Re-watching Season 7

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

  1. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    "The Verdict" 

... in which Jenna's trial trundles on, JR finds a new patsy, Sue Ellen and Pam spend most of the episode in a plane circling above the Southfork sound-stage, and Donna Reed performs her infamous hankie scene.



    Bobby shows up on Ann McFadden's Los Angelean doorstep and tries to convince her to testify on Jenna's behalf. Ironically, for a series that spends the second half of each year trying to make LA look like Texas, the occasional scenes that are both filmed and set in California lack any real sense of place other than generic "TV Land". (The one exception would be the episodes in Season 9 where the Ewings flee to California to escape the clutches of BD Calhoun, which at least give a sense that the characters have gone somewhere.) 

Curiously, in spite of Ann being such a vital witness, ("You're my last hope," Bobby informs her) Scotty and Bobby are just too darn nice to serve her with a subpoena compelling her to testify. This is only one example of an oddly laissez-faire attitude that informs both sides of Jenna's trial. The defence have produced no solid evidence to back up their claims that Charlie was kidnapped or that Jenna was subsequently coerced into marrying Naldo and chloroformed on the night he was killed. Yet the prosecution do not challenge these allegations. On the contrary, they seem quite willing to indulge them: "It has been suggested that the defendant was so vitally concerned with locating her daughter that she would never kill Mr Marchetta because he was the only link to her child," reiterates ADA Hoskins while questioning a medical expert on the stand. "If Miss Wade had been chloroformed before passing out, is it possible that she was too groggy to think about her daughter?"

    Meanwhile, the one person who can corroborate the story of Charlie's kidnapping is Charlie herself - but despite Scotty's plea to Jenna to let her testify, ("It's vital that the jury understand that the one goal in your mind was to get your daughter back ... Though you hated Naldo, you wouldn't wanna see him dead. Without him, you might never see Charlie again.") Jenna refuses. "Charlie's been through enough," she insists. (For this decision we must be grateful: does anybody actually want to see Shalane McCall on the witness stand?)



    When Scotty tells Jenna, "there's a strong case against you, and I don't have much to counter it with," he ain't kidding. Jenna proves a pretty feeble witness in her own defence: "The only thing I know for sure is that I didn't kill him!" she yelps. Scotty hands her a Baretta 380 on the stand and then makes a big deal of her apparent inability to remove the safety catch. "This is a very complicated weapon," he tells the jury, "and yet the prosecution want us to believe that under the effects of chloroform, this little lady here can grab it away from a man bigger and stronger than she, find the safety, release it and shoot before he could stop her. I don't think so. I don't think anyone in their right mind would think so." Anyone in their right mind prepared to take Jenna's word that she doesn't know how to use a handgun and was chloroformed, that is. 

The only defence witness to cast credible doubt on her guilt is a Mr Mendoza. Despite staying in the hotel room directly adjacent to Naldo and Jenna's on the night of the murder, he claims not to have heard a gunshot. "Somebody called the police, said they heard a gunshot coming from that room," Scotty reminds the jury. "The bullet was fired through a silencer and the only one who heard it was the one who fired it. That's the same one who chloroformed my client and killed Renaldo Marchetta!" 

(By the way, the bailiff at Jenna's murder trial is played by Conroy Gedeon, the same black actor who played the bailiff at Alexis Colby's murder trial on DYNASTY four months earlier.)



    JR gets an enjoyably back-to-basics subplot in this episode when he is informed by a day player of an oil leak at Ewing 17. "The Texas Energy Commission came in and shut the field down," the guy tells him. "I never heard of shuttin' down a whole field cos of a couple of leaky wells!" exclaims JR. He then pays a visit to the new chairman of the TEC, Nathan Billings, played by droopy-mouthed Nicholas Pryor. Pryor gives great hapless: he was also the doctor who misdiagnoses Charlton Heston with a terminal illness at the start of THE COLBYS. Nathan is the latest in a long line of patsies, (John Baxter, Walt Driscoll, Edgar Randolph) blithely unaware of the trap they're about to fall into when first approached by a smiling JR. "You know, Nathan," JR begins, "this country needs more men like you in the government. Men who are willing to put themselves on the line ... Is there any truth to the rumour that you might be running for the State Senate next year?" 

So it is that a flattered Billings accepts JR's invitation for drinks at the Oil Baron's - and who should they run into there but a long standing female acquaintance of JR's? With Serena in San Francisco until Season 10, her slot (so to speak) is filled by one Lila Cummings, an attractive woman of a certain age in a dainty hat. (To give Travilla his due, after a somewhat gaudy beginning, his outfits this season have been glamorous but restrained.) She is accompanied by her pretty daughter, Rhonda, not played, as I used to think, by Erika Eleniak from BAYWATCH.


    "Rhonda's just out of college and I'm helping her decide what sort of job to look for," Lila explains. "Say, your commission needs help from time to time, doesn't it?" says JR turning to Nathan who nods dumbly and ... OK, we pretty much know this is a set up, but when Rhonda later stops by JR's office to let him know that Nathan has taken the bait, the charade continues for both our benefit and that of Sly who happens to be present. Still in her graduate guise, Rhonda explains to JR that Billings has offered her a job. "He's going to pick me up at my mother's apartment at 8 o'clock." This key piece of information imparted, Rhonda takes her leave. "She's a lovely girl," JR tells Sly. "I used to know her mother very well." I'm not sure if this was a deliberate tease by the writers, (in this case, Mr Paulsen) but on first viewing it briefly crossed my mind that Rhonda might actually be JR's offspring. Just imagine: a call girl whom JR uses to spread around a few "bees" turning out to be his daughter - wouldn't that have been special? In any case, it would have been nice to see more of dumb-but-sly Rhonda. Michelle Johnson certainly deserved a better fate than ending up as Bobby's boring love interest in WAR OF THE EWINGS - or as Grant Show's charity case in the ill-conceived HIV-themed episode of MELROSE PLACE, for that matter. 



    Pam and Sue Ellen's plane finally comes in to land as Bobby concludes his business in California and Jenna is testifying in court. "Poor Jenna," coos Pam. "How's it going? Do you know?" she asks Teresa, who is completely taken aback at being asked to comment on an actual stor-line. "They don't talk about it much," she mumbles, backing away. 



    Ann McFadden is too frightened to return to Dallas with Bobby, but gives him a letter she received from Veronica shortly after her death. "You think it'll help?" she asks him. "I really think it will!" he replies. Think again, Bobster. He returns home in time to catch Pam packing up Christopher's belongings. Consoling her over her disappointment in Hong Kong, he takes her in his arms. Jenna watches from the hallway, open mouthed. How bad can a girl's day get?



    There is an equivalent "welcome home" scene between JR and Sue Ellen. While she tosses the usual putdowns in his direction, ("I don't care who you sleep with - just as long as it's not me") there's an interesting shift in his reaction to them. "All right, I tried," he snaps. "Tried what?" she shoots back. "I tried to be a good husband. You just won't let me, will you?" "I won't let you back in my bed, that's for sure." "... At least we both know where we stand ... I just wanted to be sure." It's as if JR has finally tired of the "separate bedroom" scenes in which Sue Ellen always gets the last word. 

This leads to a somewhat icky scene in which JR comes to Mandy's apartment and slobbers all over her. "JR, this is really hard for me," she gasps (a little too much information perhaps). "Oh Mandy," he pants, "I haven't felt like this in years!" He starts pulling down her top and they get all hot and bothered. "Don't you see, we're starvin' for each other?" he mumbles. "Oh, JR!" she exclaims.

    Now people coming back from the dead in DALLAS I can accept, even the occasional head transplant or year long dream, but a beautiful young thing like Mandy overcome with lust for a stocky middle-aged man in a toupee? That I have trouble with. "I won't go to bed with you," she tells him finally, "not while you and Sue Ellen are together." "All right," he replies, "Well, we may not be together much longer." Ah, now I'm interested ...



    The day after his return from California, Bobby returns to the witness stand to read from Veronica's letter: "Annie, I'm so frightened ... I think whoever killed Naldo is after me now. I've already had two attempts on my life ... I just can't bear to think [Jenna] will have to go to jail now for a murder she didn't commit." Having been so accommodating of the defence's "kidnap 'n' chloroform" claims, it's refreshing to see the prosecution make short shrift of Veronica's epistle. "What do we have here?" ADA Hoskins asks. "A letter written by a woman who was a kidnapper, an extortionist and a drug addict. For all we know, this letter could have been written when she was in some kind of weird hallucinatory state. A fine piece of evidence!" He concludes this dismissal with an amusingly sarcastic click of the tongue, delivered towards Bobby who cuts an impotent figure in the witness box (belying P Duffy's other role as director of this episode.)



    There's a curious conversation between Cliff and Leo Wakefield, his company controller, who advises him against investing in an oil deal with Jordan Lee. "The price of oil's dropping ... We don't get nearly as much for it now as we did in the past. I think you should diversify." "... Into what?" retorts Cliff. "Five and dime stores? Ladies' shoes?" Leo's warning echoes the message introduced earlier in the season when Jeremy Wendell attempted to buy out Barnes/Wentworth, and that will recur frequently during the final four years of the series: that the era of the independent oil man is slowly drawing to a close. However, much like DALLAS itself, Cliff refuses to change course. "I'm an oil man," he insists. "I don't know anything about ladies' shoes! ... My mind's set."

    

Cliff is not the only male character resistant to change. "Can't we just have things the way they were?" asks Ray in the best scene of the episode, the first of several poignant encounters that take place between he and Donna on either side of the dream season. Accompanied by a lovely piano score (courtesy of Lance Rubin), he finds her standing pensively on the Southfork patio, looking out into the night (or the LA sound stage equivalent thereof). "People grow and they change," she replies. "Otherwise they just stay the same, Ray, and they die. Oh don't you understand? I can only vacuum the house so many times. Once a bed's made, it's made. The dishes are clean, they're clean." This is an unusual speech for DALLAS (even leaving aside the reference to domestic chores). It suggests that the estrangement between Donna and Ray has arisen from a change within the relationship - specifically, within Donna herself - as opposed to the kind of external factors that prised and then kept Bobby and Pam apart (a dead mother, a conniving brother, a scheming sister, a porn-tached playboy), so that by the time the Krebbses' marriage is impacted by more traditionally soapy complications, (Donna's pregnancy, Ray's friendship with Jenna) the foundations of their relationship have already begun to crumble.



    Donna and Ray's discussion turns to the fight over Ewing Oil. "Don't you think it's time you started moving in a different direction?" she suggests. "I am doing this for Jock," he insists. "Jock is dead, Ray!" she exclaims in exasperation. "Do something for the living!" In fact, this period of DALLAS is full of characters unable to break away from their pasts: Sue Ellen is unable to break away from Southfork, Bobby and Pam cannot let go of their feelings for one another, and it would be unthinkable for either the Ewing brothers or Cliff to take a different path to the one laid down by their long dead daddies.



    Back at Jenna's trial, the defence conclude their case. During the judge's summation, Donna Reed totters out of the courtroom and into the hallway (the same marble hallway where Sue Ellen nipped from a hip flask during Jock's trial of Season 2, where JR referred to his mother as "the opposition" during the hearing to overturn Jock's will in Season 5, and where Donna consoled Lucy after she testified against Ray in Season 6). "I just couldn't listen to anymore of that," Reed twitters, fluttering and stuttering pitifully while waving a hankie around in the air. "That poor girl charged with murder ... I don't understand why I couldn't ..." This may not be Reed's worst acting moment of the series--that distinction probably belongs to the scene in which she pulls a bewildering assortment of faces upon hearing Clayton threaten to spank Lucy--but it's certainly a new low for a character once stoic and courageous, now reduced to an incoherent flibbertigibbet. Significantly, this is Ellie's only dialogue of the episode, and one gets the sense of a writer (Mr P, in this case) only realising at the last moment that the character has been given nothing to say and hastily cobbling together a few half-sentences for her to splutter.



    The episode ends with the verdict of the episode's title. Jenna is declared "not guilty ..." - cue smiles from the Ewings, chattering from the court, gavel-banging from the judge - "... of murder", but "guilty of voluntary manslaughter" - whatever the hell that is. Jenna doesn't seem to know either: "She said I was innocent! What happened, Scotty? What about Charlie? Bobby, I didn't do it!" A distraught Bobby gives her a big old hug, and P Duffy rewards himself and Priscilla with a nicely dramatic freeze frame.
     
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  2. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    "Sentences" 



    Directed by Michael Preece, this episode has a nice look to it. Not Bradford May nice obviously; nobody would want it to look that good, but there are some unusually striking close-up shots, particularly of Victoria Principal and Priscilla Presley, and also a texture and warmth to the lighting. For instance, VP wears some vivid colours in this episode, pinks and blues, but they somehow look rich and deep rather than garish and loud.



    Having taken a back seat to Jenna's trial over the last couple of episodes, the fight over two-thirds of Ewing Oil once again becomes the show's priority. This shift in emphasis is made clear by JR in the opening scene: "Now listen, Harve," he says into his office phone, "this family has already lost one legal battle this morning and I don't wanna hear that there's even a chance of me losing to Cliff Barnes. You understand? ... Or I'll find another law firm!" 



