Re-watching Season 7

Discussion in 'Dallas Season Reviews' started by James from London, Feb 24, 2017.

  1. Ms Southworth

    Ms Southworth Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    I don't know Julie Harris that well, so I can't say if she'd be able to pull of the character of Miss Ellie! I've often thought that Betty White would have done a great job, if Barbara Bel Geddes couldn't or wouldn't stay on. Betty White has won so many awards over her long career, and I feel quite certain that she'd make a more believable Miss Ellie than Donna Reed did!
     
  2. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    This season compared to the brilliant previous two was a let down of epic proportions. I still scratch my head each and everytime trying to figure out what went so horribly wrong. Clearly their were issues behind the scenes. Since Lorimar Dallas finished all those years ago the only actor prepared to speak some truth is Susan Howard. I loved her insight when it was announced Patrick Duffy was returning and the squabble that would arise in the Dallas Universe story-line.

    Only now do we know of the conflict between Phil Capice and Leonard Katzman. Whatever worked (despite their differences in those early seasons) it was no longer palatable. Whatever you may believe regarding Barbara Bel Geddes exit, whether it was due to health or pay, her absence was telling.

    Handing two characters, Katherine and Afton, their marching orders added nothing to the story in hindsight. I'll argue that if Bobby had remained dead then sacrificing Katherine would have been worth it but look how it played out - just a colossal waste.

    This season just makes me angry and sad.
     
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  3. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    "Winds of War"

    Written and Directed by Leonard Katzman.



    The preceding episode began with Miss Ellie and Clayton as the bearers of bad news, telling an unusually cheerful JR, Bobby, Sue Ellen and Jamie upon their return to Southfork of Jenna's arrest for murder. This week, the situation is reversed as Clayton and Ellie enter the house, chuckling all-purposefully, to be greeted by the sight of a denim-clad Jamie, her bags packed and an upside down smile on her long face. "She's leavin', Mama, and good riddance," barks JR by way of explanation as he pours himself a drink at the bar. ""This is my home ... She's family," protests Ellie, feebly attempting to assert her authority. "Family or not, I don't want her sponging off us anymore," JR insists. Nor me. In fact, it's rather satisfying to hear JR pour scorn on Jamie's lame makeover scenes from earlier in the season: "I wonder how many $500 dresses she's got stashed upstairs in her closets? Not to mention the new car of course ..." "Don't worry, I'll get it back to you as soon as I can," retorts Jamie. "You really are the pits!" She bids farewell to Clayton, hugs Miss Ellie, and leaves. "Why, JR? What brought this on?" demands Donna Reed, looking truly strange as she marches across the living room with her rock hard bouffant and cellophane sex dress. "She's an outsider and Lord knows we don't need any more of those around this house!" JR snaps. There is a short silence as Ellie looks awkwardly at Clayton, for whom this remark was clearly intended. He asks her to wait for him upstairs. She meekly obeys and the two men are left alone together for the first time in over a year. 



    Since Miss Ellie and Clayton have returned from their honeymoon, JR has honoured his promise "not gonna cause Mama anymore grief" and refrained from exhibiting any animosity towards his step-father. Happily, that changes in this scene. "Clayton, you married my mother," he tells him, "You're her husband, that's all. You're not a Ewing. What goes on between Ewings is none of your damn business." "Well!" exclaims Clayton. "It's about time you let your real feelin's out. I've been a little nervous about you kitty footin' around me." He takes a step towards to JR, pointing his fingers towards him in a jabbing motion: "Now let's understand things. Your mama is a Farlow now. You and Bobby are the only Ewings left, with the exception of that little girl you just threw out of here, and if she does what I think she will, it might be something you might regret for a very long time." "What the hell are you talkin' about?" snaps JR. "That document of hers. Now that she's not living here, what's she got to lose by using it?" "That document is as phoney as a seven dollar bill." "Is it?" "Mm-hm." "You better hope so, because my guess is she won't waste any time getting back at you. You may have just cost the Ewings Ewing Oil!" 

There's a real spark between the two actors during this exchange, and it's a welcome reminder that there's more to Howard Keel than traipsing round after Donna Reed. This is one of the few occasions in Season 7 when he gets a scene he can sink his teeth into.

    Now that the writers have abandoned the going-nowhere "Clayton Adjusts To Life At Southfork" storyline, he has instead been assigned the role of Miss Ellie's full-time protector. This, in turn, means that Ellie must turned into the kind of fragile creature who needs protecting. It's quite a shift from the Miss Ellie of the early years who dealt with her dysfunctional family by simply shutting her eyes to that which she did not wish to see. And while she suffered a near breakdown at the end of Season 5, that was in reaction to specific events she was unable to avoid or control. In comparison, Miss Ellie Mark 2 seems overwhelmed by her family's problems: Each fresh storyline, from Jason's document to Jenna's arrest to JR and Sue Ellen's fight to Jamie's new apartment, is a source of fretful concern for her. It's as if she's struggling to cope with living inside a soap opera. "Wouldn't it be wonderful to walk in that door and not be faced with another problem?" she sighs while dining with Clayton at the Oil Barons'. However light-heartedly, the newlyweds now begin to distance themselves from the rest of the family ("You ever thought about running away from home?" he asks. "A lot," she replies) in such a way that the never-ending cruise they embark on at the end of the series makes a kind of logical sense.

    

The morning after the night before, Sue Ellen greets her husband with slammed doors and angry glares. "Sue Ellen, we had a bargain," JR reminds her. "You agreed to move back into my room and my bed, and the first little misunderstanding, you spend the night in one of the guest bedrooms." No mention is made of the basis of that agreement: Peter Richards' freedom. If JR's bite is truly as bad as his end-of-Season-6 bark, Peter should now be on the receiving end of a cavity search by some of New York's finest. And perhaps he is. Let's hope so.

    

This is hardly the first time JR has been caught with his boots parked under the wrong bed, and this time around, Uncle Lenny plays the situation for laughs. "I was with Congressman Hooker's daughter," he tells Sue Ellen, trying to bluff his way out of trouble. (That's Congressman Hooker's daughter, who is presumably best friends with Senator Streetwalker's niece.) "I could be her godfather. She wanted to have lunch with me to tell me she was getting married ... When I told her that I was gonna give her and her husband a trip around the world as a present, well, she got carried away, started kissing me and that's what Jamie saw, and on that she built this whole contrived story about me cheating on you." Sue Ellen's reaction is also quite funny. "That's really a wonderful story, JR," she tells him solemnly. "For a moment, I almost believed you." The rest of her dialogue is nothing we haven't hear her say before, however: "JR, you hurt me. Doesn't that bother you at all? I loved you and you betrayed me again. Do you really need other women that much?"



    In Season 10, Sue Ellen has a great speech in which she describes her method of coping with marriage to JR as "The Three Ds: Drink, Divorce and Doing unto him what he has always done to me." The latter of these is a post-dream innovation. Back In Season 7, Sue Ellen's "Ds" stand for Drink, Divorce and Denial, each of which she considers, then discounts, in reaction to JR's latest betrayal. In spite of her initial dismissal of his Judge Hooker explanation, she hides behind it later in the episode. "Lookit, I'm sorry for what happened, but I saw what I saw," Jamie tells her over lunch at the Oil Barons'. "He explained all of that to me," Sue Ellen replies. "She was an old friend of the family." While denial has permeated Sue Ellen's behaviour since the series began, this is the most blatant example of her pretending to believe something she knows not to be true, and it makes her look kinda ridiculous. Certainly Jamie isn't impressed: "Oh come on, Sue Ellen! You can't tell me that you really believe that." "You just don't understand him," Sue Ellen replies lamely. "No, I don't understand you. You know, you're not anything like I thought you were ... I may not have had much in Alaska, but at least I had my values, I knew right from wrong, and I don't think any of you rich Ewings do." Sue Ellen's behaviour serves as a (slightly contrived) turning point for Jamie: it somehow allows her to go from being mad at just JR to furious with the whole family. ("The way I feel right now, I don't wanna have anything to do with any of the Ewings, and that includes you!") This takes her a step closer to her decision to side with Cliff against them. "Here's your car keys, Sue Ellen," she says in parting. "Thanks for everything. It was a real education." 



    Having dabbled in denial, Sue Ellen now turns to drink. "Double vodka," she gasps in Cassie's direction. Cassie, the cheeky bitch, dares to query the order. Somewhere along the line, Sue Ellen's alcohol intake has gone from being a problem scarcely acknowledged by the Ewings themselves, to something about which even a dopey waitress feels she can offer an opinion. "Cassie, just bring it!" Sue Ellen hisses. The scene ends there, but Sue Ellen fills us in on what happens next during a living room scene with JR later that evening: "I sat in a bar for an hour staring at a double vodka, thinkin' about Jamie, you, our lives." "But you didn't drink it, did you?" asks JR. "No," she replies, "because in the end you weren't worth it." So with denial and drink discounted, Sue Ellen addresses her final option--divorce. "Oh I wouldn't do that," she tells JR, "because I have earned the right to be here! God knows, I have paid the price for that privilege." (Linda Gray is quite impressive here, baring her teeth and flashing her eyes at Hagman as she spits out those 'p' words: "paid ... price ... privilege".)

    In the end, Sue Ellen decides to reprise her separate bedroom shtick: "I am movin' into Jamie's old room. I'm gonna stay here to protect my son, but don't you ever come near me. You do what you what when you want, but don't you ever explain anything to me again, because I don't care anymore." Gray's great, but the scene lacks the poignancy of the very similar Sue Ellen/JR scene at the beginning of Season 6 ("Your sex life is your affair from now on. Oh, I realise it won't be as much fun anymore because you won't be cheating on me, but that's your problem." "You'll pay for this, Sue Ellen." "I already have.").

    

Lest we forget, this is all part of a chain of events set in motion by Bobby's request to Jamie to have JR contact Judge Samuelson on his behalf. "I asked him to call Judge Langley down here and tell him what good folks we Ewings are, maybe get him to reverse himself and set bail for Jenna," Bobby explains to Scotty Demarest in Laredo. The irony is that his efforts may all be for naught: "He'll either do your friend a favour and set bail," warns Scotty, "or else ... get himself irritated by you interfering that way." 



    The investigation into Naldo's killing has revealed a conundrum: "The police responded to call from somebody at the hotel who said he heard a lotta noise and then a shot from the room Jenna was in." However, none of the hotel residents subsequently questioned heard anything. Meanwhile, ballistic tests have revealed that "Naldo was shot with his own gun ... The only prints on it were smudged, they looked very much like Naldo's, and a full set of Jenna's." Bobby is worried for his fiancee: "She's gonna get convicted if we don't do better than this."



    Later, meeting with Jenna in her only scene of the episode, Scotty and Bobby theorise as to the true identity of Naldo's murderer. "Naldo said he was expecting a large sum of money," says Bobby. "We're talkin' about drugs," Scotty speculates, "What else could it be here on the border?" "... Why would they kill him?" asks Bobby. (Oh Bobby, have you forgotten your own involvement in The Case of Jeff Faraday & The Stupid Drug Dealers already?) "What about Charlie?" bleats Jenna. "What good is any of that if we can't find her?!"



    Oh yeah, Charlie. Any hopes that she might be discreetly forgotten about are dashed by a phone call Bobby receives from Veronica Robinson. "I have Charlie. I don't want her, but I won't just abandon her." "What do you want?" "A lot of money." They arrange to meet at the Pier at Venice Beach the following morning. (Say, isn't that where Justin Lee Collins just accosted Linda Gray?) 

So Bobby travels to California (from where, just like Jenna and Charlie, Val and her babies have also disappeared--only everyone thinks the babies are dead and Val thinks she's called Verna and oh it's complicated). He meets with Veronica, played with a believable combination of flakiness and regret by Gail Strickland, who later becomes somebody or other's mother on MELROSE PLACE. She asks Bobby for $50,000 and relates her tale of Naldo-related woe: "We were lovers for many years until I ran out of money ... Six months ago, he came back into my life. He said he was gonna come into a lot of money. If I helped him, we could be together again. All I had to do was take care of his daughter and meet him in Singapore next month." "All this talk about taking Charlie out of the country, that was all misdirection?" Bobby asks. "Naldo was wonderful at misdirection," she replies wryly (I really like that line; I don't know why). He asks her to return to Dallas and testify for Jenna, but she is too scared. "I really am sorry about Miss Wade ... Things worked out much differently than I expected." Charlie is handed over, squeakier than ever, and Bobby records Veronica's sister's licence plate with his photographic memory.



    By this point in the series, Lucy's appearances appear to have been rationed to one scene per episode. This week, she and Eddie go into the construction business together. Eddie seems so earnest as he signs the partnership papers drawn up by Harve Smithfield that one wonders if even the actor playing him is aware that he is secretly cheating on Lucy with Lovely Betty. With the rest of her family busy with major storylines, Lucy must resort to discussing her love life with Harve. Charlene Tilton looks very pretty.



    As both luck and the laws of dramatic irony would have it, no sooner has Jamie become estranged from the rest of the Ewings than Cliff's and Donna's respective searches for verification of her father's document start to bear fruit. First Cliff, looking through the box of Digger's papers he received from Aunt Maggie's lawyer, finds an old black and white photo of four men with a notation scrawled on the back: "August 10th 1930, Nacogdoches County. We done it. Jock, Jason, Sam and me celebrating the big strike." "That means the Ewings and Digger hit that discovery well together!" he gasps. Then Donna and Ray return from Austin to announce to the rest of the family that "Jamie may have a real claim to Ewing Oil." Ray reads from Sam Culver's never-ending journal: "August 17th, 1930. On this morning, I went out to the field and met Jock, Jason and Digger. The boys were still celebrating the big strike. Since there are two Ewings and one Barnes, they are calling the newly formed company Ewing Oil ... I drew up an agreement between them giving them each one-third ownership in the new company." Ellie and Clayton exchange anxious glances, JR looks nervous, and Sue Ellen gloats at his discomfort. I like it when Sue Ellen gloats.



    Again, one of the major strengths of the second half of Season 7 is the almost KNOTSian way that unrelated storylines and plot points intersect. In this episode, seemingly trivial details--who knows what about Jamie's whereabouts, and how Pam learns of Jenna's arrest--overlap and take on a crucial significance. 

"Oh I've got to get a hold of Jamie Ewing and get my hands on that document!" declares Cliff to an increasingly bored and irritated Mandy. "You're doing just what JR said you'd do--wasting all your time trying to prove that you own one-third of Ewing Oil," she sighs, flicking through a magazine. "How many deals have you put together at work lately? ... You told me you were gonna be the richest oilman in Texas ... Maybe then we could go out to dinner one night." "Don't start that again!" Cliff snaps with amusing exasperation. Their bickering is interrupted by the arrival of Pam, dejected after her trip to the Caribbean ("I just don't know where to turn next"). Cliff immediately demonstrates another side of his personality by comforting her and inviting her to spend the night, and then another by lying when she asks, "Has anything been happening while I was away?" "No, not much," he replies. "I don't believe you!" whispers Mandy once Pam is safely out of earshot, sounding a little like Bob Dylan in response to an angry fan calling him Judas when he went electric at his infamous 1966 gig at Manchester Free Trade Hall. (My theory is he only did it to drown out Joan Baez' shrill backing vocals.)

    

Turning up at Southfork the following morning to collect Christopher, Pam receives the cold shoulder-pad from Sue Ellen who coolly informs Miss Ellie that she's going to pick Jamie up at her new apartment and take her to lunch. In an attempt to excuse her behaviour, Miss Ellie tells Pam about Jamie: "She and JR got into a fight and she moved out. Sue Ellen was very close to her." "Poor Sue Ellen," replies Pam more than generously. "That really makes things more difficult for you ..." "At the moment, I'm more worried about Jenna Wade than I am Sue Ellen." Pam looks at her blankly. "With that murder charge hanging over her head?" Ellie adds. "Didn't you know?" Clayton asks Pam in surprise. Being new to the family, he has yet to realise that Ewing tradition decrees that Pam be the last person to know about anything. "According to the police, she shot Naldo Marchetta," he explains. "Shortly after they were married," Ellie adds. Watching Pam's straight-faced reaction to this litany of disasters is unintentionally amusing, ("This is so much for me to absorb all at once!") but there is no disguising the focus of her concern: "What about Bobby? Is he all right?" "I'm afraid that Pam is a long way from being over Bobby," Ellie concludes after Pam has left. (Of course, BBG's Ellie would have known that already.)



    Then we get a nice little confrontation scene as Pam marches into Barnes-Wentworth and, pausing only to dump Christopher in Jackie's in-tray, angrily demands of her brother, "Why didn't you tell me about Jenna last night? ... I might have done something to help Bobby!" "Bobby doesn't need any help. Jenna's the one that's in jail!" Cliff shoots back, smoothly shifting the focus of the argument. "I knew you'd find out about Jenna today. I just wanted you to get a decent night's sleep first." Pam can't argue with his reasoning, but neither is she fully convinced by it. JR will be able to play on this distrust later in the season when he lays the blame for Pam's bogus search for Mark at Cliff's door. For now, she guardedly accepts Cliff's explanation, as well as an invitation to dinner that evening. 



    While Cliff is attempting to manipulate Pam through misinformation, JR is doing the same to Cliff, via Mandy. They discuss Jamie over drinks. "I knew she was lyin'," he tells her. "I was finally able to prove it ... It was just a bad forgery ... We just shipped her back to Alaska ..." "Is she really a Ewing?" Mandy asks. "Well I guess that's true enough," he shrugs. This off-hand concession brings the "Is Jamie an impostor?" plot thread to a rather underwhelming conclusion (the scene where Jenna catches Jamie in an apparent lie about their respective fathers' friendship to be forever unexplained). "Now that Jamie's out of my hair, I can devote myself to you full time," adds JR.



