Re-watching Season 5

Discussion in 'Dallas Season Reviews' started by James from London, Jan 23, 2017.

  1. Steven Wayne

    Steven Wayne Soap Chat Member

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    I really love these; they are the highlight of my daily online activities. Every analysis show how much love and time and skill and knowledge went into it. Thank you very much.
     
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  2. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    "Mama Dearest"

    Given its original broadcast date of New Year's Eve 1982, this episode contains a distinct lack of festive cheer. The Ewings are still reeling from Miss Ellie's shock announcement at the barbecue, ("I'm going to court to break Jock's will and then I intend to sell Ewing Oil!") and the instalment wrings every bit of conflict from that situation. (Despite the episode title, however, Barbara Bel Geddes stops short of a Joan Crawford style meltdown - even though, Lord knows, there's no shortage of wire coat hangers at Southfork.) Surprisingly, it's Bobby who is given the most interesting material of the episode, thereby restoring some complexity to a character whose "I'll take/I took care of it, Mama" default setting makes it so easy to take him for granted.

    The first quarter of the episode is set during the immediate aftermath the barbecue. As the caterers tidy away the remains of the party (in the last Texas-based shot of the season - until Sue Ellen returns to Holly's house at the end of the year), the Ewings retreat inside the house to tear little bits out of each other. Even Lucy gets involved. "I wanna know why all those oil men are so angry and why Grandma's on the phone to Harve Smithfield right now!" she demands of JR. "Why don't you tell her, JR?" asks Bobby evenly, starting the episode in familiar 'Voice of Reason' mode, "What you're doin' right now isn't just hurtin' Ewing Oil, it's hurtin' the whole family." "... Your dirty deals might just get somebody killed one of these days!" chimes in a less restrained Pam, unaware that she is forecasting her own mother's death. "It was your brother who started that whole mess, not me!" protests JR. "It started with your cut-rate gasoline!" she shouts back. "I don't think we need any more of this bickering," bickers Miss Ellie. "Mama, contesting Daddy's will - that's a drastic step," says Bobby. Pam turns to her husband: "Miss Ellie was as frightened as I was at what nearly happened. I don't think it's too drastic." Before Bobby can react to being undermined so unexpectedly, JR turns to his mother. "Selling Ewing Oil is the last thing Daddy would want!" he snaps. "Oh don't worry, JR. You'll get your share," she replies. "I'll distribute the proceeds among the four boys." JR explodes: "Well that's just wonderful! You hear that, Bobby? She's gonna sell Ewing Oil, give half the money to a drunk and a cowboy. Mama, that's going against Daddy's wishes and you know it!" "Don't you shout at me, JR. I don't think you give a damn about your daddy's wishes. All you care about is yourself!"

    Conflict is also bubbling at the Cattleman's Club, to where Punk and the cartel have retired after being sent away by Miss Ellie with their tails between their legs. "It's up to you, Punk," insists Cliff in regard to JR's cut-price gas stations. "It's up to you to use your influence." Punk, however, seems to have acquired a more realistic view of his power over the Ewing boys since he threatened to "stop" JR three episodes earlier: "I'm the administrator of the will. I can advise, but other than that, I'm hogtied ... Cliff, you think of something, but it better not be violent or you won't be just facin' JR. You saw what happened at the barbecue today. There's nothing like the threat of violence to bring the Ewing clan right together." This is the great paradox of the Ewings' current situation: amongst themselves, they have never been more divided, yet at the same time (thanks chiefly to JR's actions) they have never been more united against the outside world.

    (It's notable how various characters describe the barbecue showdown as a more dramatic and dangerous event than what actually unfolded on screen, which amounted little more than a few raised voices. "Bobby and Ray had to protect you from a mob!" barks Pam at JR. "Cliff Barnes and the rest of then looked like they were gonna kill you!" yelps Lucy. "That was a mob, Cliff!" scolds Rebecca dramatically. "I was really frightened!")

    The episode then returns to Southfork for the rest of the night, and a succession of two-hander scenes between assorted family members (Pam/Sue Ellen, Miss Ellie/Lucy, JR/Sue Ellen, Bobby/Pam) as they wrestle with the implications of Miss Ellie's announcement.

    When an agitated Bobby exits the house with the intention of going for a drive, Pam invites herself along, but he rebuffs her: "I'd just as soon be by myself." Sue Ellen observes this rejection from the shadows. It's somewhat ironic, having been so disdainful of Pam when she first arrived at Southfork and only recently admitting to using her and Bobby as marital role models, that Sue Ellen now appears to view Pam's actions as an indication of how not to behave. When she later finds JR deep in thought, she is careful not to impose herself upon him the way Pam did Bobby. "Would you rather be alone?" she asks him carefully.

    In many ways, this is one of Sue Ellen's least interesting periods on the show. By re-dedicating herself to the role of loving and devoted wife, she has essentially regressed to her "brunette on the couch" status of the mini-series, but without any of the underlying brittle tension that made her early days so intriguing to watch. Yet despite being relegated to the sidelines, she manages to exhibit some very different, but equally characteristic, aspects of her personality in this episode. In her traditional role as Queen of Denial, her instinctive response to Lucy's awkward questions in the opening scene is to sweep recent events under the carpet: "It's all over now, Lucy. You shouldn't talk about it anymore." However, there is a contradictory side of Sue Ellen that relishes saying what everyone else is afraid to. Typically, this part of her personality emerges during her conversations with Pam. During her earlier, crueller (and let's face it, more fun) days at Southfork, Sue Ellen clearly enjoyed making her idealistic sister-in-law squirm as she lectured her about how the Ewing women were nothing more than chattels of their husbands. Her attitude to Pam may have softened over the years, but she still derives a misshapen pleasure from the occasional tricky question. "I think we should face it: What's going to happen if they don't find him?" she asked Pam and Donna bluntly after Jock's plane crash. And during her scene with Pam in this episode, she dares to speak out against Miss Ellie: "She's always talking about what this fight is going to do to the family. What does she think overturning Jock's will is going to do the family? ... Pam, how do you think she's gonna feel when she has to go to court and publicly question Jock's will?" "I don't think she's thought about that," falters Pam. "Well, I think it's time she did," declares Sue Ellen unblinkingly.

    Bobby returns home later that night to find Pam waiting up for him. "Pamela, it bothers me," he begins, "It bothers me a lot, you siding with Mama ... You don't understand what this competition between JR and me is all about." Pam insists that she does understand, "but how much power do you or JR have to have? ... You can be president of any company!" He looks at her with disappointment in his eyes. "That's not it. That's not it at all," he tells her before launching into a terrific speech: "Pam, you don't understand what drove Jock Ewing, and I don't think you really understand what drives me either. When I was at the university, making the football team just wasn’t enough. I had to be varsity, I had to be captain, I had to make All-South-West Conference and I did. I did all of that. When you and I met, I wasn't just a road man for Ewing Oil, I was the best road man for any oil company - because that's what Daddy expected. And that's what I expect from myself. And JR and I are a lot alike because he's not gonna take second best either. You see, that's why Daddy turned away from Gary. 'The Ewings must succeed' and Gary didn't care about that but Pam, JR and I do. Now Daddy chose that the future of Ewing Oil's gonna be in the hands of the man strong enough to run it and that's the way it's gonna be." Patrick Duffy is at his best in this kind of scene, connecting emotionally with the core of his character and delivering the same passionate kind of clenched-fist/lump-in-throat performance he did so well in the early days, but that one saw less and less of as the series progressed.

    "Grandma, are you sure you're doing what's right?" wonders Lucy during a late night scene at the kitchen table. "No I'm not sure," Grandma admits. This chink in Miss Ellie's confidence forms the first of three mini-cliff hangers that punctuate the episode as characters (specifically, Ellie and Bobby) are faced with difficult moral decisions. JR's hopes that Miss Ellie will change her mind, ("She was just upset because of that hot head Barnes," he assures Sue Ellen, "A good night's sleep, she'll calm down") are abruptly dashed the next morning. "JR, I don't think you really care how I slept last night," she tells him coldly. "You care about whether or not I've changed my mind about the will." When it becomes clear that she hasn't had a change of heart, JR makes a declaration of war ("Then you leave me no choice, Mama: I'm gonna fight you every step of the way"), very similar in spirit to the one Mama made towards him a year earlier ("Then you're gonna have to break me, JR!") when she intervened in his scheme against the Farlows. "I'm gonna fight you every step of the way and I won't be alone," JR continues. "I guarantee Bobby'll be with me."

    But will he? This brings us to the second moral dilemma of the episode as Bobby must choose whether or not to side with his despised brother against his beloved mama. This leads to an unexpectedly complex scene between JR and Bobby which revisits the roots of the Ewing saga and some of the themes touched on at the very beginning of the series.

    JR drops by Bobby's office, ostensibly to thank him for "standing up for me at the barbecue". (He also finds time to slips in an amusing aside when Phyllis fails to include him in her offer to fetch coffee: "I won't have any either, Phyllis"). "Well, you're family, JR," replies Bobby drily, "I just wish you'd remember that when it comes to what you're doin' at Ewing Oil."

    After weeks of dodging phone calls and ignoring demands to explain his actions, JR is now apparently willing to open up to his little brother: "I never thought I owed you an explanation for what I'm doin', but since you were willing to fight for me I guess I do. You know, ever since I was a boy, Ewing Oil has meant so much to me - running it, building it up into the power that it is now. You were always out there sewing your wild oats and havin' fun. You never really took an interest in it till you married Pam ... I mean you worked, but for you, it was like playtime." (This is the same sibling dynamic first described by JR in "Lessons", the second episode of the mini-series: "While you were out there playin' football and winning all those honours ... I was here, bustin' my butt under our father, and let me tell you, he’s not an easy man to work for.") "Even Daddy called you the company pimp," he adds casually. "I don't think you have the nerve to say that to me again," replies Bobby more in shock than in anger. However, verification of JR's claim can be found in the porch scene between Jock and JR in "Digger's Daughter", during which Jock dismiss Bobby's public relations position thusly: "Pimping, that's what it is." So much for Bobby's earlier claim to Pam that he was "the best road man for any oil company." Here, one gets a poignant sense of Bobby, just like his brothers, trying but never quite managing to win his father's respect.

    "You know, I did a lot of things that Daddy never approved of," continues JR, "but it was always for Ewing Oil and it was nothin' that he wouldn't have done if he stood to lose the company." "You're wrong, JR," snaps Bobby, "He wouldn't have robbed from Peter to pay Paul, and he wouldn't have depleted our oil reserves to make a fast buck on cheap gasoline, and he wouldn't have turned every oil man in Texas against him." Here it is Bobby who is echoing his father's words from that first episode porch scene when Jock lectured JR on "the art of subtlety ... a lack of it turns your friends into enemies and your enemies into fanatics." "You have a glorified memory of Daddy," JR retorts. "He'd have done anything to keep control of the company." Is this the truth or simply a rationalisation on JR's part? Until Jason Ewing's ghost arrives in Season 7 to absorb his dark side, there is an intriguing ambiguity about Jock's past: we can't be certain what he was capable during his younger days. JR and Bobby each have a vested interest in reshaping their individual recollections of Jock in order to validate their own actions in the present - which says a lot about the natures of both family and memory.

    "Your methods may have just cost us the company," Bobby tells his brother. "Not if we join forces against Mama," replies JR, finally getting to the nub of the scene. "She can't go up against both of us ... You gonna stand by me, Bob? Like at the barbecue?" "I can't give you answer on that now." JR ends the conversation on another unexpected note: "Bobby, we may battle a lot but remember, you're my brother and I love you." Boy, there is a lot going on in this scene: JR goes from thanking Bobby to calling him a pimp to declaring his love for him - while all the time acting in his own self-interest.

    Meanwhile, Miss Ellie carries out her promise to visit Harve Smithfield, with Pam in tow. "If this contest is allowed to continue, I may not have a family left ... That's why I want to contest the will," she explains. Harve makes sympathetic noises then drops the other shoe: "I can't represent you." "But you've been representing Ewing interests for as long as I can remember!" Ellie exclaims, "What do you mean you can't represent me??" Poor Harve: this is the second time in as many seasons that he has felt the full force of BBG's wrath. The last occasion was in "Denial" when he broached the subject of having Jock declared legally dead. Now, as then, his attempts to explain the realities of the situation ("I drew up that will for Jock. It's my obligation, morally and legally, to represent that will") cut little ice with Ellie. "Are you telling me that if I go to court, you'll fight against me?" she demands. "I have no choice," he pleads. She gets to her feet. "I find that very hard to believe," she tells him icily before storming out of his office. As Pam makes to follow her, Harve asks her to intercede with Ellie on his behalf. She responds with an over-the-shoulder hair toss worthy of a CHARLIE'S ANGELS opening credit sequence before flouncing after Miss Ellie.

    Harve later stops by JR's office to recounts his conversation with Miss Ellie. "She's got me between a rock and a hard place, boys," he sighs, "This is not a fight I'm lookin' forward to." While JR pledges his full support to Harve, ("What she's doin' is dead wrong, I honestly believe that") it's make-your-mind-up time for Bobby. "Well Bobby, are we gonna work together on this?" pressures JR, "Come on, Harve has to know ..." "I'm with you, Harve," says Bobby finally.

    And so it is that in the midst of their own battle, the brothers are united on this one issue - another example of the Ewing Paradox described thusly by Cliff in "When the Bough Breaks", Season 6: "The main reason I dislike the Ewings so much is because they've always been this big family that stood together. I mean, no matter what fighting they did amongst themselves, they always stood together against the outsiders." Fascinatingly, it is now Mama who is the outsider. And to make the paradox even more, um, paradoxical, just as Bobby and JR join forces, the competition between them intensifies.

    Nowhere is this more clearly illustrated than at the end of the scene in which Bobby agrees to side with JR against their mother. As JR is showing Harve out of his office, Bobby receives a call from Donna who has been working around the clock to persuade her fellow Texas Energy Commission members not to overturn their ruling regarding JR's variance. "Mighty hard to vote against reasonable gas prices," mumbles the commission chairman. "Yes it is," she replies. "That is why we have been appointed by the state legislation -- because we don't have to worry about our public image. We can do what we really think is right!" Susan Howard is at her righteous best in these scenes, but despite her best efforts, Donna is outvoted. "JR gets to keep his variance," she tells Bobby over the phone. "Not bad news, I hope?" asks JR disingenuously listening to Bobby's end of the conversation - for what Donna and Bobby don't know is that one of Donna's colleagues, George Hicks, has been bought and paid for by JR. ("Just remember that section of timber out near Marshall I'm gonna put in your name.") While locking horns in the TEC meeting room, Hicks accuses Donna of pursuing a private vendetta: "If JR Ewing wants to pump a lot of oil, why, Mrs Krebbs, do you object? ... I think it's personal. It is well known that you have no use for JR Ewing." Hmm, how has Donna's dislike for JR become "well known"? All their differences prior to this storyline have been contained within the family. A minor point perhaps, but it's one of those instances where it feels like certain characters inside the series are also somehow watching it along with the rest if us.

    Donna's brief fling with Cliff gets a rare shout out in this episode, as the Krebbses discuss the incident at the barbecue. "You know, I used to think JR was about one of the lowest forms of vermin around, but I tell ya, Cliff Barnes runs a close second," says Ray. "Well, you may just have a special reason for disliking Cliff," suggests Donna. "Because of you and him? That's over and done with a long time ago," he replies with feigned indifference.

    Bobby's bemused reaction upon learning that Pam accompanied Miss Ellie to Harve's office leads to another scene of juicy marital conflict, during which Pam makes one of her occasional statements differentiating between herself and her sister-in-law. "Why are you talkin' Mama's side against me ... when I need you beside me the most?" Bobby asks her, "Sue Ellen's not fighting JR." "Sue Ellen and I get along fine now," she replies, "but I'm not Sue Ellen. Power and money and wealth, they don't mean that much to me."

    Pam is not Miss Ellie's only ally, as JR discovers when he and Sue Ellen return to Southfork to find Clayton and Ellie sitting on the living room couch together. "You and Mama look very cosy," he observes coolly. Clayton explains that he is assisting Miss Ellie in her quest for an estate lawyer. "It's family business," JR replies. "Clayton has no right to get involved." Miss Ellie makes it clear that she wants to speak to Clayton alone, and there's an interesting beat after Clayton cordially but pointedly bids goodnight to Sue Ellen when she realises that their relationship has shifted somewhat: he no longer exists solely to provide her with comfort and advice.

    This scene leads directly into the first JR/Sue Ellen bedroom scene of their new marriage. "Clayton Farlow certainly is attracted to the Ewing women!" JR rants. "I promise you one thing. I am gonna win this fight with Mama. Nobody's gonna take Ewing Oil away from me ... and when this contest with Bobby is over, there's not gonna be anything left for him. He's gonna have to pack up, leave Southfork, take that little wife and baby with him ... Not one member of my family is ever gonna interfere with Ewing Oil again!" "What about your mother?" asks Sue Ellen, and there's an undeniably mocking tone to her voice as she points out that Miss Ellie is still "Mistress of Southfork." She exhibits a kind of ruthless ambition that reminds one of the boozy socialite who fantasised about becoming "lady of the manor" back in "Bypass" (Season 1). "In name only," murmurs JR in reply. "When she fails to overturn my daddy's will, I'm gonna be the power here at Southfork and you, my darlin', are gonna share that power with me." There's an air of shared narcissism as the couple survey their reflections in the bedroom mirror. In one way, it's a shame that we don't see more of Sue Ellen's darker side as she stands by her man during the rest of the season, but perhaps her drunken downfall in the final few episodes wouldn't have quite the same tragic impact had the character been depicted less sympathetically beforehand.

    The episode also shows Bobby at his least principled when, after weeks of piously berating JR for the damage he might be causing the company in his quest for short-term profits, he lowers himself to the same level by eliminating the 25% voluntary production cutback he made at the beginning of the season. "That means you're gonna flood the market with oil when there's already a surplus," protests his company controller. "Ted, you know what shape my half of the company is in," he shouts, "I need revenues!" He also incurs the wrath of Jordan Lee (which, let's face it, doesn't take much) by proposing that the Wellington oil field (the same field JR invested in with the cartel last season in honour of Jock's memory and which is now in Bobby's half of Ewing Oil) be reactivated. "Right now those wells are capped. We're not pumpin' a drop of oil out of them," he points out. "That's good business," Jordan replies. "We don't that oil right now." "I need it," he insists, "and I want those wells uncapped and pumpin' ... I intend to sell every drop of oil I can pump ... for whatever price I can get for it ... I need profits and I need 'em fast!" Jordan is appalled: "You mean you'll cut our throats?? ... You can hang before I'll agree to open that damn field, Bobby!"

    Even though the Ewings' inter-family feuds dominate the episode, the instalment also finds time for its supporting characters as Afton, Mickey and Holly each get a scene apiece and Rebecca showing up twice (giving Priscilla Pointer the distinction of appearing in both MOMMIE DEAREST and "Mama Dearest").

    First Cliff tells his mother of his plans to move out of his authentically '70s looking pad ("hardly the image for the President of Barnes-Wentworth Oil"). While being shown around the blue and white apartment/condo/townhouse thingy with the pretty stained glass windows where Cliff will reside until the end of the series, (by which time, Southfork interiors aside, it will have become the longest lasting set on the show) Afton takes the opportunity to bring up the 'M' word. "Cliff, do you ever think about marriage?" she wonders. He feigns distraction: "You know, there's a lot of closet space in the bedrooms up there. You could bring more of your stuff over. Wouldn't have to keep carrying it back and forth." "Terrific," she replies dryly.

    After an unexciting date, Muriel stops by the fake Southfork patio to visit a listless Lucy and drop ice into the pool. (That'll teach those crazy kids from FAME.) "It would have been more fun if we'd double dated," she sighs. (Hey Muriel, if it's fun you're after, why not try wearing something other than your best Sunday school blouse and cardigan for a night on the town? This isn't 1956, ya know.) Mickey shows up to tease Lucy: "Now I know when you're allowed outdoors, only at night." (Or when the season has relocated to LA.) He turns Muriel even more goggle-eyed than usual by inviting her to Braddock for a beer. She reluctantly declines. "At least I'm getting turned down by a better class of people," he shrugs for Lucy's benefit.

    The move to LA also explains Holly's latest unconventional office-of-choice (following on from her daddy's yacht and her poolside sun lounger). "I've known a lot of things that can go on in a bedroom, but this is the first time I've seen a business run from one," comments JR after being shown into her boudoir by male secretary Elliot (a decidedly Alexis Colby touch). "You know as many oil deals are made in bedrooms as in boardrooms," she replies, perhaps foreshadowing the honey trap she will set for him in this very room at the end of the season. This is their first business meeting since Holly learned that JR has been using his 25% of her company for his own ends, and there is a distinct change in their behaviour towards one another. Holly's flirtatious teasing is replaced by a resentful glare, while JR drops the charm he employed during the first half of the season in favour of a more threatening tone. "How we come with the refinery?" he asks. "Have you cancelled those contracts? I'm gonna need your full capacity." "You're not gonna get full capacity," she replies, "One of our major contracts is with the military ..." "Holly, you're just gonna have to solve that problem yourself. Now I suggest you get your pretty little butt out of this pleasure palace and start cancelling contracts ... My patience is runnin' thin, darlin' ... Do it!"

    Later in the episode, we finally see a softening in Rebecca's attitude towards Miss Ellie when Pam tells her of Ellie's decision to contest the will: "She worshipped that man. How could she question his judgement? ... You think Ellie would see me if I came to Southfork?" She also expresses concern about Pam and Bobby being on opposite sides. "You think your marriage can stand that?" she asks. "I don't know," Pam replies, "but I know it couldn't go on this way much longer."