    Over at Barnes-Wentworth, Cliff gets the news he's been waiting half a season for. "Two weeks from today, we finally go to court to press our suit for your share of Ewing Oil," his lawyer tells him. "After all these years, I can't believe I finally have a chance to win what was stolen from my daddy!" he crows. "My daddy too!" pipes up Jamie. Yeah whatever, funny face.

    

By this point in the story, the Ewings' investigation into the circumstances surrounding Jock, Jason and Digger's oil strike fifty years earlier has hit a dead end. But this does not prevent JR from doing what he can to sabotage Cliff's case - even if it is not immediately apparent to the audience that that is what he's up to. For example, when he invites Nathan Billings to his office to thank him for giving Rhonda Cummings a job, ("It's hard to believe she's so young isn't it? ... I don't think she's even twenty-one yet, but she seems to know what she's doin'") then shows him a videotape ("Just a little amateur production") of he and Rhonda together, ("Well lookee there, that's you, isn't it?") we know JR's up to something, ("Blackmail?" asks Nathan queasily) we just don't know what ("I've got big plans for you," JR smiles cryptically).



    Pam and Sue Ellen's return from Hong Kong means the reunion of two of the show's most enduring duos: Sue Ellen and JR, whose double act may have been dormant for most of the season but is about to be re-ignited thanks to a certain Miss Winger, and Pam and Cliff, whose partnership has blossomed over the past two years into the series' most genuinely affectionate one. Cliff warmly welcomes his sister back to Barnes-Wentworth and commiserates with her over her unsuccessful trip. "I think this whole search was my way of denying Mark's death," she admits. "Miss Ellie did it for the longest time over Jock." Cliff makes sympathetic noises before steering the conversation round to the fight for Ewing Oil. Just as Jackie interrupted a crucial business discussion between the siblings a year earlier with the bad news of Mark's plane crash, she now does so again with information about Jenna: "I just heard a news flash," she announces. "Jenna Wade was convicted." "Oh no," exclaims Pam, looking lovely as the camera catches her profile. "That's terrible ... It's awful for both of them." Cliff shoots Jackie a dirty look.



    With both Jenna's trial (bar her sentencing) and Pam's search for Mark now at an end, the secondary love interests that have kept Pam and Bobby apart for so long have essentially been removed. However, there are now other obstacles in their way - Pam's involvement in Cliff and Jamie's fight for Ewing Oil ("I'll do whatever I can to support you both," she assures Cliff) and Bobby's sense of obligation towards to Charlie. He consoles the kid in Jenna's bedroom at Southfork. (Or have Jenna and Charlie been sharing that room? Logistically, it would make sense. Up until last week, the house was at its most populated, with Miss Ellie and Clayton, JR, Sue Ellen, Lucy, Bobby, Jenna, Charlie, John Ross, Christopher and Donna all sleeping under its roof. As we'll later learn in "Wedding Bell Blues" (Season 11), Southfork only has seven bedrooms. Does this mean Donna and Lucy have also been sharing? Enquiring minds want to know.) "I'm really scared," squeaks Charlie. "My father's dead, my mama's in jail." My father's dead, my mama's in jail - say, wasn't that a big hit for Garnet McGee down Nashville way? 



    Bobby comes downstairs to find Pam waiting for him, dressed in a big pink capey thing. Last week, he comforted her over Mark and now she returns the favour regarding Jenna. "It helps knowing you care," he tells her. An unseen JR observes them from the staircase. We assume we know what he's thinking, but it later transpires that we couldn't be further from the truth.



    The next day, the family (well, Bobby, Clayton and Ellie) file into court one last time time for Jenna's sentencing. (Jeez - Jenna's trial, Alexis's trial, Miss Ellie trying to overturn Jock's will: it's been non-stop courtroom drama on JamesNet lately.) It falls to the judge, good ol' Honourable Roberta Finnerty, to set the terms of the sentence, but she does so with none of the twinkly-eyed understanding bestowed on Ray by the judge at his trial the previous year. "Jenna Wade Marchetta," she begins - the use of Jenna's full name making it clear that Finnerty does not buy the claim that Jenna was coerced into marrying Naldo. (Although if she wanted to be a real bitch about it, she could have referred to her as "Jenna Wade Marchetta Marchetta".) "I find the taking of a life of a fellow human being especially abhorrent. The fact that the victim was your husband and presumably close to you makes this killing to my mind a heinous deed ... I cannot, in all good conscience, sentence you to serve the minimum term. Therefore, I am going to sentence you to serve seven years in state prison." Ha ha! "Now we have the matter of the minor child, Charlotte Wade," she continues. "With her mother going to prison and her father dead and apparently no relative to come forward on her behalf, I'm going to have no choice except to make her a ward of the state." At this, Bobby springs into action: "Your Honour, Charlie has been living at Southfork and should continue to do so." "Mr Ewing, you're not involved in this matter," she replies. "On the contrary, I am very much involved ... Naldo Marchetta was not Charlie's father. I am!" What a nicely unexpected twist! 



    The judge meets with Jenna and Bobby in her chambers where Bobby furnishes her with a copy of Charlie's birth certificate. "She was born in Rome. You were travelling?" she asks Jenna. "I was living there," explains Jenna. "And you were married to Mr Marchetta at this time?" "We were divorced by the time my daughter was born." Again, it's strangely satisfying to see Finnerty cast a dispassionate eye over the bare facts of Jenna's backstory. "You have woven yourself quite a tangled web, Mrs Marchetta," she observes coolly. I love that line; it makes no allowance whatsoever for the fact that Jenna lives in a soap opera and used to be played by Morgan Fairchild. Charlie is wheeled into the room and asked about Bobby and Southfork. "Bla, blah, blah, I love him a lot, squeak, squeak, squeak," she burbles. "Ah'm gonna let you live there," declares the judge, as kind to the child as she is contemptuous of her mother. 



    News of Bobby's shock announcement starts to filter through to the other characters. Mandy hears about it first and passes the news along to JR when he drops by her apartment. "It was on the radio," she tells him. JR, of course, already knows the story of Charlie's paternity. "I wonder if Pam does?" Mandy muses, "She's still so hung up on Bobby. I think the reason she's so obsessed with finding Mark is because of Bobby and Jenna's romance." "You put all that together very astutely," JR tells her, which is the kind of compliment he used to pay Afton whenever she'd manage to put two and two together and not come up with five. It's nice to have Mandy once again commenting on and speculating about concurrent storylines as she did when she was with Cliff. It makes her seem more of a person and not just a middle-aged man's panting, gasping sex doll. "Even with Jenna in prison, there's no chance of Pam and Bobby ever getting together now," she adds. "Poor pitiful Pam," murmurs JR ironically.



    Indeed, we then cut to a very striking profile shot of Pam looking through the window of her office, the shadows of the blinds playing across her melancholic face. With her hair in a bob thing and the deep blue of her outfit, she looks really lovely, especially on DVD. Cliff bursts through the door, having also heard about Bobby on the radio. (Jackie, Mandy, Cliff, Pam: suddenly everybody's listening to the radio.) "He lied to me, Cliff," she tells him, her voice filled with hurt. "Bobby always talked about being so honest and he lied to me. I asked him about Charlie, I asked him if he was her father and he told me no. I don't think I'll ever feel the same way about him. I don't think I ever want to see him again." This is another unexpected twist, not least because this is the first we've heard of such a conversation taking place between Pam and Bobby. The closest the series has come thus far to Pam learning the truth of Charlie's paternity was back in Season 1, when Morgan Fairchild admitted to her that Bobby wasn't the father. When Jenna returned in the guise of Priscilla Presley in Season 6, history was rewritten so that Pam was as much in the dark as everyone else. But hey, what's one more continuity blip between friends, especially when it leads to such good scenes (and acting, especially from VP) as we get in this episode?



    In fact, the Best Scene of the Episode Award goes to Pam and JR for their third confrontation of the season. The other two (a furious Pam swearing vengeance first outside the Ewing building: "I'm not gonna rest until all our family scores are settled!" and then later in JR's office: "You have one soft spot, one weakness, and that's Ewing Oil, the only thing you've ever really loved!") were great, but this one--in which JR makes an unexpected visit to her house--is even better. Pam is, by turns, hostile, suspicious, amused, cynical, surprised and even moved, and VP nails all those small shifts in mood expertly. As for JR, by continually remaining one step ahead of both Pam and the audience, he reminds us of what made him such a compelling character in the first place. 

The scene gets off to a fun start with "old Uncle JR" requesting "a big kiss" from a cheerful-for-once Christopher - a kiss which he then distastefully wipes from his cheek with a handkerchief. Christopher even manages a "bye bye, Uncoo' JR" before being spirited out of the scene by a passing maid. "Get out!" snaps Pam as soon as the boy is gone. "Pam, I come as a friend," JR tells her calmly, "I know what you think of me and most of the time you've been right ... but you also know how much I care for Bobby." "Sometimes you have a questionable way of showing it," she replies, "but yes, I think you do." 



    This assessment seems a tad overgenerous on Pam's part. The JR she lived with during the first five seasons displayed scant regard or concern for Bobby, and at the time she left Southfork, the rivalry between the brothers was at its most intense and destructive. Would Pam really be aware of the softer attitude JR seems to have developed towards Bobby over the last year? During their lunch in "Fallen Idol" (the Guzzler Bennett Season 1 episode), she and JR had a very similar exchange. "Do you believe I care for Bobby?" he asked her then. "I think it's debatable," came her more plausible reply. Nonetheless, the idea that "deep down, JR really lurves his brother" is the party line the show seems to be pushing at this point.



    "Pam, you know I have done everything in my power to keep you and Bobby apart," admits JR, "I even worked with your brother and Katherine Wentworth to do it ... As terrible as this may sound, I was the one who send you on that wild goose chase to the Caribbean looking for Mark Graison." "So I wasn't wrong," Pam sighs, sounding positively relieved, "I knew it wasn't Cliff." As JR comes clean, there's a pleasing sense of various season plot threads being tied up, even as others are left dangling. "What about Hong Kong?" she asks. "No, I had nothing to do with that," he replies solemnly. She regards him warily. "I'm not so sure I believe you. But why this sudden desire to confess all? Did you suddenly find religion or did your doctor tell you that you only have a week to live?" A nice line, and a return to the smart-mouthed Pam who tore a strip off Ray and Lucy in the mini-series. 

"I told you the truth about the past because I think it's important that you believe what I'm gonna tell you right now," he tells her. She laughs. "Oh well, this must really be something!" "Charlotte Wade was not fathered by Bobby," he continues, "Naldo Marchetta was the natural father of that little girl ... Jenna was afraid Marchetta was gonna claim the girl, take Charlie away from her, and that's why she put Bobby's name on that birth certificate." Pam's eyes narrow suspiciously. "And what do you get out of telling me all this?" she asks. "You know how I feel about you," he replies, "but Bobby has been miserable ever since you left him and it's time he had some happiness back in his life. I think you and Bobby oughta remarry." 



    Not only is the irony of JR playing cupid to Bobby and Pam just great--and it's he who introduces the idea of them remarrying--but there's something about the acuteness of his words that hits Pam where she lives. JR pulled off a similar trick towards the end of Season 6 when he convinced Bobby that he should marry Jenna. ("When Jenna jilted you, you made the tragic mistake of your life when you married Pam, but you're free of her now ... You shoulda married Jenna a long time ago, Bob. You've known each other since you were kids. She was more like us than Pam ever was ... Now if I'm wrong just tell me.") 

We won't learn what is really motivating JR here until next week's episode, but with time running out before Patrick Duffy's departure from the series, it's a delicious variation on the long-running theme of JR interfering in Pam and Bobby's relationship.

    Once again, there is a sense that Bobby and Pam's story is leading somewhere both momentous and final. In fact, if one imagines that one didn't already know that Bobby was being written out of the show, one might be tricked into thinking it is actually Pam who is on her way out. After all, it is she who has spent much of this season on a kind of quest, trying to both come to terms with the past and face up to an uncertain future. Bobby, meanwhile, has simply reacted to circumstances around him, responding in his steadfast role of knight in shining armour. 

For instance, he still hasn't given up on proving Jenna's innocence. He and Scotty question Janice, an unfeasibly glamorous flight attendant who is unable to provide any fresh clues about the flight on which Veronica Robinson died. However, she does provide him with a cryptic but crucial tip at the end of their meeting: "If you have any influence with anyone at Con West Airlines, use it. They just might have a way to help you."



    Cliff and Jamie finally do the do. Their coupling may be predictable, but it's also plausible. Jamie works as a kind of down to earth antidote to Cliff's more glamorous (and to his mind, more demanding) girlfriends of late. One can believe he genuinely likes her, ("I never knew anybody by the name of Ewing could be so great," he tells his new best pal Jordan Lee over the phone) while still keeping his eye on the main prize. ("Jordan, of course it doesn't have anything to do with the fight for Ewing Oil!" he laughs. Yeah, right.) It's interesting that while we never learn anything specific about Jamie's romantic background, (other than "Oh Cliff, it's been such a long time!") one gets a strong sense that she is less sexually confident than the average DALLAS character, which at least makes for an interesting variation.