    As enjoyably plotted as this episode is, there are a couple of contrivances that do not wholly convince, but are necessary in order to get the characters where they need to be for the final scene. For instance, the restaurant argument between Sue Ellen and Jamie (never the most believable of girlfriends) seems to exist chiefly to rev up Jamie's anger towards the Ewings. Then when Pam calls Southfork to get the latest on Bobby and Jenna while wearing an unfortunate black and white clown costume, Miss Ellie asks if she has seen Sue Ellen who has yet to return from her lunch date with Jamie (still busy starin' at that double vodka, no doubt). Why would Ellie ask Pam about Sue Ellen when the two women aren't even on speaking terms? This isn't EASTENDERS, where everyone eats, drinks, sleeps with their mother-in-law and gets murdered within the same two mile radius. The query exists solely so that Cliff's ears can prick up at the mention of Jamie's name. "Did you hear what she said about Jamie still being in Dallas?" Cliff asks Mandy eagerly once Pam has left for home. "You know what that means?" "For one thing, JR's been lying to me all along, but why?" asks Mandy. "Don't you see?" replies Cliff. "He's known who you are all along. He told you that he shipped her back to Alaska knowing that you'd tell me!" 



    This development brings Cliff and Mandy to a fork in the road of their relationship. Their reactions to the discovery that JR has been stringing them along could not more different. Mandy is hurt-- "He's been using me, I thought he liked me" --while Cliff is buzzing with excitement: "He thinks he has a direct line to me only I know he's lying, so I want you to keep seeing him ... Now I know for sure I can feed him anything I want him to know!" Cliff and Mandy are now on completely different wavelengths. "I tell you something else," he continues, "He has really got to be worried about that document Jamie has otherwise why would he try to convince me that he had sent her back to Alaska? I gotta talk to that girl again!" "I'm getting a little tired of everybody using me," Mandy murmurs to herself. Deborah Shelton's really good in this scene, totally nailing Mandy's confusion and disappointment.

    

Much is made of the decline in Jamie's living standards since leaving the ranch, ("From the address, it's hardly the area for a single girl," sniffs Sue Ellen) but when Cliff tracks her down in the final scene, thanks to "a friend in the phone company," her surroundings don't seem that bad. "A little different than Southfork," Cliff observes. Jamie tells him that the document is still in the bank. "Even after you found out what a snake JR Ewing is?" "JR's just one of the Ewings," she replies. Jamie might be feeling somewhat disappointed by her family at this point, but we know that she is not vengeful or malicious by nature--quite the opposite in fact. So Cliff is going to need all his powers of persuasion to coax her into declaring war on her kinfolk. Fortunately for him, he has Uncle Lenny writing his dialogue. Together, they revisit the heart of the DALLAS mythology (albeit slightly rejigged to incorporate Jason): "Both of our daddies died drunk and broke because of one man, Jock Ewing," he tells Jamie. "He took everything that was rightfully theirs and drove 'em away ... What JR and Bobby have belongs to us as much as them ... All we have of our daddies' lives is memories: two broken drunks. Isn't it time we did something? We can finally make their lives worthwhile just by takin' back what was rightfully theirs. Or you can let JR step all over you. You can let him win again. ... I've got the money to buy the legal help we need. Together we can make Jock and Digger's lives mean something. We can beat JR." Jamie does her upside down smile thing: "Maybe you're right. You know, I'd like nothing more than to see JR Ewing crawl." "It's up to you. What do you say?" "I say, let's do it!" 

The end of this episode marks the halfway point of the entire series. As the frame freezes on Cliff, his mouth creasing into a delighted smirk, the sense one is left with--that the worms have finally turned--feels kind of appropriate.
     
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  4. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    Why the writers considered softening up or adding comic routines to JR was breathtakingly stupid in my opinion. I get that the viewer "loved to hate" JR but more often than not we needed reminding just how ruthless and a misogynist he really was, and just secretly, isn't this why women wanted to be with JR and men wanted to be him ;)
     
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  5. Ms Southworth

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    Amazing dialog between Sue Ellen and JR in this episode ("seasoned" with a bit of James).

    Jamie doesn't get Sue Ellen and tells her so straight up! ;)

    James talks about Sue Ellen's three "D's" in season 7 and compares them with her three "D's" in season 10! James also addresses Sue Ellen's three "P's"! ;)

    Read and learn! :D Great work, James! :yep:
     
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  6. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    "Bail Out"



    Having cut her hair (big improvement) and retrieved her daddy's document from a safety deposit box, Jamie meets with Cliff and a lawyer, Mr Ferguson, to assess the validity of their claim to two-thirds of Ewing Oil. "This is a pretty surprising piece of paper," Ferguson remarks. "Sure could send shock waves through the Dallas oil community." "Will it hold up in court?" asks Jamie New Hair. "We'd have to prove that this agreement is authentic," he replies. "You'll have to get some handwriting samples so that an expert can verify the signatures on the document ... Even if that document turns out to be real, the Ewings aren't going to hand their company over on a silver platter," he warns.

Indeed not.

    Unaware that Cliff and Jamie have joined forces, JR is nonetheless anxious enough to call an after-hours strategy meeting at Ewing Oil with Harve, Clayton, Ray and Donna. It's something of a novelty to see JR sitting down with those he would more characteristically be in conflict with. This particular storyline, while lacking the tragic grandeur of Season 5's fight for the company, manages to encompass all the central characters (save Lucy) in an interesting way, leading to several unusual allegiances and interactions. Clayton is the only member of the family to have read the document, having done so aloud at the barbecue, while the Krebbses are the ones who uncovered the journal entries of Sam Culver corroborating Jamie's claim. All their information is pooled during the meeting, prompting JR to pose a fresh conundrum: "What I don't understand is, if that agreement is real, they should all have had a copy, especially Sam Culver." "And Jock," concurs Harve. "Obviously Cliff Barnes didn't know anymore about that document than we did or he'd have taken us to court a long time ago." Much like the riddle planted in last week's episode regarding the anonymous caller who reported Naldo's shooting to the police when no one else in the hotel appears to have heard anything, it's a small but important question that will be answered as the storyline unfolds. 



    The meeting grinds to an abrupt halt when Cliff pops out of the Ewing elevator shouting, "Ewing! Ewing!" When Phyllis's attempts to wrestle him to the floor of the reception area fail, JR and co. emerge from the office to investigate. "I just dropped by to try to save you some money," Cliff explains to JR. "That'll be the day," murmurs Ray--the closest he and Cliff will ever come to exchanging dialogue. "You cannot believe how surprised I was to discover that not all you Ewings are bad," Cliff continues. "As a matter of fact, I have one for a partner now, and she gave me a copy of this document that says that I own one third of Ewing Oil. Of course I know you already know that, but I just thought we'd save ourselves a lot of aggravation if we just split up the company now ... You see, I figure as long as we're all gonna be partners, why deplete our assets with a lot of heavy legal fees? No offence, Harve." This funny aside is (I think) the first interaction between Cliff and Harve. "Get out of my office, Barnes," JR snarls. "This isn't gonna be your office that much longer," Cliff replies. "You see, your cousin Jamie and I will be the majority stockholders and we might want that office for ourselves, but if you play your cards right, we might let you and Bobby split up the secretary area!" He gets the giggles at this, and even Ray, Donna and Clayton have wry smiles on their faces. As Cliff walks away laughing, JR turns round to face the assorted members of his extended family. "Anyone else wanna tell me what a sweet misunderstood girl Jamie Ewing is?" he asks sarcastically. It's interesting that this scene--the key moment where the Ewings find out Jamie and Cliff are partners--should be played for laughs. It succeeds in being genuinely funny without diluting any of the significance of the situation.

    

While Cliff crows, Jamie has been diligently collecting handwriting samples to present to their lawyer. They liaise at Cliff's apartment. In this scene, Season 7's two newcomers, Jamie and Mandy, finally come face to face. Mandy, who has already slammed the phone down on JR, ("I'm a woman not an oil man and I don't give a damn about your wheeling and dealing!") is in no mood to hear about Cliff and Jamie's plans. Once again, Jamie finds herself in the middle of a lovers' quarrel, not unlike the one she inadvertently began between JR and Sue Ellen two episodes earlier. "You really are crazy to start this kind of battle," Mandy tells Cliff. "I am sick of letting the Ewings keep what was stolen from my family!" he replies. "You really are obsessed with them, aren't you?" she sneers. "Yeah ... I've damn good reason to be .... This is the biggest chance of my life and you're gonna help me ... Mandy, we're in this together." "No!" she shouts. "I'm sick of being used. You wanna go after Ewing Oil, you do it on your own. The only person I'm gonna help from now on is myself!" And out she storms, slamming the door behind her.



    While Jamie began the season as part of the Ewing family and is now moving into the Barnes camp, Mandy is travelling in the opposite direction. Following her spat with Cliff, she calls JR and asks to meet with him. The confrontation that follows is one of several strong scenes in the episode.

 Expecting to meet JR in a public place, Mandy steps out of an elevator to find herself in an expensive looking, dimly lit hotel suite. JR is waiting for her alone, with a bottle of champagne. "Welcome to Club 1900," he tells her smugly. "Is this another one of your possessions?" she asks, referring back to his box at Texas stadium. "It's first class, just like everything else I know about you ... except for the way you use people ... You know Cliff Barnes is the man I'm involved with and you've been feeding me phoney information figuring it'll get back to him, and that's the only reason you've been seeing me ... You've been using me since you first met me!" JR refutes this. "Mandy, even before I met you," he recalls, "when I first saw you working in that restaurant, I didn't know who you were. All I knew is you were the most beautiful creature I ever laid my eyes on ... I guess I did take advantage of you a little bit, didn't I?" he concedes. "You're damn right you did!" she shouts. "Well, no more than you took advantage of me, honey," he counters. "Before you get too high and mighty, you might just wanna examine that little fact ... You were pumpin' me for information." "But I didn't wanna be doing it!" she protests, her face partly shrouded in darkness. "No you didn't, but you did it anyhow and I bet you enjoyed it." "Maybe I did at first, but not anymore. I am sick of playing those kind of games ... I hate games. And I hate you!" 

She then draws a comparison first made by Julie Grey, back in the mini-series: "You and Cliff, you're both cut from the same piece of cloth ... I was nothing more than a conduit between you and him." (Julie to Cliff: "You're just like JR. Usin', usin', usin'.") She throws a glass of champagne in his face. He grabs her, lunges at her neck and then kisses her. She resists, struggling, before the inevitable submission. He chuckles knowingly and lowers her out of shot. It's hard to imagine a scene like this, in which a man lures a woman to an empty hotel room under false pretences and then "kisses her until she likes it" as if there were no difference between rape and seduction, being filmed in quite the same way today. 



    Meanwhile, Bobby is still on Jenna duty in Laredo. His retrieval of Charlie leads to another enjoyable courtroom scene in which Scotty informs Judge Langley of the brat's return. "Her being away was a major obstacle to releasing my client on bail," he reminds the judge. "Now that that obstacle has been removed, we would like the court to reconsider." Judge Langley (played by the impressively named Valentin de Vargas) does a great job of living up to his "an ornery son of a gun" reputation in this scene: "I received a call from a Judge Samuelson in Dallas," he tells Scotty. "Seems like the Ewings want him to put pressure on me to reverse my decision ... My decisions are not to bought and sold, Mr Demarest. I don't care how much money the Ewings have, I Don't Like Bein' Pressured!" "No sir, I'm sure you don't!" Scotty replies fawningly. "All right," says the judge slyly, "I'll set bail--if the Ewin's are still willin' to put up the $2,000,000 you suggested at the first hearin'." Scotty protests meekly. "Mr Demarest, do you want her out or don't you?" asks Langley, clearly enjoying himself. "Yes sir, we do." "Then post the bail!" he snaps. "Next case!" Jenna and Charlie enjoy a squeaky reunion.



    Bobby brings Jenna back to Southfork. "The room is beautiful," she sighs. "The last time I stayed in it I was very happy, because the next day I was supposed to marry the man I loved ... I would have been a member of the Ewing family. Not just a guest." Bobby suggests a quickie: "We'll get in the car tomorrow, we'll find a Justice of the Peace and we'll get married ..." "No Bobby, not with that trial hanging over my head." Oh Jenna you dumb ass, you shoulda got that ring on your finger while you had the chance!



    Sue Ellen has only two scenes in this episode, but both are good fun. We see her first at the ranch, stumbling groggily out of bed, her hair a stylish mess, at the unheard time of 11.50am. Given her near-vodka experience in last week's episode, perhaps we're meant to think she's hungover. Staggering amusingly downstairs, she startles Stepford Ellie, busy arranging flowers in the hallway. "Sue Ellen, you slept late," declares Ellie, rather obviously. "Yeah, I know," replies Sue Ellen, a tad impatient with this strange bouffanted woman. "I couldn't sleep last night so about four o'clock this morning I took a pill." Their conversation turns to the threat Jamie's document poses to Ewing Oil. "If you were to ask me I think we'd all be better off if it were split up," Sue Ellen remarks. "Sue Ellen, how can you say such a thing?" gasps Ellie, all uptight indignance. "That company means everything to this family!" "Do you really think we need to go through another battle like we did two years ago?" Sue Ellen argues. "It would serve JR right if it did happen!" 

This is a 180° shift from the attitudes held by both women during the Ewing Oil contest of Season 5. Back then, Sue Ellen stood loyally by her man while Miss Ellie, as Sue Ellen now reminds her, "went to court ... to try to get Jock's will overturned ... You wanted to sell Ewing Oil." "But that was different," Ellie insists. "This time we're talking about losing control to outsiders." Despite this explanation, it's hard to shake the feeling that Ellie's sudden willingness to toe the Ewing line stems mostly from the fact that she has been replaced by an android. (Sue Ellen's views, meanwhile, remain consistently inconsistent, i.e. entirely dependent on the present state of her relationship with JR.)



    The end of this scene is a mirror image of a kitchen discussion that took place between Miss Ellie and Sue Ellen almost exactly two years earlier, in the episode "Requiem". "Think ahead, Sue Ellen," BBG's Miss Ellie told her then. "Think twenty-five, thirty years ahead. I won't be here then and the fight won't be between JR and Bobby, it'll be between John Ross and Christopher. Your loyalty to your husband is a wonderful thing, but you're a mother too, and where will this all end?" This time, Donna Reed's Ellie offers her the opposite message: "Before you turn your back on this company, think of your own son. In a few years, John Ross will be running Ewing Oil." " ... Maybe he'd be better off without it, Miss Ellie," Sue Ellen replies, echoing the Ellie of old, "without all the power fights that ruin the lives of the rest of us." 



    Linda Gray's second scene, in which she congratulates Jenna on her decision not to elope with Bobby, is classic Sue Ellen. "You can live here at Southfork and see exactly how the Ewings operate, without being locked in till death you part," she tells her (while looking decidedly butch). "It's a rare opportunity, Jenna. You're luckier than you know." "Sue Ellen, you sound so bitter," Jenna deduces brilliantly. "Why?" "Because I know what the Ewing brothers are like. Right now, you and Bobby are in love and in that respect life is very wonderful for you, but wait until the battle for Ewing Oil starts and believe me it will and it's gonna be ugly. Then you are gonna see a side of Bobby Ewing that you have never seen before." Here again, the shadow of Season 5 looms large: "The Ewing brothers are alike in certain ways. I found it out and so did Pam." There are also echoes of the cynical lectures Sue Ellen used to delight in giving Pam back in Seasons 2 and 3: "I guarantee you you're gonna be nothing but an ornament for him ... Are you ready for that? Are you ready for your life to changed at the drop of a hat?" "... I think you're talkin' about JR, not Bobby," Jenna says, which is the standard sister-in-law response to one of Sue Ellen's rants. "Jenna, I didn't mean to upset you," Sue Ellen replies disingenuously.



    While this is an excellent episode throughout, Pam is the character who really shines. She receives a visit from Dr Miller, the fella with the groovy Jamaican accent whom she met in the Caribbean three episodes ago, now in Dallas to "consult on a rather interesting medical case". He introduces her to Dr Matsuda, "who's been practising medicine in Hong Kong for several years, and we discussed your friend's disease for a while and I mentioned that he was a Dallas industrialist." Matsuda continues the story: "I met an industrialist from Dallas in Hong Kong not long ago. He came to my clinic for the same kind of disease." Pam asks Dr Miller if he has shown Dr Matsuda the photo of Mark that she gave him. "No. Unfortunately, it's not one of the things I packed in my suitcase," he replies wryly. Pam laughs self-deprecatingly (I love that bit) before showing Dr Matsuda another picture of Mark. "Yes, that's him," he confirms. "Absolutely." Pam's expression suddenly changes. In hindsight, this plot development hinges on a remarkable string of coincidences--JR just happens to send Pam to a phoney medicine man who claims to have met Mark on a neighbouring island to where Pam just happens to meet a genuine doctor who just happens to travel to Dallas where he just happens to mention their meeting to another doctor who just happens to have really seen Mark--but the story unfolds so persuasively that all contrivances are forgiven.

    

As well as coincidence, ironic timing abounds for Pam in this episode. She wastes no time in booking a flight to Hong Kong, but receives a phone call from Gerald Kane, anxious to talk to her before she leaves. She also manages to fit in a dinner date with Cliff where he introduces her to Jamie. Pam asks about Mandy, unaware that she and Mandy have already shared their last scene together. Cliff tells her that he and Jamie are taking the Ewings to court, and Jamie finds herself witness to yet another squabble. "Haven't you wasted enough of your life fighting the Ewings?" asks Pam impatiently. "What are you gonna get out of it?" "My half of the company!" Cliff shoots back. "You don't need it!" she replies. Once again, there are echoes of Season 5 as Pam delivers almost the exact same line to her brother ("Cliff, you have more money than you can ever spend!") as she did to Bobby ("We have more money than we can ever spend!") when she was trying to get him to walk away from his battle with JR. Cliff's reply also corresponds with Bobby's. "It's not a question of money. I'm doing it for my Daddy ... Just like Jamie's doing it for hers and you oughta be with us for the same reason," he continues. "All right, Digger wasn't your actual father but he raised you and loved you just like you loved him." Hmm, Digger may not have been Pam's father biologically but surely he was legally? Wouldn't that be enough to entitle her to half of his share of the company? The possibility is never raised, not even when Cliff and Jamie ask Pam to join them in their battle. "I'm sorry, Cliff. I can't," she replies. "Fighting JR is one thing, but I'd have to fight Bobby too, and that company means so much to him ... I am not joining in your fight." Never say never, Pam ...



