars of the cell and then steps back nervously as if Ray were an animal in a cage who might suddenly yank his arm off. Ray takes the papers and signs them, (is there a more unthinkable act for a son of Jock Ewing to commit?) holds them out through the bars and then as JR reaches for them, he drops them, forcing JR to bend down and pick them up from the floor. "Go to hell JR," he tells him. This transaction will have no direct repercussions until the Season 5 premiere. Having acquired Ray's 10 voting shares, JR makes a play for Lucy's the following morning by claiming to have made a sizeable donation to the hospital where Mitch is employed. After playing dumb for most of the season, Lucy finally gets some decent wisecracks to deliver: "Why are you working at home now?" she asks her uncle. "Is there something you wanna hide from Bobby?" "If Dr Waring had a choice between my donation and firing your husband," JR replies, "what do you suppose he'd do?" "Is this a multiple choice question?" asks Lucy sweetly. (For some reason, that's one of my favourite Lucy lines of the whole series.) She proves a tougher nut to crack than Ray. "I don't care if [Mitch] freezes on Mars. I'm keepin' my ten voting shares ... and don't think I don't know why you're being so nice to Sue Ellen; all you want's John Ross's ten voting shares." First Afton, now Lucy: it's interesting how it's the dumb blondes (supposed or otherwise) who are most adept at pinpointing JR's motives this season. Lucy's remark introduces an interesting ambiguity--how much JR's interest in getting his son back is down to paternal devotion and how much is to do with John Ross's voting shares? (If memory serves, this is JR and Lucy's first one to one scene since Season 2, possibly even earlier. They won't be alone together again until the Season 7 premiere.) Lucy spends the rest of this episode trying to extricate herself from Roger after their one night stand: "I just don't want it to continue," she tells him in her best white disco suit. "I wanna have a professional relationship. Not a love affair." There's that memorable shot of Roger flipping out and throwing a glass of wine (so red! so bloody!) at his bedroom wall which, as the camera pans along, we can see is completely covered with Harry Langdon pics of Lucy. Pam invites Sue Ellen to her aerobic studio (where her sole duties seem to consist of padding around in a latex leotard whilst carrying a clipboard) for a good gossip. It's the first time we've seen these two behaving like best girlfriends. "I wanna talk to you about JR," says Pam. Sue Ellen is more girlish and unguarded than ever before. "The trouble is," she confesses, "after all this time, JR still gets to me." During their conversations at Southfork, Sue Ellen was always the cynic and Pam the idealist. In this scene, the roles are reversed. "He's much more considerate, much nicer," says Sue Ellen dreamily. "Well, he's unpredictable," counters Pam dryly with a roll of the eyes and she suddenly seems smarter, even prettier, than she has all season. After spending the night in jail, Ray returns home. "I'm cutting my ties with the Ewings," he tells Donna as she kneels by the fireplace snapping twigs for kindling. "I'm gonna stop pretending to be something I'm not. I'm just gonna be my plain old self." Donna's reply, "That's all I ever wanted, Ray," is the most poignant moment of the episode. "I fell in love with Ray Krebbs," she continues. "I never asked you to compete with the Ewing boys." "I wanted you to be proud of me." "I was proud of you, just the way you were." "... If you were smart you'd be long gone by now." Do you wanna divorce, Ray?" "Yes." "Well if you want it, you file for it. Because I'm not ready to give up yet." Later, while Ray is apparently sleeping off the night before, Donna puts a blanket over him. She then takes off her COLUMBO style raincoat and puts on her fur, stuffing a handful of notes into the pocket as she goes. This is Donna's version of Miss Ellie's horse whip. Over at the Longview Bar, Bonnie is talking to a fellow barfly who looks suspiciously like future Oil Baron's Club hostess Cassie. "Maureen says this new bar's got two dance floors, one raised above the other," Bonnie tells her. I love this line; it speaks volumes about the size of Bonnie's world. (What's great about Bonnie and the actress who plays her, Lindsay Bloom, is that while we know next to nothing about the character, we know that she's more than just a one-dimensional bimbo or gold digger; she has a past. We might not know what that past is, but it somehow accounts for the "Lookin' for Love in All the Wrong Places" trap she now finds herself caught in.) Enter Donna, all furred up. "What brings you to the Longview Bar?" asks Bonnie. "Slummin'?" "I wanted to see what the competition looked like with clothes on," she replies. "I know why you're trying to steal my husband. He's a very special man ..." "He doesn't want you, so why don't you just let him go?" "Go? You mean go to you, so he can spend the rest of the rest of his life in dumps like this?" (Hmm, wasn't it a dump like this where Donna and Ray first met, the sort of place that provided such a welcome respite from her marriage to Sam? And weren't dumps like this where the Ray Krebbs Donna fell in love with took her on their early dates? Could Ray perhaps sense her thinking from time to time: "What a dump"? Maybe Donna isn't as non-judgemental as she'd have Ray believe. Perhaps some unspoken part of her did or does expect more from him.) "I think he's worth more than that," Donna continues. "Now I want you out of his life and out of mine. ... How much is it gonna cost me?" "You're askin' for a drink in the face, lady." "I'll give you $5,000 to move to Houston." (Katherine Wentworth made Jenna a very similar offer in Season 6.) " ... I'll give you 10,000 if you'll leave the state. How