    

While Cliff has the smile wiped off his face by an extremely antsy Nathan Billings who, acting under JR's orders, informs him that "the Texas Energy Commission is ordering your tract 340 in the Gulf to shut down" due to a teeny tiny oil leak, Jamie talks about her new boyfriend over lunch with Sue Ellen at the Oil Baron's. This is the women's first scene together for nine episodes, but their gal pal relationship feels no less contrived now than it did then. (Sue Ellen graciously bestows her blessing on Jamie and Cliff's relationship: "Cliff was a long time ago for me. If he makes you happy, then I think that's wonderful.") 

Fortunately, Marilee Stone is on hand to spice things up. She arrives at the club on the arm of a man approaching her own age for once. Since we know she likes her men either very young or very rich, it's safe to assume where the attraction lies. "Marilee," smiles Sue Ellen, "I haven't seen you since--" "The Ewing barbecue," she replies. "It's all right, Sue Ellen. Jamie and I have made up since then." Actually, it's much longer than that since Marilee and Sue Ellen have spoken on screen - not since before Marilee made her Season 3 transformation from Daughter of the Alamo to Oil Baroness in fact. This scene has much in common with Marilee's debut DALLAS appearance in "For Love or Money" (Season 1). Both scenes entail Marilee thinly masquerading as Sue Ellen's friend while deriving great satisfaction from her embarrassment as one of JR's infidelities is paraded in front of her. This time around, Marilee herself is the cause of Sue Ellen's discomfort as she relates with glee an incident that took place two episodes ago: "In fact it was right here at the Oil Baron's ... It happened in front of a crowd ... JR decked Cliff right over there ... The fight was over a woman. Cliff's former girlfriend, Mandy Winger. Honey, JR's been flaunting her in public. Now I just thought you'd wanna hear it from a friend instead of a stranger. I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings, Sue Ellen, but I didn't want half of Dallas sniggering behind your back." 

Whereas Sue Ellen smouldered wonderfully in the equivalent scene in Season 1, here the plot requires her to have a hissy fit at Jamie, who was also present when the fight took place: "Why did I have to hear about it from her? Why didn't you tell me? ... No friend would let that woman do what she just did to me!" Given that Sue Ellen is such a past master at hiding her feelings in public, this tantrum feels unconvincing and makes her look petulant and silly. However, Linda Gray's last line of the scene, barked at Cassie as she gets up to leave, ("You can put this on my husband's bill!") has a certain comic flair. And she looks nicely glamorous in a hat and glove ensemble of the kind only Katherine Wentworth would worn a year earlier. Indeed, Travilla once again succeeds in making the female attendees at the Oil Baron's Club--Sue Ellen, Marilee, Nathan Billings' wife in a later scene--look expensively elegant rather than tacky. (Fast forward a year and they'll all be looking like menopausal prostitutes.) The exception is Jamie who remains stubbornly glamour-resistant throughout the episode. 



    There is a better scene back at Southfork in which JR comes home to find Sue Ellen waiting for him in his room. "Have you suddenly been gripped by an uncontrollable passion?" he asks her dryly, an apparent reference to their Season 6 "stud service" scene. "No," she replies, "I want you to explain Mandy Winger." Again, there are strong echoes between this bedroom confrontation and one that took place in "For Love or Money" when Sue Ellen also rebuked JR for flaunting his "tramp" in a public place. "You came paradin' through the lobby with some tramp of yours," she told him then. "You make a fool with that tramp at the Oil Baron's," she says in this scene. JR's response on both occasions is to quibble with her choice of words. "She was a very charming young lady, not a tramp at all," he replied during the earlier conversation; "She's no tramp," he tells her firmly in the present. 

The major difference between the two situations is that Mandy is more than just another nameless bed partner. "So Dallas's renowned stud has been smitten," Sue Ellen observes mockingly. "Sue Ellen, why are you carrying on like this?" JR asks her evenly, "You drew up the rules. I'm just playin' by them." " ... I expected you to be with other women," she counters, "You always have been, but I did think however that you would be smart enough to be discreet, not to flaunt your little tart in public ... or is it your lady friend? Or maybe your lover?"

    It's significant that Sue Ellen's terms for Mandy, (i.e. "tramp", "tart") whom she has yet to even meet, are far more derogatory than those she has used towards her previous rivals. Neither Holly Harwood nor Afton were branded as anything stronger than "a sick little girl", despite behaving towards Sue Ellen with far more hostility than Mandy. Even at this early stage, Sue Ellen clearly recognises that Mandy poses a serious threat to her position and so attempts to diminish her importance by dismissing her as just another tramp or tart. Perhaps this also explains the out-of-proportion antipathy Mandy inspires in Sue Ellen's forum acolytes.



    Both this scene and its equivalent in "For Love or Money" end with Sue Ellen playing what she thinks is her trump card. "If it ever happens again, I'm gonna leave you," she vowed in the earlier episode. She repeats that threat in this scene adding, "only this time it'll be for good." On each occasion, JR calls her bluff by reminding her of how much she has to lose. "You better think on that long and hard, Sue Ellen," he tells her in "For Love or Money, "cos I happen to like my lifestyle, just as much as you like all the prestige and the money which goes with being Mrs JR Ewing." "Sue Ellen, remember," he cautions her here. "No matter what, John Ross stays here with me."

    

It's refreshing to see JR being so unrepentant in this scene. As he himself says, "It's been a long time comin'." For too long--over three years, in fact--he has been dancing to Sue Ellen's tune, alternately courting and grovelling to be allowed back in her good books. As a result, Sue Ellen has begun to believe that her role as Mrs JR Ewing is unassailable, regardless of whether she is sharing her husband's bed or not. Such is her complacence that she even left her position unguarded to travel to the Orient with Pam. Now she has returned to find herself on much shakier ground. As a result, she instantly becomes a far more interesting character.

    

After providing Pam with a sympathetic shoulder-pad in Hong Kong, Sue Ellen now looks to her ex-sister-in-law to return the favour. "Pam, I just can't go through another divorce," she sighs, her hair looking decidedly Goth. "I'm really surprised at Mandy. I thought she was a very decent person," Pam replies. Interesting that though Mandy and Pam had their final scene together several weeks earlier, each talks about the other with some affection in this episode. "Maybe she is," says Sue Ellen sniffily, "Somehow though, I find it hard to forgive a woman who's trying to steal my husband." Pam then says what we've all been thinking for years: "Sue Ellen, I think you need some help." "... Do you know how much time I spent in therapy with Dr Elby?" replies Sue Ellen. (Yay! An Elby reference!) Pam recommends "a holithic [I think she means holistic] centre. They treat your mind and your body. It's therapy, exercise, nutrition." "... What's it called?" Sue Ellen asks. "The Victoria Principal Centre." Kidding. "I'll get the name before you go," says Pam (presumably because VP wasn't able to say "The Institute for Advanced Awareness" with a straight face). She then tells Sue Ellen about the visit she received from JR. "JR doesn't fool me, but he did start me thinking," she admits. "Pam, I know you still love Bobby," Sue Ellen replies. "Yes I do, but I don't know if it's possible for us to reconcile under any circumstances. So much has happened - including Jenna Wade."

    

Oh yeah, Jenna Wade - I forgot about her ... but here she is in a big prison close up, made up to look like she isn't wearing any make up. The lighting is gloomily atmospheric, and Bobby is encouraging her not to give up hope of freedom. "I kept my hopes up for as long as I could until I heard that verdict," she tells him. "Maybe I am guilty. I don't know anymore ... They transfer me to the state prison tomorrow. I don't want you to visit me ... I want you to lead your own life. I don't want you to feel obligated to me ... I want you to forget me. You're free." To someone with Bobby's conscience, Jenna's final words sound almost like a curse - as evidenced by his stricken face in the freeze frame. In fact, their effect is not dissimilar to that of Bobby's "I'm letting you go" speech on Pam in "The Letter" (Season 6). 


    Elsewhere in the episode, Eddie has his his third and final farewell scene with Lucy. "I'm leavin' Dallas because I missed things up so badly," he tells her with a sob in his voice, "I know there's no way you and I could ever start over again ... Got a job lined up in El Paso." "El Paso? That's where Betty is," exclaims Lucy in surprise. "Yeah, we'll probably end up getting back together," he chuckles ruefully. (Eddie and Lovely Betty in El Paso--I tell ya, it shoulda been a spin off.) I'm guessing the reason for all these "Good-bye, Eddie" scenes is three-fold. First, Frederic Lehne is just so darned good at them (and La Tilton's not half bad either). Secondly, it gives Lucy some badly needed screen time. And thirdly, Eddie's last line "Lucy, you are a real sweetheart and I hope one day you just find a guy that appreciates that" helps pave the way for the storyline (if one can call it that) that will lead her out of the show.



    Accordingly, Lucy finds herself looking back on her disastrous love life during a later conversation with Ray. "I keep picking men who are wrong for me," she sighs. Ray points out that she "had two good men in your life ..." Present company excepted, huh Ray? "... You had my nephew Mickey ..." Cousin, goddammit! He was your cousin! "... and what about your ex-husband Mitch Cooper? He was a terrific guy." "Sure," concedes Lucy, "and what happened? I practically drove him into an affair with another woman." "But he didn't have the affair, did he?" Ray knows about Evelyn Michaelson - who knew? "I should have worked harder at keeping Mitch," she reflects. Well, she couldn't have worked any less hard, could she? ("You expect me to make the bed? I'm filing for divorce! But not for another thirty-two episodes!") "He's been on my mind an awful lot lately," she adds. Again with the who knew? Ray suggests she write to him. "Yeah, maybe I will," she smiles and off she trots, leaving a sad looking Ray behind, doubtless reflecting on the sorry state of his own marriage. That's all the Krebbs angst we get in this episode as Susan Howard has the week off, but she at least fares better than Howard Keel and Donna Reed who have to show up for work for the sole purpose of sitting mutely in the court room during Jenna's sentencing.

     
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  3. Ms Southworth

    Ms Southworth Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    Great and straight-to-the-point synopsis, James! :)
    I also found this very-to-the-point! ;)
     
  4. Ms Southworth

    Ms Southworth Soap Chat Dream Maker

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    How many bedrooms does Southfork hold? :D
    According to James, the Best Scene of the Episode Award goes to the confrontation between Pam and JR! ;) Also, note the passage that I've highlighted below! ;)
    Sue Ellen asks JR to explain Mandy Winger! ;)
     
  5. Presea

    Presea Soap Chat Addict

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    For me, the most exciting part of season 8 was the phone call made to the unknown person after Pam and Sue Ellen left. I was all like, "Yes! Mark is alive!" And how awesome was Mr. Wong!? Pam was great this season, but I never understood the scene where JR says he wants her to back with Bobby when he just goes right back to wanting the opposite for them.

    At this point, I honestly believe that a lot of viewers would have chosen to have Jenna thrown in prison in return for getting Bobby and Pam back together. Or even just have it happen anyway. For me, all of that trial nonsense was useless since I could pretty much tell that Bobby and Pam were going to get back together anyway. I mean seriously, what was the point to all of that crap?

    Once again, the characters and writers try to make Mandy look like a perfect little angel. For me, it failed miserably. You don't have to actually sleep with a married man to have an affair. Mandy's attempts at looking concerned for other people and refusing to sleep with JR are fake when since she has no real involvement in anyone but JR's life, and eventually turns into a hypocrite and starts screwing with him while he is married anyway. I have never understood Dallas' fascination with trying to make viewers only root for good girls, or in Mandy's case, fake good girls who are over glorified just because they don't say anything negative and appear guilty of their actions for a brief time.

    More than anything else though, I don't see how people seemed to believe that that JR and Sue Ellen had this amazing, unbreakable bond with each other after seeing how easily JR can fall for another woman like he did with Mandy. Sue Ellen should have divorced his ass and wrung all the money she could out of him with another divorce settlement after finding out about Mandy. Actually, she just should have STAYED divorced from the first time! JR's "relationships" with both Sue Ellen and Mandy are not at all romantic to me. There were a few odd moments in the series where JR and Sue Ellen did seem romantic to me, but mostly, I just thought that it was domestic violence or purely sexual interest. And with Mandy and JR, it was just all sexual attraction with no meaningful development or connections at all. Sadly, JR goes for looks, and that's about it.
     
  6. Presea

    Presea Soap Chat Addict

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    Besides the possibilities for what they could have created if the dream hadn't been a dream, sacrificing Katherine would have been worth it just to have Bobby stay dead!
     
  7. Presea

    Presea Soap Chat Addict

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    And I had actually believed that the whole show was supposed to be about JR being powerful and kicking everyone's butt before I even started watching it! What was sad was that Larry Hagman had enough power over the show to choose whatever he wanted his character to do, and he WANTED to turn into a buffoon! He was obviously drinking way too much behind the scenes.
     