    Towards the end of the episode, there is a really lovely scene between Pam and Bobby. The crucial P&B scenes since their split fall into two categories. The first involves one of them approaching the other with the intention of suggesting a reconciliation, only to have the rug pulled out from under them by a surprise revelation (Bobby telling Pam at Thanksgiving Square that he's letting her go; Pam returning from Houston to tell Bobby that she has decided to accepted Mark's marriage proposal). In each case, the emotional ache of the scene arises out of what is not said--the characters' true feelings, the real motivations behind their actions. The second category is the scenes containing fragments of the information missing in the first category, (Bobby and Pam's conversation after Mark's plane crash: "You don't know this, but I came to Thanksgiving Square that day to tell you I was ready to try again ... Before I could say anything, you told me you were letting me go." "But that's because of your letter ... Katherine found it and read it to me ... You said you wanted out of the marriage"; Pam's revelation during her 28 second visit to Bobby in the hospital following his shooting: “You know the letter Katherine read to you, the one that made you go ahead with the divorce? ... I didn’t write it, Katherine did”). The audience are led to believe that if only these fragments of information were pieced together in front of them, Pam and Bobby would come to their senses and reconcile.



    These two categories of scene converge when Bobby and Pam meet by chance at the Oil Barons' Club. This is the first time they've spoken since Jenna's disappearance/kidnapping/arrest for murder. "You remember the day you were supposed to be married? I was so unhappy," says Pam, with unabashed candour. "And then when I heard the wedding had been called off, well, I guess I let my fantasies take over ... You know, the dream?" (uh-oh) "That you and I would get back together." This takes Bobby by surprise. "Pam, did you really think that was possible?" he asks. "Well, if it hadn't been for Katherine," she replies, "we probably would have. It was that phoney letter she wrote in my name and the rest of her manipulations that kept us apart." "What about Mark Graison? You were gonna marry him." Now it's Pam's turn to be taken aback. "You didn't know why?" she asks. "I assumed because you loved him." "Oh, I did love Mark, but in a very different way than I loved you." Here comes another fragment of information: "I was going to marry Mark because I found out that he was dying and I didn't want him to face the end of his life alone." This is news to Bobby: "You were going to marry becau- because he needed you?" he stammers. "Now he's gone," he adds. "And now Jenna needs you," Pam replies, her eyes glistening. "Yes she does," he confirms. "Right now, I'm just about all that she's got." Finally, Bobby and Pam are privy to all the secrets that have kept them apart since the beginning of the previous season ... only the information has come too late for them to be together. And that realisation becomes the unspoken ache between them in this scene. 



    As if that stand out scene were not enough, an even better one awaits Victoria Principal at the end of the episode. In acting terms, it's one of her best moments of the series. Gerald Kane, looking taller and guiltier than ever, comes to see Pam in her office. "I surely don't feel good about what I've done," he begins. "I've lied to you, Mrs Ewing. I never flew Mark Graison down to the Caribbean." Pam stares at him, a stunned expression on her face. VP hardly seems to be acting at all; she's just there. "Truth of it is, I never even laid eyes on the man you were lookin' for," he continues. "I know I shoulda told you all this before, and I tried two or three times while we were down there, but well, I never could convince myself to do it until now." Pam tries to make sense of what she is hearing. "Well, what about San Serrano?" she asks. "Mark was in the clinic down there. And just yesterday Dr Miller was here ... with another doctor who actually saw Mark in Hong Kong ... You think they were lying too? Well, why would they lie to me? Why would you lie to me?" "I was persuaded to ... Somebody who convinced me that it would be easier for you if you believed that Mark Graison was alive, and I went along with it because I saw how desperately you wanted to believe." "Mark Graison is alive and there's no doubt that," she insists emphatically. "Believe me, Mrs Ewing, the whole thing was a hoax ... If I could be bought off so could they." "You mean someone paid you to lie to me?" she asks, the musical score kicking in as her voice rises in anger. "Nobody has any reason to do that to me." "Obviously somebody has." "Who? Tell me who! I want to know their name!" "JR Ewing." "JR EWING??!" She strikes Kane across the face and then cries out in a mixture of shock, fury and disgust. Even though we've known this revelation is coming, Pam's reaction--specifically, the depth of emotion Principal brings to it--takes us by surprise. Frankly, who knew she had it in her? It's gripping stuff.
     
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  7. Presea

    Presea Soap Chat Addict

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    I don't know how the heck people can think Mandy is such a tough independent woman when she is stupid enough to let people use her for spying like that. And she was such a hypocrite with JR. Claiming to hate him, and then just letting him kiss her like that. I would have knocked the crap out of him if I were her! Apparently, the only quality that JR seems to value in Mandy is that she is beautiful, as that is all he ever really mentions. Pretty sad that he settles for looks alone.

    Jamie was horrible to turn on the Ewings like that. It's funny how JR always equals the whole Ewing family in the minds of anyone who wants revenge. Everyone just needed to let JR have Ewing Oil. He was going nuts with sharing it with Bobby and people constantly trying to steal it like this. Seriously, just let the kid have his toy. Lol.

    Pam's comment: "And now Jenna needs you." That doesn't necessarily have to mean that Jenna needs a marriage with Bobby, though! Pam, take your chance! It was there!

    JR setting up the fake trail for Mark is definitely one of his more eviler deeds. Pam's reaction to Mr. Kane was priceless, even though you would think she would've put the pieces together herself without him telling her JR's name once she found out that someone had planned all of that. And now it's almost Hong Kong time! In this season, I loved the Mark stuff, and I forgot to mention that I loved Jack as well.
     
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  8. Ms Southworth

    Ms Southworth Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    JR and Mandy exchange harsh words about who's been using who! ;) And Mandy ends up giving in to him??? :confuse: Again, James has "seasoned" this scene with his own reflections! :)


    Classic og memorable scene in which Sue Ellen educates Jenna on how the Ewings operate, and why she (Jenna) should count herself lucky! ;)

    Another example of how well James is at summing things up, this time in regards to Bobby and Pam's split:
     
  9. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    "Legacy of Hate" (Cool title.)



    Following her terrific scene with Gerald Kane at the end of last week's episode, Pam pauses only to change into an entirely different outfit before storming round to Ewing Oil for a confrontation with JR. "You filthy snake," she begins. "Why? Just tell me why! I was out of your life, out of your family's life, off your precious Southfork. Why would you pull such a ghoulish trick on me? Do you really need to hurt me that much?" JR feigns comedic ignorance: "What the hell are you talkin' about? You're babblin' like a lunatic!" "You know what I'm talking about!" she yells, shouting louder than she ever has before. "The trip to San Serrano, the trip to Jamaica, the trip you manipulated me into taking so I'd look for Mark Graison! ... What kind of sick pleasure do you get by sending me island hopping around the Caribbean with Gerald Kane?" JR insists that "someone's been filling your head with lies about me and you're believin' them ... I never liked you a helluva lot, you know that, Pam? But I never thought you were stupid until now." "Stupid? Maybe. Maybe because in the past when I've threatened you, I haven't followed through." This feels like a reference to her vow to JR in the third episode of this season ("If At First You Don't Succeed") not to rest "until all of our family scores are settled"--a somewhat empty threat, as it turned out. "But this time it's different, JR," she assures him now, "because this thing with Mark disgusts me more than anything you've ever done before ... Cliff and your cousin Jamie wanna split up Ewing Oil and they asked me to join them, but I said I wouldn't because of Bobby. Well, that won't stop me anymore. You have no heart. You have no feelings. You can't be hurt like other people. But you have one soft spot, one weakness, and that's Ewing Oil, the only thing you've ever really loved. Well I'm going to join Cliff and I'm going to back him up all the way, and Cliff and Jamie and I are gonna take your company away from you, and then I'm gonna watch you hurt."

    

The scene contains strong echoes of the very first time Pam burst into JR's office, back in "Election" (Season 1) when she announced to JR and Jock: "I'll tell you something. I don't know how to play by your rules, but some day I will and you're going to pay for what you've done ..." "No you won't," JR told her smoothly. "You won't use any of those rules against me or any other Ewing." He's not looking so confident anymore, is he ...?



    Indeed, one of the reasons this scene carries such a punch is that it feels like we're seeing the next stage of the DALLAS saga unfold. It incorporates three of the classic themes of the series--JR v Pam ("I was out of your life, out of your family's life, off your precious Southfork"), the Barnes/Ewing feud, the Pam and Bobby love story--but in a fresh and exciting way. Once it would have been unthinkable that Pam would side with her brother in a fight for Ewing Oil; now she has reached a point of no return, and one gets a sense that nothing will ever be quite the same again (unless, you know, they were to wipe out an entire season as a dream or something).



    For the second time this season, JR returns to the ranch after a heated confrontation with Pam ("what a vicious, vindictive woman") to find Sue Ellen workin' up a sweat in the exercise room. Last time, all it took was a stroke of his magic fingers to reduce Sue Ellen to an icky quiver. This time, however, in spite of him murmuring sweet nothings, ("I may not have been the perfect husband, but there are times you haven't been the perfect wife either, but whenever we really needed each other, we were always available for comfort and help") she remains unmoved. "If you think that your gloomy tales about the trouble you're having at Ewing Oil's gonna turn me on, you're a fool," she snaps. Meanwhile, an unobserved Donna Reed hovers in the doorway, smiling blandly. She listens in dismay as Sue Ellen orders JR to "stay away from me. I don't care what happens to you."



    Later that night, Ellie glides into the kitchen where JR is brooding over a bottle of beer. They go on to discuss both the "little marital difference" she witnessed earlier, and Cliff and Jamie's claim on Ewing Oil. This is the first of two one-to-one scenes mother and son will share before Reed's malfunctioning matriarch is returned to the Ellie Factory to be mended. According to Barbara Curran's indispensable book, the actress "came to the show with the idea of being very open and straightforward with JR, and letting the chips fall where they may." As a result, Miss Ellie appears to take everything her son says in this scene at face value. When he tells her that "if I lose Ewing Oil, I lose Daddy", she reacts as if this were a concept that had never previously occurred to her (and to Donna Reed, it probably hasn't). Consequently, she seem less clued up about JR than either the rest of the family or audience watching at home. The result? One dumb looking old broad. 



    Ellie's uncharacteristic behaviour continues in a subsequent scene when she proceeds to lecture Sue Ellen about her relationship with JR--something Ellie #1 would never have dreamed of doing. "Sue Ellen, listen to me," she commences. "You and JR have had a stormy marriage from the word go. I thought by now that you would have worked out a way of dealing with it." The character is thrown further out of whack as Ellie #2 attempts, in Reed's clipped monotone, to share her new insights about her first-born, ("What you must understand is that these are very rough times for JR ... He's pressured with business problems, he's saddled with goals that Jock set for him, goals he feels that he must achieve ... Ewing Oil and Jock are one and the same in JR's mind") while Sue Ellen regards her almost contemptuously. "I don't buy that for a second, Miss Ellie," she retorts. "JR uses that excuse over and over again ... We'd all be better off if he loses, and if you really think about it and remember that the company no longer belongs to Jock, I'm sure you'll agree with me."



    Like Pam, Mandy is also reeling from the events of last week's episode. Having slept with JR, she is now in a similar position to the one in which Julie Grey found herself in Season 1 -- unable to free herself from a web of deceit spun by both Cliff and JR, each of whom are still determined to keep using her to his own advantage. "It's these meetings I've been having with JR," she tries to explain to Cliff. "I've always thought of myself as being honest. I don't like spying and I don't like pretending when I'm with JR." "You don't understand how important those meetings are now that the fight for Ewing Oil is heating up," Cliff tells her. "You don't understand what's happening to me!" she protests. Their conversation is interrupted by Pam. "I just came to tell you that I'm going to join you fight for Ewing Oil," she tells Cliff. "No more idle threats. I wanna fight this to the finish ..." As Pam and Cliff talk, the camera moves in close on Mandy, alone and trapped. 



    We see later Mandy at Cliff's condo, isolated once again as she observes from the kitchen a meeting between Cliff and Ferguson, his lawyer. "It's safe to assume" Jamie's document is genuine, Cliff is told. "The fight, as I see it" Ferguson concludes, "is whether the court will rule that the agreement is still valid after all these years." He leaves and Cliff turns his attention to Mandy, Ken Kercheval somehow managing to make the line, "What are you doin' in the kitchen?!" laugh out loud funny. "I'm gettin' real excited about this," he continues. "I can see myself redecorating JR's office--take down that picture of Jock, put up a nice big one of Digger." Mandy isn't impressed: "Don't you think we make a neat little threesome--you, Jamie and me? ... Our lives have changed. We're never alone. You're just totally preoccupied with that document ... Because of you, I've spent a lot of time with JR, and for the life of me I can't see the difference between you ... I'm out of your battle with him, and maybe your life." She is about to walk out when Cliff makes what sounds like a genuine apology, ("I care for you") and she agrees to spend the night on the couch ... "alone". 



    The investigations into the circumstances surrounding both Jock, Digger and Jason's oil strike and Naldo's murder continue to inch forward. Pete Adams' trip to Nacogdoches County uncovers an intriguing anomaly about the day after the oil strike, when the the newly formed Ewing Oil company was registered with only one owner--Jock: "As of the 11th of August, Jock Ewing appears to be the only one with a claim to the strike and Ewing Oil." "Well, that's it! Closed case!" crows a delighted JR. "Not so fast," cautions Harve Smithfield. "On the 17th of August," he points out, "the company was divided into thirds, even though it still retained the name Ewing Oil ... Whether we win or lose depends on what happened in that missing week, and we have to find out before Cliff Barnes does." 



    Meanwhile, Scotty questions Veronica Robinson's sister, Julia Cumson lookalike Anne McFadden, at Southfork, but learns little he didn't already know, (having recently spent nearly two hours listening to the anecdotes of the very nice Linda Gray, I know the feeling) aside from the fact that Naldo turned Veronica "onto cocaine. She had a very expensive habit ... Naldo was a terrible man ... I'm not surprised somebody killed him. Hope it wasn't Miss Wade. She seems awfully nice. Now can we talk about TERMS OF ENDEARMENT?" Whoops, wrong interview.

    Later, Scotty's men finally locate the couple that occupied the room next to Jenna and Naldo on the night of the shooting. "They heard nothing," Scotty tells Bobby. "Whoever made that call said they heard the shots," replies Bobby excitedly, "Whoever made that call wanted her to be found with the body. It was a set up!" As with JR and Harve in the earlier scene, it is down to the attorney to bring his client back down to earth: "It's still a theory," says Scotty, "and not good enough for a jury ... My gut feeling is we have to find Veronica Robinson ... It's a big world, Bobby. She could be any place."



    Midway through the episode, Pam breaks the unhappy news to Bobby that she is joining Cliff and Jamie in their fight for Ewing Oil: "Some things have happened that are probably gonna make it difficult between us in the future ... I'm gonna hurt JR as much as he's hurt me ... He's made me live through some of worst moments of my life and I have to do something about that ... I want him to feel the kind of pain I'm feeling!"

    This leads to one of the best fight scenes, and certainly the best 'duel in the pool', of the entire series (as much for the situation it arises out of as for the fight itself) when Bobby confronts JR on the Southfork patio. (Evidently, Uncle Lenny felt the same way as he recreated it almost blow for blow in Season 10.) "I don't know what kinda kicks you get outta hurtin' people, but it's time you started payin' for it," Bobby snarls, before delivering a punch to JR's gut which sends them both splashing into the pool. Clayton and Ray jump in to separate them before Larry's hairpiece can come unglued, as Donnas Reed and Krebbs watch from the sidelines. "That sounds exactly like something you'd do!" hollers Donna K righteously (while looking pretty in a Rupert Bear scarf) after hearing what Pam has accused JR of. "You stay out of this, Donna!" snaps JR from the water, struggling to regain his breath as Bobby is dragged away from him. He then lays the blame for Pam's wild goose chase at Cliff's door: "He figures that if Pam finds out, she'd blame me and that's exactly what she did. Bobby, she's thrown in with Barnes."

    After claiming to have proof of Barnes's involvement, ("I tape all my phone calls and I got a tape of Barnes") a soaking wet JR is frog-marched to Ewing Oil by the Bobster from Atlantis, with Donna and a soggy Ray tagging along as witnesses.

"You know, we could have settled this ourselves," grumbles JR from behind his desk. "We don't need the Krebbs clan here." "Well, I'll tell you what," Donna retorts, "you better be grateful to one member of the Krebbs clan. If it hadn't been for Ray, you could be floatin' face up in the pool right now!" There's something delightfully clever about JR having a tape of a telephone conversation that incriminates Cliff: Not only is it an unexpected pay off from the almost-forgotten meeting between Cliff and JR that followed Jenna leaving Bobby standing at the altar, ("You better meet me and talk about Pam and Bobby now. I don't know about you, but I wanna make sure that they never get back together") but it also incorporates the Season 6 storyline in which JR placed a wire tap on all the Ewing Oil phones in order to catch Cliff's spy (which also resulted in Bobby being seated in JR's chair when he was shot).

    

"Bobby, would you believe me?" asks JR after playing him the call. "Cliff Barnes stood to gain from this more than anybody else and what the hell, it worked for him, didn't it?" "... JR, I'd like to believe you, I really would," Bobby replies, "but if I ever find out you're lyin', I'll do more than take you for a swim in the pool." Somehow, the presence of "the Krebbs clan" adds extra texture to this scene, and also echoes the last time JR lied his way out of trouble so smoothly: when Donna and Ray barged into his office to confront him about his role in Edgar Randolph's suicide attempt. Bobby, Ray and Donna take their leave. "Well I hope you don't mind if I take a taxi," JR calls after them. "I'd like to stay away from all three of you for a while!" He then makes a call to Gerald Kane: "I'd like to suggest you pack up and get as far away from Texas as that airplane will take you ... Nobody, but nobody, double crosses JR Ewing." It's interesting how the amount of effort JR puts into punishing those who have betrayed him varies from person to person--Alan Beam and Kristin are treated to the full McSween/rape/prostitution frame up, while the less glamorous likes of Gerald Kane and George Hicks are dispensed with via a single phone call. 