    Thank you!
     
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  3. Soaplover

    Soaplover Soap Chat Active Member

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    Cool to read about the starting of Mickey/lucy...would you all say that he was her true love?
     
  4. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    A continuation of Mama Dearest that I missed off the last post:

    It's interesting that Pam and Bobby's relationship is suddenly on such shaky ground. Prior to this episode, they had been getting along fine all season--the terms of Jock's will provoking only one relatively mild argument between them. Now, at the first sign of conflict, the marriage is suddenly in trouble. Is their relationship really so fragile? There again, during their second scene of the episode, Pam appeals to Bobby to "spend some time with your family; let Christopher get to know his daddy." This implies Bobby has been somewhat of a neglectful father, something that has not previously been depicted on screen. In a way, this is part of an inherent contradiction of DALLAS: the series seemingly revolves around emotions and relationships between characters - but only in a monochrome sense: Bobby and Pam's marriage is either Idyllic or Troubled; Sue Ellen's relationship with JR is either Blissfully Happy with JR or Profoundly Miserable. The series has little interest in exploring the grey area of human relationships where most people exist on a day-to-day basis. (Perhaps one of the reasons Ray and Donna feel like DALLAS's most authentic couple is because, as lower status characters, they can fly under the radar of high drama. Their storylines, and therefore their behaviour, is less governed by emotional extremes.) Ultimately, the characters' emotions are dictated by storyline requirements. The skill lies in disguising that fact. This is where the tightly written and clever structure of Season 5 succeeds so well: Whatever the contrivances, Bobby and Pam's marital problems feel plausible, even inevitable (thanks to their back story), while the way Miss Ellie turns to Clayton for help finding an attorney in this episode, thereby turning their relationship from cordial friendship into something more intimate, is done so smoothly that it seems like the most natural thing in the world.

    It also results in the first reference to a character who will prove very significant over the next few years, as Clayton refers Miss Ellie to estate lawyer Brooks Oliver, who in turn introduces us to the name Mark Graison. "I suppose this is a matter of some urgency," says Brooks, an estate lawyer (played with a mixture of twinkly charm and gravitas by good old Donald Moffatt) after Miss Ellie explains her intentions. "At the moment I'm on retainer settling the estate of Mark Graison Senior ... and I'm not at all sure that Mark Junior would allow me to interrupt my work for him to take your case." Ellie offers to talk to Mark herself. "How does a lawyer go about breaking a will?" she then asks, almost as an afterthought. "The usual way is to call into question your husband's mental competence at the time the will or any subsequent codicil was written," Brooks tells her. Her dismayed expression says it all: Welcome to Moral Dilemma No. 3.

    Given its high dramatic content, the instalment finishes on a surprisingly underwhelming 'if-in-doubt-freeze-on-JR' note. This is one of a handful of low-key episode endings during the second half of Season 5 when an instalment closes on an already established plot point being reiterated rather than with a fresh revelation or dramatic event. (There's a similar one next week when Miss Ellie restates her intention to break the will.) These "smaller" endings give the writers a chance to get all their narrative ducks in a row for the more dramatic episode cliff-hangers (Rebecca's plane crash, Pam leaving Bobby, Bobby foiling JR's oil-to-Cuba scheme, Sue Ellen and Mickey's car crash, the Southfork fire, etc.) so that various characters and story-lines can converge and collide for maximum impact.

    This episode's final scene, in which JR delivers another of his tongue-in-cheek, man-of-the-people speeches to KGIM's reliably hapless reporter, this time in the Ewing Oil reception, is not without interest, however. It ironically repositions him as the apparent good guy in the Ewing family when a stony-faced Bobby refuses to comment for the cameras: "Anything I'd have to say wouldn't be suitable for television." "... As you can see," explains JR to his interviewer, "there's only one Ewing who really cares about the little man. I'm having to fight not only the oil people and the politicians in Austin and Washington, but I have to fight my little brother to get the price of gasoline down, but I know, Terry, with your help and the help of the rest of the media, Mr and Mrs Average Citizen will know that someone cares about them, that somebody is on their side and that somebody is JR Ewing." For once, the frame manages to freeze before the inevitable self-congratulatory chuckle.

    "The Ewing Blues"

    The first instalment to be both written and directed by David Paulsen aka my new best friend. Bruce Broughton won an Emmy for this episode's languid score which, while pleasant enough, is not his most poignant or powerful work of the season.

    Part of the pleasure in viewing Season 5 in hindsight comes from appreciating how well structured it is and knowing how handsomely the various story-lines will pay off. It's easy to forget that watching the season first time around on a weekly basis didn't always feel quite so rewarding. A few episodes, such as this one, for instance, seemed a little low key and uneventful. I can remember that in their trailer for this week's instalment, (which was always shown the night before the episode aired and which I would watch religiously) the BBC was so stuck for a sufficiently dramatic soundbite that they used Miss Ellie's angry speech from the very end of the episode.

    It is, if not exactly a filler episode, then something of a slow week in the DALLAS calendar. JR might be in the midst of battle with both his brother and his mother, for instance, but he still has time to receive an office visit from his three-year-old son (who seems unusually animated, scampering around the reception area, hiding behind chairs, and even ad-libbing the words "fire engine." Perhaps my previous diagnosis of autism was a tad premature.).

    The episode opens with the strong image of Miss Ellie standing in darkness in front of Jock's portrait. "Jock, you're putting me through hell," she murmurs. "How can I fight you when you're not even here?" She and JR are the only family members to ever address the painting directly [WRONG!! Clayton does as well]. Pam enters the living room and Ellie explains that in order to win her case, she will have to claim that when Jock wrote the codicil he was mentally incompetent. Just as JR and Bobby could not agree on their father's early business ethics in last week's episode ("He'd have done anything to keep control of the company." "You're wrong, JR,") so the motivations behind his final action are also shrouded in ambiguity. "Miss Ellie, the Jock we all know is not the man who wrote that codicil," Pam maintains. "Jock was not mentally incompetent," insists Ellie, "He was a very rational man." Despite a spirited appeal from Pam, ("Miss Ellie, please. You've gone this far, don't turn back now. Jock, God bless him, lived his life. What you do now can't hurt him, but the battle he left behind is tearing the whole family apart!") Ellie admits that she is having second thoughts about continuing with the case.

    They are rudely interrupted by JR and Sue Ellen, both excited that the interview he did with KGIM (at the end of last week's episode) is about to be televised. "Bobby not home yet?" JR asks. "Well, why don't you call him, Pam? He wouldn't wanna miss all the warm and wonderful things I said about him." Pam and Ellie share a silent look before each making their exit. "You're not gonna watch the show?" Sue Ellen asks her mother-in-law with surprise. "No," replies Miss Ellie coolly, "I don't care to watch my two sons attack each other in public." This is a similarly awkward moment to the one Sue Ellen experienced last week when she and JR returned home to find Miss Ellie and Clayton in the living room, and were politely told that their presence would not be required: she is finding that, despite her best intentions, she cannot ally herself completely with JR and still expect to remain on the best of terms with the rest of the family.

    Before Brooks Oliver can take Miss Ellie's case, she must seek the permission of the client who has him on retainer: hence a lunch date with one Mark Graison. Mark is introduced with a high angle camera shot which subtly indicates that this is a character to take notice of. "Miss Ellie, you look younger than the last time I saw you," he tells her. Evidently, Mark is a character known to the Ewings but appears not to have had contact with them for several years. "I wanna tell you how sorry I was to hear about Jock," he continues. "He was an exceptional man." Although it is reasonable to assume that Mark Senior died around the same time as Jock, (Brooks has been working on his estate after all) Miss Ellie does not offer any condolences for Mark's loss. No matter: he seems less interested in Ellie's sympathies than in her companion. "I'm very happy to meet you," he tells Pam. A phone call for Pam exists solely as an opportunity for us to watch Mark watching her admiringly as she moves across the restaurant to take the call. Similarly, Ellie's next words ("I'm not certain I'll go through with this case and I'd like to apologise if this lunch turns out to be a waste of your time") are there to give Mark the chance to end the scene on a double entendre ("I can't conceive how seeing you two could possibly be a waste of my time") whilst keeping his eyes trained on Pam.

    At Bobby's behest, a man who used to be in SANTA BARBARA pores over the small print of the Wellington land deal and unearths some good news: "According to the way your brother set up the contract," he informs Bobby, "if the majority of the partnership wants to cut off production, the others have the right to sell their shares at five-fold market value and the majority partners are obliged to be the buyers of last resort." " ... So either way, I win," Bobby realises. "They either uncap the wells or I force 'em to buy out my interest ... Thank you, JR! My God, do you know how to write a contract!"

    Pam does not share Bobby's enthusiasm. "That's wonderful," she says dryly after he tells her the news. "Now you can lose a few more friends." (Her words are later echoed by Jordan. "You're gonna make a whole lotta enemies!" he barks when Bobby tells him that the cartel is obliged to buy out his share of the deal for between twenty-five to thirty million dollars.) "I'm doin' what I think is right," Bobby tells Pam. "And I'm very much afraid of what it's doing to you," she replies. Their conversation is curtailed by a phone call. "Mark Graison??" Bobby exclaims with a chuckle in his voice. "I haven't thought about you in ages! How are you?" This is the last friendly exchange the two men will share. To Bobby's surprise, Mark asks to speak to Pam. On the pretext of finding out more about the court case, he arranges to meet her for breakfast. "I'm helping Miss Ellie convince him to loan her the lawyer's services," she explains after concluding the call. "I don't believe it!" Bobby snaps. "Pam, you may want this fight between JR and me to be over, but you're on the wrong side of the war."

    "You look lovely," Mark tells Pam when they meet. Almost immediately, he agrees to Brooks taking the case. "You made up your mind before this morning," concludes Pam. "Why are we having breakfast?" "Because you knocked me out the other day and I wanted to see you alone," he replies matter of factly. "Mr Graison, I'm a married woman," she retorts, "and I'm not very modern when it comes to playing around." As she takes her leave, she requests that he not mention their breakfast (not that she ate anything; she could have at least ordered one of Dusty's six-egg omelettes and made Mark pay for it) to Miss Ellie.

    I've always liked Mark. Essentially, he's an extension of Sam Curtis, John Beck's character from short-lived Lorimar soap FLAMINGO ROAD: a rich playboy hopelessly devoted to Lane Ballou, (a semi-trashy good girl from the wrong side of the tracks not a millions miles away from early Pam) while knowing deep down that her heart still belongs to Fielding Carlyle (a morally weaker version of Bobby). Obviously, Mark's a bit of a naughty man for making a play for a married woman, but at least he declares his interest in a direct and open manner, thereby treating Pam as a grown-up (as opposed to the dull, paternal Alex Ward). Besides, where would the sleazy prime-time soap genre be without its naughty men? And Beck's a charmer.

    There might be a slight lack of urgency running through this episode, but at least it affords JR the time to fight with each of his sisters-in-law. First into the ring is Donna, whom he finds talking with Ray and Miss Ellie in the Southfork living room. This is as close as Season 5 gets to a two-hander JR and Donna scene, of which there has been one every year thus far. "Whatever you decide to do, Miss Ellie, just know Ray and I will support you," Donna is saying. "Looks like I've barged in on some kind of conspiracy," comments JR heading to the bar and pouring himself a drink. "Seems like every time I turn around in this house somebody's conniving against me ... Look at Donna there, tampering with a public commission, tryin' to get them to overturn my variance ... wheelin' and dealin' after they'd already voted, democratically I might add, to let me keep it ..." "Are you implying that I have been underhanded?" Donna asks indignantly. "I believe the word is inept," he replies. Ray grabs him: "All right, let's go outside!" "... You're wrinkling my shirt!" he protests. "I'm gonna wrinkle your face!" Ray retorts, then hits him. "Oh Ray!" exclaims Miss Ellie in dismay. "One of these days, I'm really gonna shut that mouth of yours!" Ray promises. He will, of course, attempt to make good on his word in the season finale.

    Two mornings later, JR finds Pam in the kitchen. It's been a while since these two characters locked horns, JR having kept his distance during Pam's loony period of Season 4, and even longer since they had a scene alone together: their sizzling confrontation in Season 2 in which a drunken JR propositions Pam and she lets slip that she knows Cliff could be the father of Sue Ellen's child. This confrontation might not be in quite the same league, but it still boasts some good lines. JR to Pam: "Say, you're kinda late, aren't ya? Shouldn't you be out, meddlin' in somebody's life?" Pam to JR: "You know, JR, I think Bobby could beat you. I think he could knock you right out of Ewing Oil, but to do that he'd have to become like you and I don't want that ... I'm gonna side with Miss Ellie and I'm gonna fight you and Bobby every step of the way because it's the only way I know to stop this family from completely falling apart." "Hope you're a graceful loser!" replies JR.

    JR receives a call from TV host Roy Ralston: "Selling gas at your kind of prices has made you the talk of the town so we'd like to discuss it with you on TALK TIME." (How many talk show hosts book their own guests, I wonder?) In spite of Sue Ellen's enthusiasm ("Can't wait to see you on that TV show"), there's something a little dull about JR's appearance on TALK TIME, as sober a programme as THE LIZZIE BURNS SHOW (on which Cally appears in Season 12) is trashy. Sue Ellen accompanies him onto the show, "standing beside him like the Duchess of Windsor," as per Cliff's description, i.e. stiff and unanimated. Afton, who ends up watching the show in Cliff's new apartment in spite of her best efforts to maintain some independence, looks suitably bored. More interesting is the chain reaction JR's reply to a question about Bobby, ("I love my brother, don't get me wrong, but he does not have the strength to run Ewing Oil. I know, he knows it and the whole family knows it.") sets off within the Ewing family.

    A furious Bobby returns home after watching the broadcast. "Who the hell does he think he is anyway?" he demands of Pam on the fake patio. "So I don't have the strength to do the job. What he really means is I don't stoop as low as he does. Well, all right, JR, all right!" "Bobby, it's not worth it," Pam pleads, "Miss Ellie's gonna put a stop to all of this ..." "Pam, when Mama finds out what's involved in declaring Daddy incompetent, she will never do it," he insists, unaware that his mother is listening in the shadows. "I'm glad, I'm really happy," he continues, "My brother doesn't think I can play hardball. Well, sweetheart, I'm gonna have the pleasure of stuffin' that ball down his throat!" The scene ends with a close-up of Miss Ellie, as she silently realises that she must put an end to the fight, in spite of her misgivings.

    Rebecca visits Cliff and tells him of a visit she recently paid to Miss Ellie. "Did you have a nice time?" he asks sarcastically. "A lovely time," she replies, "We talked, we played with our grandson. It's the way things could be if our families weren't fighting." Given that Rebecca's vow to Ellie to "break the Ewings" kick-started this season, it seems odd that their reconciliation isn't deemed significant enough to be shown on screen. "Ellie may try to break Jock's will," she continues, "and if she does and she succeeds, there won't be much for any of us to fight about ... I want the pressure off Ellie." "I'm not concerned about Ellie!" exclaims Cliff, who is more pissed off with Bobby because of the Wellington land deal. ("A Ewing is a Ewing is a Ewing," he tells Marilee in an earlier scene.) "We should hold off on them all for now," insists Rebecca. "Nothing should dissuade Ellie from attacking that will." I'm not clear on the logic of this argument: surely the more pressure the Ewings are under, the more motivated Ellie will be to break the will and end the contest? Nevertheless, Cliff reluctantly agrees to his mother's proposal: "OK, we'll hold off until the will's decided. If it's decided."

    The final scene is the strongest of the episode. Miss Ellie and Pam sit in Brooks Oliver's office as he reads over the letters Jock sent home from South America. "They do show a certain deterioration of spirit," he tells Miss Ellie. "They support the argument that he was not of sound mind and body ... I think we have a good case, but it depends in great part on how far you're personally willing to go ... Take these letters for example ... They'll be made public ... Excerpts of these, well, they may even find their way into the newspapers ... Your private life will be probed and from what you say, your sons won't make it easy for you." "I have no illusions about my sons when it comes to a fight," replies Ellie, her voice cracking poignantly. "It won't be a pleasant experience," continues Brooks. "You're upsetting her. Why are you telling her all this?" demands Pam spiritedly. "Because she has to know exactly what she's getting into if she wants to go to court," he snaps back. "Mr Oliver, I don't want to go to court," pipes up Ellie. "I don't want to do any of this. I have to!" No one does cold, determined fury like BBG.

    Elsewhere in the episode, JR's feud with Holly heats up when she refuses to cancel all existing contracts in order to give him full refinery capacity. "I'd be cutting Harwood off from all other business," she protests, "I can't do that to my daddy's company." "Yes you can and you will," he tells her, "because if you don't, you're not gonna need any other contracts. Harwood Oil will cease to exist ... I have built your company into a house of cards and if you don't do what I tell you, then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow Harwood away." A soberly dressed Holly then pays her first visit to Ewing Oil to seek help from Bobby. "I want that man out of my life!" she tells him. "I want that twenty-five percent I gave him back!"

    Meanwhile, the deep freeze unit known as Lucy Ewing begins to show signs of thawing out after Mickey goes for an unsanctioned dip in the Southfork pool (taking a leaf out of Leroy and Coco's book, no doubt). "I didn't know you were out here," she lies after spying on him from upstairs. "I hope you washed the hay off before you jumped in ... You are one cocky kid!"
     
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  5. Seaviewer

    Seaviewer Soap Chat Addict

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    I couldn't put it any better. The experience was similar in Australia - exacerbated by the fact that the two shows were on different networks.
     
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  6. Ray&Donna

    Ray&Donna Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    This was my favorite era of the show. I loved the following season, too, but it was marred slightly by Peter and his Speedo. :p
     
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  7. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    "The Reckoning"

    Written by Will Lorin, apparently - there goes David Paulsen's weekend then. Directed by Bill Duke, a groovy black character actor who appeared in DALLAS THE EARLY YEARS as one of the characters Jock saved single-handedly from the Ku Klux Klan (or something like that).

    Following on from a somewhat sluggish instalment, this episode is far more dramatic. There is no shortage of inter-family conflict: JR insults Miss Ellie, Miss Ellie shouts at JR, JR turns on Pam, Pam shouts at Bobby, JR taunts Ray, Ray manhandles JR, JR and Lucy snipe at one another and Sue Ellen angers Pam.

    The episode begins with an establishing shot of JR driving through the Southfork entrance, the lights of the house blazing dramatically against the night sky. He is informed by Sue Ellen that the rest of the family are waiting inside for him. "Miss Ellie has something to tell us," she says.

    The atmosphere in the living room is pensive - Bobby paces, Ellie noodles at the piano, Pam nurses a drink while staring into the middle distance. In comparison, JR is positively chirpy: "I'm sorry, I didn't know everyone was waiting for me ... Just let me get a little fortification and I'll be all ears." While he busies himself at the bar, Miss Ellie stands and addresses the room: "You all know my feelings about Jock's will. Particularly about the codicil that he wrote before he died. Well, I've had some time to consider the whole thing. I've talked to Harve Smithfield and another lawyer Brooks Oliver." "I hope they talked you out of making any hasty decisions?" enquires JR, holding out a club soda to Sue Ellen who crosses the room to take it. "Mr Oliver has agreed to represent me," Ellie continues, "He thinks we have a good chance to break the will." "You're going ahead with it??" asks Sue Ellen in surprise. "Yes I am," she responds. "I can't believe you're still intent on tarnishing Daddy's memory," says JR, his upbeat veneer disappearing. "I am not tarnishing his memory," Ellie replies, "Don't you SAY THAT TO ME!" "... Don't you two realise she's trying to stop you from hurting each other?" asks Pam, addressing Bobby and JR. "Keep out of this, Pam," barks JR. "Mama, what's going on is between JR and me," says Bobby, "I don't think you should get involved at all." "I'm not here to explain my reasons. Only to tell you what I'm doing." "You think is fair, Miss Ellie?" Sue Ellen asks. "It has to do with survival. Not fairness, Sue Ellen." With that, Ellie exits the room. JR refills his drink. "I hope you two are really proud of yourselves," snaps Pam. "This is all your fault, Pam," snarls JR, "Hadn't been for you, she'd have never gotten that lawyer." "Miss Ellie made up her mind herself and if you don't know that, you don't know your own mother!" she shouts back. "I know my own mother," he tells her, "and I know you too, sweetheart. Ever since you moved into this family, you've been trouble. Now stay out of it. This is not your fight!" On his way out of the living room, he grabs Sue Ellen's glass out of her hand, ("Gimme that!") slamming it down on the table for good measure. She follows him up the stairs, leaving Pam and Bobby alone. "Thanks a lot!" Pam exclaims crossly. "That was a wonderful defence of your own wife! How could you let him talk to me that way?" Without waiting for a reply, she too leaves the room. "JR is wrong in a lot of things, but he's not wrong in this," Bobby calls to her retreating back, "As my wife, I thought you'd stand by me in it!" Phew--way to start an episode!

    Upstairs, Sue Ellen attempts to defend Pam's involvement to JR. "It's only because she cares for Bobby," she declares, completely misinterpreting Pam's motives. "She feels that overturning Jock's will may get Bobby out of the fight." "Darlin', if she really cares for him, she'll help him," he replies before suggesting that she intercede with Pam on his behalf. "Tell her that if she really believes in her husband, she'll support him just the way you're supporting me ... If she believes in your friendship as much as you do ... you'll convince her." This is the first of two successive episodes in which he attempts (unsuccessfully) to pimp one of his wife's friendships for his own gain.