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  8. Presea

    Presea Soap Chat Addict

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    It could have been interesting to see Katherine actually planning all of this stuff out with meeting Naldo and bribing him again, hiring the hitman, etc. Then again, we could have just gotten stuck seeing things like this:

    1. Katherine giving her hitman instructions: Katherine: Now remember, you are only going in there to kill Renaldo Marchetta. My instructions specifically state that you do NOT harm Miss Wade in any way. Is that clear? Hitman: Um, no offense lady, but since you are doing all of this because you are so hung up on that Bobby dude and are hoping to somehow get with him, wouldn't it make more sense for me to waste Miss Wade instead just in case she actually gets out of jail? And why bother having that Waldo guy killed at all? Katherine: Because he called me a viper, and he deserves to die for that! Hitman: Ooookay. Still don't get why you don't just have me kill Jenna instead. Katherine: Because shut up, and it's more fun this way. Complain about it anymore and I'm cutting your pay!

    2. Katherine after hearing about Jenna's arrest: Katherine: Alright!! YES!! Take that, b****!! Man, I'm thirsty! Time for some blo-, I mean, tomato juice!

    3. Assuming Katherine was behind the Hong Kong adventure: Katherine: I'm not even sure what the point of that was. Maybe I'm going crazy? Mr. Wong: You know Miss Wentworth, I find you a very fascinating woman. Once I'm done scrubbing toilets over at the clinic, would you like to join me for some coffee? Katherine: I actually think that you're a pretty nice guy Mr. Wong. But due to my unhealthy obsession with a man who has no feelings for me whatsoever, I'm afraid I have to decline your offer. However, once the writers run out of ideas for my character and leave everything up in the air in a few more seasons, feel free to give me a call.

    As much as I believe that making Katherine go psycho was a waste for her character, it is kind of fun to make jokes about her being crazy.
     
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  9. Victoriafan3

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  10. Victoriafan3

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    Oh James you nearly made me snort. That was literally a laugh out loud about Reed's reaction to the clayton offers loosely a spanking. I wanna watch that again now. Also found the hankie scene remarks a hoot. Thank you for the smile today :)
     
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  11. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    "Terms of Estrangement"

    Written by Peter Dunne, this is the first in 63 episodes not to be credited to Katzman, Lewis or Paulsen. And also starring ... Dack Rambo! Truly, the winds of change are blowing across our TV screens.

    

There are still three episodes remaining before the court hearing to determine the true ownership of Ewing Oil, but as far as the characters are concerned, there's only seven days to go. In spite of Ray's assertion that "a week's a long time; we'll come up with somethin'", (and doesn't he look at home at Ewing Oil, with his feet up on JR's desk?) there's an end-of-season sense of urgency about this episode - not only regarding this storyline, but also Bobby's attempts to prove Jenna's innocence: "She can't survive in prison ... Every hour counts!" In addition, one gets a feeling of various characters no longer being able to outrun certain truths about themselves.

    However strongly Bobby lobbies for Jenna's release and however earnestly Pam reasserts her commitment to Cliff and Jamie's cause, ("Nothing's changed," she insists) each is given a tell-tale close up at the end of a scene suggesting that their hearts belong elsewhere. Equally, Sue Ellen may rant and rave at Jamie for not telling her the truth about JR and Mandy, but she cannot deny the truth of the younger woman's words when she tells her, "I understand that as long as JR Ewing is your husband, well that's your problem, but burying your head in the sand is no solution and blaming your friend is not fair. Sue Ellen, you have to do something." 

Each of these matters comes with a further complication: the mysterious stranger who keeps calling Ewing Oil (""He wouldn't leave a name or number ... He wanted to talk to you and only you about the trial," Sly tells JR), JR's continued interference in his brother's love life ("The more I see Bobby mopin' around without Jenna, the more I think he oughta get back together with Pam again") and Sue Ellen's involvement with the Institute of Advanced Awareness, the name of which suggests she may be about to transcend her marital problems via astral projection.

    

While the truth might be catching up with Bobby, Pam and Sue Ellen, Cliff does his best to keep reality at bay. The temporary shutdown of Gold Canyon 340 ("If I were paranoid, I'd think that JR Ewing was behind this") leaves his bankers feeling nervous and his insistence that he will soon be in charge of Ewing Oil fails to impress. "The bank feels that your control of the company will be short-lived," he is told. "They feel that as a Ewing, your partner will eventually succumb to family loyalty and when she does, JR will control two-thirds of Ewing Oil, not you." To avoid this eventuality, Cliff asks Jamie to marry him, insisting to Pam (and possibly even to himself) that "I love her." A delighted Jamie accepts his proposal ... but her past also starts to catch up with her at the end of the episode.

Meanwhile, Lucy and Donna undergo profound realisations of their own. "I like myself!" announces the former, apropos of nothing much. "It wasn't supposed to happen to me," says the latter, shaken to discover that she is not immune from what Sue Ellen has termed "The Curse of the Ewings." 

All of these elements somehow combine to create the sense of a show marching inexorably towards some sort of indefinable climax, a point of no return. That feeling of inexorable forward momentum at the end of a season is something that DALLAS captured brilliantly.

    

In the opening scene, JR reveals to Sly, now his principal confidante, his real motives for encouraging a reconciliation between Bobby and Pam: "If Pam does get back together with Bobby, she might not support that weasel Barnes and any support he loses is leverage I gain." "Wouldn't Bobby and Pam see through that in a minute?" asks Sly. "Absolutely," he agrees, "and they'd be mad as hell - but it would start them thinkin' about gettin' back together again." 



    What JR and Sly have predicted soon comes to pass. Pam arrives at Southfork the following morning, purposefully early for a meeting with Sue Ellen in the hopes of running into Bobby. "I know what you did for Charlie and I just wanted to tell you how wonderful I think you are for having done it," she tells him adoringly. "If JR hadn't told me the truth, I might never have forgiven you for lying to me." "Why would he want you to forgive me?" he asks, puzzled. "He said if I didn't, we might not have our chance of getting back together again ... My guess is that he thinks I'd change my mind about supporting Cliff," she explains. "Boy, he is out of line on that one," Bobby replies. "Is he?" she asks with a start. "I mean, expecting you to abandon Cliff like that," he clarifies hastily. "Why do we always get caught in the middle?" she sighs. There's a lingering look between them, only interrupted by the appearance of Sue Ellen.



    What's so clever here is the way that Bobby's dormant feelings for Pam resurface at the exact point that his quest to prove Jenna's innocence regains some momentum. With every step he makes towards Jenna's freedom--which becomes ever more imperative as he witnesses her decline in prison--he becomes increasingly aware that his heart still belongs to Pam. It's as if these two conflicting sides of him are on a collision course. 



    Following up on last week's tip off from the air stewardess with the big hair, Bobby calls in a favour with an old pal from Con West Air by the name of Neil. (Bobby has no shortage of old pals in this episode. Lieutenant Spaudling, the cop investigating Veronica's death whom he and Jenna met as strangers four episodes ago, is suddenly addressed thusly: "Lee, you and I go back a long way.") 

As it happens, Neil does know something that could help Jenna: that there is possibility that Veronica Robinson's murder might have been secretly filmed! Now, this is a hugely convenient plot twist that requires a bit of setting up. Arguably, the credibility of the entire Jenna/Naldo murder storyline, which has been running for most of this (very long) season, hangs on how well the concept of a plane journey being filmed for security purposes is introduced. Viewed from a 21st century perspective, there's something poignantly apologetic about the way Neil (on behalf the writers) carefully justifies the idea of heightened airline security. ("We've had a lot of trouble with hijackings recently ... Our security team are trying to come up with ways to prevent them, or ways to cope with them when they occur.") His explanation of the concept of CCTV is almost touchingly quaint: "Hidden camera in each section, very much like a bank or in a fast food store that photograph that day's comings and goings." 



    The eleventh hour introduction of a hidden camera that inadvertently catches the true killer in the act is the same plot twist employed on DYNASTY earlier in the same TV season: Alexis Colby is freed from prison when a photograph taken in a penthouse adjacent to her own is found to reveal somebody framing her for murder. Why does DYNASTY's storyline resolution feel like a far-fetched cheat and DALLAS's doesn't? One of the reasons we buy the DALLAS scenario is, conversely, because its very unlikeliness is repeatedly acknowledged. Neil makes clear to Bobby how remote a possibility it is [1] that the hidden camera experiment would have been used on Veronica's flight, and [2] that such a film would still be in existence. "The tape's either destroyed or used over. The odds aren't good here," he states clearly. When such a recording does in fact show up, the characters react accordingly. "I still can't believe you found it!" marvels Bobby. "You guys must live right," replies Neil. Somehow, it's the characters' believable responses to an unlikely situation that helps us to accept it.

    

With that out of the way, we are free to focus on the contents of the tape. "What's he doin'?" wonders Bobby as he watches a fellow passenger of Veronica's spiking her drink (in convenient close up). "Slippin' her a mickey," replies Ray. (Wait a minute: what's Ray doing in this scene? It almost seems like he's walked into the wrong storyline by mistake, but hey, if he's hanging out at Ewing Oil already, why not?) As the death knell tolls on the soundtrack, they watch as a dazed Veronica makes her final trip to the ladies' room. "Unless I'm very much mistaken, we just witnessed a murder!" exclaims Bobby. 



    The evidence is turned over to Bobby's newly-old friend, Lieutenant Spaulding. "That's as close as you can have to proof without having it," says the Lieu. "So far this has nothing to do with Jenna's case ... What we just saw was very probably the murder of a woman on a plane by a man who we can't identify and until we can identify him, we can't find him. Now judging from the way he moved around that plane, he's a professional hit man and professional hit men are nearly impossible to find." Once again, the unlikeliness of what will eventually come to pass--the identification and apprehension of said hit man--is emphasised. "Even when you find a hit man," he continues, "it'll be a cold day in Hell before he ever puts the finger on the person who paid him for the hit." "Who cares who paid him?" asks Ray. "You do," replies Spaulding, "because your only hope is that whoever hired him to kill Veronica Robinson also hired him to kill Naldo Marchetta and that we can pin both crimes on him." Having spelled out the near impossibility of the task ahead of them, Spaulding ends the scene on an optimistic note. "Believe me, if he's out there we'll find him," he tells Bobby.

    

In the midst of all this activity, JR throws his brother an emotional curve ball. "Jenna could spend the next seven years of her life in prison," he tells Bobby. "That's a long time to wait for the wrong girl ... Don't you deny you love Pam more'n you do Jenna. Bobby, I think it's great that you've saved Charlie's life and I think it's great that you're tryin' to save Jenna's. Don't you think it's time you started savin' your own?"



    Later in the episode, Spaulding stops by Southfork with good news: the man on the plane has been identified as André Schuman, professional assassin. "He's good as they come," he tells Bobby. (That's what they said about Scotty Demarest!) The Veronica Robinson case is to be re-opened and an all out search launched for Schuman. Once again, Spaulding sounds both a cautionary and optimistic note: "There's no guarantee we'll find this guy ... You can invite me to the wedding." "The wedding, sure," murmurs Bobby and gets the same sad, faraway look in his eye that Pam had at the end of an earlier scene.



    Bobby visits a withdrawn Jenna in jail. "I don't care about Veronica Robinson ... Why don't you leave me alone?" "Oh Jenna, you've gotta hold on ..." "I let you build up my hopes." "But this time it's different." "Yes, this time it is different because I'm not gonna let you do that to me again ... Look where my hopes got me." "Jenna?? ... Jenna, please stop! Jenna!" I do like these prison scenes. Priscilla Presley does withdrawn and hopeless quite well. Or at least, she does them better than relaxed and cheerful.



    There's a pretty nondescript spat between JR and Mandy, after he sees her giving what he thinks is her phone number to some guy half his age. It's simply an excuse for Mandy to blow her stack at JR and angrily declare her love for him: "Just who in the hell do you think you are? ... You're the one who's married here, not me. You're the one who's being unfaithful ... You made me feel cheap. I fell in love with you. I didn't want to, but I did and now I'm gonna do everything I possibly can to forget you ... Now get out of my life!" Deborah Shelton gives good shouty. 



    This being the first episode to be written by the incoming supervising producer, Peter Dunne, it's tempting to look for changes in approach or storyline that indicate where the show is headed for Season 8. Bearing in mind what a close eye Leonard Katzman kept on all the episodes under his command, ("A show runner runs every script through his own computer," as David Paulsen puts it) we can't be certain of exactly how much influence Dunne had at this point, but the most obvious change in this episode is the arrival of new series regular Jack Ewing. (The bad boy swagger exhibited by the character in this season bears little relation to the sappy cowboy he'll become on Dunne's watch, however.) But is Dunne, fresh from three seasons of KNOTS LANDING with its emphasis on female friendships, also responsible for the scenes in this episode that focus on Sue Ellen's relationships with Jamie and Donna? 

While Sue Ellen's scene with Donna is excellent, the one she has with Jamie feels slightly off. What are we to make of Jamie arriving at Southfork, body-swerving Teresa, and bursting into her old bedroom to give Sue Ellen yet another lecture about personal responsibility? "You let that woman humiliate me in public!" huffs Sue Ellen, sulking like a petulant teenager. "You're blaming me and Marilee Stone and anyone else for something that is your fault," Jamie replies. "The only one who can stop JR from hurting you, Sue Ellen, is yourself." 