    It's time for La Tilton's Scene of the Week, in which we find Eddie in bed with ... Lovely Betty?! Soon Lucy is at the door, and Eddie is running around in his tidy whities, bundling Betty into the bathroom and feigning a stomach bug to get rid of Lucy. "I don't like this, Eddie," complains Betty once the coast is clear. "It's humiliatin'! The whole thing makes me feel dirty!" "Betty, would just trust me, huh? You put up with a little humiliation now, it's gonna be worth it. Just think of how much fun we'll have when I have all that money." Guess it's kind of fitting that Lucy's final story-line before her departure should closely resemble her best one--for who is Eddie Cronin but a low rent (and less hairy) Alan Beam? Beam even had his own Betty on the side, slinky Betty Lou Barker played by Laura Johnson.



    Even though DALLAS has relocated to California by this point in the season, the lack of authentic Texan locations is compensated for by some nicely shot outdoor footage which give some otherwise ordinary scenes a kind of autumnal, almost melancholic atmosphere. The first of three such scenes in this episode focuses on Bobby and Jenna, riding to some undefined part of Southfork for a bit of a catch up. "You know, when you didn't show up for the wedding," he begins. "I know," she interrupts. "You thought history had repeated itself, I'd betrayed you again ... That's what Naldo was counting on." She goes on to recount the "bizarre conversation" in last week's episode when Sue Ellen warned her against "the dangers of marrying a Ewing." Jenna's insistence that "I'm not Sue Ellen" echoes Pam's words to Bobby in both Season 1 ("You didn't marry another Sue Ellen") and Season 5 ("Sue Ellen and I get along fine now, but I'm not Sue Ellen.") "I'm a Wade," Jenna continues. ("I was a Southworth," Ellie told Jock at the end of Season 1, also as a way of distinguishing herself from Sue Ellen) "and my father had as much power in his way as Jock Ewing did"--an interesting statement that's never really expanded upon. "I wanna share a life with you. Don't let anything prevent that, huh?" says Jenna, snuggling into Bobby and unaware of the troubled, possibly guilty, expression on his face which will become so familiar during the rest of the season. "I won't," he assures her, even though you know that he's thinking about Pam.

    

Temporarily estranged from Pam and Jamie, Sue Ellen has adopted Jenna as an interim confidante and they have another scene together (again outdoors at Southfork) in this episode. If JR's attempted seduction of Sue Ellen in the exercise room is a companion scene to their similar encounter in "If At First You Don't Succeed", then Sue Ellen and Jenna's scene is a superior twin of the slightly rubbish Sue Ellen/Clayton pool-side conversation from the same episode, when Sue Ellen's weak attempt to explain why she kept returning to JR felt like an admission by the writers that they'd run out of ideas for her character. The theme in this scene is the same ("Isn't there anything you can do?" asks Jenna. "About JR?" replies Sue Ellen, "I think I've done just about everything"), but now it feels like the character, rather than the writers, who is trapped: "I spent a year in therapy," Sue Ellen recalls. "That was after I spent most of days and nights in a drunken stupor. Last year we had separate bedrooms, and I'm trying that again now. I've already divorced him once, I've had affairs. I don't think I'm gonna leave him again though, Jenna. I need to live here at Southfork and I need to raise John Ross here ... but there's something missing. There's a great hollow in my life and I don't think another man or another empty affair is gonna fill it." Hmm, selling saucy underwear should do the trick.

    

There is also a pretty looking, but slightly wimpish, park scene between Clayton and Jamie, two nice but not terribly dynamic characters. "I know how you feel about JR," says Clayton in a bid to get Jamie to withdraw her claim on Ewing Oil, "but a personal vendetta is not a good reason to do what you're doing ... People are involved. People who care about you ..." "My daddy's honour's at stake," bleats Jamie. Coming on like a stetsoned Solomon, Clayton offers her an oil company of his own, which she can name and run in honour of Jason. "You're doing this for Miss Ellie, aren't you?" she replies. "You're a wonderful man, Clayton, but I can't do it. I'm sorry." 



    The repercussions of Clayton and Jamie's discussion are more interesting than the scene itself. Cliff and Mandy's intimate dinner for two (gourmet take out, no less; "I know you're trying and I do appreciate it," says Mandy generously) is interrupted by a visit from Jamie, her conscience freshly pricked by Clayton. "I'm having second thoughts," she tells Cliff. "I didn't realise I'd be hurting so many people." Well, duh! "You and I have got to stick together," insists Cliff. "Cliff's right, Jamie," Mandy pipes up. "You should stick together, but I'm getting out cos three's a crowd ... Cliff, I've got a great idea. Why don't you marry Jamie? That way if you win, you can own two-thirds of Ewing Oil!" She walks out, leaving Cliff open-mouthed at the suggestion. 



    Both Mandy's sarcasm and Jamie's misgivings bleed into Mandy's next scene, a dressing room encounter with JR. "You got what you wanted at your 1900 Club and Cliff got what he wanted, his double agent," she tells JR coolly. "Now I'm going to do exactly what I want, and that's to have nothing to do with either of you ... I have a bit of farewell information for you, and that we can just say good-bye and forget we ever met. Your cousin Jamie is having second thoughts. She might not fight you for Ewing Oil after all." Mandy's steely anger towards both Cliff and JR in this episode is great. However, one neck nuzzle from JR ("I want you as a woman and you can't say you don't feel somethin' for me") is all it takes for her to melt into a helpless, breathy fantasy figure for paunchy middle-aged men everywhere.

    

An optimistic JR relays Mandy's titbit to the rest of the Ewings over breakfast: "I hear our little Jamie Ewing might just change her mind about taking us to court." Then along comes Subpoena Man to wipe the smiles off the faces of JR, Bobby and Ellie. "I've already served Ray Krebbs and Gary Ewing is being served in California." (Only Gary isn't in California at this time--instead, he's in a church in Shula, Tennessee, trying to prevent his amnesiac ex-wife who thinks she's a waitress called Verna from marrying the local haberdasher--or something.) "Cliff Barnes and Jamie Ewing are suing us for their shares of Ewing Oil," reads JR. "They're trying to get an injunction to freeze all the assets of Ewing Oil. That would shut us down!" As a cliff-hanger, this is fairly low key in comparison to recent episode-enders, but it's still pretty gosh darn irresistible. 

     
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  10. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    "Sins of the Fathers"



    Without yet descending into self-parody, there is a strong undercurrent of humour that runs all the way through this latest "fight for Ewing Oil" storyline--as if the writers are aware that they won't be able to generate the same level of gravitas here as they did during the equivalent battle of Season 5.

    

Accordingly, this episode gets off to an fun start as the freshly subpoenaed Ewing boys summon their attorney to an early morning meeting: "JR, I was in the midst of shaving when you called. I gave myself a very severe cut," complains Harve, a small piece of tissue paper clinging to his face. "I'm not interested in your medical report! I wanna legal opinion!" snaps JR. (This brief exchange has prompted more than one forum discussion in which people have wondered why filming wasn't delayed until after George O. Petrie (aka Harve)'s shaving injury had healed. Mind-boggling, on many levels.) "It's gonna make things difficult for you," Harve warns JR and Bobby of Cliff and Jamie's bid to have an injunction placed on Ewing Oil. "Whatever you have to do, do it," JR orders him. "From a legal standpoint, of course," Harve replies. "Well, what did you think I was talkin' about, bribin' the judge?!" JR snaps amusingly. 

These little comic moments, however, are not allowed to detract from the drama of the situation. "We're in trouble, Bobby," JR says gravely once the brothers are alone. "I feel it in my bones. It was bad enough when we were just fightin' Barnes and Jamie, but now Pamela's thrown in with them too ... if she ever thought of herself as a Ewing, that day is long gone. No sir, that little lady is all Barnes now." There's an "end of era" whiff about this line, accompanied as it is by Bobby's sad reaction shot. There might still be eleven episodes of the season to go, but one can already sense some kind of unidentifiable end to "The Bobby and Pam Show" on the horizon. 



    We then cut from one set of siblings in the opening scene to another, as we move from Ewing Oil to Barnes-Wentworth where Pam is in the process of transferring money into a discretionary account ("as I anticipate large legal fees and I would like the money available when I need it") and Cliff is busy predicting JR and Bobby's reactions to current circumstances: "If I know the Ewings, if things start lookin' bad then they're gonna start dumping assets into holding companies, umbrella corporations, anything, because they'd rather bankrupt that company that let me get my fair share." "Well, that's the kinda thing JR would do, not Bobby," Pam replies. Debate over who is morally capable of what? is a recurring thread in this episode. Just as JR criticised Pam to Bobby in the opening scene, Cliff now does the same thing to Pam regarding Bobby. "A Ewing is a Ewing is a Ewing," he insists. "I think deep down in your heart, you know that." 



    Remember JR's mysterious phone call after Bobby and Jenna's non-wedding which turned out to be from Cliff? Well, now it's time for Pam's equivalent: "Hello?" she asks. "Hi. Um. Fine. I'll meet you there. All right. Good-bye." The call is from Bobby, requesting an urgent meeting. Cliff speculates as to his motive. "If you're so worried, why don't you come along?" she suggests. Cliff laughingly declines: "I happen to know what Bobby's temper's like and I don't wanna be anywhere near him today!" This would be reference to the end of Season 1 when Bobby thwacked Cliff after finding out about his affair with Sue Ellen, and the beginning of Season 2 when he almost did the same thing following Baby John's kidnapping. 

Pam abruptly announces that she's leaving work for the day. "Bobby's asked me to meet him for a drink so I think I'll go home and change first," she tells Jackie dreamily. "Might as well look my best." There's something kinda reckless and sexy about the way she then saunters out of the office. The message it leaves us with is very different, but just as strong, as JR's earlier assertion that "if she ever thought of herself as a Ewing, that day is long gone." After all, now that her search for Mark has gone up in smoke, Pam is a free woman once again. 

Her carefree mood does not last long, however.

    She arrives at the Oil Barons' Club (having changed into what appears to be a virtually identical dress to the one she was already wearing, only in a different colour) to be told by Bobby that it was Cliff, not JR, who sent her to the Caribbean looking for Mark. In the same way that she defended Bobby to Cliff earlier, ("Bobby wouldn't do the kind of illegal, underhand things that JR would") she now finds herself doing the same thing in reverse: "Cliff? Don't be ridiculous. Cliff would never do something like that to me." This is a classic Pam caught-between-Cliff-and-the-Ewings situation. Again, we're back to the beginning of Season 2 and Pam defending her brother against Bobby's accusation that he could have kidnapped Baby John. "Pamela, when are you gonna realise just how much your brother hates my family?!" Bobby yelled back then. "What wouldn't Cliff do to get Ewing Oil?" he asks her now. "Bobby, it doesn't matter what you say," she insists. "I know that Cliff loves me and he would never intentionally hurt me. Can you say the same about your brother?" She then exits, possibly heading home to slip into yet another variation of the same outfit. "Is Mrs Ewing coming back?" Cassie asks Bobby dumbly. "No Cassie, I don't think she is," he replies. And there it is again: a seemingly inconsequential remark weighted down by a sense of impending finality.



    Pam and Cliff do not meet again (at least on screen) before the court hearing regarding the Ewing Oil injunction. At the hearing, Pam sits alone, separated from her brother and Jamie as well as from the Ewings. By contrast, Ray sits alongside JR and Bobby at the head of the court, where the brothers demonstrate a united front before the judge. This follows an earlier scene in which Donna reminds Ray of his previous assertion that "the whole family would be better off if Ewing Oil didn't even exist." "I still think that might be true under different conditions," he maintains, "but right now, what Cliff and Jamie are tryin' to do, well, it' like sayin' that Jock stole the company from Jason and Digger ... So whatever the right or wrong of it, Jock was my daddy and when it comes right down to it, I'm not gonna let Cliff Barnes, Jamie Ewing or anybody else drag his name in the mud." "I don't think you should take sides in this," Donna replies, "This is Bobby and JR's fight. Not yours ..." "Lord knows, most of my life I never thought of myself as a Ewing, but I'm gonna let 'em know I want in," he insists. This is the first sign of the conflict that will eventually lead to the Krebbses' separation. The scene is also notable for a rare reference to Donna's brief fling with Cliff four years earlier. "I never did like Cliff Barnes - for a whole bunch of reasons," Ray tells her. "Ray, Cliff and I were together long before you and I were married," she points out, not altogether accurately. "It bothers me every time I see that jerk!" he snarls. It's a little strange to hear Ray talk so vehemently about a character whom he has never actually spoken to and never will. Curiously, a further three of Cliff's relationships (with Julie, Sue Ellen and Afton) will be recalled elsewhere in this episode.



    Like the opening scene, the court hearing is played partially for laughs with the Barnes and Ewing attorneys bickering furiously with one another. Again, we return to theme of who is morally capable of what as Harve takes exception to Ferguson's suggestion that JR and Bobby "would choose to liquidate the assets of, or even bankrupt, the company rather than turn it over to their long life enemy." "Your Honour," Harve begins with enjoyable indignance, "I am outraged by Mr Ferguson's suggestion that the Ewing family, long-respected members of the Dallas oil community, would resort to illegal deception in order to bankrupt its own company." The languid response of the Irish-accented Judge Harding also amuses: "I appreciate your emotion, Mr Smithfield. Beyond that do you have an argument?" In the event, the judge grants a temporary injunction against Ewing Oil while he considers his final decision.

    

Cliff has little chance to celebrate this interim victory before Pam confronts him over Bobby's allegation: "Did you call JR and set up a meeting to talk about keeping Bobby and me apart? Tell the truth, Cliff!" Jamie squirms uncomfortably as she finds herself an unwilling observer of yet another family argument. Cliff admits that he made the call to JR "because I love you; I sincerely think that you and Bobby are poison for each other," but insists that he took no further action: "I never met this Gerald Kane ... I'm tellin' you the truth. You'd better believe me."



    The temporary freeze on Ewing Oil is soon lifted. "Cliff Barnes does not get his injunction," Harve tells JR before sounding a note of caution: "If the judge hears of any impropriety, he might just reverse himself and freeze the company's assets again." Larry Hagman plays JR's wounded reaction tongue-in-cheek: "Harve, that's a terrible thing to say! Do you really think I'd do anything illegal??" Besides, the audience already know JR's up to something because we've seen him in a meeting with Carl Haughnessy, Season 5's dummy corporations expert. (Remember Petro State, the company secretly owned by JR that bought up Holly Harwood's gas stations?) "Are those corporations you set up for me still legal?" JR asks him. "I may be infusing those corporations with a great deal of cash in the near future."

    

The immediate crisis at Ewing Oil averted, JR turns his attention back to Mandy, even loitering outside her apartment in the dark. "You must know how you affect me," he murmurs when she shows up carrying a bag of sticky-out groceries like kitchen roll and a baguette. "I think you feel attracted to me," he tells her. She demurs, citing unresolved issues with Cliff. "I'm not sure I'm over him." Finally, she offers JR a beacon of hope: "Call me, but not for a few days." "Mandy, a very few days please?" begs the lovesick fool.

    

Cliff arrives home to find Mandy on her way out the door, her bags packed. "Please don't go," he begs. "I need you more than ever now." "You mean that?" she asks, softening. "Hey, I'm in the fight of my life!" he replies, "If ever I needed somebody to keep tabs on JR, it's now. I mean, you could help me clinch this thing. The timing's perfect!" She loses it: "You are unbelievable! ... You are a selfish, insensitive, cheap, no class jerk! I tell you something. Next to you, JR Ewing is quite a catch!" This echoes Afton's final line to Cliff eighteen episodes earlier: "You make JR Ewing look like a saint." In contrast to Afton's exit where she slipped away carrying just a dainty little box thing and matching hat, Mandy is weighed down by armfuls of clothes, a heavy suitcase (Pam's from Season 1 if I'm not mistaken), some bags and a large overcoat. The effect is comedic rather than poignant which, given the comparatively brief nature of Cliff and Mandy's relationship, feels appropriate. 



    Clayton and Ellie are MIA for most of this episode, dispatched to Texas City to deal with some refinery emergency or other--whatever it takes to keep Donna Reed off screen. The sidelining of Donna R continues as Donna K admits in her scene with Ray that she has been avoiding her supposed best pal: "I did not want to see Miss Ellie."

    While Ray tags along to Galveston with JR to track down Alf Brindle, the only surviving eyewitness to Jock, Jason and Digger's 1930 oil strike, and Sue Ellen takes off on a mysterious errand, Jenna is left behind at the ranch to brood and bake bread. This is one of the very few occasions in which we see someone who is neither Mexican nor BBG cooking in the Southfork kitchen (although I do seem to remember Donna whipping something out of an oven during the tête-de-veau scene of Season 6). Donna drops by and she and Jenna share their first one to one scene together, (a brief exchange at the Good Ol' Boys Charity Rodeo notwithstanding) before going on to develop the weirdly intense and deeply phoney friendship they share during Season 8, and a much more difficult and interesting relationship in Season 9. Jenna explains that her interest in baking comes from her father. "Most girls learn from their mothers, I guess. Mine couldn't cook a thing. She never did teach me anything." This is the only reference in the series to Jenna's mother. With the investigation into Naldo's death yielding no fresh leads (or plot developments), she is on the verge of cracking up, and PP does a not too bad job of conveying the stress that she's under: "I'm so frightened ... Everything points to me killing Naldo ... Maybe he did try to rape me, maybe I did grab a gun and shoot him ... I just don't know anymore ... God, what if I really did kill him?!" 