    An obedient Sue Ellen takes Pam to lunch at Mario Messina's Il Sorrento Cucina Italia the following day. "I don't care if Bobby beats JR or doesn't beat JR," Pam clarifies. "I want my husband and my family all in one piece. That's what's important to me ... That battle is really going to hurt somebody. Really hurt somebody." This echoes her warning to JR from two episodes ago: "Your dirty deals might just get somebody killed one of these days." She is interrupted by the unexpected appearance of Mark Graison. He playfully asks what she is doing in "my restaurant ... I eat here almost every day." (Needless to say, we won't ever see Mark eating there after this episode.) Mark and Sue Ellen are introduced but won't meet again until Pam's dream. "Brooks called. He's taking Miss Ellie's case," he says to Pam. "I can't thank you enough for that," she replies with a smile, her manner noticeably warmer than at their last meeting. "I am here to help," he tells her. "Anything that I can do for you ..." Sue Ellen looks from one to the other before reporting back to JR that night.
    "Are you suggesting that Pam and Graison are having an affair?" JR asks her. "No," she replies, "but he was definitely impressed by her." "... This could be quite a break, honey," he muses. "From what I understand, Graison's quite the ladies' man, likes all those macho things like parachutin', fast cars and so forth. Turns ladies on, you know?" This is our introduction to the concept of Mark Graison, daredevil. Even though we never see him indulging in any such activities on screen (unless riding a polo pony counts), the idea is reinforced regularly during his time on the show (such as with the suggestion in Season 6 that he was "the first man to skydive in the nude") and even beyond, with Pam theorising that his love of danger might have stemmed from the same death wish that also prompted his suicide. "Given the right signals, he just might make a move on her," JR continues. "I wouldn't mind if [Bobby] was distracted by a nasty little marital problem." This idea does not sit too well with Sue Ellen: "I don't want anything bad happenin' to Bobby and Pam's marriage ... Can you imagine if somebody did that to you and I?" This is another example of Season 5's karmic irony: somebody will "do that" to JR and Sue Ellen - one Holly Harwood. (Lois Chiles is a no-show in this episode for the first time since the season began. Timothy Patrick Murphy also gets his first week off.)

    JR makes reassuring noises to Sue Ellen, but this does not stop him from tracking Mark to Il Sorrento the next day. "My sister-in-law Pam, she's quite taken with you," he tells him, "Pam's a wonderful girl. Too bad she and Bobby are havin' problems right now." It's always fun to hear JR lie so blatantly. "Say, we've never done any business together, have we?" he asks Mark, changing tack. "No," Mark replies curtly. "Well we oughta get together and see what we have in common," he suggests. "JR, I think the only thing we have in common is that we're eating in the same restaurant." Mark's cool response is interesting. It makes it clear that while he may have no qualms about pursuing a married woman, that's where the similarities between he and JR end; Mark Graison is one of the good guys. As is the case with Sue Ellen, Mark's next encounter with JR will take place in Pam's head, when he bursts into his office and sends him flying with one punch.

    Whatever his reservations about the man himself, Mark is nonetheless sufficiently encouraged by JR's words to pay an impromptu visit to the aerobics studio where VP's delightfully pert bottom is on display. Even as she reminds Mark that "I am a married woman", Pam appears flattered, even charmed, by his attentions. "Sounds like I'm being thrown out on my ear," he says with a twinkle in his eye. "You are," she smiles.

    After a hard day in Lycra, Pam returns home to find Sue Ellen sitting on the living room couch pretending to read a book. (This is a pose Sue Ellen will strike for much of the remainder of the season. They don't call her "the brunette on the couch" for nothin'.) "You've had a few phone calls today, all from the same person - Mark Graison," she informs Pam, "I'm just getting a little worried about you ... I've never seen you go against Bobby before and it's really not something that a happily married woman does, and now with Mark Graison -" This is a 180 degree shift from the Sue Ellen who actively encouraged Pam to begin an affair with Alex Ward in Season 3: "The Ewing men are all the same," she told her then. "The Ewing women must make their own lives." Then she wanted Pam to rebel; now she wants her to conform. Regardless of whether Sue Ellen is looking at the Ewing world through jaundiced or rose-coloured glasses, she expects Pam (and later Jenna) to share her vision. "Why do you keep mentioning Mark Graison?" Pam asks. "What are you trying to suggest? ... Just so you know, my marriage to Bobby is rock solid." "If that's true, then why are you getting so angry?" Sue Ellen persists. "Because you're making me angry!" "Pam, I'm your friend." "Then act like it!"

    JR and Sue Ellen are not the only ones speculating about Bobby and Pam's marriage. In their first scene since their off-screen reconciliation, Miss Ellie frets to Rebecca that her decision to contest the will is the cause of "some friction" between them. "Wouldn't it be nice if you and I could show them that the Barneses and the Ewings can be friends?" sighs Rebecca, as if she hadn't just spent the previous fourteen episodes waging a vendetta against her daughter's in-laws. Indeed, she and Ellie are suddenly best buds, embracing and cooing over their grandson. "He's bringing us closer than we've ever been," she later tells Afton. This is one of the narrative pieces being put in place to ensure that Rebecca's death will have the maximum impact on the greatest number of people.

    As the Ewing brothers prepare to face their mother in court, Harve warns that if the judge rules against them, the entire will - not just the codicil pertaining to the fight for the company - could be overturned. If this should happen, Jock's previous will, drawn up fourteen years earlier, will come into effect. "As young as you boys were at the time ... your mama would get 100% of Ewing Oil," he tells them. (Actually, JR wasn't that young in 1968. He was already working at Ewing Oil, dating Sue Ellen and sleeping with Julie Grey.) "The will is a problem for what it doesn't include," Harve continues. "Ray and Gary. They'd lose out badly. Fifteen years ago, Jock was furious at Gary." "That's when Gary was drinkin' so much," remembers Bobby. According to the Ewing back story, Gary fled the ranch some five years earlier. How much contact, if any, he had with his family between 1963 and 1978 when Bobby found him in Vegas is unclear. In any case, both Gary and Ray ("just a ranch hand then," as per JR's description) "would get virtually nothing" if the earlier will were to come into effect.

    Bobby and JR each use this information to try and pressure members of the family over to their side. First Bobby argues with Pam over Miss Ellie's course of action. "I don't think she's wrong," Pam maintains. "Even if it hurts Gary and Ray?" he asks. Pam is unimpressed: "Bobby, you know your mother. Never in a billion years would she hurt Gary or Ray."

    Next, JR preys on Lucy. "I can't say it would bother me if you lost Ewing Oil," she tells him airily, seemingly less concerned about the matter than when she questioned Miss Ellie's decision on the night of the barbecue. "It's just a joke to you, isn't it?" he snaps. "If your grandma's successful in court, your daddy's inheritance is gonna be reduced to a stipend. That means a handout, honey. Or don't you give a damn?" Given her attitude towards Gary following the reading of Jock's will, ("I know what my father is; it's my own stupidity that makes me think he'll ever change") it wouldn't be too surprising to find out that Lucy doesn't give a damn. However, indifference does not good drama make and so we get a nicely affectionate grandma scene in which Miss Ellie reassures Lucy that she will make good on Jock's bequest to Gary. ("Gary was my son a long time before he was your daddy.") During a discussion with Pam, Miss Ellie goes so far as to say that "where Gary's concerned, it could be a blessing. I could improve on the way Jock dealt with him." This being a reference to the restrictions Jock put on Gary's access to his inheritance.

    Ray, however, is a different matter. "I'd take care of Ray too, but Pam, Ray is so much his own man," Ellie frets. "He might refuse to accept anything from me." She summons him to the house to discuss the matter. "Well I never had that money before," he shrugs. "Guess I can keep on living all right without it, Miss Ellie." "... I won't let you lose that money," she insists. "First things first," he replies, shifting the direction of the conversation, "and the first thing is for you to win."

    Out in the driveway, JR tries to enlist Ray's support for the cause. "You and Bobby and me," he tells him, "we're all in this together." Ray is unmoved. "I find it hard to believe you're fightin' against your own ten million dollars," persists JR, "cos if she wins that's what you stand to lose, boy ... You really are a dumb old cowboy, aren't you?" Ray grabs him by the scruff of the neck and pins him against the bonnet of his pick up: "I'd give up my house, my inheritance, every damn cent I've got before I'd go with you against Miss Ellie!" he snarls. (While all eyes are on the fight between JR and Bobby this season, the sibling relationship that's slowly building in violence is between JR and Ray.) It's interesting to note that while Ray does not object to Miss Ellie publicly questioning his father's mental competency, he'll adopt a far more defensive stance when Jock is accused of stealing Ewing Oil from Digger and Jason in Season 7. Indeed, that is an instance in which Ray does side with JR against Miss Ellie - or at least Donna Reed's somnambulant version thereof.

    Back at his own house, Ray confirms Miss Ellie's fears when he admits that he would not be comfortable receiving money from her if Jock's will is thrown out of court. "Taking charity from Miss Ellie who's not even my real mother, well I just don't think I could do that," he tells Donna.

    In retrospect, of course, all of this soul searching is moot. In fact, one might even call the entire "older will" subplot a red herring as the judge will end up ruling against Miss Ellie anyway. Nevertheless, it provides us with some good solid family interaction and gives characters less directly involved in the Ewing Oil fight, i.e. Ray and Lucy, a chance to take a stand on the matter.

    News of Miss Ellie's upcoming court fight even filters through to the Texas Energy Commission where Donna uses it as yet another reason to have JR's variance rescinded. "If Jock's will is overturned, the whole company is gonna revert to his widow," she informs her fellow commission members. "She is going to sell it. That is the end of the battle and of low gasoline prices ... This whole commission is gonna look like a bunch of fools as soon as this battle between the Ewing brothers is over with." "Something we should consider, I suppose," concedes TEC chairman Elton Lawrence. George Hicks is unimpressed, however. "Voting against that variance is like voting against motherhood!" he decrees.

    There's a really good scene in which Punk, clad once again in his Johnny Cash/Man-in-Black outfit, comes to JR's office to see the Ewing boys. As the closest person to Jock in the last days of his life, it is logical to assume that his testimony at the hearing will be the most crucial, and the brothers are anxious to know which side of the fence he is on. "Can we count on you in court?" JR wants to know. "Will you be willing to testify as to what Daddy's intentions were?" Bobby asks. "Are you?" replies Punk pointedly, "I know what Jock's intentions were and I know the feelin' behind 'em and neither one of you care anything about that at all ... It wasn't Jock's intention to let you use the codicil to destroy Ewin' Oil." The brothers aren't in a listening mood. "Punk, are you with us or not?" snaps Bobby. "I don't know," he replies. "I'm caught in the middle ... between my duty to your daddy and my affection for your mama!"

    Elsewhere in the episode, a similar sentiment is expressed to the brothers by Harve Smithfield: "I take no joy in fighting with your mama - or the fact that both of you forced her into taking this action." In a way, these two elder men, Punk and Harve, represent the more benign side of Jock and function as the conscience of the episode. JR reacts to both their remonstrations with a cool-headed practicality. "I appreciate your sentiments," he tells Harve. "Neither Bobby nor I wanted to go up against Mama, you know that. But we can't let those feelings interfere with our winning. That's the one thing we damn well better do." "The only way Mama can win is to prove that Daddy was mentally incompetent," he says to Punk. "Would you testify to that?" "I don't know what I'll testify to," Punk replies, "if I testify to anything. All I can tell you is I'll be in the courtroom."

    A tense family dinner ("The atmosphere around this table is cold enough to chill the wine," observes Miss Ellie) is interrupted by a visit from Brooks Oliver who appears at the front door!! "The hearing of the will is scheduled for next Tuesday," he tells Ellie.

    Next thing we know, it's next Tuesday, and "the case of Eleanor Southworth Ewing versus the estate of John Ross Ewing Senior, deceased," is underway. "Judge Howard Mantee [played by the brother of Oscar-winning actor Art Carney] presiding." As Brooks commences his opening argument, ("It is our contention that the codicil is inconsistent with Mr Ewing's character ... We further believe that the codicil casts serious questions as to the soundness of his judgement towards the end of his life and we petition the court to eliminate it") we find Pam, Donna, Ray, Clayton, Dave Culver and Franklin Horner all seated on Ellie's side of the court. Punk's position on JR and Bobby's side (behind Sue Ellen) makes it clear that "my duty to your daddy" ultimately wins out over "my affection for your mama." The sombre mood of the proceedings is reflected in the appearances of the women, each of whom is dressed in black and white, with the exception of Sue Ellen who wears grey.

    The first witness to be called on Miss Ellie's behalf is Dave Culver, the man who initially approached Jock about the South American trip on behalf of the State Department. He explains that Jock actually volunteered for the job. "He seemed anxious to go. He wanted to jump in with both feet." When Brooks asks if Jock's behaviour could be described as obsessive, Dave demurs (which makes one wonder why he was called to testify for the plaintiff in the first place). "It was more like this trip could be his last hurrah," he explains. "Sort of a last grand gesture of a great man." This description suggests some awareness on Jock's part that his life was drawing to a close. While he was clearly not a young man, there was nothing in the character's behaviour at the end of Season 3 to suggest such a keen sense of his own mortality. However, the actor playing him was gravely ill--something most viewers would have been aware of. And so retrospectively, it seems as if Jim Davis's real-life condition and Jock's off screen actions are somehow being fused together.

    Next to the stand is Franklin Horner, Jock's banker for over thirty years. He describes letters he received from him in South America. "Jock seemed so concerned about the company ... minor, trivial details .. like he was forgetful." Prompted by Brooks Oliver, he suggests that Jock may have been suffering from senility. This prompts an effective reaction shot of Pam wincing.

    To denote the passing of time in the courtroom, we are shown a list of witnesses for the plaintiff on which some of the names have been crossed off, among them Pam and Harlan Danvers (the Ewings' physician) whose testimonies are not shown on screen. The last name on the list is Ellie's. Brooks requests that her testimony is delayed until after the defence has presented its case.

    There is a similar witness list for the defence. The following names are crossed off: Pat Powers (Jock and Punk's buddy from Season 3), Harold Jackson (no idea), Bobby, and Sue Ellen. (The mind boggles as to what Sue Ellen's testimony would have been: that she knew her father-in-law was of sound mind because when she presented him with a piece of sculpture for his 40th wedding anniversary, he correctly identified it as a piece of crap?)

    Far more germane to the case is Punk's eye-witness account of Jock's last days. "Jock has been worrying a lot about the future of Ewing Oil," he explains on the stand. "Miss Ellie was to inherit total control of the company and he was afraid it might be a little bit too much of a burden for her ... He just couldn't figure out a better way to handle the problem." "It's your opinion that Jock knew exactly what he was doing when he set up that contest?" asks Harve. "He knew it'd be tough," Punk confirms.

    During Punk's cross-examination by Brooks, the fact that Jock was suffering a fever during the last week of his life is introduced. This plot point will prove to be a key factor in the resolution of Season 9's "Is Wes Parmalee Jock?" riddle. "We both had a little fever," Punk admits. "It came and went." "How high was his temperature?" asks Brooks. "101, 2," he mumbles. "My word, you can become delirious at 103." "Jock wasn't delirious." "How can you tell? You were burning up just like he was!" I love the way Donald Moffatt barks that last line.

    JR is the last witness for the defence. "He was always pitting Bobby and me against each other," he tells Harve truthfully. "It was his way of toughening us up and it also told him who was the best man for the job. No sir, that codicil was just an extension of the way we were raised all our lives."

    During a brief recess, in which the Ewings, Punk and Clayton (Howard Keel has no lines in this episode) huddle in their various camps outside the courtroom, JR delivers to Bobby the coldest line of the episode, if not the entire season: "I see your little wife over there giving aid and comfort to the opposition." "Opposition? JR, that's your mother!" exclaims Sue Ellen.

    Ellie finally takes the stand and tells Brooks of the conversations and letters she shared with Jock while he was in South America. Obviously, this is information we were not privy to during the first half of Season 4 when such correspondence would have been taking place, and again there's a retrospective sense that Jock's death wasn't only the result of a random helicopter crash, but also arose out of Jim Davis's illness. "He told me on the phone that he had been trying to plan ahead, but it was hard. He was tired. He said that he just wanted to lie down and go to sleep for a while," Ellie recalls. "He just wasn't himself down there."

    To read from Jock's letters, she put on her reading glasses, a gesture which only adds to her vulnerability. "'I'd forgotten how miserable the jungle can be,'" she reads. "'Between the heat and the fatigue, I'm about done in. I've been running a fever lately, but I guess I'll get over that. If Punk can survive it then so I can I.'" This line prompts another poignant reaction shot, this time from a moist-eyed Sue Ellen. "'We're getting things done. It's not like when we were young, though, Ellie. I'm really feeling the years down here ... I find myself trying to figure something out, then just drifting off some place, back to younger days, younger times. It's funny, but I stare out and all these jungle plants just kind of dissolve and there's your face instead. My pretty little girl, my pretty little Ellie. Lord, how I miss you down here.'"

    By now, she is weeping. Brooks continues with his questions. "Aside from the fever and the exhaustion," he asks, "are you saying that at the time your husband wrote the codicil, he lacked mental competence?" She looks up at him pleadingly. He flashes her a warning look with his eyes. She turns to her sons. Bobby appears upset; JR's expression is harder, less easy to read. "I'm saying his sense of judgement was not up to his usual standard," she says through her tears. "That's not what I'm asking," prods Brooks gently. "If that's the legal term you need to break the will," she replies slowly, "then yes, Jock was not mentally competent." She lets out a small cry.

    It's strange: I've lost count of how many times I've watched Season 5, and this was always an example of a BBG performance I found impressive without being particularly touched by. For some reason, however, and I don't know if it's to do with watching it on DVD, it now feels very moving. The ordeal Ellie undergoes on the stand--being forced to "betray" her husband twice over: first by making his private thoughts public, then by declaring him incompetent--must be one of the most acute depictions of anguish experienced by any character during the series. Moreover, not only are the rest of the family obliged to helplessly witness this suffering, but two of them--Bobby and JR--must do so in the knowledge that they are the cause of it. Would the writers have chosen to explore this kind of emotional territory had the situation not been forced on them by Jim Davis's death, I wonder? It seems doubtful.

    And in the end, Miss Ellie's suffering is for nought. "The court finds the testimony both touching and persuasive," says Judge Mantee in delivering his verdict. "It would appear that the codicil as drawn was possibly a mistake in judgement. ... However, the court cannot find grounds enough to overturn [Mr Ewing's] final intentions." In retrospect, the idea that so much destruction (three deaths, two broken marriages, a fire, etc.) could have been the result of something as simple as "a mistake in judgement" seems terribly poignant. Nonetheless, JR smiles with relief upon hearing the verdict.

    The final shot is one of the most evocative episode endings of the series. From the back of the courtroom, we see Brooks sitting next to Ellie, offering some words of consolation, but we are too far way to hear what is being said. They are then obscured from our view by the people behind them getting to their feet. Then Ellie emerges walking alone down the aisle, eyes fixed ahead of her. Bobby's voice calls "Mama", but she doesn't acknowledge it. JR starts walking behind her, then Pam appears. They're all headed in the same direction, but isolated from one another. It's the exact opposite of the "Bypass" freeze frame which captures the Ewings exiting the hospital after Jock's operation, very much a united family.

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  8. Ms Southworth

    Ms Southworth Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    Your analysis of each episode is excellent! :10::10::10:

    This season definitely holds some of BBG's best work! :)

    "The fake patio" ... :rlol:

    Also, I was reminded of why I really had good reason to dislike Mark Graison! :box: I didn't like how little attention Bobby gave his wife during the contest either. I guess that Bobby had so much faith in his marriage that he never imagined that the contest (and the circumstances surrounding it) would end up costing him the love of his life :bye:
     
  9. Steven Wayne

    Steven Wayne Soap Chat Member

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    Mark Graison as the employer of the lawyer that Clayton recommends to Miss Ellie: what a clever way to introduce a love interest for Pam! I always found that truly impressive.
     
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  10. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    "A Ewing is a Ewing"

    After last week's court-heavy instalment, which tied all the characters into a single plotline, this episode disperses them once again into several different stories (nearly all of which are still offshoots of the season's overall arc: the fight for Ewing Oil).

    In the opening scene, a defeated Miss Ellie tells the family that she's off to Galveston to lick her wounds. "I seem to be very tired." In spite of her claim that "I'm not sick ... I'm just very sad," this is the first indication of the physical toll the brothers' fight is taking on her. "I don't wanna be around when you and Bobby start fighting again," she tells JR.

    This episode marks a major turning point for no less than four relationships: two for better (Clayton and Miss Ellie, Lucy and Mickey), two for worse (JR and Holly, Sue Ellen and Clayton).