    Later on, we find Sue Ellen at the Institute for Advanced Awareness which, disappointingly, is nowhere near as Scientology-looking as it sounds. She is approached by a counsellor who boasts the same high forehead/frontal-lobe look as Drs Elby and Rogers, the psychiatrists who treated her in the early years of the series. "I think I'm having problems discussing my problems with perfect strangers," she complains. "Imperfect strangers, who could become imperfect friends if you let them." "I don't need any more friends ... I hurt my friends. I blame them for my problems..." "They'll forgive you." "They'd be fools to." "They'd be friends to." It's all a bit "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world". Sue Ellen realises the error of her ways and shows up at Barnes-Wentworth to invite Jamie to lunch, only to find Pam and Jackie oohing and aahing over Jamie's engagement ring. Happily, that's the end of the story of Sue Ellen and Jamie's unconvincing friendship. 



    Once again, Miss Ellie and Clayton appear in only briefly in this episode, but are at least given some dialogue to say. Rather than twitter helplessly about Jenna's trial as she did two weeks ago, ("that poor girl!") Ellie twitters helplessly about Cliff and Jamie's lawsuit. "What's going to happen to us, Clayton? I mean, what's going to happen to us as a family if we lose two-thirds of Ewing Oil?" she frets during a pre-dinner living room scene. The character is now entirely devoid of backbone, or even a fixed point of view about anything at all. As her protector, Clayton is obliged to utter meaningless words of encouragement: "This family wasn't built on wealth. It was built on character. And you have to make sure that no matter what happens to the Ewing fortune, nothing happens to the Ewing spirit. With it, the family will survive and without it, it doesn't stand a chance." "I don't know if I have the strength," sighs Ellie pathetically. "Together we do," he tells her. 

Their gibberish is mercifully interrupted by Sue Ellen's arrival. "How was your day at the group?" Miss Ellie asks her. "The Institute for Advanced Awareness," Sue Ellen clarifies in dreamy voice. "It was very encouraging ... It's basic stuff really, but sometimes that's what it takes. Just getting back to basics." "Yes," smiles Ellie, clearly having no idea what Sue Ellen is talking about. 

JR appears, formally greeting his mother and step-father before shooting Sue Ellen a dirty look. "I just learned from Teresa that John Ross was sent home from school today because he was sick," he announces, fixing himself a drink. "His mother was not home to take care of him." Sue Ellen explains that she was at The Institute for Advanced Awareness, which just gets funnier every time she says it. "Oh well, that's wonderful!" snaps JR. "My son is so ill that they send him home from school and you're out someplace getting your awareness advanced! ... What are you trying to prove, honey?" "I'm trying to prove I can survive in this marriage!" "Well why don't you prove you can survive without it?!"

    It's been a long, long time - at least four years - since JR and Sue Ellen have argued in front of other members of the family. The fact that Clayton instinctively comes to Sue Ellen's defence ("JR, stop this!") in a way Jock never did creates an interesting dynamic as JR turns on him: "You're protecting her again, aren't you? Well I figured that ... It's a family matter. It's none of your damn business!" "... I won't have you talking to me that way!" booms Clayton. "Well I can talk to you anyway I want to cos this is my house," JR retorts. Clayton grabs him by the scruff of the neck and suggests they go outside where "I'll teach you some manners!" This is the closest we've come to fisticuffs at Southfork all season, (Jamie and Marilee's barbecue spat notwithstanding) but Ellie's twittering soon distracts Clayton and he escorts her out of the scene. 



    Left alone, JR lets a silent Sue Ellen have it with both barrels: "Well, Sue Ellen, you've managed to ruin my life. Now you're trying to ruin the family. Maybe your new friends at the Institute of Advanced Awareness will tell you what none of your old friends seem willing to: You're a loser. You're a born loser, Sue Ellen. The only institute that works for you is this!" Foreshadowing the end of next week's episode, he then presses his tumbler of bourbon into her hand and takes off. Sue Ellen looks down at the glass before tossing its contents into a plant pot, followed by the glass itself. It's a great moment. Give me the smouldering, defiant Sue Ellen we see here over the silly, childlike woman in her scenes with Jamie.

    

The highlight of the episode is Sue Ellen and Donna's only one to one conversation of the series. Near this beginning of the season, Sue Ellen acknowledged that "I never did have much in common with Donna", and of course that's true. Donna's interest in politics and, well, people other than herself immediately marks her out as very different kind of woman. There is a bond that the two do share, however: the knowledge of what it means to be a Ewing wife. It's a bond Donna has refused to acknowledge in the past, believing that Ray to be a (half) breed apart from the rest of the Ewing men. 

In "Ewing Versus Ewing" (Season 3), for instance, the three Ewing daughters-in-law (Donna, Sue Ellen and Pam) discuss Miss Ellie and Jock's impending divorce. "Love doesn't count for very much with Ewing men," declares Sue Ellen bitterly. "Do you think that applies to all the Ewing men?" challenges Donna. "I do," she replies. "Ray isn't like that," Donna insists. "Well maybe he wasn't," Sue Ellen concedes, "but that was before he found out he had Ewing blood in him." "I disagree," says Donna emphatically.



    In this scene, Donna (in the middle of a milk and cookie binge: sudden cravings perhaps?) finds Sue Ellen brooding in the darkened living room. Sue Ellen is less brittle, Donna more vulnerable than in the scene they shared four years earlier. "How was Hong Kong?" Donna asks. "Hong Kong. Poor Pam," sighs Sue Ellen. "Poor Pam. Poor you. Poor me," replies Donna only half-ironically. (Let's not forget "Poor Val", which became such a familiar refrain on KNOTS LANDING that it lent itself to an episode title.) "Do you detect a pattern?" Sue Ellen asks. "It seems more like an epidemic," jokes Donna. "The Curse of the Ewings," says Sue Ellen evenly. "Well there must be a cure," suggests Donna. "Nothing known to man," Sue Ellen replies. "It wasn't supposed to happen to me," Donna whispers. "I know," nods Sue Ellen.



    What's so interesting about this really quite fleeting scene is that it's the only time the two women display genuine empathy towards one another. In Season 8, the female relationships on the show fall into the DYNASTY trap whereby everyone suddenly knows and likes each other equally; there's no longer a sense of history between them. The opening episode of Season 9, by comparison, features a scene in which a freshly embittered Sue Ellen attempts to include Donna and Jenna in a "Ladies of Southfork" pity party, but Donna's not interested. "Stop it, Sue Ellen," she tells her firmly. "You're not the only one with a problem." "That's very easy to see ... A Ewing is a Ewing is a Krebbs," Sue Ellen replies, cattily making the same point once more.

    

Another milestone takes place as Lucy and Ray have (what I think is) their final conversation of the series, in which she talks about the difficulty she had in writing to Mitch: "How do you tell someone you finally figured out where the relationship went wrong two years after the fact and still make it sound like an astute observation?" Make that three years after the fact, shorty. "Despite all my efforts to do otherwise," she continues, "I finally grew up." She did? When did that happen? After she threw water at Lovely Betty and shut off Eddie's alarm, presumably. "And in the process, I became someone Mitch always wanted me to be ... I became myself." "Older and wiser?" asks Ray politely. "Older and different," she replies. Older and exactly the same, if you ask me. "I don't really need to be the belle of the ball, you know? I like myself." Oh so that's why she barely shows up for family functions anymore: it's because she likes herself. Ray interrupts this reverie with the news that a letter from Mitch has arrived in the mail. Off Lucy trots, leaving Ray behind looking all sad again. 



    Later in the episode, Sly, wearing one of Donna's old dresses, tells JR that his mysterious caller is back on the line. "Mr Ewing, you're a hard man to reach," are Dack Rambo's first, albeit disembodied, words of the show. "I've flown into town to meet you. I have some information for sale, information that could very well tip the scales in the fight for control of Ewing Oil." "Tip the scales in whose favour?" JR asks. "Whoever buys it." "Who are you?" "... I'm someone who knew Jason Ewing very well. He shared a secret with me. A secret that could save your company." JR then applies the same test to his mystery caller as Miss Ellie (unwittingly) did to Jamie nineteen episodes earlier: "All of Jason's really close friends had a nickname for him. Could you tell me what that was?" he asks. There is a pause. Then comes the reply: "Tumbleweed." 



    The two men meet at the Oil Baron's Club where, well let's just call him Mr X for now, puts forward his proposal: "If I can stop Jason Ewing's daughter and Digger Barnes's son from stealing two-thirds of Ewing Oil, I think fair compensation would be 10% of Ewing Oil for myself." "Oh really?" responds JR lightly, "Well, I can give you a lot of money, but nobody but a Ewing is ever gonna own Ewing Oil." Jack - sorry, Mr X - laughs, (just a brief chuckle, not the over-the-top guffaw that will become such an irritant during Season 8) then informs JR of the alternative: "I'll sell my silence to Barnes, let him destroy the information that would prove he has no legitimate claim on Ewing Oil." "... Are you tellin' me that the papers Barnes has are not real?" asks JR, intrigued. "Oh no, they're very real, but I think I've got somethin' better. Look at it this way, if what I'm sellin' doesn't hold up in court, you don't owe me a dime. Can't lose." "Who are you?" "Well, who I am doesn't really matter." Mr X writes down his number on a napkin. "If I don't hear from you real soon, Cliff Barnes will be hearing from me." And with that, he leaves.



    Has any character had a cooler introductory episode than Jack? Without breaking a sweat, or even introducing himself, he's already laid claim to a slice of Ewing Oil. With a palpable sense of one era drawing to a close, he gives us a sense of another, darker one opening up. Up until now, the ambitious young men of DALLAS, the pretenders to JR's crown if you like, have been buttoned up, outwardly respectable types like Alan Beam and Cliff, craving acceptance of one kind or another. Jack doesn't appear to give a damn about any of that. He's a scruffy hustler who carries with him an air of amoral insolence. Not to mention that he appears to be (and I swear I never noticed this the first time around, but once it's pointed out it becomes impossible to ignore) the proud owner of the Taj Mahal of crotches (to borrow a phrase from Paula Yates). 



    "Do you believe him?" asks Sly back at Ewing Oil. "I can't afford not to, honey," JR replies. "Who is he?" "I wish I knew."



    Well, what a nice episode it's turned out to be for Jamie. She's got herself all engaged, she's patched things up with Sue Ellen, and to cap it all, she's moving out of her water-deprived, one room apartment and into Cliff's blue and white condo-cum-town house thingy. She's at her place, packing the last of her belongings, when there is a knock at the door. It's Mr X! "What are you doing here?" she asks. "Is that the way you're gonna greet me ... after all this time?" he drawls, amused by her attempt to shut door in his face. He pushes past her into the apartment and sees the moving boxes. "Well hey, look at this! We comin' or goin' here?" "What does it look like?" "Well it looks like we're movin' uptown baby, hm? New wardrobe, new hairdo, new you." I really like the way Dack Rambo delivers that line--kinda sassy, kinda black, maybe even a little camp: no one on DALLAS talks like that! He picks up one of her Travilla outfits. "Look at this. Pretty. Come into a little money?" She snatches it away. "Look, if you've come to town to mooch off me, forget it," she snaps, "You're not gonna do that to me anymore." "Listen to you!" he laughs, "I come into town, I could be sick, in trouble, broke, what do I get?" "Nothing. Get lost." "Get lost? Just like that?" He puts his hands on her shoulders and drops his voice to a sexy, sinister whisper: "Your own brother." "I stopped thinkin' of you as a brother when you stranded Daddy and me in Alaska ... Why don't you crawl back from wherever you came from? You make me sick!" She moves away from him. "I'm sorry you feel that way," he tells her, "because I kinda like it here in Dallas. I'll see you around, sis." Jack departs, leaving a nervous Jamie to her very own freeze frame. Wow, a bona fide evil Ewing? Looks like Season 8 could be fun!

    I really doubt it's that simple.

    Thanks! I don't feel that way about Donna Reed's performance anymore, though!
     
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  12. Snarky's Ghost

    Snarky's Ghost Soap Chat Oracle

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    Oh, James... :a2:
     
  13. Rove

    Rove Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    Were the writers completely blind to the success of other shows portraying strong women? If that's the case than this reflects poorly on those behind the scenes of Dallas. I was never into Dynasty the way in which Dallas had me hooked but people had navigated to that show purely because of one character, Alexis.

    Another highly successful TV Show here in Australia was Sons and Daughters. The main driving force behind that was Patricia (Pat The Rat) Hamilton, played superbly by Rowena Wallace.

    So what gives with the writers of Dallas? In those early days Miss Ellie, Pam and Lucy stood up for themselves. Lucy in particular served up a few tongue lashings to JR when required. The only weak female character at the time was Sue Ellen however that is exactly how she was to be portrayed. The ever dutiful wife, attending charity functions by day and waiting patiently at night for her husband to come home in the faint hope he would impregnate her.