about fifteen?" Bonnie hesitates, seeing a way out of her dead-end, two dance-floor world. "Fifteen'd do it," she says. "Not ten?" taunts Donna. "Now that we know what you are, let's haggle over your fee." Bonnie throws a drink in Donna's face, Donna lands a punch on Bonnie's jaw, and Bonnie falls to the floor, sending Cassie's potato chips flying in the process. (I like to imagine this moment as a turning point for Cassie; that night she called up her best friend Dora Mae and told her, "Girl, get your black cocktail dress outta hock cos we are movin' uptown!") "Drinks are Bonnie!" smiles Donna in triumph, slapping a fistful of dollars down on the bar and making her exit. It's all about money. At Bette Davis Towers, JR presents Sue Ellen with a frosted sculpture of two entwined lovers. It's rather nice. "It's beautiful!" Sue Ellen gasps, her taste in art evidently having taken a turn for the traditional since presenting Jock and Ellie with that what-the-hell-is-it on a plinth in Season 1. "I got to thinkin' about everything we've been through and everything I've put you through," JR tells her. "I guess this is my way of asking forgiveness ..." "That's behind us now anyway," she assures him. On his way out, JR turns and looks back at her: "Sue Ellen, there's something I wanna say. I should have said it a long time ago. I love you." As far as I or the Swoonalettes can recall, this is the first time JR has said those three little words to his wife since the series began. He leaves and Sue Ellen's eyes fill up. Then Bobby calls: "Can you spare a few minutes tonight?" He comes over. "I wanna talk to you about Christopher ... There just isn't an easy way to say this. Christopher's natural mother was Kristin." Linda Gray's reactions are awfully slow in this scene. I once met an actress who said that the best advice she ever received was when a director reviewed her performance in rehearsal and instructed her, "Half as much and twice as fast!" If only director Hagman had given La Gray a similar note, this could have been a truly dynamic scene instead of merely a very interesting one. As it is, she takes a lengthy pause before (and sometimes during) every line she delivers, resulting in a loss of momentum and a "flattening out" of the scene. "Kristin??" Sue Ellen replies (eventually). "Bobby, are you sure?" "Absolutely ..." "Then it was true. She did have a baby." Her response comes as a shock to Bobby. "You knew she was pregnant?" he asks, then: "You know who the father is?" "Don't you?" she snaps. "Why do you think there were no charges against Kristin for the shooting? ... All of JR's nasty little secrets come back to haunt me sooner or later." "... Sue Ellen, I wouldn't hurt you for the world, you know that." Patrick Duffy's voice quivers here, and one is reminded of the emotional scene between these two when Bobby visited Sue Ellen in the sanitarium at the end of Season 1. At times like these, it feels as though Bobby has a stronger empathetic bond with Sue Ellen than he does with Pam. This scene affords Bobby the opportunity to finally talk to someone about the bizarre situation he now finds himself in and, more importantly, rehash the plot for the benefit of casual viewers: "This whole thing is starting to seem like a nightmare. I had every intention of giving that baby to JR. I brought the baby to the house. Pamela misunderstood, she thought that I adopted it while she was in the hospital." (I remember my father really laughing at that line.) "Then she doesn't know that JR's the father?" Sue Ellen asks. "No, and now I can't tell her the whole story. I don't know what it might to do her." Sue Ellen then poses an interesting question: "And how do you feel about raisin' JR's son?" "I don't have a choice," Bobby replies simply. Oh, how I wish that Christopher had been JR's son. Imagine the dramatic possibilities of Bobby and Sue Ellen trying to keep this secret from Pam and JR for years and years. Bobby asks Sue Ellen to sign the affidavit "disclaiming any interest in your sister's baby and stating you don't know who the father is." After much hesitating and pausing and meaningful looks at the frosted sculpture, she agrees. "You know, just when I was feelin' good about JR this whole thing came back to show me how much he's screwed up my life," she says bitterly, conveniently forgetting that earlier this very day JR apologised for "everything I've put you through" and she forgave him. What did she think she was forgiving him for--farting in bed? Kindly Judge Thornby grants temporary conservatorship of Christopher to Bobby and an aerobically absent Pam, while Jeff Farraday lurks unseen in the shadows. As Donna prepares to leave for a research trip to Austin, Ray asks why she punched Bonnie instead of him. "I want you in one piece," she replies. "You see I've decided to take you, anyway that I can have you." Something in her words ignites a small flame of hope inside Ray, and we see him smile to himself and put the cap on the bottle. On this small moment a storyline turns, and it's a moment that convinces. JR shows up at Sue Ellen's door to be greeted by some short sharp one-liners. Sue Ellen on the fancy looking box he gives her: "What's the quote, 'Beware of ex-husbands bearing gifts'?" On the necklace inside it: "Reminds me of our former marriage, a very expensive joke." "What did I do?" asks a mystified JR. "You don't have to do anything," retorts Sue Ellen, hurrying upstairs to get away from his questions, lest she incriminate herself or Bobby. "All it takes is for you to be yourself." On the landing, she stops to looks down at him: "Everything between us is the same as it's always been. Sick, sick, sick!" She hurls the necklace in his direction and JR is left wondering what the hell's going on. Aw, thanks. I remember we had some nice little exchanges on the old thread, back in the day!