    Meanwhile, a fur-trimmed Sue Ellen (looking, I must grudgingly admit, lovelier than she has all season) visits Barnes Wentworth for the very first time. After a brief encounter with Cliff in reception, (during which Ken Kercheval acts his socks off, hoping perhaps to alert Katzman and co to the potential of another Cliff/Sue Ellen storyline) she is shown into Pam's office where she offers Pam one of her periodic olive branches. No longer the pushover she once was, Pam plays it cool: "You made your feelings very clear that day at my house when you accused Cliff of trying to shoot JR ... I hurt so much that day. You were the only one I had left that I felt close to or that I could talk to." "Pam, I don't even think that an apology can make up for what I said," Sue Ellen grovels. "I wish that we could be friends again." "Has something happened between you and JR?" Pam asks cynically. "Doesn't something always? I know that things couldn't be at a worse point between the Ewings and the Barnes, but I would like our friendship to be apart from all that, and I hope that can happen." "I hope so too," replies Pam (uh oh, maybe she is still a pushover). "Despite everything I try, a little part of me always feels that I belong at Southfork," she adds poignantly. "I know that that can never happen now that I've thrown in with Cliff"--there's that note of finality again--"but I hope that we can be friends." 



    Donna Reed finally shows up for a pre-dinner cocktail scene, during which Bobby comes out with an interesting aside: "Mama, you remember Lee Evans, the pilot who saw Daddy's helicopter go down? ... Well, [he] is being questioned about ... that governmental investigation into drug trafficking in South America." Nothing more is ever made of this, but it's presumably a reference to the plot of "Who Killed Jock Ewing?", the tacky novel published in 1985 in which the character of Evans appears. (I say presumably as I gave up on the book after two attempts; it's not very good.) Perhaps this was an aborted attempt to lay some groundwork before introducing the Jock Ewing murder mystery (which the novel doesn't bother to solve) into Season 8, before the Ben Stivers/Wes Parmalee/Wyatt Haines lookalike plot device proved a more intriguing idea.

    

JR returns tight-lipped from his meeting with Alf Brindle in Galveston. "That man is a gold-mine of information," he tells Bobby, Ellie and Clayton tantalisingly, before going upstairs to change out of his safari jacket. He runs into Sue Ellen on her way out to dinner, another dead animal draped daintily around her shoulders. "I went to Barnes-Wentworth this morning to see--" she begins. "You went to see Cliff Barnes?" he interrupts. "Are you really tryin' to rub my nose in it by goin' out with that idiot?" "Well he must have something," she replies teasingly, standing in his bedroom doorway. "Look at all the women the two of you have shared--Julie Grey, Afton, myself." (Points for continuity here as there's no mention of Marilee Stone, whose affairs with JR and Cliff Sue Ellen has no knowledge of.) "As a matter of fact, Cliff is a wonderful lover," she adds wickedly. 

This is the final straw for JR who slams the bedroom door and grabs Sue Ellen by the furry arms. "I'm not gonna let you do this to me," he tells her. "I'm not going to do it to you," she taunts, "I'm gonna do it to Cliff. You never really wanted me anyway, so why does it bother you what I do?" "Because, honey, you belong to me," he replies, pushing her onto the bed. "You still want me, don't you?" he laughs, kissing her. "No, get off me!" she protests. "I know what you like," he insists. She starts kissing him back. Oh no, one thinks for a second, they're gonna get back together yet again and it's gonna be really boring ... but then she knees him the groin. "And I know what you like," she murmurs, "and I'm sure that wasn't it." With that, she moves out of shot, leaving JR behind grimacing in pain.

    It's a really good scene--a call back to the excitingly visceral JR/Sue Ellen bedroom battles of the early years, (see "Black Market Baby", "Rodeo", "House Divided", "Taste of Success") where their antagonism would spill over into physical violence. JR's been kitty-footing around Sue Ellen for far too long--it's been three years since he pinned her up against a wall, for instance--but happily, that's all about to change.

    

In Charlene Tilton's Scene of the Week, Lucy and Eddie canoodle after breaking ground on their new business venture, unaware they are being observed by a seething Lovely Betty from inside her car. If only she'd remembered her fibreglass wig, Lovely Betty could have gone careering into them, Katherine Wentworth style. 



    This episode contains a troubling scene in which Pam receives a phone call from nice, kind Dr Miller, the Caribbean medic who introduced her to the doctor who claimed to have seen Mark in Hong Kong, and she is so rude to him! "You're really good to the very end, aren't you?" she snaps. "Why don't you stop this charade? I know that this entire chase for Mark is a phoney, that you and everyone else was bought and paid for by JR Ewing!" "That's a very insulting thing for you to say, Mrs Ewing," replies Dr Miller, sounding all hurt and Jamaican and lovely. "If you really want to find Mr Graison, can you take the chance that what Dr Matsuda told you wasn't the truth? ... Could you ever forgive yourself if you didn't follow up on every lead?" She ends the call without apologising. We never see or hear of Dr Miller again, so one can only hope Pam sent him a postcard of apology from Hong Kong or her subconscious or wherever. "Cliff, I've just had the strangest phone call," she tells her brother thoughtfully. "So have I," he counters. "From Bobby! The Ewings want to meet us tonight. It's about who really owns Ewing Oil!" Could this be any more exciting?

    

To the last scene of the episode, and if it was strange to Sue Ellen at Barnes-Wentworth, it's feels even more incongruous to see the Ewing boys, Ray included, setting foot inside Cliff's condo-townhouse-thingy. "Nice cosy little place you got here," smarms JR. (This is his and Ray's only visit to Barnesville; Bobby becomes an occasional visitor in the last few years of the show.) JR, Ray and Bobby face off against Cliff, Jamie and Pam. Accompanying the brothers is Alf Brindle. In a season full of great supporting characters, this bashful, boozy Walter Brennan-esque eccentric is one of my favourites. (In fact, when I first saw Walter Brennan in RIO BRAVO a few years after this episode originally aired, I was dumb enough to think he was the actor who'd played Brindle. It's actually Eddie Firestone, who will return in Season 12 as murder victim "Rabbit" Hutch who drowns in a fish tank or hangs from a noose or chokes on the implausibility of the script--I forget which.) 



    JR introduces Cliff and Jamie to Brindle as Digger and Jason's respective offspring. "This is Pamela Barnes," he then adds. "I'm not sure if you ever met her father." With some fortification from Cliff's liquor cabinet, Alf then takes centre-stage, and starts to tell his story. ("Pay attention to who stole what from whom," JR urges Cliff's camp.) "You know," Alf begins, "Digger was a real good friend of mine. Oh yeah, we did a lot of drinkin' and playin' together. He always knew how to smell out where the oil was, that Digger did .... and the fights them three had, I tell you!" "You mean, the Ewing brothers against my daddy?" asks Cliff. "Digger and Jason," Brindle corrects him. "They were the ones doin' most of the fightin'. Oh yeah, many's the time Jock had to come between them cos Jason really hated Digger, you know? He was all the time tryin' to get Jock to get rid of him, that they didn't need him, that he was just a drunk--which he mostly was--but Jock wouldn't hear of it, no sir ... Jock took care of Digger. He kept him on the payroll, even when he was off doin' his drinkin', and he kept Jason from doin' him any real damage ... Beggin' your pardon, Miss Jamie, and I hate to say it, but your daddy was a black-hearted man, and he and Jock were all the time goin' at each other over Digger, and I gotta tell you that Mr Jock Ewing was near a saint pullin' up with the two of them!" 



    So Jock was "near a saint" and Jason "a black-hearted man". Up until the invention of his ghostly brother, Jock was a sufficiently complex and ambiguous creation to incorporate both saintly and black-hearted aspects within his character. Adored by his wife and worshipped by his sons, he was nonetheless capable of ruining men in the name of business and impregnating women at times of international crisis. Now that the evil spirit of Jason has emerged to absorb all the negative aspects of his personality, Jock is free to be remembered as a blameless and noble hero. Rest assured, there'll be no more Tom Owens or Margaret Hunters or Jonas Culvers to come out of the woodwork and tarnish his reputation.

    

"This old man's rambling doesn't mean anything legally," shrugs Cliff uneasily. "Really?" challenges JR. "Well, what if he were to testify in court? Then Dallas and the whole world would know the truth about the Barnes/Ewing relationship. All that talk all those years about my daddy stealing from Digger, and all the time he was tryin' to protect him. Well, you just go ahead with your little lawsuit. Maybe it's time the truth comes out." The suggestion that Cliff and Jamie would consider surrendering their claim to millions and millions of dollars in order to safeguard their fathers' reputations is kind of quaint, and very DALLAS. "If I had a daddy like Digger Barnes," continues JR, unaware of Alf reaching inside his jacket pocket, "I'd do just about anything to keep the whole world from knowing the truth about him." "Another thing you reminded me of, Mr Ewing," Brindle pipes up, pulling out a package, "when Digger and Jock had their big falling out, well, Digger gave this to me. I guess he was afraid of getting drunk and losin' it or somethin'. Anyways, we parted paths along about then, and the only times we saw each other after that, we'd start drinkin' and clean forget that we ever had it ... Don't even rightly know what's in it, but I guess it belongs to you now, son," he says, handing the packet to Cliff who opens it, smiles and shows its contents to Jamie and Pam. "It must be Digger's copy splitting Ewing Oil in thirds," he says. "It proves that document's real ... Thank-you, Mr Brindle. JR, I wanna thank you for finding him. You've just made our case. Now I'm sure Jamie and I are gonna take Ewing Oil away from you." Ha ha!
     
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  11. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    "The Brothers Ewing"



    As the episode begins, JR, Ray and Bobby return to Southfork from their meeting with the Barnes gang. “Everything was goin' perfectly,” JR reports to the waiting members of the family - Miss Ellie, Clayton and Donna. “Brindle put the lie to everything Barnes had been sayin' about Daddy for years, that contrary from stealing from Digger, Daddy actually stood up for him, and it was Jason who wanted rid of him ... Then, all of a sudden, Brindle reached into his pocket and brought out this packet that Digger had given him years ago for safe keeping, and handed it to Barnes ... and there it was: Digger’s copy of the same document Jamie has.”

    If JR’s expecting sympathy, he doesn’t get it. “For god sake, JR, couldn’t you have foreseen something like that?” thunders Clayton, sounding more like Jock than the treading-on-eggshells step-father we’ve grown accustomed to. “All I can say is that Cliff Barnes ought to be very grateful to you. It looks like you’ve just provided him with the proof he needs that Jamie’s document is real!” 

Clayton's outburst feels a little out of character, and JR's response of “Wonderful! That’s all we need, a lecture from Clayton Farlow!” does not seem unreasonable. Still, better an uncharacteristic Clayton than a boring one, and the reactions of the rest of the family are interesting. Surprisingly, Ray is the first to come to his half-brother’s defence, (“Don’t jump on JR, it wasn’t his fault!”) followed by Bobby. As the men argue, the women silently observe. It is clear that Donna is disturbed to see Ray siding against Clayton, while Miss Ellie seems uncertain as to whether or not her husband’s outburst was warranted. (If there is one word that sums up Donna Reed’s portrayal of Miss Ellie it is “uncertain”.) 



    “Didn’t you see the look on Miss Ellie’s face when you had that fight with Clayton last night?” Donna asks Ray the next morning, in a wintry looking scene that somehow accentuates the unspoken sense of melancholy surrounding their relationship. “This is really upsetting her ... Clayton, in his own way, is as concerned with what this court case could mean to the family as Miss Ellie is.” “Then he oughta understand that me and Bobby and JR are together on this,” replies Ray. “We’re brothers fightin’ a common enemy, and he oughta just stay out of it ... Clayton was wrong to interfere last night, and you’re wrong to interfere now.”



    “I learned long ago never to underestimate the hold Jock still has on his sons,” Miss Ellie later tells Donna. “If the boys let [Cliff] win, it’s like admitting that Jock stole the company from Digger, and none of them, especially Ray, can let that happen.” Of all the DALLAS characters, Ray is perhaps the most consistently written. Nearly all of his actions are informed by his need to measure up to Jock - the man whom he hero-worshipped for most of his life, but only knew as a father for a few months. While JR and Bobby were given the contest for control of Ewing Oil in which to prove themselves, Ray’s daddy issues remain unresolved. 

“I guess what’s bothering me is Ray becoming involved with JR,” Donna admits to Ellie. “Most of [JR’s] methods tend to be pretty dirty. Ray is open and honest. What if he gets dragged into something that he has no control over?” “Look, Donna, I’m not naive," responds Ellie naively, "I know JR very well. I know that he’s capable of all sorts of things. But somehow I’m hoping that, because of what’s at stake, he’ll act differently.” Huh? Because of what’s at stake (i.e. two-thirds of Ewing Oil and his beloved father’s reputation) she hopes JR will act differently? Once again, it becomes impossible to not to feel that, as well as the actress, the character of Miss Ellie has been replaced by an impostor, and that the rest of the family are just too polite to mention it. 



    Far from “acting differently”, JR has already laid down a challenge to his two brothers: “I wanna know where you stand because, with you or without you, I’m gonna do what has to be done ... I’m talkin’ about gettin’ down in the mud and sluggin’ it out. This is no gentleman’s game.” Specifically, he’s talking about using holding corporations to hide Ewing Oil assets so that, in the event that Cliff and Jamie do gain access to the company, they won’t gain access to its fortune. Before Bobby and “open and honest” Ray can debate the ethics of this proposal, JR plays his trump (i.e. Daddy) card: “You see that paintin' hangin’ up there? Daddy’s picture used to hang in that spot before it got shoved off to Ewing Oil. How long do you think his picture’s gonna hang at Ewing Oil if Cliff Barnes and Jamie Ewing take over?”



    Ironically, over at Barnes HQ, JR’s attitude is being mirrored by Cliff, as Jamie’s dedication to the cause begins to waver in light of recent revelations: “You know, it’s so unbelievable. My whole life, I always thought that it was Jock who was the bad guy ..." So did we, Jamie, so did we. "... And now it turns out it was he who protected Digger from my own daddy. If all that’s true, I don’t want the whole world to know about it ... Maybe the money’s not as important as what we stand to lose.” "The case is stronger with you than without you," Cliff replies, "but now that I have this document, I can go it alone and believe me, if I have to, I will."



    While Jamie wrestles with her convictions, Bobby and Ray arrive at their decision. "JR, there are limits even when you’re playing dirty," declares Bobby. "Whatever we do, Ray and I don’t want it to hurt the family." Bobby's being a little disingenuous here. As his old pimp pal Carl Huckstead told him back in Season 5: “A little blackmail is kind of like being a little pregnant. You’re in for the distance, my friend.”



    When Clayton’s refusal to get involved in the Ewing boys’ scheme (“What you’re asking me to do is legally and morally wrong!”) prompts accusations of disloyalty from JR, (“You have one chance to prove you’re a member of this family and you turn your back on us?”) it becomes necessary for Miss Ellie to get her bouffant out of the clouds and finally take a stand, one way or the other. "Mama ... I can’t believe you'd ever turn your back on the family or Ewing Oil," says JR confidently. This prompts a nicely written, indifferently delivered speech by Donna Reed: "JR, Ewing Oil was a part of my life before you were born. It saved this ranch and it’s the backbone of our family fortune, but as much as we love another, it’s caused us all a great deal of grief ... I don’t want to turn my back on my family or Ewing Oil but if a choice is to be made, I choose my husband, and whatever decision he make is mine as well." 



    Although much, if not most, of Ellie's behaviour during the Reed reign is out of character, there's something about this decision to side with her husband that rings true. While we might remember the character most fondly as tough and independently minded, ("Get me the shotgun out of the hall closet!") she was primarily a woman of her time: a strong woman for sure, but a strong woman in man's world (not to mention a man's TV series). Added to which, if we can see our way through the fog created by her recent facial and personality transplants, Miss Ellie's relationship with Clayton is very different to the one she had with Jock. I think it's do with power. In some ways, she was the stronger partner in her first marriage because she wed Jock knowing that he loved her more than she did him. While that may have changed over the years, she nevertheless had the edge over him from the very beginning. Certainly, she was never afraid to let him have it with both barrels, as she proved several times in Seasons 2 and 3. 

Clayton, however, came into her life when she was at her most vulnerable, and she leant on him emotionally the way she had originally leant on Jock financially. She is now the weaker, or more dependent, partner in the relationship. This might explain Clayton's sometimes boorish behaviour towards her later in the series. (Tellingly, he, unlike Jock, never refers to her as "Miss" Ellie after their marriage.) 



    With the Brothers Ewing after victory at any cost, and Clayton, Ellie and Donna all taking the high road, there is still one family member's point of view unaccounted for (and I'm not referring to Lucy, happily oblivious to everything going around her in this episode, including Eddie’s continuing affair with Lovely Betty). During the argument between the brothers and Clayton that opens the episode, Sue Ellen watches silently from the staircase. Her presence, unacknowledged by the family, gives the scene an extra dimension, and symbolises her emotional estrangement from JR and, subsequently, the rest of the Ewings. Perhaps more than anyone, Sue Ellen knows how devastated JR would be to lose Ewing Oil, (“The very idea of it just terrifies me”) but for her own sake, she cannot allow herself to either defend or comfort him.



    “I’ve always been the one that you’ve turned to, haven’t I?" she asks, standing on the threshold of his bedroom. "From now on, you’re gonna have to turn to all your other girls for comfort. Let them hold you, listen to you, try to understand you like I did all those years. You’re never gonna get that kind of sympathy from me again.” If only that were true.