    Those women of Southfork (and now Donna for good measure) were becoming stronger in themselves and against others, especially leading up to and including the "Dream Season." However, when Bobby nearly pulls a muscle spinning in the shower the female characters duly become the Stepford Wives. What gives?
     
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  14. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    "The Ewing Connection" 



    The episode begins with Ray's pickup turning into the Southfork driveway as he arrives for an evening meeting with a subdued Bobby ("I drove out to see Jenna") and an unusually cordial JR ("I'm glad you could make it"). JR tells his brothers about the proposal he received the previous evening from the mysterious stranger we now know to be Cousin Jack: "I got a gut feeling he has something ..." "How much does he want?" asks Ray. "10% of the company," JR replies. "If his information does not win the fight for us, he doesn't get anything." "... I say call him," volunteers Bobby. Again surprisingly, JR asks Ray what he thinks. "Call him," Ray agrees. As uncharacteristic as JR's attitude towards his half-brother is, I like it: it illustrates how great the stakes are for JR that he would consider seeking Ray's opinion. More predictable is his response when Bobby asks where Jack's 10% of the company is supposed to come from. "Well, five members of this family own Ewing Oil," he replies. "Each of us would have to put up 2% each." "That's ridiculous," Bobby retorts. "You and I have 35% each. Mama, Gary and Ray only have 10% each." "I'd be glad to give up 2% if I thought it would save the company," pipes up Ray. Good ol' Ray: always happy to sacrifice his personal fortune. Exactly how many times has he offered to forfeit his legacy? (On three previous occasions that I recall: to save Jock and Ellie's marriage at the end of Season 3, to help Bobby win the company in Season 5, to avoid taking "charity" from Miss Ellie the same year.) "JR and I should share the burden," insists Bobby, "5% each." That settled, JR makes the call. Jack, playing patience and smirking, lets the phone ring. Maybe he's holding out for a spot in the opening titles.



    Meanwhile, not even the sight of cherries jubilee flambé served up by Cliff can lift Jamie's spirits (even though that's more than Afton or Mandy ever got out of him). "Jack came to see me this afternoon," she tells him. "It was quite a shock ... I haven't seen him in years ..." "He probably heard about the fight for Ewing Oil," Cliff surmises. "He wants his share." "I dunno," she shrugs. "He never mentioned it." Now there's a thin line between naivety and plain old dumbness, and Jamie's in danger of crossing it in this episode. She may not have any interest in the financial value of Ewing Oil, but surely it would occur to her that her opportunistic brother might. Cliff spends the rest of the episode trying to locate him: "I have to talk to Jack Ewing before JR does." "... Why would you wanna talk to Jack?" asks Jamie, still remarkably slow on the uptake. "He can change the percentages," Cliff explains patiently. "He's gonna control a sixth of the company ... If he decides to throw in with Bobby and JR, the odds for control change ... I have to convince him to join forces with us." When he fails to find Jack, Cliff resorts to Plan B. "I think we should go get a marriage licence," he tells Jamie. "I don't wanna wait any longer for you." She hugs him delightedly; his eyes swivel shiftily. 



    Two weeks ago, Lucy wrote Mitch a letter. Last week, he replied. Now she's off to Atlanta to meet him. "I keep telling myself not to make such a big deal out of seeing Mitch again ... but I can't help it!" she trills over a hurried breakfast on the fake patio. "What broke you up anyhow?" wonders Clayton. "Money. I had too much of it!" she replies cheerfully. "He's a very successful doctor now, isn't he?" whirrs the Elliebot. There's more uncharacteristic behaviour from JR who wishes her "good luck, honey" (perhaps he's foresighted enough to realise that if she hitches up with Mitch again, she'll be out of his toupee once and for all) and then apologises to Clayton for their contretemps in last week's episode: "I was worried about my little boy and my marriage and I obviously talked out of turn." "I accept that, JR," Clayton booms, "but I think it's Sue Ellen you should apologise to." "... I've tried, but she won't listen to me," he replies. "You should have thought about that a long time ago," Clayton replies. "Yes, maybe I really should have," he murmurs with an air of finality, as if what's done between he and Sue Ellen can't be undone.



    Speaking of Sue Ellen, we then cut to a clunky scene at the Institute for Advanced Awareness. Some sort of group therapy session is evidently taking place - there's a lot of timid looking middle-aged men in v-neck sweaters sat around a table listening to a mousy woman called Karen announce that she is finally feeling like her own person. Good for her. Then it's Sue Ellen's turn to share with the group, but there's something off about her speech - the dialogue feels jumbled, and not in a good way: "I came very close to starting to drink again. My husband and I had a fight. I mean I have a drinking problem, but it's been under control for a long time now, but I know that I can't drink. And then he attacked me." It feels out of character for Sue Ellen to be talking so freely and intimately in a room full of extras, and Linda Gray's reedy, high-pitched delivery is overwrought and unconvincing. "He accused me of being an unfit mother," she rambles tearfully, "and I wasn't ... I was here trying to get myself better, and then in front of the whole family he accused me of being unfit and he left the room. I was near the bar and there was liquor there and I was so depressed, but I didn't drink! It was so hard to resist, but I didn't drink!" "How do you feel right now, Sue Ellen?" asks the therapist with the high forehead as she dabs her eyes. "I feel pretty good, I think," she smiles, sniffling bravely. "And I'm so grateful to be around some real friends! Thank you!" she adds, as if accepting an Academy Award for Best Supporting Alcoholic. Real friends? This drab looking bunch whom we've never seen before and never will again? I don't think so. There's nothing "real" about this scene at all.



    Next, it's Saturday morning, which means an opportunity for Bobby and Pam to share a few stolen moments when he comes to pick up Christopher for the weekend. "You look tired, Bobby," she tells him sympathetically. "I know how much you've been through ... I have an idea. Why don't we put everything aside for a while? When you come tomorrow night to drop off Christopher, I'll make you dinner ... We haven't had a chance just to be together for a long time." He accepts, and the scene ends with Pam smiling dreamily (no pun intended) as he leaves.



    Then to ATLANTA!, where Mitch makes his first appearance for eighty-six episodes looking stupider than ever with slicked back hair. "You look beautiful," he coos at Lucy in the kind of swanky restaurant Evelyn Michaelson took them both to when she was trying to break up their marriage. "How's your family? I heard there's been some serious problems," he asks with a straight face. Lucy is selective in her response, leaving aside the various fires, car and plane crashes, divorces, dead fiancees, drug busts, shootings, court battles and kidnappings that have taken place during the past three seasons to focus on Miss Ellie's and Bobby's love lives: "Grandma's married to a really nice man now ... and ... Bobby's had a lot of heartache lately." Mitch is equally circumspect when she asks after his sister, neglecting to mention Afton's yet-to-be-invented daughter. However, he does admit to breaking a date in order to meet her for dinner. "I should have realised there were other women in your life. You're a very attractive, very successful doctor," she replies. This is the second time in the episode that Mitch has been referred to as "a successful doctor" during an exchange about his love life. The implication is that professional success and personal happiness are inextricably linked. This seems to contradict the message of the original Lucy/Mitch love story, but given that they split up the first time around - hey - maybe big bucks do heal all wounds. 



    Jack finally deigns to pick up his phone. "It's JR Ewing here." "Yeah I know ... Do we have a deal?" JR suggests another meeting, this time with his brothers. And so it is that Jack swaggers into Ewing Oil, hands on hips, the following morning. "Nice of you folks to invite me out on a Sunday. Apparently you're not real regular church goin' folk," he observes wryly. (I really like this line, and also the other observation Jack makes about the Dallas Ewings in this scene: "I guess you Texas boys don't know too much about hardship unless you've tried roughneckin' out in the Alaska oil fields.") "Let's just get down to business," snaps Bobby, adopting a notably cool attitude to the man who will essentially be his replacement on the show. JR proposes a cash deal: "No piece of the company and no ownership." "And no deal," responds Jack flatly. "This fight with Cliff Barnes is not just over control of the company," Bobby explains, "Ewing Oil was given to us by our daddy. It's a family business." "Nobody but a Ewing will ever own Ewing Oil," insists JR. "I can understand that," Jack replies, "and I can go along with it ... Let me introduce myself, cousins. I'm Jack Ewing, Jason's son." "... Well I gotta tell you, there's nothin' like the smell of money to get the relatives outta the woodwork!" comments JR, adopting the same tone he used to welcome Jack's sister to Southfork twenty-three episodes earlier ("Distant relatives - I just love 'em"). "If you are who you say you are, I'm prepared to do business with you," he adds grudgingly.

    With that, Jack tells the first part of his story: "Things got real rough in Alaska ... Even little Jamie used to work ten, twelve hour shifts, no school. All the while I was growin' up, my daddy would boast to me about this document he had giving him ownership of one third of Ewing Oil, but he never said anything to Jamie when she was around, just me. Well finally, after we'd all been outta work for about six months, I got him aside and faced him down and I said, 'To hell with this independence bull, let's just get the one third that belongs to us.' ... One night he was drinkin' real heavy, and Daddy told me the whole story. The Dallas Ewings own Ewing Oil. He didn't have a claim on any part of it ... Same with Digger." "Where's the proof?" JR demands. "Well, when we all put our signatures on a legal document giving me 10% of Ewing Oil, I'll take you to that proof," smiles Jack, while the others look bemused.



    This instalment is the last written by DALLAS veteran Arthur Bernard Lewis until the Season 10 opener sixty-four episodes later. Although David Paulsen insisted in his interview that the scripts written by himself, Lewis and Katzman were allocated randomly, the episode does feel somewhat retrospective in places, with a look back at the history of two of the show's most enduring couples - Ray and Donna, and Bobby and Pam. First up is a scene between the two Donnas, Reed and Krebbs, both dressed to the nines on the Southfork patio. Donna K is deep in thought when the Elliebot interrupts her. After showing her irritation in a way she never would towards BBG, Donna declares that "things cannot go on the way they are between Ray and me. I love him, Miss Ellie, I always will, but I don't think I can ever live with him again. We seem to be at odds over everything, and I think back and I remember: Everything was fine until I started being successful in my work. The reason that I dropped out of politics was because it made Ray uncomfortable." (Hmm, did Donna ever really drop out of politics? Helping out Dave Culver from time to time, becoming Senator Sam's biographer, serving on the Texas Energy Commission for two years - hardly the actions of an apolitical hausfrau.) "And then my books," she continues, "I think that was the hardest time for him, especially when it hit the best seller list. Now we have the oil field. I always felt Ray was a success in his own way, but I guess he never accepted that ... You know, Miss Ellie, I like being capable. I don't wanna have to be ashamed of it."

    

The second relationship review comes as Pam and Bobby reminisce over brandies in front of the fire. "You know, right now I can't help but think about all those times we talked about moving away from Southfork," smiles Pam, "I think things would have worked out differently for us if we'd gotten away from the Ewing family." "And if I hadn't got so involved in the company," adds Bobby. "Well, after JR was shot, nothing was ever the same, was it?" she asks. "You and I were on our way to California," he remembers, "then the family found us and asked us to come back, and I took over control of the company until JR got better." "And after that you never got the company out of your blood ... We could have gotten a house of our own. I think it would have been better for us." 

While Donna's trip down memory lane leads her to a seemingly irrevocable conclusion, ("You don't mean a divorce?" asks Ellie. "Yes, I guess that's what I mean," she replies) Pam and Bobby's has the opposite effect. "Well we shouldn't sit around here and play what might have been, huh?" says Bobby, getting to his feet. Pam does the same. There's a beat and then they kiss, which leads to a sweetly impulsive moment as Pam reaches up on tiptoe to embrace him. They break away. "Pam, I'm sorry -" he begins. She puts her fingers to his lips and smiles. "Good-night," he whispers. She watches him leaves and sighs, still smiling.



    Monday morning, and Omri Katz gives good queasy at the breakfast table. Sue Ellen keeps him home from school, but he talks her out of calling the doctor and she toddles off to the Institute for Advanced Awareness one last time. A couple of hours later, the kid is doubled up in pain and crying out for his grandma (or failing that, Donna Reed). Ray appears in the upstairs hallway for the first time since it was set on fire. (Boy, that man is everywhere these days!) However, there's no time to admire the redecorating as John Ross is now unconscious. He is rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with appendicitis - the same conveniently low maintenance yet vaguely life-threatening illness inflicted on Donna in Season 9. 



    Meanwhile, the kiss Bobby shared with Pam the previous evening lays heavily on his mind. This is indicated by him sitting at his desk staring longingly at a photograph of ... Christopher? (Guess he keeps all his pictures of Victoria Principal hidden under the mattress these days.) His reverie is interrupted by Lieutenant Spaulding bearing news of a break in Jenna's case - André Schuman, the professional assassin described in last week's episode as "nearly impossible to find", has been spotted in Brussels. Bobby worries that if Schuman is arrested in Europe, it could take months before he is extradited back to the States. Spaulding makes reassuring noises before repeating his "when you two get married, I want an invitation to the wedding" gag. "You got it!" Bobby replies, before going back to staring at Christopher's picture and looking all conflicted. 