    It all starts when JR receives an unexpected visit from an Air Force general by the name of Cochran (a memorably intimidating cameo by Paul Mantee). Knowing what a physical coward he is, it's fun to see JR so clearly out of his comfort zone when confronted with a military presence. "An unexpected honour, sir," he begins obsequiously, before nervously adding a little gag: "You didn't displace my discharge papers by any chance, did you?" The general is not in a laughing mood, however. He wants to talk about Harwood Oil. "The same Harwood Oil that just tried to cancel a long-standing order for jet fuel - on your recommendation, Miss Harwood tells me ... Obviously, she had no legal right to cancel a military contract ... Mr Ewing, your public image is very, very well established and your concern for the consumer's admirable, but playing fast and loose with national security is not going to help that image." JR immediately starts wriggling out of the line of fire, blaming the "mix up" on Holly's youth and gender. Larry Hagman does this squirming-on-the-end-of-a-hook style of comedy very well. "Frankly, I've always felt that the oil business is a man's business," he adds in a confidential tone, in a failed attempt to buddy up to the impassive general. "But don't you worry. I'll get this straightened out in nothing flat." He then politely requests Sly to get Holly on the line. "The Ewing family has always backed a strong military and we're not about to stop now," he assures the general fawningly. Once Cochran leaves, however, JR's smile abruptly disappears. Sly buzzes to say that she has failed to reach Holly and does he want to her to keep trying? "No," he replies coldly, "I'll get Miss Harwood." PSYCHO style strings sound ominously on the soundtrack.

    We re-join him that night in his office, face grim and shrouded in darkness. Having been belittled by the general, JR is out to reassert his masculinity. Drink in hand, he wanders into the deserted, and equally shadowy, secretary area. We glimpse Holly coming out of the elevator and there's a momentary sense of dislocation before we realise we're looking at her reflection in the glass doors by the reception desk. JR stands with his back to her. The atmosphere is one of unease. "Why the late hour meetin', JR?" she asks. "I don't understand why you couldn't tell me what you wanted on the telephone." "There are a number of things you don't understand, darlin'," he replies. "That's why I asked you to meet me here." He beckons her into his office, then quickly locks the door behind her. She is startled by this and refuses his offer of a drink. "Seems like I'm running into teetotallers all over the place," he remarks, replenishing his glass, "I had a meeting with a gentleman this afternoon who wouldn't have a drink with me." At this point, Holly seems to realise that JR is drunk and that something is dreadfully wrong. She tries to leave, but he blocks her path. "You told the Air Force that I was behind your attempt to cancel their contract. Holly, we had an agreement. No one was to know that I had any connection with Harwood Oil ... You understand that?" "What I understand is that I made the biggest mistake of my life when I made a deal with you," she replies bitterly. "Not if you listen and do exactly like I tell ya." "For how long?" "Long as I need you." "Then what - you break Harwood?" "... I don't need to break Harwood. I already run it and from now on, I run you too, darlin'." "Never!" She turns away from him. He comes up behind her, stroking her hair. "Holly, you don't have any choice, honey." "Take your hands off me, JR." He reaches around to unbutton her jacket. "You wanted me once," he reminds her. "You turned me down ... No, JR. I don't want this." Ignoring her protests, he removes her jacket. "New rules," he says, nuzzling her neck, "I give the orders. You just follow 'em. That's the way it's gonna be." "You won't enjoy it," she tells him defiantly. "You better make damn sure I do," he replies. She shuts her eyes. The screen fades to black. If this isn't rape, I don't know what is.

    The following morning, Sue Ellen finds him nursing a hangover on the fake patio. "She walks in beauty like the night," he says, quoting Lord Byron, of all people, before mumbling some excuse about working late the night before. Sue Ellen eats it up. "JR, I'm so glad our marriage is working out this way," she says dreamily. It's taken JR all of five episodes to break his wedding vows. He now manipulates his bride in order to get what he couldn't from Holly and the general - more refinery capacity. First, he alludes to a business problem, then plays hard to get: "I don't wanna burden you with it, darlin'." This gets Sue Ellen's attention. "I wanna help," she insists. "Clayton Farlow, he has a refinery that would solve all my problems," he tells her with faux-reluctance. "JR, Clayton would never help you!" "But he'd help you." She hesitates, and he moves in for the kill. "Ironic, isn't it? The one thing I need to secure our future and the future of our little boy is in the hands of a man that despises me," he sighs. "JR, do you love me? I mean, really love me?" she asks solemnly. "Of course I do." "... I'll talk to Clayton. For us." "I knew you would."

    So it is that for the second episode in a row, Sue Ellen does her husband's bidding by exploiting a close friendship over lunch at an Italian sounding restaurant. (Well, it gets her out of the house.) By the time we join them at Mario's, she and Clayton are already discussing JR's cut-rate gas stations. "He is helping a lot of the poor people," she points out, trying to sound vaguely caring while wearing her chunkiest knitwear. Clayton is unimpressed. "I just wouldn't do business with the man," he tells her. "Would you do business with me?" she asks, "Would you refine JR's oil if I asked you?" "I will say this for JR Ewing: the man has no shame," murmurs a quietly devastated Clayton. "It was my idea," she hurriedly insists. "I don't believe that," he snaps. "I believe he manipulated you into it. But I don't care whose idea it was, I would not touch any oil from JR Ewing!" He gets up to leave and almost collides with a ten-year-old waiter. "The lady's dining alone!" he booms.

    Clayton heads for Ewing Oil. This is his first visit to the building, yet he knows his way around well enough to burst straight into JR's office. "Now for your own safety, I suggest you stay on that side of the desk," he warns JR. There's a nice low angle shot from JR's point of view of an imposing Clayton looking down at him. Howard Keel is probably at his most impressive during this kind of confrontation scene. He and Hagman play off one another very well. "Did you think you could use my relationship with Sue Ellen to get to my refinery?" he asks. "Well, I figured it was worth a try," JR replies with amusing candour. "Don't you ever use your wife or anyone else to get to me again or I'll break you in two!"

    The stand out scene in a strong and eventful episode takes place in Holly's bedroom, to be known henceforth as The Boudoir of Set Ups. As Holly arranges herself on the bed, we hear JR let himself into the house and make his way up the stairs (just as Sue Ellen will in ten episodes time). He enters the room to finds Holly reclining in a negligee, her legs and shoulders artfully exposed and a bottle of champagne cooling at the foot of the bed. "You're just full of surprises," he observes. "I guess I finally made an impression on you." Indeed, one might be forgiven for interpreting, as JR clearly does, Holly's demeanour to mean that their earlier encounter falls into the same category of he-kissed-her-until-she-liked-it seduction as his rough sex scenes with Sue Ellen and Mandy in "Black Market Baby" and "Bail Out" respectively. "JR, I'm a realist," Holly tells him, "You own 25% of Harwood Oil. I'm Harwood Oil. That gives you 25% of me." "If the other night was 25%, I tell you I just can't wait to collect the other 75," he chuckles, caressing her thigh. She smiles, then pulls out a gun. "Get your hands off me," she purrs quietly. "You arrogant pig. You're so full of yourself, JR. So damn sure of everything. I could kill you right now and never regret it. New rules: We are business partners. I don't like it, but I'll deal with it. But from now on, that's all we are. You ever touch me again, you're a dead man. Now get out!" She keeps the gun trained the gun on him as he leaves. He smiles blandly in an attempt at bravado. Only when he gets to the other side of the door do we see how shaken he is.

    What sets Holly apart from the vast majority of "JR's women" (if she can be even classed as such) is that she does not allow herself to be defined as a sexual victim - even after being raped. She may have been sufficiently naive to become involved with JR in the first place, but has since learnt how to "play the other man's game", as Cliff Barnes put in Season 1. After all, this is a world (i.e. a TV series) in which the acts of rape JR does commit are not acknowledged as such (the 'R' word is never used in connection with what he does in this episode or to Laurel Ellis in Season 10) and the only times the programme allows him to be accused of the crime are when he is clearly and safely innocent: in "Winds of Vengeance" by Luther Frick and "Out of the Frying Pan" by Cally's brothers.

    Meanwhile, in Galveston, Miss Ellie is breakfasting at the same beach-side restaurant which will miraculously reappear during Pam's trip to Cannes later in the season. Who should happen by but one Clayton Farlow? He sits down with her and they each explain why they felt the need for a change of scenery. "I'm just trying to get away from everything for a while," she tells him. "Someone I care about very much just disappointed me ... Maybe betrayal would be a better word," he admits to her. "A woman?" Ellie asks. "You are very perceptive," Clayton replies before suggesting "dinner tonight, a walk on the beach tomorrow?" "That would be nice," she smiles. "Now after breakfast, I still feel you'd like to be alone." "And you would too ... You're a kind and thoughtful man, Clayton. That's very rare." Ahh. The characters' bittersweet moods and dovetailing storylines complement each another very nicely. As for the coincidence of their meeting, one simply doesn't question it: it just feels right.

    There follows a sweet scene of them feeding gulls on the dock, Miss Ellie complaining about the smell of the fish, that feels unusually relaxed and spontaneous, possibly even improvised. (Wasn't this when Howard Keel lost his ring?) Their conversation then takes a turn for the serious. "I used to be strong, Clayton. I don't feel that way anymore," Ellie sighs, explaining that she is no hurry to return to Southfork. "Your family needs you," Clayton tells her. "Now more than ever ... Be there for them." This advice is somewhat ironic, given how bitterly Clayton will complain in Season 7 about the hold Ellie's sons still have over her.

    Back at the ranch, Lucy's relationship with Mickey shifts gears when she is obliged to make nice after finding herself in urgent need of a ride to the airport. "I'll even pay you," she pleads. "Forget it!" he snaps. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it that way ... Please." "OK, Shorty."

    As a result of this good deed, Mickey fails to carry out Ray's order to pick up a black-leg vaccine (sounds like something off THE X-FILES) until the following day - and boy, just look at Donna, itching to tell Ray I told you so! "Sounds like he needs a lesson in responsibility," she declares smugly. Ray pounces on his cousin without giving him a chance to explain, and thus our perception of Mickey shifts from surly, wisecracking rebel to misunderstood, if still surly, good guy. "I ain't perfect like you," he tells Ray sarcastically.

    We receive our last glimpse of the aerobics studio when Mark drops by, disguised as a delivery boy (not as quite embarrassing as it sounds) with roses and champagne. "I really wanted to let you know how sorry I was to hear about the outcome of the hearing," he tells Pam. "Shouldn't you have apologised to Miss Ellie?" she asks. His suggestion that Miss Ellie might have a fetish for delivery men prompts Pam to laugh that hearty laugh of hers. "Oh, I like your laugh," he tells her. Don't we all? "You haven't been doing much of that lately, have you?" "No I haven't," she replies, shamelessly playing the martyr for a moment. She does so again during a later scene with Rebecca ("I'm sorry, Mama, I guess I don't hide my feelings very well"), but she's so sympathetic the rest of the time that we forgive her this small indulgence. For instance, she seems genuinely touched by Mark's gesture: "What you did was really sweet and thoughtful and lovely, but I don't want you to do it again." "I never repeat myself," he assures her. "I'll see you again."

    There hasn't been much coverage of Pam's marriage during the past few episodes, so she brings us up to date during a conversation with her mother. "He's obsessed with beating JR," she says of Bobby. "He wakes up with it in the morning and he takes it to bed at night. He hasn't even looked at the baby in a week." "I wish there were an end to all this," Rebecca sighs, "Cliff is still determined to ruin JR. That's his obsession." "Mama, I can't worry about Cliff anymore," He's got you to protect him." Not for much longer he hasn't. "But I am worried about Bobby," she continues, "and I am worried about my marriage." Rebecca gives her the same advice as she gave to Afton on the day of JR and Sue Ellen's wedding: to fight for her relationship. "I don't think there's anything more I can do about it," Pam replies with a sob in her voice. Boy, things have sure gone downhill fast for DALLAS's golden couple--they only started arguing in earnest three episodes ago and Pam's already reached the end of her tether. Yet such is the driving forward momentum of this season that the breakdown of their relationship still feels plausible, even inevitable.

    The title of this instalment echoes a bitter observation made by Cliff about Bobby two episodes ago: "A Ewing is a Ewing is a Ewing." In this episode, the two men come face to face for the first time (the recent mob scenes at JR and Sue Ellen's wedding and the Ewing barbecue notwithstanding) since Bobby sacked Cliff as his legal counsel at the beginning of Season 4. "I'm tellin' you. You're gonna regret this the rest of your life!" snarls Cliff as Bobby delivers his ultimatum to the cartel one more time: "Look it's real simple. Either you uncap Wellington and start pumpin' or you buy me out of the field ... I need that money on my books one way or another." "No matter what it does to the rest of us?!" barks Marilee. "He's a Ewing, just like all the rest of them," adds Cliff, once again reinforcing the theme of the episode's title, before the cartel reluctantly hand over payment to Bobby of $30,000,000. "Let's get out of here. This whole place smells," huffs Cliff. The final word of the scene goes to Jordan Lee, who delivers this doom-laden gem to Bobby on his way out the door: "Too bad your mother lost. Too bad for the whole Ewing family."

    Having spent the last several weeks asserting herself (i.e. shouting and throwing things), Afton's sudden burst of independence comes to an end as plot requirements oblige her to be living with Cliff in time for next week's episode. "I can't stay angry with you; I love you," she coos. While Cliff busily plots JR's downfall over the phone, ("What if I told you that I had a plan that would get JR out of our hair, that would get him out of the State of Texas?" he asks Jordan) she uncomplainingly moves all her belongings into his condo by herself. It's a pretty good indication of how their relationship will continue.

    In a season where every other plot point pays off and then some, Cliff's scheme to get JR "out of the State of Texas" is something of an anomaly. We later see him pitch the idea to three anonymous good ol' boys: "How would you like a candidate that would make our party a power in this state again? ... I got a great candidate ... JR Ewing, a man of the people ... If there's one thing that turns JR on, it's power and if you can convince him he can wheel and deal in Washington, he'll run." This plan has echoes of the scheme JR came up with to lure Cliff out of the Office of Land Management in Season 2. Using Alan Beam as a front, he financed a campaign that convinced Cliff that he had enough support to get elected to the senate. Once he resigned from the OLM, JR pulled the plug, leaving Cliff to fall flat on his ass. Does Cliff have a similar trap in mind for JR? We never find out, as following his mother's death in two weeks' time, Cliff's world will turn upside down and the scheme will be forgotten, but it seems doubtful. Unlike Cliff, JR has a genuine groundswell of support amongst the public and a better than good chance of being elected. Is Cliff really short-sighted enough to believe that having JR wheel and deal in Washington is preferable to him doing same in Dallas? Besides, with JR out of Ewing Oil, Bobby would be left to take over the company and as Cliff has been saying since the beginning of the season, "The Ewings are all the same. Bobby, JR - it doesn't make any difference." Nevertheless, the idea of JR as a potential political figure will permeate the rest of the season, giving Sue Ellen something to fantasise about and the Krebbses and Dave Culver something to fret over, culminating in JR's trip to Cuba on a supposed fact-finding mission.

    More immediately, Bobby makes an interesting discovery outside the Lone Star Bank (where he presumably deposited that $30,000,000 cheque) when he spies JR and George Hicks of the Texas Energy Commission across the street. "What the hell are JR and Hicks doing together?" he wonders. Specifically, what the hell are they doing together in broad daylight in such a conspicuous location? It seems unusually reckless behaviour for JR, who normally favours seedy bars, remote parking lots and the occasional dirt track road for his secret assignations with the likes of Alan Beam, Walt Driscoll, Gerald Kane, Charlie Waters and Katherine Wentworth.

    When Bobby discreetly sounds Donna out about Hicks, she cites him as the TEC member "that has disappointed me the most ... Dagummit, he supported JR!" she exclaims. And for her spirited use of the word "dagummit", Donna almost redeems herself for her supercilious attitude towards poor old Mickey elsewhere in this episode. Bobby asks her about the remaining members of the commission. "Neither one of them is gonna change his mind and vote to rescind JR's variance unless Hicks does," she informs him.

    An investigation into Hicks' personal life proves disappointingly dirt-free for Bobby. "There are guys who specialise in sprinkling a little dirt where there isn't any," his investigator tells him as a parting gesture. The pressure mounts as Phyllis presents him with a copy of Tempo Magazine boasting JR on its cover. "Your brother's done it again," she tells him. (Judging by its typeface and layout, Tempo would seem to be DALLAS's fictional equivalent of Time Magazine. In Season 10, however, it is replaced by the real thing with Sue Ellen and Nick Pearce's running "I'll make the cover of Time before you do" gag.)

    Bowing to the inevitable, Bobby revisits his road man past of "booze, broads and booty" by placing a call to pimp daddy Carl Daggett, thus finally making dramatic sense of Daggett's visit to Ewing Oil fifteen episodes earlier. They meet at Carl's club, aka Dallas's answer to the Bada Bing, where he introduces Bobby to his "business associates. They specialise in looking for weak spots." Bobby surveys the candidates, looking for the best person for the job. Kitten's a no, Tina's a maybe, but Wendy's the winner. "You're very pretty," he tells her gauchely. "Just like the old days," smiles Daggett approvingly, "Set 'em up and call in the marker, huh?" "No, Carl," Bobby insists. "This is a one time only thing. I don't wanna ruin this man. I just wanna get a little leverage on him, that's all." I've always liked the way Daggett's reply cuts through Bobby's lame rationalisation: "A little scandal's like a little blackmail. It's kinda like being just a little pregnant, you know? You're in for the distance, my friend."

    Bobby and Pam's only encounter of the episode comes in the final scene. Classily, he has arranged for them to dine at the same restaurant where Wendy plans to pick up George Hicks. While Bobby keeps one eye trained on Hicks at the bar, a not-so-blissfully ignorant Pam relays a conversation she has had with Cliff regarding the deal with the cartel: "He said you pushed them to the wall, that you threatened to undercut everyone in the business for a quick profit." "Honey, I'm in business and I do what I have to do," Bobby murmurs. Right on cue, Wendy appears at the bar wearing a dress that will somehow find its way onto Sly's back in Season 6 and starts making her move on Curious George. "No matter who gets hurt?" demands Pam, her back to the bar. "Oh come on. No one's gonna get hurt," Bobby replies. "Everyone's going to be hurt, especially you," she insists. "Can't you see that, Bobby?" "Everything's gonna be fine," he tells her, as he watches Hicks buys Wendy a drink. "It's gonna be just fine." And with that, P Duffy gets his first freeze frame since he was called in for questioning by the police over the Jeff Faraday killing in "Blackmail" nineteen episodes ago.

    Thanks!
     
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  11. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    "Crash of 83" This has to be one of DALLAS's cleverest episode titles (even if it did take me a few years to get the pun) as well as the only one that refers to the period in which the series was made.

    "There are very few things in this world JR Ewing cannot afford. Patience is one of them."

    In fact, time is of the essence for each of the Ewing brothers in this episode. "You get me that refinery. I need it now," says JR to his broker, Russell Slater. "Find somethin' ... that I can use to turn Hicks around. Time is very important to me," Bobby tells Wendy the hooker. Even Ray's master-plan to "make or break" Mickey has acquired a sense of urgency. "I think he might come around," says Lucy. "I'm just not sure I can wait that long," Ray replies.

    While this episode finds JR intent on acquiring another refinery and Bobby focused on pressuring George Hicks so that JR won't have any use for another refinery, each brother is able to spare a scene or two to discuss other business ventures. First, Bobby gets an update from Thornton McLeish on how their deal in Canada is progressing. The short answer is: it isn't. "We haven't been able to start drilling yet," Thornton admits. "Hang in there, huh?"

    With Bobby's Canadian venture stalled, the breaking of Hicks becomes all the more imperative. "I think I have something you can use," Wendy tells Bobby after an evening on the town with George. "Cocaine. Hicks is a user." (Strange how clean-cut Bobby is the Ewing who attracts all the drug related story-lines: Hicks's coke, Lucy's diet pills, Jeff Faraday's dealers, Veronica Robinson's overdose, Tommy Mackay's bad trip and whatever was going on with those 90210 girls in Season 13.) "Wendy, I like the way you're handling this," he tells her. "And I like you, Mr Ewing," she replies, "When this is all over if you'd like to get together?" Bobby looks terrified. "Wendy, you're very beautiful and you're nice," he says wimpily, "but this is strictly a business deal."

    Later on, Wendy calls Bobby at the office. "All the signals point to us ending up at his place," she tells him. "Just say the word and I'm ready to roll." Bobby takes a deep breath. "All right. Do it," he tells her. It's the last we see of Wendy. Shame really; of the DALLAS hookers, I think she's my favourite (with Millie Laverne and Season 7's Rhonda following close behind).

    Meanwhile, Russell Slater's fruitless search for a refinery prompts a terrific rant from JR. "That's my picture on the front page," he begins, waving a newspaper in Slater's face. "You know why it's there? Because I provide low-cost gasoline to the little man. Without another refinery, I'm not gonna be able to process enough oil to satisfy the little man ... The minute my picture is off that front page, the TEC is gonna rescind my variance. They rescind the variance, I'm gonna have to shut down all my gasoline stations. No gasoline stations means no profits and no profits means I'm gonna lose my whole company, and I guarantee you, you will never hear about that!" "Well, I may have a lead," admits Slater. "The owner lives in Houston ..." "Well, get on a plane and lock it up!" orders JR.

    As determined as JR is to get a refinery, Rebecca and Cliff are equally determined to stop him. "Wentworth Industries does business with practically every refinery owner in Texas. If JR gets close to a deal, I'll use all the influence I have to kill it," Rebecca promises. "That's all I wanted to hear," smiles Cliff.