    

The following afternoon, Sue Ellen enters the enemy camp, the offices of Barnes-Wentworth, looking for Pam. Instead, she finds Cliff, who invites her into his office. “It’s been a long time since you and I have really talked,” he remarks. Indeed it has: it's almost three years since their conversation at Dallas Memorial Hospital following Cliff’s suicide attempt. While he crows about his changing fortunes, (“I have to tell you, Sue Ellen, my life is pretty good these days”) Sue Ellen again plays the role of detached observer: “You know, Cliff, it’s funny. After all these years, the two of you fighting, I never thought you’d actually win. But this time, it might just happen.” "So how would Mrs Ewing feel if I did beat her husband?" he asks. "I have no feelings about that at all," she replies. She contradicts herself with her parting words: "You may not believe this, but I wish you all the luck in the world." The suggestion that Sue Ellen is secretly rooting for the enemy echoes her position in "Election" (Season 1), when she boozily admits to Pam after Cliff's senatorial defeat: "I was just thinkin' how nice it would have been if JR didn't get what he wanted for once."

    

The scene is also notable for Sue Ellen's first reference to her future nemesis (and, in a strange way, saviour) when she talks to Cliff about "the girl you brought to the Oil Baron's Ball ... She's beautiful." 

Linda Gray conveys Sue Ellen's veneer of cool indifference expertly. However, by removing herself so decisively from the centre of the action, the character is left with nowhere to go dramatically. Here the writers come up with a temporary solution, giving her somewhere to go geographically, as Pam invites her to accompany her to Hong Kong where, she has been informed, Mark Graison is seeking treatment.

    Weirdly, the scene between Pam and Sue Ellen which takes place at Pam's home is prefaced by an establishing shot of the original exterior of her house, which we saw during Seasons 5 and 6. When we return to Pam's place later in the episode, for a scene between her and Bobby, ("Nobody hopes that you find what you're looking for more than I do," he tells her) a shot of the more recent exterior--the one that has been shown this season--is used instead. 



    Knowing that JR was behind Pam’s last foreign excursion, Sue Ellen offers her husband a warning: “If I find out that you had anything to do with this, then I will hurt you so badly that you will never recover!” Bearing in mind that it was only last week when she kneed him in the groin, one has to wonder what she has planned for an encore. Something involving chopsticks, perhaps?



    Alf Brindle makes one last appearance in this episode, to solve the mystery of why Jock was registered as sole owner of Ewing Oil the day after the original strike, only for the company to be split into thirds five days later. Turns out he was the only one able to register the claim, as Jason and Digger were in jail following a bar fight the night before. "Listen, in them days you didn’t wanna wait around too long before registering a strike, you know," Brindle explains. "You had to register in person back then." As JR says, "that answers the question that's been bothering me, but it doesn't help our case a hell of a whole lot." What's more interesting about Brindle's story is the way it re-appropriates previously established pieces of back story, but divides the role played by the once morally culpable Jock into two distinct identities, Blameless Jock and Evil Jason. 

Compare Brindle's anecdote with a similar one Sam Culver tells in "The Outsiders" (Season 1):

    

Sam: "They’d just elected me Justice of the Peace the week before and here they come, pullin' Digger Barnes and Jock up in front of me. It seems they just hit one. Digger come into town to drink the bar dry, buyin' for everyone. In come ol' Jock, grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and hauled him out. Well, that didn’t set too good with the boys he was buyin' the drinks for, so there ensued one of the finest brawls ever to take place west of the Mississippi. Gave 'em both a week in the pokey."



    Alf: "The night the well came in, we had one hell of a celebration, I mean, the loud mouth was really flowin'. Me and Jason and Digger, we all got drunk as skunks and tore up the town. The sheriff threw us in the pokey for three days. Jock was smarter than the rest of us. He had a few drinks and sacked out early." 



    In Sam's story, both Digger and Jock spend a week in jail. Therefore, Alf's explanation as to why Jock put the claim in his own name wouldn't apply. Only the retroactive invention of Jason can fully clear Jock of the allegations made Digger in the very first episode: "[Jock] went to register the claim and I stayed there and I drilled, and when I thought we had enough ... I said 'That’s a-plenty'. And he looked at me and laughed in my face and said that I owned nothin', nothin' at all!"

    

There are only six scenes in this episode that don't focus on Cliff and Jamie’s claim to Ewing Oil. Of these, three involve Pam's trip to Hong Kong, one is a conversation between Lucy and Ray, ("I can't remember when I've seen you look so happy," he tells her) and the remaining two deal with Jenna and the repercussions of the publicity surrounding her upcoming trial. In the first, she tells Bobby that Charlie is being bullied at school. In the second, Scotty Demarest shows her headlines from newspapers in Laredo. "They're trying me in the press!" she gasps, sounding a little bit like Heather Mills McCartney, only less shrill. (Speaking of whom, Priscilla Presley must give thanks each day that she only married and divorced the King of Rock 'n' Roll and not a sacred Beatle.) Scotty maintains that the negative press is a good thing, as it will strengthen his argument for getting the trial relocated to Dallas: "I'd feel much better arguin' this case in front of a Dallas jury than one from Laredo." Hmm, can I hear the sound of straws being clutched at?
     
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  12. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    "Shattered Dreams" An apt title perhaps as this was, according to Barbara Curran's book, the last ever 'regular' DALLAS episode (i.e. not "Swan Song") to top the US weekly ratings.



    The first four scenes deal with the aftermath of Miss Ellie's decision to side with Clayton against her sons. First of all, a boozy JR turns up at Mandy's door. "I'm havin' a pretty rough time," he explains. "I don't have anyone I can talk to ... The Ewings always used to close ranks whenever there was trouble from anybody outside the family, but now things have changed. My brothers and I are on one side, and my mama and her new husband are on the other and I tell ya, it's just damn painful." I think we're meant to find this vulnerable side of JR more impressive than we actually do, ("Is this really JR Ewing, the killer in the oil business everyone talks about?" asks a wide-eyed Mandy) but it's nothing we haven't seen before. Larry Hagman seems to find it hard to do vulnerable without doing maudlin and self-piteous at the same time. Mandy is sympathetic towards him - up to a point. "I won't sleep with you," she tells him firmly. (Oh yeah, she's such a tramp.)



    Back at Southfork, Bobby gives Jenna his perspective on the same situation: "I'm caught right between Mama and the memory of Daddy. What JR and I are doing is ... right on the edge of illegal." While a similar confession provoked a horrified reaction from Pam two years earlier ("The Bobby I love would rather be dead!") Jenna's response is more pragmatic. "Then agreeing to it must be difficult for you," she says. "I would do just about anything to protect Daddy's company, within limits," he admits. "Sometimes I wonder what your father would have thought about the things his sons are doing. Would he approve?" she wonders. "Daddy? Absolutely," he replies, which indicates that not everyone has yet forgotten that Jock wasn't always the whiter than white good guy he's been posthumously painted as. 



    "I know why the boys are fighting so hard," Ellie is telling Clayton in their bedroom. "They need to cling to the one tangible thing that represents Jock." It could just be that I've grown accustomed to her, but Donna Reed doesn't seem half bad in this scene. "I suddenly realised that my priorities have changed," she continues. "I closed a door on the past and I am no longer willing to go any lengths to protect the things that Jock left behind ... What's important to me now is you and our future together." The "new Ellie, new attitude" we see here makes sense for the character's development, and for a fleeting moment, Reed's recast almost does as well.



    "All of us living together at Southfork may be difficult for the family," frowns Clayton. "Well if anyone feels it necessary to leave Southfork they can, but it won't be us," Ellie replies firmly. So much for keeping the family together, which has been Miss Ellie's #1 priority since the series began. Of course, she and Clayton are precisely the ones who do end up leaving Southfork, and the first indication of a division between Ellie and the rest of the Ewings that could one day result in her sailing away on a never-ending cruise can be detected in this scene.

    

If Pam's was the voice of moral indignation during Season 5's fight for the company, it has now been replaced by Donna's. "Ray, what you're doing is dishonest," she tells her hubby on the Krebbses' new look bedroom set. "I don't like the idea of you working with JR on these illegal deals. Honey, it's wrong!" She even makes the subversive suggestion that no one else in the family has dared to (although Sue Ellen sort of implied it during her "floating head" scene with Miss Ellie) that Jock may have deliberately swindled Jason and Digger. "All of this happened back during the Depression. Times were really tough then. You don't know what Jock might have done," she reasons, perhaps remembering the part Jock played in Jonas Culver's suicide during the same period. 



    This quartet of opening scenes aside, the fight for Ewing Oil takes a back seat in this instalment after dominating the action over the last few weeks. In its place, Bobby and Scotty's investigation into Naldo's murder, which effectively stalled after Jenna was released from prison, gets a new lease of life when they receive a call from a frightened Veronica Robinson ("My own life is at stake") offering to testify for Jenna in return for "round the clock protection until the killer is in jail." Of course, we never find out exactly who or what it is that has Veronica so spooked, but as she doesn't recognise Naldo's actual killer when he later sits next to her on the plane, we might as well assume that she's somehow discovered Katherine Wentworth is behind the whole murderous enchilada.

    More good news follows as Jenna's trial is relocated to Dallas, leaving Scotty cheerfully anticipating many happy hours of jury tampering. "Maybe I do have a chance!" gurgles Jenna. "Things are finally starting to go our way!" smiles Bobby. Such reckless optimism in soap-land can only mean one thing: disaster is nigh.

    

There is something decidedly undignified, almost pathetic, about the sight of JR waking up fully dressed in a chair in Mandy's otherwise empty apartment. For a moment he seems confused about his whereabouts, but then chuckles indulgently when he sees seeing the cluster of sexy photos of Mandy on the wall. (Yep, Mandy has sexy pictures of herself on the wall. If JR is looking for clues as to what makes his obscure object of desire tick via a glimpse at her personal surroundings, all he finds are his own lustful desires reflected back at him.) Reassuringly, he reverts from pitiful back to sneaky when he overhears Cliff leave a final ultimatum message on Mandy's answering machine ("If you don't call me back, that's it") and pockets the tape.



    JR is even more devious when he enlists the aid of Conrad Buckhouser, an all-purpose enigmatic European type, to help him defraud not only Cliff and Jamie, but Bobby too: "With your international contacts, I figure you could help me convert some of my assets into cash ... I have some offshore wells that I wanna sell to a corporation - that I control of course ... I've arranged to have them declared nearly depleted." "But they're not?" prompts the knowing Nordic. "No. The price is $15,000,000 each." "And you would like to me to buy them from this ... corporation for how much?" "$40,000,000 each ..." "And you could like the cash from this transaction played in a Swiss bank account." "Yes, the total oughta come to between 100 and 200 million dollars ... a personal account ... My brother doesn't have to know about this."

    After following Bobby around like a lost puppy for the first half of this season, it's good to see that JR is still capable of stabbing his baby bro in the back--something he hasn't actually done since Season 5. I'm pretty certain Bobby never learns of this deception, ("You don't think I'd do anything behind your back at a time like this, do you?" JR asks him later in the episode, employing the same injured "Aww, Bob" tone he uses when he's being disappointingly sincere) and slightly less certain that it's the contents of this Swiss bank account that gives JR the start-up money he needs to finance his own company in Season 10.

    

Meanwhile, Pam's search for Mark--also dormant for several weeks--shifts into gear as she and Sue Ellen jet to the Orient for DALLAS's first overseas shoot. "Can you imagine Sue Ellen and Pam tryin' to find Mark Graison in Hong Kong?" sighs JR. "They'll be lucky if they can find their way out of the airport." For the purposes of this trip, Sue Ellen reverts to Nice Woman Linda Gray mode. (How else can she be an attentive sounding board for Pam except by stepping completely out of character?) The plane journey affords Pam her first real opportunity to be candid, as opposed to defensive, about how she feels regarding the search. "I'm beginning to have mixed feelings about why I'm doing this," she admits. "I still care so much about Bobby." "Then why are you going through all this trouble to find Mark," asks Sue Ellen, "the salvage operation to find the plane, the trip to the Caribbean?" "Loyalty, obligation, I don't know. A sense of duty. Mark loves me. I can't turn my back on that." Sue Ellen then makes the point previously expressed only once, by Mandy, that "if Mark staged that accident he didn't want you to find him."

    We're also treated to a rare titbit about the early days of JR and Sue Ellen's marriage as Sue Ellen complains about how little travelling they've done together. (Lady, no one on this show does much travelling. Whaddaya think this is, DYNASTY?) "When we were first married," she tells Pam, "we made a couple of quick trips to Europe and one to Far East, but JR was always trying to combine business with a little pleasure, a very little pleasure." While I think I understand what she's getting at, the phrasing here seems kinda jumbled - unless "a little pleasure" refers to picking up other women?

    

"Isn't it beautiful?" Sue Ellen gasps as soon as she emerges from the plane, having apparently never seen a airport runway before. Pam's total disinterest in her surroundings makes a nice counterpoint to Sue Ellen's parochial touristy observations ("I think there are more skyscrapers here than there are in downtown Dallas! ... I think Hong Kong's the furtherest away from JR that I could possibly be!") and helps prevent the location scenes from becoming too traveloguey. 

"Why can't Dr Matsuda meet us?" demands Pam of Mr Chan, the doctor's emissary. The short answer is, cos Lorimar ain't gonna pony up for an American based Asian actor to fly out to Hong Kong when a local one will do just as well. "I'll arrange to take you to the hospital tomorrow where this Mr Graison, or Mr Swanson as he calls himself, is having treatment," Mr Chan assures Pam. "Mr Chan, are you sure that Mark Graison is in that clinic?" she asks. "Of course," he smiles.

    Can it really be this easy? Watching these episodes back in 1985, before the invention of spoilers or the internet or pretty much anything other than the wheel, one genuinely didn't know what was going to happen: Is Mark alive? Is Katherine behind Jenna's arrest? Are they both coming back? How will Bobby die? It was all quite exciting. 



    Sue Ellen drops her Nice Woman Linda Gray act just once, when a fellow Texan approaches her and Pam in the bar of their hotel: "'Scuse me, ma'am, I'm forgettin' all my manners. My name's Benjamin Allen Moody. I'm from Waco." He extends a hand which Sue Ellen ignores. "I was wonderin' if you might be related to ol' JR?" "We're distant cousins, but my family hasn't spoken to his family for several years," she replies, before freezing him out. "It amazing," she then observes to Pam with a slightly Mae West swagger. "You have to fly halfway across the world to run into a jerk like that." Thing is, the way the guy plays the scene, the jerk wasn't a jerk at all--he's real bashful and polite. Ah well, perhaps Waco still holds bad associations for Sue Ellen. Wasn't that where Luther Frick and Payton Allen were from? 



    The parallel journeys of Jamie and Mandy, which began when they pitched up more or less simultaneously in opposing camps (Ewing and Barnes respectively) and then swapped sides halfway through the season, continues in this episode as the idea of marriage to a lead character is floated for both of them. First, Cliff cannot resist gloating about his recent good fortune to Jordan Lee: "I'm gonna control two-thirds of Ewing Oil, no doubt about that." "... Jamie's a Ewin'," Jordan reminds him. "How can you sure when push comes to shove, she won't side with her kin? ... Family ties can be very strong ... Cliff, you're gonna have to do somethin' to guarantee Jamie will stay on your side." This is a less blatant echo of a suggestion made by Mandy to Cliff three episodes earlier, ("Why don't you marry Jamie? That way if you win, you can own two-thirds of Ewing Oil!") but only now does the idea take root in Cliff's head. Later the same day, he invites Jamie to dinner. "Cliff, you know what would be nice?" she asks. "I've had this real hankering for Oriental food. Would you mind if we went to a Chinese restaurant?" His delighted expression says it all: this must be love! 



    Meanwhile, Mandy comes home to find flowers and balloons and "the key to your future". "It's your new home," JR then explains as he shows her around a swish new apartment. "I'm buying it for you." "... And then what?" she asks, impressively unimpressed. "You visit me here once or twice a week, mostly in the afternoon? Or once a while, we have intimate little dinners away from prying eyes? ... I won't be a kept woman. I pay my own way." "Well you did live with Cliff Barnes," he replies. "OK," she counters. "I'll live with you if you want then, at Southfork." Not since Leslie Stewart has a woman challenged JR so directly. Unlike Leslie, however, Mandy has no ulterior motive. "I like you, JR. I like you a lot. I don't know why. I asked around a little. You have a lousy reputation with women ... But you know something? As corny as this may sound, I think you could make me hear bells ... But not this way. Not bought and paid for like a roomful of flowers, or a restaurant you've taken over to impress me, or some expensive box at Texas Stadium ... I don't play games. Not where feelings are concerned." "You know what you're asking?" he asks. "I know you're rich, but I'm not for sale," she replies (echoing Sue Ellen's line from the beginning of Season 2: "You bought me once, JR, and you can't do it anymore. I am no longer for sale."). It's cool to see Mandy so assertive and articulate, before she turns into the breathy, passive and willingly kept woman of Season 8 (the year of "strong" female characters, apparently).



    You know the Krebbs marriage is in trouble when ... Ray starts hanging out at the Longview Bar (now re-christened Longhorn, for some reason) on his ownsome. He evens gets propositioned by a bimbette version of Season 4's Bonnie before Clayton arrives and suggests they call an end to their JR related bickering. Elsewhere in the episode, Donna turns up at the ranch with what she claims is good news even if her face tells a different story: "We're gonna bring in a new well and it looks like it could be pretty big." "Donna, that's wonderful," replies Ellie, now back to being operated by strings, her earlier good scene an apparent anomaly. "Have you told Ray yet?" Donna admits she hasn't. "Donna, is all of this oil exploration worth it, knowing how Ray feels?" "It's just something that I have to do." Ellie leaves to meet Clayton for dinner. "Looks like none of us are too comfortable eating at home these days," murmurs Donna sadly. 



    As nicely acted a moment as this is, it feels like we're missing a few beats of the Ray and Donna story that have led us to this point, not least because Donna's oil field hasn't been even mentioned since the Krebbses' barbecue spat ten episodes earlier. However, the glimpses we do get of the couple carry a strong emotional weight, (even the heavy winter coat Donna wears in this interior Southfork scene helps to conjure up a sense of melancholy and bleakness) suggesting that the non-specific ennui that seemed to exist between Ray and Donna during the first half of the season has been slowly eating away at the core of their relationship without them even realising it.