    He manages to tear himself away from coochie-face long enough to join JR in signing over 10% of the company to Jack, "providing the information that Jack supplies firmly establishes that Cliff Barnes and Jamie Ewing have no legal claim to Ewing Oil," clarifies Harve. "All right, Jack. You've got your agreement. Where's your proof?" asks JR. "I don't have it with me," Jack replies, eking out the denouement of this story just a little further, "but I'm gonna arrange for you to meet the gentleman that does, Wallace Windham." "How much is he gonna hold us up for?" scoffs Bobby. "This sounds a little like a con job," adds JR. "Now take it easy," replies Jack, "Wally doesn't need your money, but when you meet him, treat him with a little respect and dignity. He's the man that will prove that you really do own Ewing Oil." "Where is he?" "Patience. I will let you know very shortly."



    JR and Bobby are busy hiding assets in dummy corporations when Fake Mama calls with the news John Ross is in surgery. Bobby is about to follow JR to the hospital when Lieutenant Spaulding shows up again: "They spotted André Schuman getting off a plane at Kennedy Airport in New York ... He's travelling with a woman." Anyone we know? "They're not sure who she is." Any mention of a big hat or a blonde wig? "They've got a tail on him right now ... They're under strict orders to try and take him alive."

    

Donna is visiting Dr Danvers, making his only appearance of the season. It's the first time we've seen these two together yet they seem awfully chummy. Perhaps they bonded off screen when he treated her for that Jessica-inflicted bump on the head at the end of Season 6. "Congratulations are in order," he says. "You're going to be a mother ... I know you and Ray have wanted a child for a long time." Have they? I can only recall one, very brief conversation they had on the subject in Season 4. Donna is predictably overjoyed, but some ambivalence about the pregnancy itself (as opposed to her marital circumstances) might have been more interesting. I mean, there have been no obstacles preventing Donna and Ray from starting a family before now, (at least none that we the audience have been privy to) so why haven't they? Obviously, the real reason is because the writers saw no dramatic mileage in such an event, but why not create a dramatic (or at least interesting) reason for the delay? As it is, Donna's unequivocally beatific joy at impending motherhood foreshadows the dreaded developments of Season 8 where suddenly motherhood is all she's interested in. Having got over the initial shock, Donna articulates the two dilemmas she will wrestle with for the rest of the season: "I don't know how to tell him" and "I don't want our marriage to be held together solely because of the baby."

    

The end of this instalment also anticipates Season 8, specifically its opening scene. In both instances, a freshly optimistic Sue Ellen returns to the ranch entirely oblivious to the hospital based drama that has unfolded in her absence (John Ross's surgery and Bobby's death respectively). A wrathful JR then verbally chews her up and spits her out, driving her straight back to the bottle. "I stopped off to do a little shopping on the way home from the institute," she announces cheerfully, dumping her bags on a living room chair as JR pours himself a drink at the bar. "Buy some pretty things for yourself, did you?" he snaps, before moving in for the kill: "While you were out seeking help for your psyche and boosting the economy of the more fashionable boutiques of Dallas, your son was being rushed into surgery." "My God! What happened?" "What happened was his mother wasn't around. She didn't think it was necessary that he see a doctor." "JR, I was with him and he seemed better!" JR walks away from her towards the staircase. "Really?" he scoffs. "Well he was in minutes of a ruptured appendix ... He could've died, Sue Ellen!" He slams his glass down on the hallway table and starts to climb the stairs. "You're a totally unfit mother!" She grabs for his arm. "JR, stop! Wait a minute, dammit!" she squeals. "He'd be a helluva lot better with you out of his life. We'd all be better off," he continues mercilessly before disappearing from view. In time-honoured fashion, Sue Ellen yanks off an earring before calling the hospital. "How is he? Serious?" She looks down and sees JR's glass filled with bourbon and one enormous plastic ice cube. She hesitates, then picks it up and drinks. The end. Sue Ellen gets her first freeze frame for forty-eight episodes.



    Again, this scene is not Linda Gray's finest acting moment. Her reaction to JR's news is too shrill and over the top to really convince. There's a sense that she's cranking up the hysteria in order to justify Sue Ellen's decision to drink at the end of the scene. It's a tricky one: on the two previous occasions that Sue Ellen has fallen off the wagon, (hearing the news of Dusty's plane crash in Season 2; finding JR in bed with Holly Harwood in Season 5) she has done so out of a sense of hopelessness; her world has essentially come to an end. Had she been a different kind of neurotic, she might just as easily have reached for a bottle of sleeping pills. This, however, is a very different situation - one of urgency rather than abject despair. As a result, her relapse doesn't have quite the same dramatic resonance this time around. On the other hand, one could argue that an alcoholic does not require an external reason to drink; the fact that Sue Ellen is an alcoholic is reason enough in itself. John Ross's illness simply gives her the excuse to do what she is already predisposed to do. And perhaps the comparative flimsiness of the excuse this time around (after all, her son is sick, not dead) makes sense of why Sue Ellen finds it so difficult to stop drinking once she's started (at least in Season 8).
     
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  15. Ferney

    Ferney Soap Chat Member

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    These reviews are better than the episodes.

    But why in the world didn't they track down Jack before this? They knew she had a brother. It's the same sort of reasoning that makes it seem Pam can't get some of the company herself which she is completely entitled to. No one even seems to think about it. Why in the world did Wardrobe let Dack wear those vulgar tight pants- they also let Jenilee wear those blouses where her nipples stick out- it's distracting, it's unseemly. I don't want to see that. I love beautiful people but there's been a certain amount of class to it- this season, they want their private parts to stick out. And Dack doesn't just have a bulge down below, it looks like someone took a hair dryer and pumped air into the whole front of his pants. It looks like one of those air bags you jump out of an airplane into. It's too distracting and not at all sexy, it's trashy.
     
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  16. Seaviewer

    Seaviewer Soap Chat Addict

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    But his smirking explanation, "That was last week", remains a favourite line of mine. :)
     
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  17. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    "Deeds and Misdeeds"



    Last week's episode was Arthur Bernard Lewis's swan song (pun only partially intended) and now it's the turn of David Paulsen to write and direct his final instalment before moving upstairs to produce KNOTS LANDING. Unlike Lewis's effort, which included a few poignant nods to the past, Paulsen's script is a solid but comparatively workmanlike exercise, more concerned with placing the characters in the positions they need to be for the season's final two episodes than in really getting under their skins.

    

In the opening shot, Bobby pulls into Southfork as thunder rumbles overhead - never a good sign. Sure enough, he enters the living room to find Sue Ellen filling her face with vodka. Even more disturbing, she's playing the piano. Before she can launch into an expletive-laden rendition of one of Barbara Bel Geddes' beloved rugby songs, he drags her up to her room. "I'm a terrible mother," she tells him en route. "I'm just no good ... JR's right." As Bobby-dealing-with-his-drunken-sister-in-law scenes go, it's not really in the same league as their sanitarium encounter at the end of Season 1 ("If I'd only met you first, Bobby ...") or her bitter rant about finding JR in bed with Holly Harwood at the end of Season 5 ("Oh sure, she raped him!").



    Bobby then breaks the bad news to his brother. "Well maybe that gives you an idea of the kind of woman I married," shrugs JR. "When she's feelin' bad, she starts suckin' on that bottle." "JR, Sue Ellen has lots of problems and she needs help," Bobby insists. "I guarantee ya, she's gonna get all the help she needs," JR assures him, a tiny smile playing on his lips. This is the first of three not so subtle hints that he is planning to send Sue Ellen back to that sanitarium. His total lack of concern for her welfare makes a refreshing change from all that humble pie he's been eating over her during the last three seasons. It also means JR and Mandy can break out of the "We can't go on like this" holding pattern they've been in for the past half a season. "I know what's bothering you," he tells Mandy. "Me and Sue Ellen living in the same house, but I can tell you now, that is not gonna continue much longer ... You still want me, don't you?" "Oh God yes! Oh yes, JR, I do!" she cries, gasping and moaning as he sticks his nose in her ear.



    John Ross has a couple of hospital scenes in this episode and for some reason, is really funny in both of them. A stylishly bedraggled Sue Ellen finally shows up to see him the day after his operation. "Where were you?" he asks, in a way that manages to be simultaneously innocent and accusatory. "I'm so sorry," she grovels. "It was a mistake. Mommy should have been here." They hug. "It wasn't your fault," he says with wide-eyed solemnity. "Yes it was, yes it was," she insists, weeping all over his hair.



    Donna Reed's days might be numbered - only two more episodes to go - but by this point, one has kind of become accustomed to her portrayal of Miss Ellie. The writers no longer give her anything of import to do and she's given up trying to assert any kind of authority over the family. Instead she just hovers quietly in the background, listening patiently to anyone who can be bothered to do a scene with her - usually Donna. As was the case during their scene in last week's episode, a preoccupied Donna stares into space as Miss Ellie timidly approaches. "I was standing here contemplating life," Donna tells her. "It's so strange, Miss Ellie. There are times in your life when you want things so badly, and then five years, six months, two years, it happens. Somehow or other, it's just not the same." (So does this mean we're meant to think Donna and Ray have been trying for a baby for several years?) "I'm not sure what you're referring to," says a politely confused Ellie. "Things just get more and more complicated," Donna replies cryptically.



    So gradual has been the diminishing of Reed's status that it never occurred to me (until it was pointed out on the forum) to question the fact that it's Clayton, rather than Ellie, whom Donna chooses to confide in about her pregnancy. Ellie might be Donna's closest friend, but Donna Reed still seems like a relative stranger to her, their conversations tentative and stilted. Donna K's bond with Clayton is much stronger, and the straight down the line advice he gives her in this episode ("How complicated can it be? There's you and Ray, and you still love each other ... Get busy and work things out ... It may sound old fashioned, but dammit, I think you could do it") evokes the robust bond she shared with BBG's version of Ellie. Howards Susan and Keel are both very good in their scene together. Indeed, aside from a couple of confrontations with Larry Hagman, it's the only opportunity Keel has had to really act with someone this season. "You're thinking of not having this baby?" Clayton asks Donna, anticipating the debate at the heart of the Krebbses' Big Scene in Season 8. "No, I'm havin' it all right, but why did it have to come now?" she asks.



    Down at the "Atlanta Community Hospital Burns Center", Mitch auditions for THE WEST WING by striding manfully down a corridor talking medical hooey to bit players while clutching a clipboard. "You're a real doctor!" exclaims Lucy perceptively as she canters alongside him. Then they reminisce about their rubbish marriage, which is no more interesting to hear about now than it was to sit through at the time. "I have to admit," Mitch concludes, "since I've made some money, I've learned to appreciate the things it can buy. I'm glad I did it on my own though. I never woulda felt good taking handouts from your family." Apparently he felt just fine taking a new car from Afton, courtesy of her Rebecca Wentworth inheritance, during Season 6, however. He and Lucy are interrupted by his icy new squeeze Joanna Pearce. "Hello, Mitchell," she says chillingly. (Mitchell, huh? You just know she treats him like dirt and he loves it.) She then shoots Lucy a hilariously filthy look. Alas, we never see Joanna again. She really should have been given her own spin-off show.



    Two nights have passed since her kiss with Bobby, but Pam is still all aglow and aquiver. "I haven't seen you smile like that in I don't know how long," Jackie tells her as she walks into Barnes-Wentworth. "Well I haven't felt like this in I don't know how long," Pam replies. Hmm, what's the betting that smile will be gone by the end of this scene? Meanwhile, Cliff is in a bind. The Texas Energy Commission still won't let him resume drilling on Gold Canyon 340. "Instead of bringing in any capital, all my money is flowing out," he explains. This leaves him unable to finalise a deal with Jordan Lee that he has already committed to. Pammy solves all by offering to put up the money he needs, all $11,000,000 of it. "That's fantastic!" he beams. "I've told you, together we're unbeatable!" "I'll say," concurs Jordan. "I have a feeling JR and Bobby are gonna find that out pretty soon ... I'm startin' to feel sorry for those boys. With you two workin' together, they don't even have a chance." And it's at this moment that Pam's smile dissolves. 



    Bobby adopts a similarly glum expression at the end of a scene in which Lieutenant Spaulding calls with the news that André Schumann is in police custody in New York: "That woman he was travelling with turned out to be his wife." Rather recklessly, Bobby immediately gets Charlie's hopes up by promising that "we're finally get your momma out of prison." "... Then you and Momma can get married and the three of us can finally be a family!" she chirrups. "Oh yeah, that means I have to marry the dreary mare doesn't it?" he remembers silently as his face plummets. 



    I like the way Jack continues to keep his Texas cousins off balance. Not only does he arrive late for a meeting at Ewing Oil, ("I'm still having some trouble finding my way around Dallas") but he shows up empty-handed. "I thought you were bringin' this Windham guy with ya," says Ray. "I gotta take you guys out to meet him. He's living out in California now," he replies. Continuing Season 7's policy of thoroughly examining its major storylines (Pam's search for Mark, Naldo's murder, the fight for Ewing Oil) from every angle, Paulsen has the Ewing brothers pre-empt the viewers' questions with a couple of their own. "You know, I've been thinkin' about all this," begins Bobby. "Somethin' doesn't quite connect ... why Jamie is joining forces with Cliff. Because if everything you're tellin' us is true, she's gotta know she's fightin' a losin' battle." "I'm sure she doesn't know," Jack insists. "Jamie wasn't more than eighteen, nineteen at the time I left. She wasn't around when I had that fight with Jason. I bet anything that after I left, he just kept feeding her the same old lies. Hell, by then he didn't have much in his life but those lies."