    With Rebecca not long for this soap opera, there are some subtle attempts at closure for the character in this episode. She finally gets to enjoy a harmonious scene with her two eldest children. The only previous occasions where the three characters have been alone together have been at Brooktree and Dallas Memorial Hospitals after Pam and Cliff's respective suicide attempts. In this episode, Rebecca watches fondly as Pam introduces Christopher to Cliff: "Cliff, do you recognise this child? ... When was the last time you saw him? When have you ever seen him? ... You have never seen him, your own nephew!" Katzman and co seem to have forgotten the scene in Season 4 where Cliff runs into JR at Southfork while on his way to present Pam and Christopher with a cuddly toy. Nonetheless, this scene helps set things up for the post-Rebecca era in which Cliff and Pam regain the closeness they shared in the early years, and also the post-Pam years where Cliff and Christopher become (slightly unlikely) best buddies. "You hungry?" Cliff asks his soggy nephew. "I got some leftover Chinese food I can warm up for him." Everyone laughs - it's the calm before the storm.

    In addition, the possible pairing of Rebecca and Clayton, which has been hinted at periodically since their reunion at the Southfork barbecue the previous year, is finally discounted. Ellie, flush from her chance meeting with Clayton in Galveston, ("If you're not careful, Miss Ellie, you'll find these little vacations are addictive," he tells her. One never-ending cruise coming up) asks for clarification of their relationship. "You were seeing each other, weren't you?" she asks. "Oh no, Miss Ellie. Not like that," Clayton replies. "I like Rebecca very much. She was married to a very dear friend of mine and we share a pleasant friendship like yours and mine, but that's all."

    Miss Ellie's relationship with Frank Crutcher is also laid to rest. "Frank is a very charming man and I like him, I really do, but Clayton is very special," she tells Sue Ellen. "He has something different, a sweetness, a strength." "Clayton is a fine man," agrees Sue Ellen through gritted teeth.

    "Of all the people for Mama to take up with, Clayton Farlow!" exclaims JR when Sue Ellen tells him the news. "Mama's very vulnerable right now. It wouldn't take much for that man to move in on her. I'll be damned if I'll let that happen!" And right there is the central plot for the second half of Season 6. Clayton's shock decision - "I've sold the Southern Cross" - will also return to haunt him during the latter part of that year.

    Lucy shares a couple of scenes with Ray in this episode. It's the first time the two have been alone together since her move back to Southfork at the beginning of Season 4, and it won't happen again until he discovers her working at the Hot Biscuit in Season 7. For now, however, the topic of conversation is Mickey. "He screwed up again," Ray sighs. "The real problem's his attitude."

    "How come you're in the doghouse?" Lucy asks when she finds Mickey baling hay. "[Is it] because you drove me to the airport? ... I'm really sorry. I'll talk to Ray." "Don't bother," he snaps. "I'm not gonna be around long enough for it to make any difference ... I'm tired of this cowboy crud. I'm gettin' outta here."

    Lucy trots back to Ray and tries to make things right between him and his cousin: "You know I think all he really wants is for you to trust him ..." "You kinda like him, don'tcha?" Ray asks her. "There's nothing going on between Mickey and me, believe me," she assures him. Nevertheless, a change seems to come over Lucy in this episode, and it's kind of sweet to see her emerging from her withdrawn period, without her even realising it. (Funny how her withdrawn period and her "I like myself" period of Season 7 each result in her getting the same minimal amount of screen time.)

    Holly's a no show this week and Donna appears only once, discussing JR's latest appearance on TALK TIME: "Politics? I never really gave it a thought," he chuckles, "If a political offer were made to me, I would seriously have to weigh the good I can do the little man at the gas pump against the good I can do for the little man as his political representative." "We need to stop JR before it gets outta hand!" exclaims Donna, not for the first time.

    There are two collisions in this episode: the off-screen crash that happens between the Wentworth jet and another, unnamed aircraft (Jock's phantom helicopter, perhaps, piloted by an undead version of Chico Steve?), and the collision of several story-lines in the lead up to that crash. Such is the knotty structure of this season, it's hard to pinpoint the exact moment where the chain of events leading to Rebecca's death begins, (heck, one could argue that it started with the birth of the Barnes/Ewing feud four decades earlier) but in terms of this episode, it's a chance encounter between JR and Gil Thurman that changes everything. "Lookee here, there's somebody I know!" hollers Gil across a crowded restaurant. "Until you get rid of that despicable animal, I'll be in the ladies' room," Sue Ellen tells her husband before beating a hasty retreat. JR's conversation with "that despicable animal" soon turns to the refinery deal JR recently lost to Cliff and the cartel. "I could beat Barnes in any fair deal, you know that ... What kind of edge did he have?" he asks. "Five foot four, long blonde hair, pretty. Name's Afton Cooper. I can't remember the last time I got so little sleep," replies Gil gallantly. "That explains it," chuckles JR without missing a beat. "Afton was talkin' about you ... I got the impression she was very fond of you." "... Maybe I oughta look the lady up," muses Gil. "What a truly loathsome man he is," Sue Ellen shudders once Thurman has gone. "Don't be so hard on him, Sue Ellen," mock-chides JR. "A man like that might do us some good some day." Or maybe not: as a direct result of JR revving up Gil's engine with thoughts of Afton pining for him, JR's two worst enemies (Cliff and Pam) each end up inheriting a fortune.

    JR gets confirmation that the refinery in Houston is for sale. "Russell, you have just about made my day," he beams to his broker, "Let's not hang around here. We don't want the cartel to snatch this one away from us." (This little back reference to the Gil Thurman deal neatly illustrates how closely connected all the plot points of this season are.) "I'm on the three o'clock flight to Houston," Slater assures him. "Whatever it takes, make this deal for me," replies a suddenly serious JR.

    News travels fast: "I heard from my source in Houston ... that JR has finally smoked out a refinery for sale," Cliff tells Rebecca in their final scene together. "Who's the owner?" she asks. "Mike Hughes. He's got some big notes comin' due ... JR's offered him a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow." "The name Wentworth still carries clout with men like Mike Hughes. He won't sell to JR. Not if I specifically ask him not to ... Did your source say when the deal with JR might close?" "Yeah, as soon as day after tomorrow." "You might have to fly to Houston tomorrow to bring Mike Hughes a letter from me." "... I'll fly to the end of the moon to stop JR." "I'll fly to the end of the moon ... a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow." Maybe it's just me, but there's something about these phrases that evokes a feeling of impossibility. Like Icarus flying too close to the sun, this plane journey already feels somehow doomed.

    Bobby drops the boom on George Hicks, handing him a selection of Polaroids taken in his house. "That white stuff there is your favourite party substance, Hicks," he explains. "Are you blackmailing me?" "Blackmail, bribery. I don't see the difference. You wanted to play hardball, my friend." "Wendy. She planted them. This is a frame up!" " ... You got forty-eight hours to call a meeting of the TEC and then I want you to vote the way you used to before you got mixed up with my brother." Bobby may have the upper hand, but Hicks gets the final word: "Ewing, I gotta give you credit. You're just as dirty as your famous brother." Looks like Bobby's self-righteous words about the consequences of playing hardball apply as much to himself as they do to Hicks.

    At that moment, JR is on the phone to Mike Hughes, the unseen refinery owner in Houston: "I think we oughta make the deal on your refinery right this minute. Wentworth is not gonna top this. You know that as well as I do. Could I consider that done? You have my word on it. You'll never regret it. And just remember, ol' JR never forgets a friend."

    OK, let's keep track here: the fact that JR has already made a deal with the refinery owner means that Rebecca's plane journey is not only doomed but pointless. In addition, Bobby's successful blackmail of Hicks means that the TEC will now vote to rescind JR's variance, thus rendering said refinery deal equally pointless. It's an ironic-timing pile-up!

    Unaware of any of this, Rebecca cuts short an afternoon at Southfork with Pam, Christopher and Ellie so that she can pick up Cliff and take him to the airport. "He has to convince a refinery owner not to sell to JR. I know what I said, Ellie, but I really have no choice." "I don't need an explanation, Rebecca," Miss Ellie replies before revealing her new strategy for dealing with the fight for Ewing Oil - voluntary denial. "The only way I can continue to live here is to ignore the war and get on with my own life." Pam is less philosophical. "Why are you getting involved in the feud again, Mother?" she demands before issuing one last warning: "I'm just terribly frightened somebody's really going to be hurt." Alas, just like her previous prognostications of disaster, ("This thing could destroy all of us!" ... "That battle is really going to hurt somebody!" ... "Your dirty deals might just get somebody killed one of these days!" ... "Everyone's going to be hurt, especially you!") it falls on deaf ears. "The stakes are very high here, Pam!" barks Rebecca, glaring fiercely through those strangely triangular eyes of hers.

    Over at the blue and white condo, Afton's flower-arranging interlude is rudely interrupted by Gil Thurman demanding "an instant replay of our last time." "Get out!" she gasps. "You don't have to tease me to get me excited. I heard how you were all hot and bothered waiting for me to come back, so just pucker up!" Cliff arrives in time to see Afton fighting Thurman off. "Hey hey, what the hell is goin' on?" he demands. "All I'm doin' is havin' another ride on the roller-coaster ... our little Afton here," explains Gill charmingly, "I told you, you knew how to put a deal together." Cliff virtually shouts Thurman out of his house - "Get outta here! GET OUTTA MY HOME! GET OUTTA HERE!" - before turning his vocal chords on Afton: "YOU SLEPT WITH HIM!" "That was his price ..." she begins timidly. "SO YOU'RE TELLIN' ME THAT I DIDN'T PUT THAT DEAL TOGETHER, THAT YOU PUT THAT DEAL TOGETHER - IN BED! AND I THOUGHT YOU WERE MY GIRLFRIEND, NOT MY WHORE!!" "I did it for you, Cliff," she protests weakly, but he's already gone, slamming the door and sealing his mother's fate behind him.

    Shortly afterwards, Rebecca arrives to find a watery-eyed Afton huddled on the couch and Cliff nowhere to be found. "The Wentworth jet is waiting for him right now," she frowns. Before leaving "to find Cliff and get him to Houston", she finds time to dispense a little more of her patented fight-for-your-man advice: "Oh Afton, don't give up on him. I know that Cliff loves you and you love him. Whatever your problems are, you'll work them out."

    In the midst of all this drama, JR is contacted by Walt Driscoll, back from the Cayman Islands with a new business proposition: "I'm talking about millions in profit and I'm talking about immediate profit ... We're gonna run out of money bags to put it in!"

    The two men convene on an off-the-beaten-track dirt road (in contrast to JR's recklessly out-in-the-open meet with George Hicks in last week's episode). "I made contacts in the Caribbean," explains Walt. "There's this country down there that's willin' to pay over the market price for your excess oil ... They're on the State Department's embargo list ... It's illegal of course, but I've arranged to cover your shipment of oil with phoney papers from a third non-embargo country ... We make obscene profits and you get rid of that stockpile of oil you can't refine ..." "Whatever happened to old Walt Driscoll, the honest public servant all Texans admired?" wonders JR. "I learned all about honesty from you, JR," he replies. "I don't need a deal like that right now, Walt," JR tells him. "All the oil I'm pumpin' goes straight to my gasoline stations ... Maybe another time." Maybe sooner than he thinks.

    Two short, seemingly disconnected scenes follow: Accompanied by Lance Rubin's sad piano score, Bobby returns home to a darkened Southfork living room, pours himself a drink and gazes up at the portrait of Daddy. Dozing on Cliff's couch, a hair or two out of place, Afton is disturbed by the phone. "Cliff, where are you?" she says immediately. There's a pause, then she asks "Who is this?" That ominous someone's-going-a-bit-mad music that plays during Katherine Wentworth's blonde wig scenes in "Swan Song" (as well as the DYNASTY speech in which Neil McVane confesses to dressing up as Joan Collins) begins. "Oh my God!" exclaims Afton. She slams down the phone, grabs her purse and runs for the door.

    Back to Bobby. Judging from the unsteady way he heads towards the stairs, he's obviously downed a few drinks since we last saw him. Pam watches from the bed as he enters their room and collapses wearily into a chair. "You look terrible," she tells him matter-of-factly. "Uh huh. Nothin' like a celebration to really depress me," he agrees, putting his hands over his eyes. "You know that guy Hicks on Donna's commission? Well, JR had him bought and paid for till I pulled a little number on him ... I got down in the mud, honey, just like I said I could ..." "What did you do?" asks Pam, alarmed. "I blackmailed him," he replies, "and I feel so dirty." "What do you want from me?" she snaps. "Sympathy? Because you're not going to get it." "Pam, I don't want your sympathy." "Oh yes, you do. You want me to slap your wrist and then reassure you that you're still the same wonderful man underneath it all. Well, I'm not gonna help you out. You can stay dirty ... You're not the man I married. The Bobby I love would rather be dead than blackmail Hicks or anybody else, double cross the cartel or force his own mother into court." "There were reasons," he insists. "Reasons?!" she shouts. "There's only one reason! You would do anything to beat JR and get the company. Anything!" This satisfyingly cathartic rant by Pam makes this probably the best scene of the episode, although it's hard to separate it from what comes next.

    We're treated to the rare sight of Afton running across the sound-stage patio and ringing the doorbell. (There's a doorbell on the patio? Who knew?) "I have to see Pamela," she tells Teresa who leads her into the hallway. "Afton, what on earth are you doin' here?" asks JR, chuckling with surprise. "Delivering messages for Cliff Barnes?" "Who's at the door?" Miss Ellie chimes in. "Afton! My Lord, what's wrong?" No one can quite understand what Audrey Landers is doing on the Southfork set. Is she gonna start singing? Pam and Bobby come down the stairs to investigate. "I have some very bad news," Afton begins, turning to Pam. "I was at Cliff's. A call came and they told me what happened and I had to tell you in person ... The Wentworth jet crashed." There's a reaction shot of Pam and Bobby, then of Ellie, then JR. "Cliff?" asks Pam. "No, no it wasn't Cliff," Afton replies. "Pam, it was your mother." The camera zooms in on Pam, a darker quality to the shot which means you know it's the final one of the episode. "She went in his place," says Afton's disembodied voice. "My mother!" whispers Pam. She's standing so still that it takes a second before one realises that the frame has frozen, and then bang - straight into the closing theme. Ironically, this is the first Pam freeze frame since "Prodigal Mother", the episode that introduced Rebecca.
     
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  12. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    "Requiem"

    Well, it's not looking good for Rebecca. For a start, the episode's title refers to a funeral mass, and then there are bells tolling ominously on the soundtrack even as the episode opens. Moreover, JR uses the word "tragedy" to describe what has happened to Rebecca while she is still in surgery. It's as if the programme itself were preparing us for the worst. This is in marked contrast to how Jock's fate was addressed after his helicopter crash in Season 4. Then it was the audience who already knew the fatal outcome and the characters who insisted on speaking about him in the present tense until the last possible moment. Adding to the sense of foreboding, the first half dozen scenes are shrouded in the gloom of night.

    In spite of all this, the first scene begins with Pam, Bobby and Afton emerging from a hospital elevator and asking for news of Rebecca. "She's in emergency surgery right now," Nurse Cliché tells them. "The doctor will be out and talk to you as soon as they finish." Afton makes for the pay phone in order to try and reach Cliff.

    He's in a bar, surprise surprise, "swearin' off women ... Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em, but I sure as hell am gonna try." He leaves just as the bartender turns up the volume on the TV set: "A mid-air collision over Love Field earlier today took the lives of two people and critically injured a third. A small corporate jet owned by Wentworth Industries was just taking off when it was struck by an incoming plane. Both pilots were killed on impact and Mrs Rebecca Wentworth, the Head of Wentworth Industries and the only passenger aboard either of the planes, was rushed to Dallas Memorial Hospital where she remains in critical condition."

    We return to the hospital three hours later. It's 2:05-am. Pam is anxiously pacing the hospital waiting area ("It's been so long!") and Afton is still trying to reach Cliff: "I've left messages for him everywhere." Her poor piano-playing fingers! No wonder she sings to a synthesised backing tape in Season 11. They have been joined by a weary looking Miss Ellie, and now by Clayton. "How is your mother?" he asks Pam. She walks away, snubbing him. (This is one of not very many Clayton/Pam encounters during the series. The first time they acknowledged each other was when she and Bobby bumped into him and Rebecca on the Oil Baron's Ball dance floor earlier this season.) Rebecca's surgeon, Dr Pitman, finally appears to tell Pam and Bobby the latest: "I'm sorry, but -" he begins. "She's dead," interrupts Pam. It's an effectively jarring moment that anticipates the increasingly grim looking outcome. "No, she's still alive," he replies. "We've done everything humanly possible, but she's had serious internal injuries and a lot of bleeding ... She's been moved to intensive care." While Pam goes to see her mama, the doctor turns to Bobby. "I think you'd better prepare your wife for the worst," he tells him gravely. Evidently, Dr Pitman is so shaken up by Rebecca's death that he gives up medicine in favour of a more religious vocation. How else to explain his appearance in Haleyville six years later as the minister who presides over JR and Cally's shotgun wedding?

    "Mama, it's Pam. I'm here, Mama ... " I remember watching Rebecca's death scene with my family back in the day. My mother was amused at the resilience of Rebecca's makeup and the brightness of her eyes on what was supposedly her deathbed. Indeed, the combination of lipstick, eye shadow and mummified headdress makes for a pretty bizarre look. Nevertheless, in those pre-internet spoiler days, Rebecca's death still came as a big surprise for those of us, myself included, not astute enough to pick up on the significance of the episode title nor those tolling bells. Moreover, it was very unusual for a major character to die halfway through an episode. So Rebecca's final scene was dramatic and exciting, if not especially moving. However, as has been the case with other DALLAS scenes, it acquires a deeper resonance on DVD. (I tell ya, it's something to do with seeing the actors' eyes more clearly.) Rebecca's farewell to daughter Pam ("You're my good girl") has a poignancy I never saw before. So maybe Victoria Principal's story of how Priscilla Pointer's real life daughter, Amy Irving, watched the filming of this scene and sobbed throughout isn't just another self-serving anecdote carefully constructed to cast VP (or in this case her skills as an actress) in a flattering light. And in fairness to Principal, she acquits herself well. "You've gotta save your strength now," she smiles through her tears after Rebecca makes her promise to take care of Cliff: "You were always the stronger one." "I love you," Pam tells her mother. "I love you," Rebecca replies just before her life support thingy goes all beepy and she flat-lines. "Mama?" exclaims Pam. Rebecca's eyes close. "Mama? Mama??" Doctors and nurses appear and push her out of the way, and Pam, Bobby and Afton watch helplessly on the sidelines as the screen fades to black. This is one of three deathbed scenes in DALLAS, the other two being Digger's and Bobby's, and Pam is chief mourner at each of them.

    The next morning, a sad-eyed Afton arrives home to find Cliff lying huddled on the sofa, i.e. the same position she was in when she got the call about the plane crash the previous day. She picks up his discarded jacket and waistcoat and wakes him by calling his name. "Cliff, I have to talk to you," she begins. "Your mother ... Cliff. Oh, God. Your mother's dead." Cliff's face is a blank. "She's dead, Cliff. She died this morning." "This morning? What are you talkin' about?" "She was flying to Houston. Her jet was hit by a private plane. They couldn't save her." "Oh, God. I was supposed to be on that plane. Not her. Oh, God. It should have been me! Oh God, that should have been me!!" he cries as he grips his forehead and shakes and quakes with emotion. Back in 1983, this made my dad laugh out loud. Even today, I still can't quite decide whether I'm watching a courageously committed piece of acting or a big ol' slice of Hollywood ham. Perhaps it's a bit of both. Sure, Ken Kercheval is wildly overwrought in the scene, but then his character has every reason to be overwrought. At the same time, the force of his intensity is such that it takes one out of the scene for a moment and you find yourself thinking, "Whoa there, Kenny Boy - take it easy, fella."

    Rebecca's third child appears near the beginning of the episode, awakened in New York (signified by an establishing shot of what I think is the Empire State Building; without a ten-foot monkey scaling it, it's difficult to tell) by a telephone call from Bobby. It's Katherine's first scene for twenty episodes, and her hair's as big as ever. "It's your mama," Bobby tells her. "She's been in an accident ... How soon can you get here?" "I'll take the next flight out," she replies. This is Bobby and Katherine's first one to one screen conversation, which is perhaps a portentous sign - a relationship that begins and ends (sort of) in death.

    By the time Katherine arrives in Dallas, Rebecca is dead. So Bobby drives her straight onto the fake Southfork patio where she tearfully hugs Miss Ellie while Lucy makes sympathetic noises in her direction. Until now, Katherine's interactions with the Ewings have been limited to brief visits with Pam and Christopher, a few secretive dinners with JR and a jig with Bobby at last year's barbecue. This episode is the closest she gets to being part of the family. Upstairs, she finds Pam taking a nap. Had this scene taken place a couple of years later, she would have most likely taken the opportunity to smother Pam with a pillow, but for now, they just hug and Katherine cries some more. She asks why Rebecca was on her way to Houston. "She was going there to stop JR from buying a refinery," Pam explains. "But why?" Katherine asks. "What difference would make to Mama what JR does?" "... Mama was flying down to help Cliff." "You mean Mama was trying to fight Cliff's battles for him?"

    We return to Pam's bedroom four scenes later. The sisters are still reclining on the bed, only now the room has grown dark and moodily atmospheric. "All I could think about on the flight out is, it's just the two of us now," Katherine murmurs. "And Cliff," interjects Pam. Katherine ignores this. "You know, maybe I should leave New York, move out here," she continues. "I'd love having you near me, Katherine," Pam tells her eagerly.

