Thanks again to @Toni for retrieving this thread. Again, I don't necessarily agree with myself anymore. (Not all the original posts are here. Some are lost forever in deletia, as Mack Mackenzie put it in Back to the Cul-de-sac. Funny how that word never took off, isn't it?) "Changing of the Guard" “CLIFF BARNES SUICIDE ATTEMPT: Former Public Official In Coma After Overdose.” (Dallas Press, October 1982) The primary question hanging over this Season 5 premiere is a straightforward one: Will Cliff survive his suicide attempt? In the absence of a “Who Shot JR?” or “Who Killed Who In The Southfork Swimming Pool?” style mystery to unravel, Arthur Bernard Lewis (writer of all five season premieres between 1980 and 1984) is free to concentrate on characters’ reactions to recent events. In so doing, he cleverly sets up several key conflicts between characters which will recur and escalate throughout the rest of the year, as the main theme of Season 5 - Bobby and JR’s battle for control of Ewing Oil - emerges and develops. Pam, for instance, whose Season 4 story lines focused exclusively on her quest for a child, is plunged immediately back into the heart of the Barnes/Ewing feud in this episode. Miss Ellie: Oh Pam, haven’t you heard? ... Cliff is Dallas Memorial Hospital ... He tried to take his own life ... Pam: Did it have anything to with JR and Sue Ellen? Miss Ellie: It was JR. No sooner has she learned of Cliff’s condition than Pam must delicately reject her husband’s offer of support: Bobby: I’ll go with you. Pam: No, Bobby. If JR’s involved, I don’t think Mama will want to see a Ewing at the hospital. Her instincts are correct. As far as Rebecca is concerned, Cliff is in a coma “for the same reason his father finally succeeded in drinking himself to death - the Ewings ... Pam, I know you’re married to a Ewing, but that shouldn’t blind you to the kind of people they are. Digger Barnes was in love with Ellie. So was Jock Ewing. Two men in love with the same woman, happens all the time - but when one of the men is a Ewing, he isn’t content to win the woman fair and square, he has to destroy his rival at the same time.” Pam: That’s ancient history. Rebecca: Is it? Well, history has a way of repeating itself. This time the triangle is Cliff, Sue Ellen and JR - and Cliff may be dying. I told Ellie this morning: I’m gonna break the Ewings. I have the money and the power to do it. My family will not suffer at their hands ever again!” Rebecca’s speech taps into the power of the DALLAS mythology. Her assertion that “history has a way of repeating itself” suggests that the fates of the Barnes and Ewing families are somehow pre-determined; in the same way that the love triangle between Digger, Jock and Ellie resulted in Digger’s destruction, so Cliff is now destined to tread the same path as his father. The tragic irony is that in attempting to break this cycle of fate, (“My family will not suffer at their hands ever again!”) Rebecca is sealing her own doom, for it is she who will be the next fatality of the feud. The inability to escape one’s fate is the essence of Shakespearean tragedy, and DALLAS’s fifth season (notably, David Paulsen’s first as Story Editor) is full of it. Every moment - each scene, each action, each line - builds inexorably towards the Southfork inferno at the end of the year. This creates a powerfully resonant sense of claustrophobia for all of the characters. There is no escape from the lives they have been born, or have married, into. Pam, attempting to resist this sense of fatalism, defends her husband’s family in this scene: “Mother, Cliff’s fight was with JR, not the whole Ewing family.” However, later in the season, she too will be compelled to take a stand against “everything the Ewings stand for.” Back at Southfork, Miss Ellie is determined to make good on her vow to remove JR as President of Ewing Oil. “It seems that JR used Ewing Oil resources to set up Cliff in a phoney deal,” she explains to Ray and Donna. Ray: And when the deal fell apart, Cliff tried to kill himself. Donna: Oh Lord, Miss Ellie! When she asks for Ray’s support in voting JR out of the company, he is obliged to confess that, some months earlier, “when I was the lowest, when I was tryin’ to forget that I was a Ewing”, he signed his Ewing Oil proxy over to JR. Despite Ellie’s forgiveness, (“Ray, I do understand”) Ray's need to redeem himself and prove himself worthy of Jock’s name will soon lead directly to the “adoption” of cousin Mickey, and to further tragedy. When JR returns to Southfork that evening, he finds Miss Ellie, Bobby and Lucy waiting for him. “Tight little family meetin’ we got here,” he observes. “Except for Ray, where’s he? Or is this only for those of us with both Ewing and Southworth blood coursing through our veins?” Miss Ellie: You know why Ray isn’t here. You stole his voting shares. This is a classic “Southfork living room” scene. In this dramatic yet emotionally controlled atmosphere, JR and his mama truly lock horns for the first time of the series. JR: Is this little meeting to determine the fate of Ewing Oil? Miss Ellie: ... Both Lucy and Bobby know my reasons for wanting you out ... I vote my thirty shares and John Ross’s ten shares to dismiss you as President of Ewing Oil. JR: Mama, John Ross is here ... he’s back to stay. Now I’m gonna marry Sue Ellen, and you can’t vote his shares any longer; at least, not according to the rules in Daddy’s letter. So, therefore, I vote my thirty shares, John Ross’s ten, and Ray’s ten, that I remain the President of Ewing Oil. Now that is forty votes. Lucy registers her vote succinctly: “Out.” Miss Ellie: Well, we have a tie - forty votes apiece. Bobby, I think it’s only fair to warn you that if you vote to dismiss JR, you will have to step in and run Ewing Oil. Since his brief stint at the helm in Season 3, Bobby has exhibited scant interest in running his father’s company. However, with the upcoming battle for control of Ewing Oil dominating this season, it is important that this episode re-establish him as a worthy contender for the crown - hence his declaration in this scene that “I’m takin’ over as President of Ewing Oil.” This is immediately followed by a heated confrontation in the nursery between the brothers, in which Bobby presents JR with evidence that “you’re not Christopher’s father, you don’t have any claim on him at all ... You tried to blackmail me with a child you thought was your own. You’re scum!” After delivering a long overdue punch to JR, Bobby comforts a waterlogged Christopher with words that aptly describe his own newly acquired status within the family: “Don’t worry, Daddy’s got everything under control.” This new-found authority is further underlined during a scene in which Bobby meets with the cartel to celebrate his reinstatement. "I do seem to remember last time you took over the reigns of Ewing Oil, we made deals with you and wound up with JR,” a dubious Jordan Lee points out. “Oil business hasn’t changed. Didn’t like what you saw last time, you resigned.” “I’m in for the distance this time, Jordan,” Bobby replies firmly. Accordingly, he is all business on his first day back on the job, scarcely pausing to acknowledge either the revamped Ewing Oil offices or the first on-screen appearance of receptionist, Kendall Chapman. (Pity poor Kendall, aka Danone Simpson, who will have to wait another seven years for her first on-camera close-up!) Bobby wastes no time in summoning all the department heads to a conference meeting (affording us our first glimpse of EO’s rarely used boardroom) and requesting a complete breakdown of the company’s drilling and refinery operations, finances and oil reserves, “from the time I resigned and JR took over.” This is in stark contrast to JR’s “business” activities during the previous season, which had less to do with profiteering (aside from one itty bitty oil deal with the cartel) than procuring voting shares from family members (attempted bribery and/or blackmail of Ray, Bobby, Gary and Lucy) and trying to put Sue Ellen’s suitors out of business (the stockpiling of the Farlows’ oil supply, the suckering of Cliff into a phoney land deal). As Miss Ellie puts it in this episode, “JR, what you did had nothing to do with business; it was revenge, pure and simple.” While this episode’s “changing of the guard” between JR and Bobby ignites enough sibling resentment to fuel the rest of the season, Ellie’s disagreement with her first-born over his business methods anticipates her later attempt to break Jock’s will and sell the company. JR: By turnin’ Ewing Oil over to Bobby, you stand a very good chance of ruinin’ everything my daddy spent his whole life workin’ for. Can you live with that? Miss Ellie: You’ve left me no choice. As well as setting up the familial conflicts that will rage throughout the rest of Season 5, this episode also finds time to deal with Cliff’s cliff-hanger, with the aid of some enjoyably cliched hospital dialogue, delivered with all due gravitas and the minimum of sentimentality. Rebecca: Doctor, is there any change? Dr Hollister: I’m afraid not ... The paramedics reported that at one point Cliff had stopped breathing ... It could mean a change in personality ... Now please, I don’t want you to worry prematurely. Afton: I don’t know how not to do that, Doctor ... He has to live, he just has to! Audrey Landers and Priscilla Pointer, along with Howard Keel, now replace Leigh McCloskey in the “Also Starring” credits at the beginning of each episode. Afton and Rebecca take advantage of their new status to refuse Sue Ellen admission to Cliff’s hospital room. Afton: I love him. You don’t know the meaning of the word. You’re poison! Rebecca: Go home, Sue Ellen. Once again, Pam is caught between