    Perhaps surprisingly, in such a varied episode, the best scene of all is Lovely Betty's visit to Lucy at the ranch. As Betty, Kathleen York puts all her acting skills to work in order to appear awed as she surveys the cardboard Southfork set and painted backdrop. (Casey Denault has to do something similar when he sees the ranch for the first time, again with Lucy, at the end of Season 10.) "Some place you got here," she tells Lucy. "I understand things a lot better now ... I wanted to see what the big attraction was. I couldn't believe it was just you ... But now that I've seen Southfork, I can understand why Eddie's doin' what he's doin'. If someone asked me to share in all this, I don't think I could turn it down." Not having seen Betty since their Hot Biscuit days, Lucy takes a while to figure out what's going on. "I'm talkin' about you and me and Eddie, and all that Ewing money," explains Betty. "Anyhow, I'm goin' back to El Paso so you got a clear shot at getting Eddie. I won't be in the way. I may be fun in bed, but that's not enough for him. Eddie has ambitions ... I tried to keep it real cool, but I can't anymore. So he's all yours." "Are you telling me that Eddie's been seeing both of us all along?" Lucy asks. "I kept his bed warm while you weren't there," Betty replies, "I thought I could live with it. Eddie even promised me that I'd share in the profits he'd make from that building company, but I couldn't do it anymore. I was in love with him!"

    Just as Betty's situation has always closely resembled that of her Season 2 namesake Betty Lou (Alan Beam's other woman), the two Bettys' exit scenes also share a similar bittersweet quality. Each has turned her back on the man she loves and her share of his Tilton-related get-rich-quick scheme and decided to leave town, with her self respect intact and her heart broken. Both the Bettys are minor characters, sub-supporting roles really, made memorable by good actresses and nice writing. Indeed, Lovely Betty's parting words to Lucy make for one of the best final lines of any DALLAS character: "I just came out here to see if you rich girls hurt as much as us poor ones, and I am damn pleased to see that you do."



    As Betty and Eddie, I've always thought Kathleen York and Fredric Lehne made a really interesting contrast to the rest of the DALLAS actors. There's a kind of naturalism (or do I just mean mumbliness?) to their performances that we're not used to seeing on DALLAS. (During her confrontation with Lucy, for instance, Betty doesn't just hit her mark and stick to it like a good little TV character should; she fidgets and moves around throughout the scene.)

    After playing a total heel for most of the season, Lehne gives good remorse when Lucy confronts Eddie over what Betty has told her. (So good, in fact, that the writers give him a further two good-bye/apology scenes in subsequent episodes when this could easily be the last time we see him.) 

As for Lucy herself, every other time a man has does her wrong, she has dissolved into a puddle of tears and hair. For once and once only, she stands her ground and lets Eddie have it. This is probably one of her best written scenes in years. (Credit goes to Arthur Bernard Lewis, who gives some easily neglected female characters--Mandy, Lucy, Betty--some good dialogue in this episode.)

    "Tell me somethin', Eddie," Lucy begins. "You like Southfork? ... You were planning on living here, weren't you? I mean, that was part of your little scheme, wasn't it? ... Maybe we could just stick Betty in the stable and you could sneak out at night to her after you'd made love to me ... I thought you liked me!" "I do like you, Lucy," he tells her. "Oh right, and you like Betty too, and who knows who else? Good Lord, how do you find time to work??" "... I don't want Betty!" "Of course you don't, because she can't set you up in your own building business. All she can do is sling hash and make love! ... You can fire your crew, cancel your concrete, get off my land and get offa Southfork!"

    

The episode ends with an airport scene which, unusually for DALLAS, includes no extras dressed as nuns or facially altered characters being met off planes. Even more unusually, it does include a dead woman falling out of an airplane toilet. "That's not Veronica. It can't be!" exclaims Jenna. "I'm sorry, I'm afraid it is," replies Bobby. Still, it's not the first toilet related death Priscilla Presley's been associated with. And on that crass note ...
     
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  13. Ms Southworth

    Ms Southworth Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    Great conversation between Miss Ellie and Donna about Jock and his sons! And it's even better with James' comments! :)
    I love James' synopsis of Miss Ellie. Also the differences between her marriage to Jock and her marriage to Clayton! :)
    I love Sue Ellen in this scene with Cliff! ;)
     
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  14. Jon Ewing Jr.

    Jon Ewing Jr. Soap Chat Member

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    I love these summaries, keep bringing them.
     
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  15. Victoriafan3

    Victoriafan3 Soap Chat Fan

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    Victoria was absoluty rocking this scene. She didn't over do it. Totally believable. Great story. Fab acting but yes, as you say, not even acting. She just was. Loved it! This was her season to shine
     
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  16. Victoriafan3

    Victoriafan3 Soap Chat Fan

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    I Loved the Mark stuff too. Yes back in the day really had no idea what would happen next. So good!
     
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  17. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    "Dead Ends."



    What an odd a season this is! There's the achingly slow first half, the Travilla makeovers and the Donna Reed weirdness, and now a strangely sinister atmosphere has descended on the show. There is a growing sense of the Ewings being manipulated by forces invisible to characters and viewers alike. If they are to hold onto their company, for example, the brothers must fathom the fifty year old actions of three men now dead. ("As much trouble as Jason was having, he must have known that Ewing Oil was worth millions. If he really had that paper, why didn't he show up to collect his third of the company?" puzzles Ray. "And why didn't Daddy have a copy of that document?" adds JR. "He wouldn't lose a piece of paper like that ... There's a lot of unanswered questions here.") Meanwhile, the mid-air murder of Veronica Robinson means that Jenna's storyline, like Pam's quest for Mark, has acquired a mysteriously international edge. The strings of both women are being pulled by someone (possibly the same someone) a long, long way from Texas. International drama does not always sit comfortably in the parochial world of DALLAS (Season 8 anyone?), but here it works because no matter how far afield the show travels, all roads lead back to the core of the series: the Barnes/Ewing feud, and Pam and Bobby's romance.



    Bobby's insistence that Veronica was murdered is met with scepticism by Investigator Howard aka Sam Anderson, later the evil Holland Manners in ANGEL and more recently one of the slightly boring people on LOST. "As near as we can tell, she died from natural causes," he says. "Did you know that Miss Robinson was a user?" While Jenna is confused by the question, Bobby gets to look all streetwise and cool - but only because Carol the call girl explained the term "user" to him in relation to George Hicks during Season 5. "Cocaine, heroin," expands Investigator Howard. "She was carrying ... a syringe and other paraphernalia." 



    To Hong Kong, where Sue Ellen is still playing the hick tourist. "I swear I will never complain about the traffic on the Central Expressway again!" she exclaims as she and Pam emerge from a chaotic market scene. Set against such an authentic looking backdrop, (with far more passers-by than one would see in an equivalent scene set in downtown Dallas) the two western soap queens cut a curious looking pair. The diminutive Pam, swathed in a futuristic looking cape-and-scarf thingy that's vaguely in keeping with their BLADERUNNER-ish surroundings, blends in better with the locals than the taller Sue Ellen who, clad in a typically 80s shoulder-padded outfit, looks kinda awkward and out of place (which, in storyline terms, she is). "I hate this waiting to see Mark," Pam broods. "After I see him, I'm going to have to make some big decisions ... If it is Mark, he's gonna need me here with him and I wanna give him as much as I can for as long ..." "I don't mean to be cruel," interjects Sue Ellen whose chief function in these scenes seems to be to prod Pam with interestingly difficult questions, "but what if Mark is bad? Maybe he wants you to remember him the way he was rather than the way he is." (The timing of this line is somewhat unfortunate, as it coincides with them passing a display of animal carcasses on hooks.) "I know in his heart, he would want me to be with him," maintains Pam. "And what if it isn't Mark?" Sue Ellen persists. "Then I'll have to finally accept that Mark died in that plane crash," she replies. "I'll have to pull myself together and build a new life, without Mark and without Bobby." As they cross a busy street, she reminds us of another angle to the story: "What worries me is that this might be another of JR's manipulations." Sue Ellen assures her that JR is not involved, and we believe her. 



    Later, the two women are out on the town, all Travilla'd up in sparkly dresses. The on-location lighting, slightly harsher than we're used to seeing, reveals just how caked in make up the actresses are, particularly Principal. They are joined by nice Mr Chan who has bad news for Pam: "Mr Swanson has told me that he does not want to see you or anybody ... I regret, Mrs Ewing, that you have come a long way for no results. I will honour Mr Swanson's wishes. You cannot see him." 

Back at Southfork, an equally apologetic Investigator Howard presents Bobby and Jenna with Veronica's autopsy results: "She just plain overdosed ... I'm sorry. I know that's not what you hoped for. As far as the Dallas Police Department is concerned ... it's now a closed case." 

"I can't believe that this is the end!" exclaims Pam in Hong Kong. "It's all over now, isn't it?" sighs Jenna in Dallas. These are the dead ends of the instalment's title.

    However, while Jenna mentally checks out of the episode and walks through the rest of her scenes wearing a dead-eyed expression, Pam proves she is made of sterner stuff. "I think it's time that I went on the offensive," she declares, before picking up a phone and tearing Mr Chan a new one: "I won't be leaving Hong Kong until I see Mr Swanson because I'm convinced that Mr Swanson is Mark Graison. You see, I'm very rich and very determined, and if I have to, I'll buy that damn clinic and walk in as the owner ... He is going to see me!" Just as Pam watched in admiration as Sue Ellen coolly disposed of that poor sap from Waco in last week's episode, it is now Sue Ellen's turn to applaud her: "I'm very impressed! Remind me never to cross you again." "Well, what good is the Ewing name and all that power if I don't occasionally use it?" reasons Pam. "I'll remember that," Sue Ellen replies ... and perhaps she does. In fact, could it be Pam's example in this scene that inspires her decision to fight fire with lingerie in Season 9?



    Meanwhile, Bobby also invokes "the Ewing name and all that power" to acquire the passenger lists of the connecting flights Veronica Robinson took from Tokyo to LA and then LA to Dallas. Scotty tells him that a man named George Parrish had the seat next to Veronica on the plane to Dallas. "Bingo," Bobby replies. "Mr Parrish was also on the flight from Tokyo." Accordingly, Bobby and Jenna HART TO HART it over to Parrish Antiques where actor Ben Cooper gives a great little cameo as Mr Parrish - an unusually, well, let's just say fastidious character for DALLAS. "I hope for your sake, Mr Ewing, that you're not implying that I know anything about what has happened to that lady," is his affronted response when asked about Veronica. "I'm an art dealer not a thug!" Indeed so, but the fact that Mr Parrish sports a John Waters style pencil moustache suggests an electric chair in his basement at the very least. He recalls Veronica's nervousness on the flight to Dallas. "Finally, I just moved to another seat ... I really do try to mind my own business when I'm travelling. The last thing I want to do is strike up a conversation with a chatterbox." 



    While Bobby is busy trying to save Jenna from forces unknown, JR and Ray meet with amiable private eye Pete Adams who supplies them with a potted history of Jason's life following his departure from Dallas in 1932. "That was when he and Daddy had their big blow up," explains JR to Ray. It's interesting to see how Jason's misadventures slot into the rest of the Ewing backstory. We hear that he returned to Dallas from Latin America in 1939, which would have been shortly after Jock and Ellie married and around the same time that Jock and Digger, for reasons unknown, signed an agreement giving them both equal shares in the Ewing 23 oil field. In 1941, Jason enlisted in the Navy. While Jock's WWII was spent impregnating nurses in London and saving half the Jews in France almost single-handedly, Jason "served in the Pacific, got a couple of decorations. After the war, he was thrown in the brig for alleged black market activities. He was discharged in 1945." In 1951, around the time that Bobby was born and a year before Digger murdered Hutch McKinney, Jason's wife Nancy gave birth to a son, Jack, in Montana. (In spite of Angelica Nero's Season 8 claim, we know Dimitri Marinos was not Jack's biological father because [a] Angelica is a big fat liar and Pam Ewing is a big fat dreamer.) From information already given, we know that Jamie was born in 1959, the year after Ray arrived at Southfork. The year after Lucy was born (1962), Jason's wife died, "and that's when he started hitting the bottle in earnest. He had a series of jobs in the States, none of them lasted very long. Went down to Latin America again. His last job was for Pemex in Mexico, 1973. Then he moved to Alaska in '76 [shortly before Jock retired and JR assumed the presidency of Ewing Oil] and he stayed there till he died." "What about the son - Jack?" asks Ray. Good question; Jack has scarcely been referred to since Jamie's introduction at the beginning of the season. Four episodes before Dack Rambo swaggers into view, this discussion serves as a timely reminder of his existence. "About five years ago, he and Jason had a falling out," answers Pete, reiterating the facts already supplied by Jamie. "He left. Nobody knows where he went and we haven't had any success in tryin' to locate him."



    Like Pam and Bobby, JR and Cliff seem to be leading somewhat parallel lives in this episode - at least with regard to the current objects of their desire, with whom they are anxious to redefine their standing. First Mandy's humble boil-in-the-bag dinner is interrupted when JR appears at her door holding a single rose: "It's a symbol of the new me. I know when we met, I came on too fast, too strong ... I wanna start all over again, get to know each other ... Not as lovers." Then Cliff arrives unannounced at Jamie's small-for-TV apartment ("Where do you sleep anyway, on the table?") to find her clad in a bathrobe, hair wrapped in a towel. "I'm alone, you're alone, so why not be alone together?" he asks. 

While Jamie responds to Cliff's proposal with bashful acceptance, Mandy is more sceptical of JR's. "Why? Why me?" she asks. "You're married. It might not mean much to you, but wouldn't you be better off with someone who just wanted fun and games?" "Most likely," he acknowledges. "I find that when I should be concentrating on ways to stop Barnes, I'm thinkin' about you." Hmm, is this kind of soppiness really what we want to hear from DALLAS's principal antagonist? If even JR is starting to lose interest in his never ending power games, where does that leave the rest of us? " Call me," Mandy tells him finally. He opens the door to leave, then turns back to her: "You know, I wonder if I wouldn't be a helluva lot better off if I'd never met you, Mandy Winger." While I've never really bought JR as a lovelorn romantic--it's the least interesting aspect of the character and other actors can pull it off better than Hagman--that's still a great line.



    Other similarities between the way Cliff and JR treat the new women in their lives: Sexist flattery, as Cliff refers to the freshly employed Jamie as "the world's prettiest cold weather drilling expert" and JR jokes that Mandy could pass for "the most beautiful independent oil woman in Oklahoma"; and an acknowledgement of their lack of materialism - "That's what I like: a lady who knows the value of a buck," says Cliff of Jamie. "I've found in the past that power and money are a mighty aphrodisiac to a lot of women, but you're special, very special, Mandy," observes JR.

    

The two couples collide during a most enjoyable scene at the Oil Baron's, which leads to some very unsporting behaviour from both JR and Cliff. Cliff and Jamie are dining with Jordan Lee and Marilee Stone, with whom Cliff is keen to mend fences after raiding key members of their personnel some months previously. "Cliff, when you called this meeting I didn't realise you were gonna have this kid in tow," sniffs Marilee, while modelling an early prototype from the Angelica Nero Season 8 hat collection. Both of Marilee's pool-related incidents from earlier in the year are acknowledged in this exchange. First Jamie brings up the subject of her near-drowning at the Ewing barbecue: "Look Mrs Stone, what happened happened. Heck, if it wasn't for you, I might never have shown that document to JR." Then Marilee herself recalls Cliff's display of post-coital contempt from the beginning of the season: "As I remember, the last time we met you seemed rather cool. You left me at the pool, all by myself." 

As if the atmosphere were not frosty enough, Mandy then arrives at the club on JR's arm, upping the episode's Travilla quotient yet further in a fancy red gown. "There are bound to be people here you know who must know your wife," she whispers nervously. Sure enough, they run into Cliff and company. "Well lookee here, birds of a feather," observes JR. "Plotting an assassination are you, or trying to figure out some way of stealing someone else's company? ... Marilee, I see you and Jamie have made up. Planning a little midnight swim later? ... Losers tend to flock together." "Like the little lady you're with, huh?" shoots back Cliff. "Cliff!" gasps Mandy, taken aback. "You're welcome to her," he continues cruelly, "Considering the number of nights she spent at my place, you can have my leftovers." "You miserable worm!" Mandy snaps and then slaps him. Before Cliff has a chance to recover, JR punches him, knocking him out of his chair. "That was a rotten thing to do!" reproaches Jordan. Jamie turns on JR - "I should have known that you'd throw a sneak punch!" - then Mandy turns on Jamie - "You caused all this trouble to begin with!" - then Jamie turns on Mandy - "Don't start with me. I can hit a lot harder than he does!" By this point, Cliff has gotten to his feet. "You bastard," he mutters, making a move towards JR before being restrained by Jordan. Mandy and JR beat a hasty retreat. "I knew we shouldn't have come here," she tells him. "Darlin', I wouldn't've missed this for the world!" he replies, ending the scene with an obligatory chuckle. Just wait till Sue Ellen hears about it ... 



    In other news, JR puts the final touches to his crooked deal with creepy Conrad. "How will you explain to your brother the selling of these wells so cheaply?" Conrad wonders. JR's reply suggests a long term deception of Bobby: "That's what we've been carryin' them at on our books. He'll never know a thing about it." "Or about your account in Switzerland." "Oh he knows about that. What he doesn't know is that you're gonna put $120,000,000 into it for me." In one way, I like that this scheme carries no negative consequences for JR. After all, if we're to believe in him as a credible villain then it makes sense that not all his crimes would be detected. On the other hand, if Bobby had discovered his brother's deception and confronted JR just before his death, imagine the piquancy that would have been added to JR's otherwise bland grief in Season 8.

    

Sly returns to Ewing Oil after an absence of fourteen episodes. "I've had all the time I need to think and be alone," she tells JR. But I wonder what the main reason was behind Deborah Rennard's half season sabbatical? Was it just to give Jamie the opportunity to answer a few phones and get pissed off with Marilee? Or was it perhaps to provide Mandy with a free shot at replacing Sly as JR and Cliff's double agent?