    As happens in the aftermath of Mickey and Sue Ellen's car crash at the end of the season, accusations fly in this episode over who is at fault for Rebecca's death. The blame game begins with Clayton turning on JR in front of Miss Ellie and Sue Ellen after JR makes fun of Cliff not being at the hospital: "Yeah, good old Barnes. Never around when you need him." "Don't be snide, JR. Not now," Clayton remonstrates. "If it weren't for you, Rebecca wouldn't be dying in that hospital room right now." "Clayton ..." mutters Miss Ellie uncomfortably, caught between her son and future husband for the first time. "This has nothin' to do with me," replies JR. "The hell it doesn't!" Clayton barks. "The way you've been battling your brother over Ewing Oil's got the whole community against you." Sue Ellen glares angrily at her erstwhile surrogate daddy. "Now all Rebecca was tryin' to do was to stop you and she may have to pay with her life because of it," he continues. JR is wonderfully unrepentant: "Get off it, Clayton. Any time there's trouble in the Barnes Wentworth clan they try and pin it on me. Well, I didn't tell her to go to Houston ... I didn't have a damn thing to do with it!"

    Clayton's words are later echoed by Jordan Lee. "If it hadn't been for that damn JR, your mother would be alive today," he says to Cliff. Cliff, meanwhile, blames himself. "I was supposed to be on that plane," he tells Afton. "Not her. It's all my fault." Interestingly, Afton's point of view is similar to JR's. "Nobody forced your mother to be on it," she replies. "It was her choice." On one level, this line of reasoning make perfect sense: the mid-air collision itself had nothing to do with either JR or Cliff. As JR points out, "I wasn't piloting the plane that crashed into her jet." But on another level - a level that has to do with predestination, fate, dramatic irony, Shakespearean tragedy and good old fashioned soap opera - things aren't so cut and dried. As Afton also says to Cliff: "You're not the only one to blame. There's plenty to go around. If I hadn't gone to bed with Thurman, your mother would be alive today." As far as Pam is concerned, the root cause goes back even further: "If it weren't for the damn Barnes/Ewing feud, none of this would have happened." By invoking the feud, Pam is reinforcing one of DALLAS's most powerful themes: that there is no escape for the characters from the familial destinies they were born, or have married, into. Without that underlying sense of inevitability (underlined by Pam's constant warnings throughout the season: "That battle is really going to hurt somebody ... This thing could destroy all of us... etc."), Rebecca's plane crash has no more resonance or meaning than Pam's random accident at the end of Season 9.

    The Queen of Blame Award goes to Katherine, delivering the mother of all rants to Cliff after she and Pam meet with him at his condo the day following Rebecca's death. "I know you all think I let Mama down," he tells them solemnly, "and I did, I know I did, but believe me, you can't hate me any more than I hate myself." Pam, looking good in the same striking black and white number she wore to court in "The Reckoning", absolves him with a hug. Having just promised to do everything he can to make amends, he immediately ducks out of arranging the funeral ("I can't handle that"). As Pam leaves to meet Bobby at the funeral home, Katherine, who has been virtually silent during the scene thus far, sees her to the door. Cliff's eyes are sorrowfully downcast when her voice catches him off guard. "You did this," she says, her voice cold with fury as she turns back towards him. "You killed her! You weren't content to embezzle money from my father's company or to drag the whole family into this endless losing battle with the Ewings. Oh no, you had to drag Mama into that one too! You had to get her to fight your battles for ya so you could hide behind her skirts! ... This never would have happened, Mama would still be alive today if you had the guts to fight the Ewings on your own or end it once and for all, but not you. Oh no, you let her go down there to Houston to do your job for ya! You let her go to her death to save your skin! You're the one who caused Mama's death, and I'll make you pay for it." She leaves, slamming the door. This is the only time we ever see Katherine really let rip (her campy outburst in Season 7 when she confesses to shooting Bobby notwithstanding). It might also be Morgan Brittany's finest moment on the show.

    A surprising amount of people on the forum have said that killing off Rebecca was a mistake. I don't agree. I think if someone had to die - and this season's fight for Ewing Oil wouldn't have had the same Old Testament gravitas had there not been a few fatalities along the way - then she is the ideal choice. As a supporting figure with blood ties to two of the main characters, not to mention a legacy to bequeath, she is significant enough for her death to register an emotional and dramatic payoff, but not so essential that her absence would create logistical problems for the show as a whole. In other words, we don't have to worry about Priscilla Pointer showing up in Pam's shower anytime soon.

    A somewhat underwritten character Rebecca may have been, but she is given an impressive send-off. Her passing is acknowledged by almost every character who appears in this instalment, even those who had little or no contact with her during her run on the show. "Tell her Donna and I are prayin' for her," says Ray to Bobby early on in the episode. "It's kinda hard to get too excited about anything right now. I keep thinking about Rebecca," sighs Donna. Even Dave Culver asks Donna to pass on his condolences to Pam and Bobby, which in a way is quite fitting. After all, it was Dave's Season 3 fundraiser that brought Rebecca and her two eldest children under the same roof for the first time since she had abandoned them years before.

    True to form, Sue Ellen responds somewhat less sensitively. "Poor Bobby," frets Miss Ellie in the kitchen. "Rebecca's death has been so hard on him ... He looks worn out." Sue Ellen looks up from that morning's copy of the Dallas Press (front page headline - "TEXAS ENERGY COMMISSION RESCINDS EWING VARIANCE: JR Ewing Stations Placed In Jeopardy"). "Let me tell you something, Miss Ellie," she snaps. "I think it's time that your other son got a little sympathy too ... JR just lost the variance, thanks to Donna Krebbs." Ellie looks at her open-mouthed. "Sue Ellen, how can you compare those two things?" she asks. "I'm astonished at you!" "My husband is very important to me," retorts Sue Ellen, "but this battle that he's fighting is costing him." "It's costing all of us," Ellie replies, "and you just don't understand how much. Think ahead, Sue Ellen. Think twenty-five or thirty years ahead." OK let's see. 1983 plus twenty-five equals ... 2008. "I won't be here then and the fight won't be between JR and Bobby, it'll be between John Ross and Christopher." For some reason, I remember this concept making my mother giggle as well. "Think carefully, Sue Ellen. Your loyalty to your husband is a wonderful thing, but you're a mother too and where will this all end?" With endless reunion dinners and TV shows and $1,000 a ticket galas, it seems.

    The turn out at Rebecca's funeral is especially impressive. Accompanied by those same tolling bells on the soundtrack, (which also played over Veronica Robinson's CCTV snuff video in Season 7) we see Bobby helping Pam and Katherine out of one car, Afton and Cliff disembarking from another, followed by Clayton and Miss Ellie. A consoling hand on Katherine's shoulder turns out to belong to Mavis accompanied by Punk. Sue Ellen and Lucy file past, then Marilee giving it some merry widow cleavage, Ray and Donna, (wearing the same outfit she wore at Amos Krebbs's funeral fourteen episodes earlier) and Andy Bradley bringing up the rear. We later learn that Jordan Lee and even Mark Graison were in attendance. It's a bigger line-up than Bobby received at his funeral and far more people than appeared to notice Pam had been burnt to a crisp in Season 10. In fact, the only major Season 5 characters not to show up for the funeral are Mickey (who gets the week off), Holly and, most significantly, JR.
     
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  13. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Requiem (continued)

    The main plot of the episode not directly pertaining to Rebecca's demise is George Hicks's volte-face which leads to JR's variance finally being rescinded. As with all things Season 5, however, the two story-lines are inextricably linked. In fact, put them together and you've got a classic case of dramatic irony, DALLAS style. A brooding Bobby is nursing a Bud (other beers are available) at the kitchen table when the phone rings. It's Donna, calling from the Texas Energy Commission. "There is one bit of good news that I would like to share with you today," she tells him. "George Hicks has changed his vote, Lawrence followed and JR's variance has been rescinded." A mere twenty-four hours earlier, Bobby willingly sacrificed his integrity to bring this event about. Now he no longer cares. "It happened one day too late to save Rebecca," he reflects coldly.

    "I was the most surprised person of all when Hicks changed his vote," Donna later tells Ray. "I know something happened." Hmm, I wonder how Donna would react if she knew what did happen: that Bobby used sex, drugs and blackmail to get Hicks to change his vote? Would she be as appalled as Pam, or decide pragmatically that the end justifies the means? I suspect the latter - she is a politician after all - unless Ray had been in Bobby's shoes, in which case she'd have hit the roof.

    Dramatic irony (or plain old bad timing, if you will) also surfaces in Bobby and Pam's relationship. For the past several episodes, Pam has been accusing Bobby of neglect, pleading with him to take more interest in his family. Now when he does so - taking time off work to arrange the funeral, suggesting "a little vacation, just the two of us", even agreeing to move away from Southfork - she is no longer interested. "She wants to see Katherine alone," Miss Ellie tells him firmly when Pam's sister first arrives at the ranch. "She asked me to tell you that." This passive-aggressive gesture is the first indication that Pam does not intend to share her grief with her husband. "She's keepin' it all inside," he worries. "I don't think she's even shed a tear." By refusing to mourn, Pam is also denying Bobby the opportunity to console her. "It must be such a comfort for you to have someone like Bobby," Katherine tells her. "Do I have him?" she reflects dispassionately. "I wonder. I don't really know anymore." Katherine looks at her, quizzical yet enigmatic in that thick-haired way of hers.

    If Rebecca's death serves to widen the rift between Bobby and Pam, it has the opposite effect on Cliff and Afton's relationship. "The night you slept with Thurman ... it was over then and it is over now," he tells her before she has a chance to tell him about Rebecca. Later in the episode, he does a 180-degree turn. "Afton, please don't go," he pleads. "I'm so alone. Please don't go!"

    In a particularly sombre episode, it falls to one man to provide the comic relief: JR. Early on in the episode, Sue Ellen listens with concern as he talks on the phone with Mike Hughes in Houston. "Yeah I know, Mike, it's a terrible tragedy, but the deal for the refinery is still set." After hanging up, he tells her gloomily that "Rebecca was probably on her way to see [Hughes] when her plane was hit." "Oh darlin'!" she exclaims. "Don't be so hard on yourself. It wasn't your fault." "Cliff Barnes should have been on that plane, not his mama!" he replies. "Can you imagine what could happen if she dies? ... Barnes could come into that Wentworth fortune ... With that kinda money, nothing would stop that idiot!" Almost as funny as JR's callous insensitivity is Sue Ellen's attempt to blink it out of her consciousness.

    Rather ingeniously, JR's discovery that he has lost his variance also makes for a very comical scene. He is leaving the office for an appointment at the barbershop (funny in itself) when Sly tells him that various members of the press have been calling to speak to him. "Probably about Rebecca Wentworth. I don't wanna get involved in that," he mutters, before turning on the charm for reporter/photographer double act who have made it past reception. "You can tell us how you feel about the fact that the Texas Energy Commission just rescinded your variance," asks the smiling, eager reporter. This catches JR completely unawares. "They what?!" he exclaims before being near-blinded by the photographer's flashbulb. He then makes a valiant effort to regain his composure and come up with a suitably optimistic sound-bite. "I can tell you this. It's gonna take a lot more than overturning my variance to stop me from bringing the price of gasoline within reach of the average American ... I made a commitment to the people of the State of Texas ... You can tell your people, JR Ewing has not yet begun to fight." His smile and chuckle disappear as soon as the reporter and photographer leave. "Sly, get George Hicks on the phone. Right now!" he barks.

    That evening, JR paces his office waiting for Hicks to show. The scene is reminiscent of the one two weeks earlier in which he summoned Holly Harwood to his lair after hours, but somehow I don't think he's gonna be rubbing his paws all over George's check jacket. Indeed, Hicks gets off a lot lighter than Holly did. An amusingly phrased insult ("You gutless little chiseler, I oughta toss you outta that window, see if you bounce!") is about as mean as JR gets with him.

    By contrast, JR has rarely been more offhandedly cruel than he is in his treatment of Mike Hughes later in the episode. He is kicking back in his office, watching coverage of Rebecca's funeral on TV, (she was that famous? Three years earlier, no one in Dallas had ever heard of her) when Hughes bursts through the door. "I've been trying to get you on the phone for days," he tells him frantically. "Oh yeah, what about?" asks JR airily. "JR, we had a deal," Hughes reminds him. "You were supposed to buy my refinery." "Oh, that wasn't definite ... You must have misunderstood ..." "You gave me your word!" "I just don't remember that ... Mike, we didn't have anything on paper and I don't need your refinery now so I'm not gonna buy it. Now if you'd just step aside, just a little bit, I wanna watch the TV." A helpless Hughes leaves, his life in financial tatters. It's appalling behaviour on JR's part, of course, but thanks to what David Paulsen has described as Larry Hagman's "audaciousness", it's also great fun. (Also, the hammy performance of the actor playing Hughes makes it hard to take his dilemma that seriously.) Speaking of audacious, spotting Mark Graison amongst the televised mourners inspires JR to call Mark's office pretending to be Cliff. He leaves a message thanking him for attending the funeral. "My sister Pam was especially appreciative." Outrageous!

    The loss of the variance means the end of a storyline for both JR and Donna. "What are you gonna do?" Ray asks his wife. "Oh I don't know," she replies playfully while twiddling a flower. "I thought I might hang around the house, eat bonbons, paint my toenails - pretty much what I always do." Hey, don't knock it. A little more bonbon eating and a little less oil drilling in Season 7 might just have saved your marriage, Donna. "And with JR, my darling," she adds, "there is always a tomorrow."

    This sentiment is echoed by JR in the very next scene. "In this business, there's always a tomorrow," he assures a chipper looking Holly who, in her first appearance since the rape episode, has stopped by his office to gloat about the variance being rescinded. "Well good," she replies, "because tomorrow you're gonna be so busy shorin' up Ewin' Oil from the loss of those revenues that you're not gonna have time to play those nasty little games with Harwood. I want out of our deal, JR ... I want you out of Harwood for good." He leans in close. "Let me tell you somethin', sweetheart. I didn't like that move you made the other day pullin' your gun on me, but I did get the point. You wanna control the bedroom, that's fine, but I control your company and it's best you don't forget that." "Not as long as I'm Harwood Oil," she replies. "No, you don't understand!" he smiles in mock exasperation. "So I'm gonna spell it out for you real slow like. Holly, you are no longer Harwood Oil. I am." Holly's eyes narrow, the smile effectively wiped off her face.

    In truth, JR already has another trick up his sleeve and Harwood Oil is a vital part of it. No sooner has he torn a strip off George Hicks than he puts in a call to good old Walt Driscoll. "I think we can get that Caribbean oil deal to work," he tells him before delivering his third "Like my daddy used to say ..." quotation of the season: "You can't get in the front door, just go round the back." (So many cheap gags, so little time.) The two men get together in Seedy Bars R Us to discuss the deal. OK, here comes the science bit - concentrate: "There's a Liberian tanker in Galveston ready to take our oil to ship to Cuba," begins Walt. "The papers will show Puerto Rico as the destination." "... I wanna start small. 50,000 barrels first trip," replies JR. "How can you ship crude?" wonders Walt, "It seems to me all your crude would be going to keep your gas stations open." The same point was made by the reporter JR spoke to earlier: "You're not gonna be able to produce enough to supply your stations." It's ironic that the big question surrounding JR for much of the first half of the season - "What the hell is he gonna do with all that oil he's pumping?" - has now been replaced by "Where the hell is he gonna get the oil he needs from?" The question is answered, in a roundabout way, by Walt himself in a later scene with JR. "They're loaded. Everything went according to plan," he tells him. "There's just one question ... I thought you were shipping Ewing Oil. The crude we got was from Harwood ... I don't get it." "You don't have to get it, Walt. Just ship oil."

    In an episode full of highlights, there are plenty of candidates for Scene of the Week -- Katherine's outburst at Cliff, Rebecca's death scene, the mourners arriving silently at the funeral. One of the most interesting takes place as the Ewings (plus Clayton and Katherine) congregate in the Southfork living room after the funeral. JR is nowhere in sight, but still, the family are in conflict. Significantly, it's Clayton who first stirs the pot. "At least JR had the decency to stay away from Rebecca's funeral," he declares. Is it possible he is still smarting at Sue Ellen's treatment of him two weeks' ago and this is his way of goading her? "That's very unfair of you, Clayton," she retorts, taking the bait. "There's no one who feels worth about Rebecca's death than JR." "... That's a bit hard to believe, Sue Ellen," Clayton replies mockingly. "Well, it's true," she continues earnestly. (Does she even believe what she's saying?) "He didn't come to the funeral because he thought his presence would be disruptive." Once again, Ellie finds herself in the middle. "It's probably better he did stay away," she says diplomatically. Sat silently in the corner of the room, Pam regards them all contemptuously. In a way, this scene is a companion piece to the one in "The Red Files, Part 1" where she stands up in the same room and announces to the family that "the Ewing empire is built on deceit and downright theft!" before packing her bags and moving out. This time around, she slips out of the room without saying a word. Bobby follows her to the staircase. "I want to go out to Mama's house," she tells him. He offers to drive her, but again she shuts him out: "I want to go there alone." It's also reminiscent of the scene in the first episode of this season where she refuses to let Bobby accompany her to the hospital after Cliff's overdose: "No, Bobby. If JR’s involved, I don’t think Mama will want to see a Ewing at the hospital."

    The scene of Pam breaking down outside her mother's house is also a memorable one. While big emotional outbursts aren't always VP's strong point as an actress, (one uncharitable critic at the time suggested that Pam's howling was the result of getting her heel stuck in Rebecca's lawn) there remains something touching about it, partly due to Bruce Broughton's scoring and partly because of Pam choosing, much like Miss Ellie did at the end of Season 4, to vent her grief ("You've got a lot of pain all tied up inside ... It's no good to keep it all bottled up," Bobby tells her in an earlier scene) in isolation.

    "After I left Mama's, I just drove around for a while," she tells Bobby when she eventually returns to the ranch. "I did a lot of thinking. I have to get away from here. I can't live here anymore." "... You wanna leave Southfork? ... All right ... We'll find another place to live," he tells her smilingly. "You don't understand. I want to leave alone." "Without me? Without Christopher?" "With Christopher, but without you. Bobby, I need time to think - away from you, away from Southfork, away from the Ewings, and away from everything the Ewings stand for." Deceit and downright theft perhaps?

    The final shot goes to Pam for the second week in a row. It's also the last in a five-week run of Hagman-free freeze frames.

    And while we're being all anoraky: by my calculations, Priscilla Pointer appeared in 44 episodes as Rebecca, one less than Dack Rambo as Jack and one more than Sasha Mitchell as James.
     
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  14. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    "Legacy"

    Like "Ewing Blues", this is one of those low-key, calm-between-storms instalments of Season 5. What it lacks in fireworks, however, it makes up for in soul searching and introspection. "When you're young and you find a man like Jock," sighs Miss Ellie wistfully at one point, "the future's so full of promise ... Where are the little boys I loved so much?" "You're Jock Ewing's son too," says Bobby to Ray during a brotherly heart to heart. "If Daddy put you head to head against JR, could you give it up, just quit?"

    The episode opens the morning after Rebecca's funeral, with Pam leaving Southfork. Following her big dramatic announcement at the end of last week's episode, ("I need time to think - away from you, away from Southfork, away from the Ewings, and away from everything the Ewings stand for!") the sight of an unfortunate ranch hand struggling manfully with a big cuddly bear as Pam prepares to drive off the fake patio feels a little anti-climactic. It's not as exciting a scene as the first time she left Bobby, at the end of "The Red Files, Part 1", but now as then, a satisfied JR watches from a distance while a forlorn Bobby stands in the driveway, "moping in her dust."

    Entering the living room, Miss Ellie is surprised to find her youngest son drinking whisky so early in the day. "It's not every day my wife leaves me, Mama," he explains. This is one in a string of good, solid scenes between family members who have not interacted on screen for a while. Patrick Duffy and Barbara Bel Geddes haven't had a scene alone together for over a year - not since Bobby's failed attempt to persuade his mother to have Jock declared dead in "Denial". While Miss Ellie's first instinct is to console Bobby over Pam's departure, ("She'll be back, just give her time") she soon makes it clear where she believes the blame lies: "How much choice did [Pam] have, living here after what happened to Rebecca?" "So you think Rebecca died because of the battle too?" Bobby asks in surprise. This is the second time in as many scenes this accusation has been levelled at him. "If it weren't for the fight, my mother would still be alive," insists Pam before leaving. (This is a shift from the stance she took last week when she told her sister that "the damn Barnes/Ewing feud" was responsible for their mother's death.) "If it weren't for that and a million other things, a million other things," insists Bobby. With his mother, he adopts a more defensive attitude: "Mama, that battle is between JR and me and it has nothing to do with Rebecca or Cliff or anybody else!" "All right," Miss Ellie snaps. "You keep telling yourself that. But Rebecca is dead, and your marriage may soon be dead and not just because of Rebecca. Bobby, you just don't see what's happening to you!"

    The idea that Bobby has somehow "changed" is echoed throughout the episode. "Bobby's gettin' as underhanded as JR," declares Jordan Lee. "Given the chance, he may turn out a lot worse," chimes in Marilee Stone. Meanwhile, Miss Ellie and Pam both pine for the Bobby they once knew. "I want the sweet, wonderful, honest man I fell in love with," Pam says to Katherine. "He was always the dependable one, the loving one," remembers Ellie in a nice restaurant scene with Clayton. "JR was the ruthless one, but Bobby's become so obsessed with beating JR that he's getting to be just like him."