the Barneses and the Ewings. Sue Ellen: I need to see him. Pam: It’s Cliff’s needs we’re concerned about right now and the way Mama feels, if you were there, it would just cause tension. I’m sorry. Even by her own standards, Sue Ellen is exceptionally dithery in this episode. She responds to almost every question in the same way. “Tell me honestly,” JR asks her in the opening scene. “Would you really have been comfortable doin’ that, lendin’ [Cliff] money? Truly?” Sue Ellen: I really don’t know. Later, Clayton poses this teaser: “Sue Ellen, even if Cliff comes out of this all right, do you honestly think you could ever be happy with JR?” Sue Ellen: I don’t know. Clayton, I really don’t know. Back to JR: “Seems kinda strange you bein’ here at Southfork and us not sharin’ the same bed ... How long’s it gonna last?” Sue Ellen: I don’t know. Sue Ellen’s state of indecision serves to delay the resolution of the secondary part of Season 4’s cliff-hanger: Will she and JR remarry? It also begins to restore some much-needed credibility to her character. In Season 4, Sue Ellen’s IQ level plummeted dramatically following her divorce from JR. She ricocheted continuously between Clayton, Cliff and JR as the plot dictated, without a moment’s thought or introspection. (This from a woman who had spent the previous two years undergoing four-times-a-week therapy sessions with Dr Elby; her life had been about almost nothing but introspection!) Over the next five episodes, prompted by the shock of both Cliff’s suicide attempt and her new continuity-be-damned mullet, Sue Ellen will gradually begin to take stock of the situation in which she now finds herself, and make some pragmatic decisions about her future. Despite her protestations in this episode that “if Cliff recovers, there may be some damage to his mind; if that happens, or if he dies, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to marry JR”, she is already allowing herself to be sucked back into the Ewing vortex by accepting an invitation to stay at Southfork. “I don’t think you should be by yourself,” Miss Ellie tells her. Judging from some of Sue Ellen’s comments in this episode, Miss Ellie may have a point: “JR, I’m so confused right now ... I honestly can’t think about our future right now.” To Mrs Chambers: ”I’m so tired. I just walked around for hours, I was so confused. I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t even know where I was.” “Miss Ellie, I’m so confused. I don’t know where to turn, or who to turn to.” To Clayton: “I’m pretty confused, and I need to talk to you." Gee, y'all think she might be confused?? In other season premiere news, Lucy continues to briskly work her way through Soap Traumas 101. Having already done Kidnap and Rape, she ticks off Unwanted Pregnancy in this episode, with Abortion and Divorce soon to follow. “I can’t stand the fact that it’s Roger’s baby!” she informs confidante Muriel, as agog as she is goggle-eyed. While Lucy’s ordeals in the first half of this season occur in relative isolation from the rest of the drama, they will lead directly to her tentative romance with Mickey, and its - you guessed it - tragic consequences. By the end of the episode, Cliff has been given the all clear, at least physically. “He’s in a state of depression,” Rebecca informs Pam. “Unless Cliff begins to see the world differently than he did before, he could try suicide again. I swear, Pam, if JR were here right now, I think I could kill him!” “Mama, JR isn’t gonna hurt anyone anymore,” responds Pam, with dazzling inaccuracy. In fact, the final scene of this instalment sees JR busily renegotiating his return to power over drinks with Holly Harwood. The audience, along with Bobby, is introduced to Holly by Jordan Lee earlier in the episode. Holly: Just think of me as another oil man, Mr Lee. Jordan: Well you are that since your daddy left you Harwood Oil when he died. “She’s awfully young to be runnin’ an oil company, isn’t she, Jordan?” wonders Bobby. “I’m bright enough to know what I don’t know,” Holly concedes to JR in their scene, explaining why she wants him to run her company. “You’re outta Ewin’ Oil, I don’t know a damn thing about runnin’ an oil company.” JR: All right, I’ll accept your offer ... on one condition - that I stay completely in the background. Nobody’s to know of my involvement ... I want twenty-five per-cent of Harwood Oil. Holly: You don’t come cheap, do you, JR? JR: You wouldn’t want me if I did ... Holly: All right - deal. What does all this mean? Will JR be going into direct competition with Ewing Oil? As is often the case during Season 5, the significance of this scene - and Holly’s pivotal role in the family drama - only becomes clear in retrospect. All we know for now is that JR is back in the game. Holly (proposing a toast): To JR Ewin’, back in power again. JR (returning the toast): As it should be!