    

Eddie Cronin gets another "Good-bye, Lucy" scene, prompting some more first-rate mumbling and shuffling from Federic Lehne: "I-I wish I hadn't done what I did, but I am who I am and that ain't much and I wish that you and I could start over again, but I know that ain't gonna happen so I just hope some day maybe you can forgive me."



    In this week's scene from the Krebbs marriage, Donna tracks Ray down to a cowboy bar not unlike the one at which they met in Season 1. "What's happened to us?" she asks him. This leads to a great speech from Ray that articulates clearly the fundamental differences between them. "You know, when I was growin' up, I was Amos Krebbs' kid, the town drunk's son," he begins. "Bein' Jock's son gave me somethin' a little special." "Ray Krebbs, you have always been special," she interjects, a touch condescendingly. "No," he replies firmly. "I'm talkin' about somethin' you wouldn't understand at all. Like spendin' your whole life lookin' over your shoulder. I don't know if you can even understand what I'm sayin'. Everything you ever tried in your life, you were successful at. You write a book, it's a best seller. You write another book, it's a best seller. You could've got yourself appointed to the senate, but you didn't want that so you got yourself appointed to the Texas State Energy Commission. All you had to do is tell 'em you wanted the job! ... You wanna know the real reason I threw in with JR? Cos I was afraid. Afraid I'd lose my share of Ewing Oil. It's not the money. The money doesn't matter to me. It's me bein' a part of the company, Jock's company, the last thing with Jock's name on it ... I am not gonna lose what Jock left me." There's a very strong feeling of continuity here - the contrast between Donna's success and Ray's innate sense of inadequacy is the root cause of the problems faced by the couple in Seasons 2 and 4, and that they will divorce over in Season 9. (One of several thousand criticisms I have of Season 8 is that this crucial aspect of the Krebbses' relationship is entirely glossed over in favour of giving them an "issue of the week" to generically deal with.)



    Meanwhile, Pam's foot-stomping has yielded unexpected results. She has been contacted by the mysterious Mr Wong. "I understand that you wish to see a certain Mr Swanson at the Chung Tai clinic," he tells her. "I have a position at the clinic in Mr Chan's office, regrettably a low paying position ... Perhaps we are able to help each other." This servile yet sinister character has always reminded me of an equally lowly Chinese clerk in William Wyler's movie THE LETTER, who (if memory serves) very politely blackmails Bette Davis over a document he has access to which can prove her guilty of murder. Gotta love those vaguely negative Asian stereotypes. He and Pam negotiate a deal. "I'll bring you into the clinic, into his room, and you can see for yourself if he is indeed the man you seek." "And how much is this gonna cost me?" shoots back the newly tough Pammy. "$10,000, American." "I'll pay you $5,000 when I meet you and the rest after I see Mark Graison."

    

That night, Sue Ellen hovers anxiously as Mr Wong leads Pam, wearing another long cape thing, this time in white as if she were a kind of Avenging Angel (or something), into the clinic. During the scene in which we see her walking nervously down the corridor towards Mr Swanson's room, the lighting again has an unusual feel to it. This time, however, Pam looks beautiful. We see her in close up where she is tremulous and there are tears in her eyes. It's a lovely bit of wordless acting from VP. All of Pam's actions this season have led her to this moment. She enters the darkened room and to find a man lying shrouded in shadow, his head turned away from her. "Mark?" she whispers. "Mark?" She touches his arm and he turns abruptly towards her. "What the devil do you want? I told them no visitors!" growls a scary looking 70s porn actor aka Burt Reynolds aka Mark Jennings from DYNASTY aka anyone with testosterone and a moustache who isn't Mark Graison. "I'm sorry," she gasps. "Oh God, I'm sorry!" Shaken, she runs from the room. "How was that? Was that all right?" asks the porn actor. "It was perfect," replies Mr Wong, stepping out of the shadows. "It was just what I wanted." Adding to the sense of disorientation, the episode ends right then and there, freezing on Mr Wong's regretful looking face (if one can look regretful and enigmatic at the same time). The last end-of-episode freeze frame given to someone without even "Also Starring" status was of Alex Ward in Season 3. What can it all mean??
     
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  18. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    "Trial and Error"

    Visually speaking, the episode gets off to an unusual start with a night time scene of Pam fleeing the Hong Kong clinic and running through a rainy, neon-lit street, Sue Ellen following haplessly in her wake. As with nearly all the Oriental scenes, it's Linda Gray who comes off worst, stuck with dodgy dubbing and dumb sounding dialogue, ("Ah wish there was somethin' ah could say to make you feel better") while VP just has to look beautiful and heart-broken. 



    Pam calls Cliff to tell him of her disappointment at not finding Mark. She also mentions Sue Ellen's suggestion that they extend their trip to allow her time to unwind. This immediately returns the characters to the situation they were in earlier in the season when Cliff kept the news of Jenna's arrest from Pam while she was in Jamaica. Now it's a "EWING FIANCEE TO STAND TRIAL" headline he is reading as he assures her that "there isn't anything going on here that needs your attention ... You should stay." 



    After last week's altercation with Cliff and Jamie at the Oil Barons' Club, Mandy and JR have retreated to the "once you give up integrity, everything else is a piece o' cake" restaurant set to lick their wounds. Mandy frets about them being seen together in public. "I see what would you mean," JR acknowledges, "it could get back to Sue Ellen. The chips will have to fall where they may." "... This relationship is wrong," Mandy complains. "There's just no future in it for me ... JR, you'll never leave your wife. I'm not asking you to ... You and Sue Ellen are practically an institution." How do I not like this line? Let me count the ways. Firstly, it's another of those too-knowing bits of dialogue that makes the person speaking sound like a viewer of DALLAS rather than a character in it. Secondly, the word "institution" implies something immovable and safe, and therefore predictable - and safe and predictable are things a drama should never be. Indeed, what worked so brilliantly in the first few seasons was how unpredictable JR and Sue Ellen's relationship was. Happily, JR seems not to agree with Mandy's assessment. "I don't think you realise how much you mean to me," he tells her. "I'd do almost anything to keep from losing you."

    

Jenna's trial doesn't appear to be the most popular storyline in DALLAS history and it's not hard to see why (although Priscilla Presley's new haircut is nice). Unlike previous murder trials, (Cliff's for killing Julie Grey, Jock's for murdering Hutch McKinney, Ray's for terminating Mickey's life support) this one does not directly involve any member of the Ewing family. They are dramatically passive, present in a purely supportive capacity. Instead, any interest must be derived from the details of the case itself, as well as from a lively performance by Allan Miller (aka Scooter Warren, Laura's real estate sensan from KNOTS LANDING) as prosecuting attorney Frederick Hoskins. He brings a snappy, irreverent energy to the proceedings, as well as a knowing smirk that suggests the very idea of Jenna's innocence is laughable. What's interesting about his character's attitude is that he makes no allowances for the fact that Jenna lives in a soap opera where bizarre and terrible things happen as a matter of course. Instead, he reacts with the same incredulity and cynicism that any real life person would when confronted with such an unlikely story. It's the same bemused reaction exhibited by the ornery judge who refused Jenna bail in Laredo and that we'll later see from the judge presiding over this case. Having Jenna's melodramatic ordeal subjected to the unsentimental, clear-eyed legal system creates an interesting juxtaposition. It almost feels as though the credibility of the story-line itself is on trial.



    What I like about the court case, and indeed the whole story, is the sense of detail and continuity pertaining to the events leading up to Naldo's murder. The prosecution commences by calling various bit players to the stand. First up is Leonard Boyle, one of the officers who burst into Naldo and Jenna's hotel room at the end of the "Odd Man Out" episode. There is a brief flash back to the moment where Jenna was found with the gun (no wibbly wobbly dissolves, just sharp cuts back and forth between the present and the past). "It seemed to me that she was stunned by what she'd done," speculates the officer on the stand. "Objection!" calls Scotty, and we're off and running. Next witness is a ballistics expert who establishes that Naldo was shot with his own weapon, a Beretta 380. Under cross examination, Scotty goes to contorted lengths to discredit the expert by making the point that he is unable to prove whether or not a silencer was used for the shooting. ADA Hoskins looks amused by Scotty's efforts. Final witness of the day is Roy Crowley, manager of the motel where Jenna fended off Naldo's advances on the night of their wedding. This prompts another flash back to Naldo attacking Jenna on the bed. "I heard her say she'd kill him," testifies Crowley. "She swore she'd kill him!" Cue the requisite gasps and gavel banging, and worried expressions on the faces of Bobby, JR, Miss Ellie, Clayton, and is that Lucy I can just about make out in the distance? I believe it is.



    The Krebbses' absence from the trial is explained in the next scene, the best of the episode, in which a pissed off Ray returns home from Texas City. We learn that he went there in a vain attempt to wring some fresh information out of Alf Brindle (this being the only reference to the fight for Ewing Oil in this episode). Meanwhile, Donna explains to Ray that she stayed home because "there was somethin' I wanted to tell you." "About your new oil strike?" he snaps, "That's all anybody's talkin' about up in Texas City ... How the cowboy's wife hit the big gusher!" He helps himself to a beer. "Don't you think you've had enough to drink?" she asks. "Oh I'm sorry. Is the new queen of the independent oil business afraid her husband's gonna embarrass her? ... I guess it already is pretty embarrassing livin' around a dump like this, a hand built cowboy's house." This is the first reference to the humbleness of Ray and Donna's surroundings since Mickey's "I built a dog house once with my own two hands; doesn't mean I'd live in it" crack in Season 5. "Wait a minute!" Donna shouts. "I have never in my life complained about living here!" "That's real good of you, honey," Ray shoots back, "because we both know that this just does not suit your style ... You don't belong here. You belong in the big house with the real Ewings, where the power is. Not with the half breed." I wonder if this comment explains why, during a scene with Dave and Ray earlier in the season, the writers had Donna recalling the first time she went up to "Jock and Ellie's" as Sam Culver's wife. "Back then I didn't even know you were a Ewing," she told Ray - the irony being that Donna was entitled to sit down at the Ewing dinner table long before Ray was. As Ray storms out of the house, Donna's eye is caught by a strategically placed wedding photo - just to make it clear, in case anyone was in any doubt, that the honeymoon is over.



    However, if it weren't for Ray and Donna's marital woes, Donna Reed wouldn't have much reason to come out of Make Up. When Miss Ellie, Clayton, Jenna and Bobby troop gloomily home from the courthouse, they find Ray pouring himself a drink at the bar. Reed hovers for a moment, uncertain whether or not to stick around for the scene and earn her pay check, before deciding to leave Ray and Clayton to a man to man chat. ("If Donna wants to spend her time turnin' a profit in the oil business, she's just gonna have to do it alone!" barks Ray.) 



    The following evening, it's Donna K's turn to drop by the house. Clayton tells her how exhausted Ellie is. "I'm sure it must be real hard for her with Jenna on trial every day," she says sympathetically. "Yes, it has been very upsetting for her," nods Clayton. Funny, I don't recall Ellie being such a delicate little flower when her own husband was on trial for murder. Still, the more time she spends upstairs "resting", the less scenes she can screw up. Ellie nonetheless manages to make it downstairs in time for Donna's shock announcement: "Ray and I had another fight and I have decided to move out." It's not clear if this refers to the fight we witnessed earlier in the episode, or to an altercation we've somehow missed, but either way it feel like a beat's been skipped. "This has been building for a long time," continues Donna, and she's right. "I am not gonna give up my ideas, my hopes and my dreams to try and fit in with what Ray's ideas of what a perfect wife should be!" she huffs. Perversely, the fact that the Krebbses are the show's most "real" couple might account for why their break up feels kind of disjointed on screen. The issues that exist between them are smaller and less externally tangible than the conflicts in JR's and Bobby's marriages, and subsequently harder to dramatise in a melodramatic way (that's my excuse anyway). Miss Ellie invites Donna stay with the family in what Ray described as "the big house". "He said this is where I belong. Here I am," she smiles tearfully. Maybe she can bunk with Christopher in his never-previously-seen Southfork bedroom which makes its debut in this episode (complete with Smurf). Donna, Ellie and Clayton end the scene with an uncomfortable looking three way hug which always makes my toes curl slightly. 



    Donna Reed and Charlene Tilton manage to squeeze in a few extra seconds worth of screen time as bystanders when Bobby gets subpoenaed over breakfast. "I'm being called by the prosecution!" he exclaims. "That means they want you to testify against me," explains legal expert Jenna.



    Reluctant witnesses for the prosecution usually make for great TV: Pam reluctantly testifying to Cliff's ruthless ambition during his trial; JR fumbling his testimony during Jock's; Lucy's tearful insistence that Mickey wanted to live at Ray's. However, Bobby is merely required to act as a mouthpiece for the accused as ADA Hoskins quizzes him about his and Jenna's non-wedding, Charlie's kidnapping, Naldo's rape of Jenna ... ("Objection!" "Sustained!"). Interestingly, Hoskins adopts the same tack as Scotty when he originally questioned Jenna in Laredo by trying to suggest attempted rape as her motive for shooting Naldo. Bobby tries to explain that Jenna has no memory of what happened. "Blacked out? What a convenient time to black out!" scoffs the prosecution, and the defence twitches uncomfortably. 



    Over dinner at the Oil Baron's, Scotty tries to assure Jenna and Bobby that all is not lost. "We gotta lotta monkey wrenches we can throw back at them," he smiles. Whatever hopes he manages to raise are promptly dashed by a call from star witness Ann McFadden, aka Veronica Robinsons's sister: "I can't testify ... I received a letter ... from Veronica ... I know she was killed because she was gonna testify for you ... I just can't jeopardise myself or my family. I'm sorry." So what other wrenches ya got, Scotty? As much as I love the character, it's becoming increasingly difficult to buy Clayton's earlier claim that he is "one of the best lawyers in Texas." 



    Meanwhile, on Hong Kong Harbour: "I can't remember when I felt more like a foreigner in my life! It's exciting, don't you think?" prattles Sue Ellen. Pam grunts unenthusiastically, walking past a Tai Chi display, a large pagoda and a huge carved dragon with nary a glance. She has other things on her mind: "If JR was behind that phoney trip to the Caribbean, he could be behind this one too." Well, thanks to Mr Wong's cryptic remark at the end of last week's episode we know that somebody is manipulating Pam. Much of this scene takes place in cinematic long shots. While this might primarily be an excuse to show off the picturesque surroundings (which are not unlike the architecture of Dallas, where the modern and traditional coexist side by side), it also gives a slightly eerie sense of Pam and Sue Ellen being observed from a distance.

    

JR is later awoken by a call from Sue Ellen demanding to know if he set Pam up. "You believe whatever you want to," he replies. He then echoes Cliff's earlier words to Pam by suggesting that the women extend their trip. Later, there's a small but jarring moment where Sue Ellen inadvertently walks in-between two tourists, one aiming a camera at the other. "Oh excuse me, I'm sorry!" she smiles, hurrying along. It's such a Nice Woman Linda Gray moment, as opposed to something Sue Ellen would instinctively do.

    

The possibility of JR being involved in the Hong Kong caper is teased throughout the episode. There's a nice late night office scene where he confides in Sly the same way he would have Serena last season or Sue Ellen at the beginning of this one. "I'm worried Jenna could actually go to prison," he sighs. "Everything was going so well - Pamela was gonna marry Mark Graison, Jenna was gonna marry Bobby and then everything got turned around ... I guarantee you if Jenna goes to prison, that Barnes woman is gonna be back on Bobby like a fly on honey and she's gonna find some way to marry him again." Sly suggests the possibility of Pam actually finding Mark. "Yeah," JR replies, his face brightening, "or maybe she'll keep lookin' for him and goin' around the world like that. But one way or another, I've gotta keep her away from Bobby and it wouldn't be a bad idea to keep her away from her brother and Jamie too. These days, that woman could cause a lot of problems and I'm not gonna allow her to do that. No way, no way."



    "You know, I came here so full of hope," Pam tells Sue Ellen sadly as their plane leaves the ground. "I guess everyone was right. Mark's being alive was just in my imagination ... Sometimes I felt we were so close, but he wasn't there and I guess I've finally got to accept that he's gone from my life." Back on terra firma, Mr Wong is on the phone: "It's me. The plane just took off. Tell him it went exactly as he planned." Tell who it went off as planned? According to Pam's Season 8 subconscious, Mr Wong is talking about Mark himself, and that Mark was watching when Pam left the clinic. But as we later discover, "none of that happened". So who is Mr Wong referring to? Well, it's possible that JR really was behind the whole thing but that no one ever finds out. It could also be Katherine's doing, as she would be even more anxious than JR to keep Pam out of Dallas and away from Bobby. But what motivation, other than sadistic pleasure, would either of them have for making Pam believe, as she now does, that the whole search was futile? That leaves only one possibility: just as Mark explains in the dream season, he really did come to Hong Kong, but then hired Mr Wong to divert Pam in order to spare her feelings in case he did not recover. Sadly, one must conclude that he didn't, and that he somehow died without Pam ever being any the wiser. Sigh. Poor old porn-tache. Good job it's only fiction, innit?

     
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  19. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    And those finale cliffhangers is all thanks to Dallas and "Who Shot JR?" Every TV series screened today that employs that tactic owes its thanks to Dallas. Despite galloping towards its own inevitable end, it is a fitting tribute.
     
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  20. Ferney

    Ferney Soap Chat Member

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    I wish they would have had a scene with Katharine appearing to make it plain she was pulling the strings, I think it would have played better and have been more interesting because granted, I was a teenager and there wasn't really a chance to go back over the season, but I never connected the two. and because of that, it couldn't really be savored in that way. Adding someone we knew to that storyline would also have made it less outside of the family. Honestly, when Katherine did appear, I just thought she came back and saw the newspaper headline- there was so much anticipation about how Bobby, you really didn't have the chance too much to contemplate anything else except what was going to happen to him. Jenna and her trial was the furthest thing from my mind.
     
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