    There is no shortage of characters registering their dismay at Bobby and Pam's separation. As with Rebecca's death, it's these reactions that help sell us on the gravity of the situation. "It's so hard to believe she's really left him," Ellie admits to Clayton. "I was so hoping she would have changed her mind overnight," says Sue Ellen to JR. When Donna and Ray stop by the ranch ("on our way to Austin") to pay their respects to Bobby, it's almost as if someone has died. "We just really wanted to come by and tell you how sorry we are," says Donna solemnly. "Just not the same without him here," adds Lucy with reference to Christopher. Even those characters with something to gain from the break up conceal their true feelings behind of a veneer of concern. "I really am sorry," says Mark Graison when JR tells him the news over the phone. "It's really tragic," concurs JR, a tad outrageously.

    Most duplicitous of all is Katherine, who spends much of the episode offering Pam a padded shoulder to lean on. "I just don't understand ... why you left Bobby," she faux-frets as they move into that gloomy hotel suite. She even offers to intercede with Bobby on Pam's behalf: "Maybe I could reason with him, tell him how much you love him, how much you want your marriage to continue ... I wanna see you two get back together." It's only when Bobby calls the hotel and asks to speak to Pam that Katherine's true colours begin to emerge. She tells him Pam is asleep. "If you ever need a friendly ear, mine's available," she adds. No sooner does she hang up than Pam appears, her hair wrapped in a towel. "I thought you were sleeping," says Katherine. An honest mistake, perhaps ... but then she neglects to mention Bobby's call. This is the first indication we're given that Katherine might not have Pam's best interests at heart; up until now, her wrath has been directed solely towards Cliff.

    Although on paper Katherine has much in common with Kristin, (each a Ewing sister-in-law, ruthlessly determined to snag her sister's husband whom she will later shoot, pinning the blame on a drunken sibling for good measure) their modus operandi is very different. While Kristin was a hugely enjoyable, gold-digging man-eater whose motives were clear from the moment she turned into Mary Crosby, Katherine has less in common with the stereotypical soap bitch than with the title character in ALL ABOUT EVE: an outwardly devoted ingenue who insinuates her way into the life of an older (ouch!) woman, all the while quietly scheming to take her place. Katherine even makes nice to Cliff in this episode, apologising for her previous outburst: "I blamed you for Mama's death, but I really didn't mean that ... There's just the three of us now and we've got to work together and do the best we can." "Katherine, you're a wonderful sister," responds Pam, "more than we could ever have hoped for!" It's only after the sisters hug when Katherine's smile fades and her eyes do an evil sideways thing, that we are reminded that all is not as it seems. Indeed, Katherine will do such a convincing job of playing the blandly good sister over the next year or so that sometimes one almost forgets she has a hidden agenda.

    But while the characters surrounding Bobby and Pam are making their feelings known, (to one degree or another) what of the estranged couple themselves? Well, there a nicely introspective late night patio scene between Bobby and Ray, during which Bobby is more candid than he has been with either his mother or his wife. As is the case with BBG, it's a long time since Patrick Duffy has shared a one-to-one scene with Steve Kanaly. Save for a brief exchange at JR and Sue Ellen's wedding, we haven't seen the brothers alone together since Bobby took Ray to task for neglecting the ranch in the wake of Jock's death. "You're my brother and we've always been close," Ray tells him now. "I just wonder if being head honcho of Ewing Oil is worth all this pain for you, for everyone?" Bobby asks what Ray would do in his place. "I'm not sure I can answer that," Ray admits, "but I sure can't tell you that you're right in what you're doin' cos I just don't know that y'are." "Well, I'm not sure I am either," concedes Bobby. "All I know is I can't quit."

    Bobby might be committed to the fight, but it provides him with scant comfort in this episode. "You sure are a man of quiet celebration," Holly Harwood observes when she finds him drinking alone at the Cattleman's Club. "With JR's variance overturned, you've got a great shot at winnin' Ewin' Oil!" One stony glance from Bobby makes it clear that he's not in a celebratory mood.

    While Bobby's brooding isn't difficult to understand, Pam's behaviour is harder to fathom. "I feel like my life exploded around me," she tells him in the opening scene. "I've got to have some time alone for a while." But while Bobby shuns his potential extra-marital love interest ("I'd just as soon be by myself," he tells Holly) Pam appears rather taken when Mark Graison calls round to her hotel suite. "You can count on me if you need anything," he says in a rather awkward scene as he, Pam and Katherine hover around one another uncomfortably. "What a lovely man," Katherine observes after he leaves. "Yes he is, isn't he?" replies Pam dreamily. "Maybe I misjudged him." Given that the last time she saw him she already seemed touched by his concern, ("Mark, what you did was really sweet and thoughtful and lovely") it's difficult to tell why Pam is suddenly acting so impressed now. (In fairness, I didn't really question Pam's somewhat inconsistent behaviour during this storyline the first time around; I figured that's how all dithering soap damsels in distress behave.)

    Bobby and Pam appear together in a restaurant scene near the end of the episode. It begins cordially enough with Bobby asking how she and Katherine are coping in the wake of their mother's death. "It's Cliff I'm worried about," Pam replies. "The promise I made to Mama about taking care of him, I guess it's time I started fulfilling it." "You do have a responsibility to your husband," Bobby points out. "I don't feel I have that responsibility after everything that's happened," she tells him. "Does that mean you'll be joining Cliff at Barnes-Wentworth in his little vengeance trip against us Ewings?" he asks sharply. "Bobby, I feel the same way about what Mama asked of me as you feel about what Jock asked of you." This is the only time the interesting irony now faced by Pam and Bobby--that by honouring their respective parent's last wishes, they are set on opposing paths--is ever addressed. There's the potential for an interesting discussion here, but instead the scene kind of runs away with itself; one gets the sense that the writers have pre-determined that the encounter must end with Bobby losing his temper and storming off. "Pamela, you're building an awful big wall between us and it's impossible to talk to you through it!" he suddenly shouts, springing to his feet. "I didn't build the wall, you did!" she yells back. And off he goes.

    Pam also has the reading of her mother's will to contend with in this episode. While this is strictly small potatoes compared with the huge impact of Jock's legacy on the series, it will nonetheless yield a surprising amount of repercussions over the next five seasons. For instance, Wentworth Industries ("income, as well as voting shares held by Rebecca, will be now divided equally between daughters Katherine and Pamela") will prove to be of great interest to JR after Pam's shares are passed onto Christopher in Season 10, resulting in the Lisa Alden custody battle. Barnes-Wentworth ("[Cliff] will inherit Mrs Wentworth's shares and continue as sole owner and Chief Executive Officer") will provide the central business storyline of Season 6, as well as keeping Cliff and Pam in steady employment for years to come. Even "the handsome bequest to Afton Cooper" supplies Cliff with a great running gag in the second half of Season 6 as he scrambles desperately for funds to keep his rigs afloat in the Gulf ("You bought your mother a house in Biloxi for a hundred thousand dollars?! What did you buy - a mansion?"). Most controversial of all, however, will be Wentworth Tool and Die: "As this was the first company Herbert Wentworth created, the seedling of his entire empire, it was extremely precious to him ... It was Rebecca's wish that ownership of this company be equally divided among her three children ..." "Katherine, I have something to say to you," mumbles a depressed Cliff once the will reading is over. "I know how you feel about the company your father built and I wish Mama hadn't left me any of it because I don't feel worthy and I don't deserve it." These words will prove prophetic when Cliff manages to sell out his mother's legacy not only once, (to Katherine herself at the end of Season 6) but twice (to Jeremy Wendell in Season 9). More immediately, Tool and Die and a certain drill bit it has in development will play a significant role in the future of Pam and Bobby's marriage.

    Indeed, the Tundra Torque storyline is heavily sign-posted in this episode. First Thornton McLeish, Bobby's partner in the Canadian oil fields, outlines the problem they're facing during one of his periodic progress (or lack thereof) reports from Toronto: "It's not just the cold. It's the combination of freeze then thaw then freeze again. It causes the ground to keep shifting. We can't keep a hole from breaking up even after we've drilled one." Then comes Rebecca's will reading where voting shares in Tool and Die are divided between Pam, Katherine and Cliff. ("This is to ensure that any decision on any major issue will be agreed to by at least two members of her immediate family.") And finally, Bobby unwittingly articulates the dilemma to be faced by Pam at the end of the season. "Cliff is my brother," she reminds him. "I'll do whatever I can to help him when he needs my help." "Even against me?" demands Bobby.

    In other news ... Lucy and Mickey's relationship takes a step forward via a strange barroom scene in which Lucy, dressed as a man, and Muriel, in her final DALLAS appearance, show up at a bar to find Mickey caught between two mismatched bit players: a sexy young blonde and a grandfatherly looking stunt man. The latter tosses Mickey across the room then punches him. "You better get him outta here, honey, or he'll never sing again," Grandpa tells Lucy kindly. Lucy and Muriel help Mickey outside to his truck. Muriel then walks away, never to be seen or heard of again (unless you count the weird fan fiction in which she becomes a prostitute who transmits the AIDS virus to Clayton). Her last line - "Hey, it's been a fun evening," she tells Lucy sarcastically - is kind of a fitting epitaph. Lucy and Mickey sit in the car for a while. While he dozes on her shoulder, she strokes his hair. Then he comes to and they're both embarrassed. She moves her hand away. "It's all right," he whispers. "You don't have to be afraid." She touches his head gingerly. "Does it hurt?" she asks. "Yes," he winces. It's a sweet and tender moment.

    There's also a small but notable scene between Clayton and Sue Ellen, in which he stops by the ranch and she takes the opportunity to comment on his relationship with Miss Ellie. "I thought you were my friend," she says petulantly. "You mean to the exclusion of everyone else?" he asks, somewhat taken aback. "No," she replies, "it's that our relationship was so -" "One-sided? Sue Ellen, didn't you ever realise that I was in love with you? ..." "I had no idea!" "Well, that's the point, Sue Ellen. My feelings for you must have been written all over my face." "But not anymore. What changed them, Miss Ellie?" "Partly. I do find many qualities in her that I used to think were in you." "Clayton, I just don't understand." "Not then and not now." He then takes off, leaving Sue Ellen opening and closing her mouth like a confused goldfish. It's very satisfying to see her finally called on her chronic self-obsession, even if she still doesn't get it. Had there had been an equivalent scene in the second half of Season 4, where her behaviour was at its most dishonest and passive aggressive, her storyline might have had more weight. As it was, it was hard to believe none of the other characters noticed (or simply chose to ignore) how disgustingly selfish she was being.

    It's interesting to chart JR's arc throughout this episode. He starts off extremely buoyant and optimistic, especially about the fight for Ewing Oil. "It's nice to see you smilin'," Sue Ellen tells him. "You haven't done much of that since you lost the variance." "Well it's a new day, darlin', and the house is lighter by one sister-in-law," he replies. "How can you be so happy at a time like this?" she chides. "My overriding concern is winning Ewing Oil," he explains, "and you know what? Pamela leaving Bobby like that is gonna muddle his mind up more than anything I coulda done and you can't expect me to be sad about that! ... Poor Rebecca. It's ironic, isn't it? As much as she hated me, she sure can't be restin' peaceful knowin' her death is gonna help me beat Bobby." Sue Ellen wonders if he can still beat Bobby without the variance. "Darlin', that was just one small battle in a very long and complicated war," he assures her confidently.

    However, he must first address his lost variance, which means shutting down gas stations. "The important thing is to keep this fight in the public eye," he instructs an office full of bit players. "All the people in the State of Texas should never forget that old JR is out there tryin' to help them and that calls for publicity ... Draw me up a list of all the stations that'll give me maximum publicity, really high profile, and those are ones that are gonna stay open." Now that his variance is gone, I'm not quite sure why JR's public image continues to be such a priority for him - although it will ensure him a Cuban visa at the end of the season.

    Speaking of Cuba, there's another of those atmospheric Season 5 scenes at Ewing Oil, filled with sinister shadows and disorientating camera angles, (or as disorientating as Uncle Lenny would allow) in which JR waits furtively for a late night visitor to step out of the elevator for a clandestine meeting. First, there was John Baxter delivering him an illicit copy of Jock's will, then Holly Harwood receiving her cruel but not-so-unusual punishment for playing hardball with the military, then George Hicks facing the music for voting against JR's variance. Now it's the turn of Walt Driscoll, carrying a black attache case. "Don't you have a watch, Driscoll?" JR barks. "Sorry," he replies smoothly, "I got hung up at customs, but why not accept this as an apology?" He gestures towards the case. "The ship arrived exactly on schedule, the crude was offloaded at Havana and I got payment right away." "Didn't they x-ray that case at customs?" asks JR. "No, they hand inspected it," he replies. "I told 'em I didn't want my film ruined." He opens the case to reveal a bunch of camera equipment, underneath which is a false bottom. JR chuckles appreciatively: "Driscoll, I didn't know you had it in ya!" Walt lifts up the false bottom and what do we see? "$1,900,000 in cash and a Swiss bank draft." "Now hold on, Driscoll," snaps JR, suddenly serious. "Fifty thousand barrels at $40 a barrel is exactly $2,000,000." "Minus my cut," smiles Walt. "I figured it would save a little time if I deducted it myself." The camera then cuts back and forth between the two men, staring at each other stony-faced - a reminder of how tenuous this partnership really is. "Now doesn't this convince you that the plan can work?" Walt asks. JR turns to face the window. "Putting $50,000 barrels through that embargo is not exactly like raising the Titanic, you know," he says, affecting nonchalance. "I think we're ready for the big one," persists Driscoll. "I don't know," JR replies. "Moving that much oil through the embargo in one shipment, very risky proposition." "I'm willing to do it," says Walt. JR turns back around sharply. "What the hell are you risking anyhow?" he snaps. "In addition to a jail sentence, just like you?" Walt asks, "I stand to lose quite a lot." "But not capital, and that's all that counts. I'm risking a fortune in crude and maybe all of Ewing Oil." "All right, but don't forget every time we ship oil there's a chance of gettin' caught. I'm for makin' it in one big load." "I'll make that decision." The scene ends with JR looking lustfully at the pile of cash Walt has left on the desk.

    This scene appears to be a kind of turning point for JR. Is he really willing to risk his father's company, not to mention his own neck, in such a reckless - but potentially lucrative - endeavour? That question is on his mind during his second scene of the episode with Sue Ellen. His mood, as he surveys the contents of Rebecca's will in the Dallas Press, ("WENTWORTH ESTATE DIVIDED" screams the front page headline. Does this paper really have nothing better to write about?) is in stark contrast to his upbeat demeanour during their earlier exchange. "Rebecca's poor old husband must be spinnin' in his grave," he remarks gloomily. "Worked his butt off all his life building a fortune under the Wentworth name and two-thirds of it now goes to some family named Barnes ... I should've stayed with the funny papers." "I thought Rebecca was very wise the way she took care of the children," replies a conveniently slow-on-the-uptake Sue Ellen. "Giving Barnes complete control is like giving John Ross a loaded gun to play with!" protests JR before running through a couple of worst case scenarios: Cliff siding with Bobby ("Barnes is Bobby's brother-in-law, you know, and Bobby's not too far behind me in this little contest we got goin'") and Bobby joining forces with Pam ("Pamela inherited a fortune. If they ever get together and she starts to help him, they could wield a frightening amount of clout"). "Darlin', you really seem to be worried about all this," concludes Sue Ellen. "Are you afraid we're gonna lose?" JR spells it out for her: "Sue Ellen, I am in trouble. I lost my variance. Bobby made a killing on that Wellington deal. Pamela inherited a fortune. If they ever get together and she starts to help him, they could wield a frightening amount of clout ... I've just got to find a way out." The only way out seems to be Cuban Roulette, unless ...

    "With Pam gone and little Christopher gone, something absolutely awful has happened to this family," JR declares solemnly as the family gather together for pre-dinner drinks in the episode's final scene. "Unless something is done, there's not gonna be any family left." Ignoring Lucy's jibes, he turns to Bobby: "Let's end this. Let's call a halt to this feuding right now before somebody else suffers. There's no reason in the world we couldn't work together. Hell, we're brothers and deep down, we love each other. There's no reason in the world we couldn't work together. It'd be like the old days - I'd be the president and you'd be standin' right by my side." "Y'almost had me believin' you that time, JR," pipes up Lucy. "Bobby, it's a fair offer and you'll get Pam back here at Southfork," JR continues. In one respect, JR's appeal is a dummy run for the rather more sincere truce he will propose at the end of the season. In another, it echoes the offer JR made in "Barbecue Three", after unveiling his string of cut-rate gas stations: "Bobby, if you'd like to concede right now, we can end a very stressful situation." Now, as then, Ellie looks on anxiously, hoping against hope that Bobby might take JR up on his proposition. "Bobby, at least listen to him," she pleads. "Mama," Bobby responds, "there's only one reason he's makin' that offer. It's because his variance is gone and he's losing the battle." Is that the reason? Or is it that for JR, proceeding with the battle means going through with his Cuban gamble, and however reckless he may have been in the past, this is one deal he would sooner not make? In light of this possibility, his reply to Bobby takes on a special significance: "That's wishful thinkin', Bob ... I'm makin' it for the sake of the family, Ewing Oil and your marriage. They're all taking a terrible beating." This is the first time JR has acknowledged what others - Punk Anderson, John Macklin, Pam, Miss Ellie, even Bobby - have been protesting about throughout the season: the long-term damage caused by the fight for Ewing Oil. Bobby, however, is not for turning: "There might have been a time I would accept an offer like that from you," he tells his brother (hmm, when would that have been? Maybe when Jock was alive and able to talk him into almost anything) "but certainly not now because I'm ahead of you in this fight and I'm gonna whip ya. I'm gonna take Ewing Oil right outta your hands!" He leaves the room. "You heard him, Mama," says JR. "I tried my best. I really did." And who knows? Maybe he really did try his best. But now there's no turning back: "Bobby wants all out war and believe me, he's gonna get it." Yeehaw!
     
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  15. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    “Brothers & Sisters”

    “My only wish is that you and Pam get back together again. If there's anything, anything at all I can do to bring that about, will you ask me?" - Katherine Wentworth to Bobby Ewing, February 1983.


    The year-long contest between JR and Bobby for control of Ewing Oil is just past the halfway stage, with The Bobster, thanks to a couple of recent manoeuvres, edging into first place. Not only did he make a small fortune out of the Wellington land deal, but he also has succeeded in having his brother's oil variance rescinded, thus putting an end to JR's cut-rate gas stations. JR remains confident, however, that Pam's recent departure from Southfork (following the death of her mother) will distract Bobby from the fight long enough for him to regain the lead. To that end, he has taken the highly illegal step of selling oil to Cuba, a country on the United States' embargo list. An initial "test run" - a shipment of 50,000 barrels of crude from Harwood Oil (the company that JR secretly owns 25% of) - has been successful. Holly, his unsuspecting partner, believes that the oil has been shipped legitimately to Puerto Rico. Nonetheless, she is unhappy that they have undercut their competitors: "If word gets out that I sold oil for twenty dollars a barrel [$14 less than the current market value], I'm gonna be boiled alive in my own crude!"

    
The emphasis in this episode, as with most of Season 5, is very much on business. This leaves the Southfork ladies with only limited screen time: Miss Ellie and Sue Ellen each appear in three scenes, Donna in two, and Lucy in one. In comparison to the high drama of recent episodes (the Wentworth plane crash, Miss Ellie's court fight), this episode perhaps feels a little anti-climactic on first viewing. Indeed, there is no direct conflict between any of the characters until the final ten minutes. JR and Bobby avoid each other for the most part ("our paths crossed, we didn't say anything," as JR puts it), and on the two occasions that they do meet, they are coolly polite, with JR exhibiting mock concern over the state of his brother's marriage.



    JR: Boy I tell ya, it's gettin' to be so there's no one havin' dinner around here anymore. Mama dines with strangers, Lucy's off somewhere, Pam's gone - sorry, Bob. Didn't mean to rub salt in the wounds."


    Bobby: JR, your concern is very touching.


    Viewed in retrospect, however, each scene of this episode is slowly but surely moving the action closer and closer to the awesome finale of this excellently structured season. In her one scene, for instance, Lucy takes another tentative step towards romance with Mickey ("You're not ready?" he tells her, "I'll wait till you are"), while Miss Ellie draws nearer to Clayton in her scenes, offering him moral support over the sale of the Southern Cross. 



    Like Clayton, Katherine announces her intention to relocate to Dallas in this ep, much to the delight of sister Pam. Katherine wastes little time in sneakily arranging for Bobby to see Pam and Mark Graison together at the Summerhill Restaurant. In keeping with the non-confrontational feel of the episode, Bobby flees the restaurant unseen, instead inviting Katherine to watch him drown his sorrows at the Cattleman's Club. She now has Bobby exactly where she wants him, lost and lonely:


    Katherine: You are going back to Southfork tonight - aren't you?


    Bobby: ... Maybe I should, but I don't want to. C'mon, Katherine, stay and finish your drink.

    
This is as close to a proposition from the man of her dreams as Katherine will ever get, but curiously she turns him down. 
Why? 
Well, it occurs to me that, as beautiful as Morgan Brittany is, there is something repressed, even sexually cold, about Katherine. Compared to Dallas's other ruthless sister-in-law, Kristin, she's almost prim. She maybe one of the most glamorously dressed women on the show (particularly during Season 6), but it's a hat 'n' gloves, blouse-buttoned-up-to-the-neck kind of glamour. She rarely gives it any cleavage. If she' a vamp, she's a cerebral, non-sexual one. True, JR manages to get her engine running briefly during Season 6, but Katherine only agrees to sleep with him as part of a deal, and afterwards can't even bring herself to admit that she enjoyed it. Her obsession with Bobby seems to be based on a Prince Charming type fantasy she has of him. When faced with the possibility of actually sleeping with that fantasy in this episode, it becomes too real for her and she instead retreats to the privacy of her hotel suite where she can scheme and scheme till her heart's content, without actually having to take her bra off.

    

With JR and Katherine furtively plotting against their respective siblings, the pivotal "brother and sister" scene of this episode belongs to Pam and Cliff. The reason behind Pam's meeting with Mark at the Summerhill is to come up with a business deal that might entice Cliff out of the depression he has been in since Rebecca's death. This deal (for an oil service company in El Paso) marks both the beginning of Pam's involvement in the oil business, which will continue for her remaining four years on the show and a turning point in her relationship with Cliff. 

Up to this point, an unspoken estrangement has existed between Pam and Cliff that dates back to the end of Season 2, when Pam began searching for Rebecca after Digger's death. (Cliff: "In the beginning, when you first found each other, I was the one who didn't accept her.") Even after reconciling with Rebecca, he and Pam seemed to keep each other at arm's length, appearing together on screen only once during Season 4. ("You were worried ... that I was only after her money. Well, maybe you were right because the first chance I got I embezzled from the company.") Rebecca's decision at the beginning of Season 5 to take her son's side against the Ewings did little to improve matters.

 "All those times I disappointed [our mother] when she was alive," Cliff laments, in one of those Ken Kercheval rants that remain poignant even as it teeters on the edge of hamminess. "Doesn't anybody hear me?? Doesn't anybody understand?? I was supposed to be on that trip that she died. She died, and I lived ... I wasn't even at the hospital when she died! Do you think she forgave me that?"

    
Pam: Cliff, she didn't blame you. All she ever did was love you ... She wanted you to continue what the two of you had started together, and she asked me to take care of you, and I'm trying if you'll just let me.



    With Mama now out of the picture, Pam and Cliff are now free to regain their former closeness. Pam and Bobby, meanwhile, seem to be moving further and further apart. In the last ten minutes of the episode, it is finally time for some plain speaking.


    Bobby: I wonder whatever happened to those words, "for richer, for poorer, for better, for worse"? You remember any of that?


    Pam: I wonder what happened to the Bobby Ewing I said those words to.

    "It's no secret that JR is pleased about the problems you and Pam are having," Sue Ellen tells Bobby on his return to Southfork, far more sympathetic (i.e. dull) here than when she last sided against him, back in Season 3. "I want JR to win Ewing Oil ... but I don't want him to beat you this way."

    
Bobby: You give your lovin' husband a message from me - if the fight for the company is gonna cost me my wife and child, then I don't have anything left but winning Ewing Oil!

    JR attempts to shrug off these fighting words ("Last gasp of a drownin' man, honey!") but is clearly unnerved. Bobby also has some words of wisdom for Holly Harwood, who suspects that JR might not be telling her the truth about the Puerto Rico deal: "Be real careful in your dealings with JR from now on. His back's against the wall, and that's when he's the most dangerous." Holly does not need telling twice and informs JR that "from now on, there'll be no more blank authorizations. I wanna see everything I sign!" Feeling the pressure, JR realises he will have to move quickly. He asks his middle man, Walt Driscoll, how much oil the Cubans are willing to take in one big shipment.

    Driscoll: The Cubans are prepared to buy all the oil you wanna sell at forty dollars a barrel ... So what are we talking about - 100,000 barrels?


    JR indicates that he has a higher figure in mind.


    Driscoll: 300,000?


    Higher.


    Driscoll: What have you got in mind, JR?


    JR: One million barrels!



    By putting the squeeze on JR, Bobby and Holly have unwittingly contributed to a situation that could put all three of them out of business, or even send them to jail.
     
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  16. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    “Caribbean Connection”

    This is a brilliantly structured season. There is not one wasted scene, not one redundant character from beginning to end in all twenty-eight episodes. Every moment is used to advance the story, leading us inexorably to the two tragic events at season's end: Sue Ellen and Mickey's car crash, and the Southfork fire. We are still seven episodes away from that fateful finale but, viewed in retrospect, this instalment clearly shows how each of the characters involved - JR, Sue Ellen, Ray, Mickey, Holly Harwood and Walt Driscoll - are set on the collision course that will lead to disaster.

    "Caribbean Connection" is DALLAS at its most complicated. As part of his battle with Bobby for control of Ewing Oil, JR has already blackmailed OLM leader Walt Driscoll into granting him an oil variance, enabling him to flood Texas with cut-rate gasoline. Now he has joined forces with Driscoll again to execute an even more audacious scheme: the illegal sale of a million barrels of oil to the embargoed nation of Cuba. This is the kind of intricately put together storyline - involving middlemen, international pay-offs, phoney paperwork and dummy corporations - that some soap viewers find off-putting: they prefer the easy-to-follow corporate take-overs of DYNASTY to the minutiae of DALLAS's shipment orders and paper trails. Personally, I know which I would choose. To quote actor John Cusack: 

"As an audience member, I want don't want to be fed on a plate, I want to lean forward in my chair."

    

The opening scene takes place in JR's office late at night. He is asking a twitchy Walt Driscoll to confirm both the tanker arrangements on the deal ("It'll be in Galveston day after tomorrow") and the price. 


    Driscoll: Yes, JR, forty dollars a barrel. We've been over that already! ... While we're double checking things, let's reconfirm my fee - a half a million dollars, correct?


    JR: Walt, when it comes to money I have total recall. Don't be so nervous.


    We already know how vital this deal is to JR, but now we get to learn its importance to Driscoll:
 "My stake in this is as important to me as yours is to you," he tells JR. "Ever since I met you, my life's been going in the wrong direction. I lost my wife, my career, my friends. That half a million dollar commission's gonna give me a new lease on life. Might even help me get Carol back." 

JR humours him but isn't paying much attention. Neither are the audience. Surely, we think, Driscoll is merely another of JR's patsies - insignificant and disposable? It is only in hindsight that we realise just how desperate he has become by this point.

    During their conversation, JR alludes to "one tiny little detail" that he still has to confirm. That detail is Holly Harwood's co-operation. He needs her oil supply to complete the shipment, and so summons her to lunch the following day. 

This is where things start getting complicated. The audience must work hard to keep up with the twists and turns of JR's plan. It has been established that he intends to sell a million barrels of oil to Cuba at $40 a barrel. However, the deal he proposes to Holly is a shipment to Puerto Rico at $34 a barrel. ("Holly, I'm sure that even you know that thirty-four dollars a barrel is the top price they're payin' these days.") Obviously, he is lying about the real destination because of its legal implications, and about the price in order to defraud Holly. Got that? Good. Because now it's about to get really confusing: 

"I have a half million barrels and Harwood has half a million," he continues, slowly spelling out his plan for the benefit of Holly AND the audience. "It's very important that we combine these in one shipment, so I want you to buy my half million from Petro-State, [JR's dummy corporation] just on paper money, and then we'll bill it out from Harwood."

    
Holly: Well, if this is such a good deal, why do I have to buy your oil? I'll just ship 'em my half a million barrels, and you ship yours.


    JR: Lady, look - I have an image to protect. Now how's it gonna look if I go around closing gasoline stations 'cause I can't keep 'em supplied, and then start shippin' oil outta state cos there's a better price out there?


    Holly is unconvinced, much to JR's annoyance:
"Let me tell you somethin' - for a young lady who's made an awful lotta money out of my advice, I'm getting a little tired of seein' this look of suspicion cross your face every time I come up with a deal. Now I want a signed receipt of transfer of a half a million barrels ready for shipment from Harwood." 
Holly insists she needs time consider the deal, but time is the one thing JR doesn't have. That evening, she calls Bobby ("Didn't you want me to tell you if JR was shippin' any more oil out of the country") and they make arrangements to meet.

    

Taking place on the same day are a succession of two-handed scenes between characters who rarely interact. Bobby and Afton have their only conversation of the entire series when they meet by chance outside a jewellery store, ("Don't tell me Cliff actually broke down and bought you something?" Bobby asks dryly) while Katherine lunches with Mark to encourage him in his pursuit of Pam - all in the name of sisterly love, of course. ("I'm very close to her and I know how much she values you.") This leads to a slightly embarrassing scene in which Mark turns up at Pam's hotel suite, talking in a cartoon voice from behind a large stuffed bear in the hopes of impressing a clearly bewildered Christopher. This is not John Beck's most dignified moment on-screen, even if his character does get a dinner date with Pam out of it.

    

The most interesting two-hander (and the acting highlight of the episode) takes place between Donna and Mickey. This little gem of a scene, very well acted by Susan Howard and Timothy Patrick Murphy, marks the first and only time these two characters are alone together on-screen. Mickey turns up at the Krebbs' house to meet Ray, who is running late. After being invited in to wait by Donna, he wonders aloud why a couple as rich as the Krebbs would choose to live in such humble surroundings.


    Donna: You know, Mickey, Ray built this house with his own two hands.


    Mickey: Yeah. I built a dog house once with my own two hands. Doesn't mean I'd live in it.


    Donna isn't amused. Mickey's next question ("I really wanna know something - what is it that you have against me?") gives her a chance to finally let rip:
 "Because you are a cocky, snotty little kid, and Ray happens to think the world of you. He has a great big emotional investment in you, and, y'know, I just keep thinkin' that, one of these days, you are gonna let him down with a great big thud!" 

Her words hit home. From the strength of his reaction, ("I won't let Ray down," he insists. "Yes, look - I screwed up in the past, but I'm really tryin' to straighten myself out") it would seem as though Donna's outburst has suddenly made Mickey realise for the first time just how much he wants to change, and how strongly he feels about Ray. One of the most effective things about the journey of Mickey's character through Season 5 is that, while the taming of his rebellious nature was inevitable from the outset, he has managed to clean up his act without turning into a bland, squeaky-clean good guy (hence the the crack about the dog house). That he is still recognisably human is a testament to both the Season 5 writers and Murphy's performance. "I wouldn't hurt Ray. Not if I can help it," he vows, almost in a whisper. The sad thing is, of course, that Mickey, through no fault of his own, will end up breaking Ray's heart. 



    The first thing the following morning, Bobby meets with Holly to discuss JR's deal. Unsurprisingly, he advises her against it. "There's something definitely wrong with this deal, Holly. I can't put my finger on it, but it just smells bad." 
However, when JR arrives at her house that evening, he is determined to acquire Holly's signature. Larry Hagman is at his baddest and best in this scene: "Holly, I know you're new to the oil business, but there's one thing you gotta learn - it runs on schedule and it doesn't have time for ditzy little ladies to make up their minds." When she informs him that she has decided not to go ahead with the deal, JR promptly produces a document for her perusal. 



    Holly: This is just one of those blank authorizations I signed months ago.


    JR: What it does is give Petro-State exclusive rights to distribute not only your crude, but also the total output of gasoline from your refineries.


    Holly: You control all our distribution?!


    JR: Oh no, I don't, but Petro-State does, and of course, I control Petro-State. Now tell me, what do you think would happen if Petro-State, on my orders, decided to lock up Harwood products?


    Holly: ... You are the most despicable human being.


    JR: Maybe so, but I'm also in a hurry. Now this deal could win me Ewing Oil. If I lose it because you won't sign, I'll see you lose far more. 


    Unaware of Holly's predicament, a suspicious Bobby has begun investigating JR's Caribbean connections. He is informed by Phyllis that "the other day JR got a phone call from [Puerto Rico] ... from Walt Driscoll." A sneaky peek at Sly's phone log reveals Driscoll is presently residing at a Dallas motel. "Do you remember when those two guys from the OLM were here?" Bobby asks Phyllis. "That was right after JR got his variance, and they had a feeling that Driscoll and JR might be workin' together ... Wouldn't it be funny if, after all this time, they were right?" 



    Bobby's suspicions are confirmed when he receives a call from his old pal, shipping magnate Eugene Bullock, whom he has asked to enquire about JR's Puerto Rican oil shipment. "There are a couple of Liberian tankers loading in Galveston right now, and the cargo is one million barrels of crude," Mr Eugene informs him. "The man who booked the vessels and is overseeing the loading - he's from Dallas. He's the former head of the OLM ... Now, the ships are scheduled to sail at noon today for San Juan, Puerto Rico, but ... the ships are not scheduled to arrive there."

    Bobby: Mr Eugene, I have very unpleasant feeling about all this.


    Mr Eugene: If he's doing what we talked about once before, you better hang up fast, Bobby, and stop JR cold!


    This warning marks the final appearance of Mr Eugene in DALLAS. He appeared in a total of just six episodes, between 1979 and 1983, but was memorably portrayed by E.J. Andre, who died a year after this ep at the age of 76. 

Heeding this advice, Bobby wastes no time in making another call: "Ray, this is an emergency. I'm at the house and I need your help - now." By choosing to enlist Ray, rather than the authorities, in his efforts to "stop JR cold", Bobby is inadvertently bringing Mickey's demise a step closer. As JR will point out to his brothers at the beginning of Season 6: "None of us have clean hands, boys. None of us."

    In the midst of all this activity, JR somehow manages to find time for a meeting with Sue Ellen and talk show host Roy Ralston, to discuss the possibilities of him running for Dave Culver's senate seat. While the story of JR's political career will be short-lived, it actually fulfils several dramatic functions: 

(a) Most importantly, JR's political profile provides a smokescreen behind which he can conceal the true nature of the vital visit to Cuba he will make in three episodes' time. 
(b) It serves as a red herring for the audience - if the writers are priming JR for a senatorial position, could this mean he will lose Ewing Oil and be ousted from the company? 
(c) Sue Ellen's enthusiasm for the role of "ideal political wife" gives Linda Gray some much-needed screen time and also provides a dramatic contrast to her character's out of control behaviour at the end of the season. 



    The focus on Ewing Oil's activities in this episode means that Sue Ellen is not the only female character to be sidelined: Donna is only in one scene, Lucy and Pam each appear twice, while Miss Ellie manages three appearances. Ellie's low profile can be at least partially explained by her preoccupation with matters outside the State of Texas. The night before this edition of DALLAS originally aired, (4/3/83) she came as close as she ever would to an appearance on KNOTS LANDING, during a telephone conversation with future daughter-in-law Abby Cunningham. For unscrupulous reasons of her own, Abby is seen to be discouraging an offscreen Ellie from visiting Gary, now languishing in jail following his arrest for the murder of Ciji Dunne. Her clever excuse is that Miss Ellie's presence in California would only attract unwelcome media attention to what is essentially "a misunderstanding". 



    Back in Dallas, Bobby and Ray stake out Driscoll's motel room. After seeing him leave for a meeting with JR, they charm their way into his room (Ray using the same "Gee shucks mam I've locked myself out" shtick as he does to gain access to Edgar Randolph's hotel suite a year later) and discover Driscoll's passport, an airline ticket booked to San Juan for the following day, and a briefcase containing camera equipment and a false bottom. Hidden inside the case is a second - fake - passport, which, Bobby suggests, Driscoll is using "to get in and out of a country he doesn't want our State Department to know he's travelling to, a country that might just have an embargo placed on it, and a country that JR might be selling oil to." The stamps on the passport corroborate his theory.



    Ray: JR's selling oil to Cuba?!


    Bobby: And he's getting papers from somebody Driscoll bribes to make it look like the oil's bein' purchased by Puerto Rico.


    The irony of the situation isn't lost on Bobby:
 "You know who gave him the idea? Me! That's just what I accused JR of doing when he still had his variance. He was pumpin' all that crude out of the ground and I couldn't think of anything he'd be doin' with it except sellin' it to another country." He then spells out the gravity of the situation: "If JR is selling to an embargo country, and our government finds out about it and we don't stop him, that's the end of Ewing Oil!"

    "Well, it's a tense time in the old breakfast room this morning, isn't it?" observes Lucy the following day, as JR and Bobby silently eyeball each other across a crowded dining table. Bobby excuses himself to liaise with Ray in the driveway. Ray hands him a briefcase identical to Driscoll's in every way, even down to the numbers on the combination and the false bottom. "You know what to do," says Bobby cryptically. "Call me when you're set and I'll be ready to move."

    While Bobby takes the case to a photography shop to have it filled with the same equipment as Driscoll's, JR meets Walt in a secluded bar to hand him the payoff money. Driscoll goes over the plan one last time: "By the time I land in Puerto Rico, the oil will have reached Havana. The man from Cuba gives me the forty million dollars, I give the Puerto Rican his hundred thousand, and he gives me the paper that shows Puerto Rico just bought one million barrels of crude from Harwood Oil." Huh? Who da Puerto Rican? My brain hurts ...(Sanchez, the Puerto Rican contact who liaises between Driscoll and his Cuban contact, will play a more significant role during the next two episodes.)
 "You show up back here, give me the money and the papers, tonight," snaps JR before adding ominously, "No slip ups, neither one of us can afford it."

    
Ray then calls Bobby at the office from outside the motel:
 "Driscoll just went back to his motel room. He looks like he's in a hurry."

    Bobby: Alright, I'm on my way. You keep him busy if you have to. Call Ted also, let him know.



    As a first time viewer, I remember watching the closing moments of this episode and realising that I now had no idea what was going on. All I knew was that it was very, very exciting. As Bobby reaches the elevator, he meets JR returning from his rendezvous with Driscoll. "Oh hello, Bob. You goin' out?" enquires JR, with fake bonhomie. This is the first conversation to take place between the brothers since JR's declaration of "all-out war" two episodes earlier. "Yes, as a matter of fact, I am," Bobby replies, stepping into the elevator.


    JR: Well, you may need a little breath of fresh air. Gonna be a day to remember.


    Bobby: Is that right?


    JR: Oh, it'll be a red letter day for my half of the company!


    Bobby: Maybe you're right, JR. Maybe it will be a day to remember.



    As a smiling JR turns away, the elevator door begin to close on Bobby, still staring grimly at his brother. At that moment, the frame freezes on one of DALLAS's coolest end-of-episode shots ever.

    [​IMG]
     
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  17. Ms Southworth

    Ms Southworth Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    I love all of your detailed descriptions of the various business "transactions". It takes me right back there ... don't even have to re-watch it on-screen! Excellent! :bravo:

    So sad to read about the route that Bobby and Pam's relationship went this season! Bobby didn't pay attention to the needs of his wife and child and thus lost them. And after he came out on top in the contest for Ewing Oil, he didn't even hold on to his "price", but ended up splitting it with JR. Sometimes, I just don't get men! He lost his family for nothing? :confused:

    I never understod why Pam supposedly found it okay to have meals with Mark, while still married to Bobby! She knew what Mark's agenda was, so it nevet made any sense to me! And I hated all of Katharine's meddling in Bobby and Pam's affairs. How could anyone in their right mind believe that it would be okay to go after the ex-partner of their sister (or brother, cousin, friend, etc. for that matter) under any circumstances? :eck:

    Interesting how different we interpret this situation! I felt that Bobby didn't want to go home where he'd be reminded of the fact that he had lost his family. Instead, he opted to stay in town, drink and just be around people. I never felt that he - by inviting Katharine to stay - had any intention of taking things further than that! He never saw her "concern" as anything more than concern from a family member! Just my opinion ... from a woman's perspective! ;)
     
  18. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    Neither did I. My point was, with Bobby so vulnerable and lonely, it's surprising that someone as fixated and supposedly predatory as Katherine would decide not to take advantage of the situation.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017
  19. Ms Southworth

    Ms Southworth Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    If the writers had made Katharine make a move on Bobby this "early", it would have changed the entire storyline for the next 25-40 episodes (because he - no doubt - would have turned her down and stopped seeing her altogether). Yes, Bobby was lonely, but no way near desperate! He just wanted company ... someone to talk to ... not someone to sleep with! ;) The writers chose the route where they were able to "stretch" the storyline over 1,5 seasons! Just my opinion! ;)
     
  20. Presea

    Presea Soap Chat Addict

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    Because Katherine wasn't in her right mind. I honestly don't know why people were so shocked at her actions. Expecting someone who is obviously extremely depressed and who was not handling the major changes (including the deaths of her parents, the only two people in her life she actually loved) in her life to just magically form a bond and love the sister she never knew, and not resent her for effortlessly obtaining everything she dreamed of having, is unrealistic. I think that Katherine became so hell-bent on being with Bobby because he was one guy who wasn't like: "You're beautiful, and you're only good for a quick screw!" Not to mention that she had to watch all of the other "happy" couples in Dallas frolic around while men pretty much ignored her! And for some reason, Katherine seemed to think that getting married to Bobby was the only way for her to start a family, which I think she really wanted. The fact that Bobby was her sister's husband or ex-husband was irrelevant to her since in her mind, Bobby was the one who could solve her problem and cure her loneliness.In general, I don't know why people believe it is wrong for someone to be with their sister or brother in law AFTER they are divorced from their husband or wife. It's not like it's incest, and if the two people really loved each other, that should be what matters.

    I think that, under certain circumstances, Bobby might have decided to sleep with Katherine. Bobby has slipped on his so-called morals tons of times. He had no problem with Jenna and Holly kissing him while he was still married, and almost cheated on Pam with Jenna while he was married. And he had no problem kissing Sue Ellen, his other sister in law, and her sister, Kristin! Not to mention the fact that he married April, after supposedly vowing to never get involved with a woman JR had slept with. I honestly think that Katherine might have gotten some action with Bobby if she had made some physical advances on him by kissing him or something, because Bobby seemed to like that. I really do think that if Jenna hadn't shown up, Bobby would have been needy enough to at least have a quick one night stand with Katherine. The sister in law excuse was pure BS for the above reasons, and because he got to make himself look "good" once he had Jenna to use as an excuse. Plus, the writers felt like they had to do everything they could not to let Katherine "win" in any way.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017

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