    Later, when the boys get to California, JR tosses Jack a poser of his own: "What bothers me is if you'd been quiet about it and thrown in with your sister, you woulda gotten one-sixth of the Ewing Oil instead of a tenth." " ... I was a little worried that Wally would read about it in the paper and come forward on his own," explains Jack. "That way I wouldn't have had anything."



    Before leaving Dallas, JR stops by the hospital with a metal robot for John Ross to cuddle up to. Omri Katz is again very funny, tut-tutting as JR explains that he has to go stop some bad people taking over Ewing Oil. "You're not gonna let them do it, are you?" John Ross asks. JR is nicely outrageous as he asks his son to spy on Sue Ellen in his absence: "If you see her doing anything out of the ordinary, you tell me huh?" He then drops another hint about sending for the men in white coats: "Your mama's real tired, John Ross, and we may just have to send her someplace where she can take a nice long rest."

    

Jamie arrives home to the blue and white condo she now shares with Cliff to find Richie Cunningham's real life father waiting to marry them. Pam, Jackie and Jordan are also in attendance. Everyone's dressed up fancy except for Jamie herself - just like that first time she sat down to dinner at Southfork. "What do you think you're doing, marrying a Ewing?" Cliff asked Pam at the beginning of the series. Now Pam gets to ask him her version of the same question: "Are you getting married because you love her?" she whispers. "You have to stop asking me that question," he replies.



    The day after the wedding, Cliff is back in the office assuring Pam that if anything should go wrong with the Jordan Lee deal, "I will cover your losses myself." Oh no he won't. When this storyline is revived in a post-dream Season 9, Pam will discover that Cliff has pocketed her money himself. This leads to much conflict between them. For now, however, Cliff is psyched to hear that "340 is pumping again! ... Call the Oil Baron's, we're gonna have a party!" "... Isn't somebody missing?" wonders Pam as the celebrations get underway. "Who?" he asks. "The girl you just married, Cliff," she replies with a withering look. It's a funny moment.



    The four Ewing men arrive at Wallace Windham's swanky pad in California, previously an evil voodoo house in the Bahamas on FLAMINGO ROAD and later Abby's Malibu beach-side residence on KNOTS LANDING. And of course, Wally himself later doubles (or trebles) as Season 12 twins Arlen and Atticus Ward, but let's not go there until we absolutely have to. 

Windham is introduced as a neutral character, an impartial witness to the Barnes/Ewing feud. So his first words, "Jock Ewing was one hell of a man," lets us know on which side of the feud the programme itself now stands. "Come on out back and I'll crack some beers," he tells the boys. "May as well get comfortable cos this story's gonna take a while to tell." We're not yet privy to this story, but it ends the way it began, with an affirmation of Jock's integrity: "Your daddy really earned my respect for what he did."

    The question then becomes how to prove that integrity. "It sure would have made things simpler for us if you'd made copies of those papers," sighs Bobby. "Are you sure Jock kept his copies?" Ray asks. "He had copies of everything," Wally insists. "Did you talk to Amanda?" It falls to Bobby to remind the casual viewer who the heck Amanda is: "Daddy's first wife ... She spent the last fifty years in a mental institution," he adds with a commendably straight face. "He gave most of his papers to her for safekeeping," Wally continues. "Yeah, that makes sense," JR replies. "All this happened long before Mama and Daddy were married." (Not according to Miss Ellie in "The Homecoming" when she recalled that after Jock, Jason and Digger struck it big, "I didn't see Jock for a week.") JR emphasises that finding the papers is a long-shot: "Even if she does have 'em, she may not remember where they are." "... Without them, you're gonna have two new partners that I know you don't want," says Wally. Cue concerned close-ups of each of the Ewing boys - even Jack, looking a little worried for the very first time.



    Back in Dallas, Sue Ellen is still chugging back the vodka. What I find so fascinating about Sue Ellen during the early years of the series is how fundamentally dishonest she is. No matter what turmoil might be raging inside her, she walks around insisting "everything is just fine." And no way in hell would she ever admit to having a drink problem. It's these layers of denial that give the character her complexity, her edge, and provide Linda Gray with something to really get her teeth into as an actress. The more recent Sue Ellen, the one who discusses her problems openly, is far less interesting and often sounds kind of stupid. This episode includes examples of both versions. First we see her, in a nicely woozy shot filmed through a vodka bottle, enter the Southfork living room and head for the liquor cabinet. She is interrupted by Miss Ellie who asks her about John Ross. "Miss Ellie, I feel so awful," she burbles, sounding all high pitched and silly. "How could I neglect my little baby like that?" Following this question, there's a weird edit where the camera cuts to Donna Reed, but no words come out of her mouth. "But I can't help it," Sue Ellen then says, apropos of nothing - unless the Elliebot, frustrated with her lack of scripted dialogue, has taken to communicating with the rest of the cast telepathically. Eventually, Sue Ellen manages to shake off her increasingly space age mother-in-law and stuff a bottle of vodka into her conveniently large shoulder bag before nipping upstairs (in more ways than one).

    

A much better Sue Ellen scene takes place towards the end of the episode. While the rest of the family are finishing up dinner, we find her sneaking a drink from the bar then covering it up with club soda, exactly the way she does at the beginning of "Wheeler Dealer" (Season 2). This time, however, there's no JR to point the finger at her, just a courteous enquiry from Clayton as to how she's feeling. "I'm just fine, thank-you," she lies perkily. Donna Reed then arrives to apprise them of the Amanda/missing papers plot development. "Jock was married before?" Clayton exclaims in surprise. "Yes," replies the Elliebot serenely, "she's completely out of touch with reality." Look who's talking. "She thinks she's living in the past?" asks Clayton. "She is living in the past," replies Sue Ellen, her tone deliciously mocking as she takes a sip from her glass. "Poor woman, the last time the family went to visit her, she mistook Bobby for Jock," says Ellie, describing another scene from "Wheeler Dealer". "It's a pity we can't do more for her."

    

On the subject of incarcerated women it's a pity we can't do more for, the episode then cuts to Jenna in her jail cell, looking pretty with short hair and a furrowed brow as she reads a boring letter from Charlie about pink nightgowns and school. It's the first time we've seen Jenna since she ordered Bobby to leave her alone two episodes ago. Courtesy of an ear-splittingly whiny voice-over from Shalane McCall, we can hear Charlie's epistle, thoughtfully composed to ease Jenna's burden: "I'm really lonely! ... You're my mama and you're supposed to take care of me! ... It still hurts that you're not here!" 



    Meanwhile, Pam is making the most of Christopher's final few episodes before he morphs into Joshua Harris by having one of their intermittent one-way conversations. This one is neither as gloomy as the Season 5 scene where she told him that she loved his daddy but could never live with him again, nor as wildly inappropriate as her tearful admission in Season 6 that sex with Mark wasn't as satisfying as it had been with Bobby ("He's not your daddy!"). This time, she pushes him on a swing while happily day-dreaming about the Bobster. "He's gonna be home tomorrow ... Then maybe we'll all spend some time together, just you, me and Daddy. Wouldn't that be nice? ... I think it would be, and you know what else?" "What?" Christopher manages to reply without bursting into tears. "I think we're gonna be spending a lot more time together in the future," she tells him. So while Bobby's promising Charlie a happy ending, Pam's doing the same thing to Christopher. One of those kids is gonna end up awfully disappointed.



    To the Rolling Hills Loony Bin where Amanda "thinks she's still twenty." With the original Amanda, Lesley Woods, languishing in a thankless role as Maggie Gioberti's housekeeper on FALCON CREST, the part is taken over by Susan French, who also appeared in FALCON CREST earlier the same year as Gina Lollobrigida's Italian grandmother, which would have to make her about 300 years old. Spookily, both Amandas died in 2003 within the space of four months. Each is fine in the role, but I think I prefer Amanda #1, partly because her storyline is more poignant and partly because Susan French is such a familiar TV face that there's something generically "old woman" about her.

"Jock, is it really you?" she asks Bobby as the other Ewing men stand awkwardly in the background. Assuming the role of his father, Bobby reminds her about some papers he gave her for safekeeping. "If you gave them to me, I surely wouldn't lose them," she assures him. As she wanders off in search of them, Bobby looks troubled - as well he might. Although her situation is never dwelt on, Amanda is potentially one of the most tragic figures in DALLAS history, and while it would be too much of an exaggeration to say that Bobby is looking into the face of death when he looks at this old woman forever frozen in time as a young girl, it does seem somehow fateful that he should once again encounter his father's first wife so soon before his own demise. Not to mention what karma would make of him impersonating a dead man.



    Bonkers she may be, but the old girl still comes up trumps. Bobby hands his brothers the papers to examine while he and Amanda say their good-byes. "I realise you're very busy," she tells him, "but I do wish you'd visit me more ... It would be nice to see my husband every once in a while." He promises to visit her soon, but of course he never will. Meanwhile, Ray, JR and Jack exchange smiles of victory. "I think Cliff Barnes and Jamie Ewing are up the creek without a paddle," declares JR. "Well then, who's gonna be the first to welcome me to Ewing Oil?" asks Jack, wiping the smiles from his cousins' faces. Then he smirks, does that raised eyebrow thing that will become deeply annoying in Season 8 but isn't yet, and gets the first of his two freeze frames (not counting that rubbish one he shares with JR in Martinique).
     
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  18. Ray&Donna

    Ray&Donna Soap Chat TV Fanatic

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    I had no idea that was her on MELROSE PLACE--she was unrecognizable compared to her DALLAS appearances! Also, I was grateful Bobby decided not to adopt her in WAR OF THE EWINGS, as had been originally planned. :lol:
     
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  19. James from London

    James from London Soap Chat Enthusiast

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    "Deliverance" 



    First Leigh McCloskey's back on screen and now Jared Martin. What is this, 1981? These cast additions mean that the "Also Starring ..." section at the top of the show is starting to look a little crowded, a trend that will continue into Season 8. Speaking of "Also Starring ..." what's with the new look billing where the characters' names are printed alongside those of the actors playing them? i.e., Also Starring JARED MARTIN AS DUSTY FARLOW, LEIGH McCLOSKEY AS MITCH COOPER, DEBORAH SHELTON AS MANDY WINGER, JENNILEE HARRISON AS JAMIE EWING BARNES, DACK RAMBO AS JACK EWING. This distinction has previously been reserved for big name guest actors: Howard Keel, Donna Reed and, um, Christopher Atkins. 



    The Ewing boys are back from California. The first one we see is JR, confidently assuring assorted members of his family at the Southfork breakfast table, including a curiously brown haired Ellie, that the information gleaned from Amanda will be enough to "shut that dolt [i.e. Cliff] up for good ..." "Would be nice without any fighting or pressure around here," reflects Clayton as JR disappears upstairs to slip out of his cravat and into something less camp. "Yeah, things could get back to normal," replies Donna with no discernible trace of irony. Has life at Southfork ever been normal? It's kind of fun to think of the Ewings constantly striving to reach a nirvana called "normal".



    At Miss Ellie's brunette behest, JR pays a visit to Barnes-Wentworth (his fourth in three years) where he makes a purposefully half-hearted attempt to dissuade Cliff from going through with the court case. "Are you suggesting that I drop my suit against you?!" asks Cliff gleefully. "Not on your life! I've got you by the throat and I'm not gonna let go. I want this to go on public record. I want everyone to know how Jock Ewing did my daddy in and I'm gonna sit there and watch you squirm while I do it ... I can't wait to call up the cartel and tell 'em how you came crawlin' in here tryin' to make a deal!" Of course, this is exactly the reaction JR was after. ("I want him to go to court," he later explains to Sly. "I'm gonna cream him, cream him in front of the cartel and the whole State of Texas.") However, even JR is taken aback to learn that Cliff and Jamie are newlyweds. "Barnes, you married that girl so you could get control of two-thirds of Ewing Oil!" he exclaims with a kind of twisted admiration.



    The next brother we see is Bobby, dropping by Antioch Drive to collect Christopher for the weekend. Lord knows what they're putting in Eric Farlow's eggs 'n' toast these days, but he's all over his daddy like a rash. "Lucky him, he's allowed to run across a room and jump into your arms," says Pam, flirting recklessly. Alas, this father/son/ex-wife bonding is interrupted by a phone call from the police with the exciting news that "they have the man who may have killed Naldo Marchetta. He's been extradited from New York. I have to go down there right away," Bobby explains. "We understand," Pam replies graciously. "We know how important this is for you." As if realising how limited their time is before old Plastic Presley gets released from the slammer, she offers to cook him dinner that evening.



    To Dallas Police Headquarters then, and a juicy interrogation scene between Bobby, Detective Howard (the craggy looking one off of ANGEL and LOST) and the naughty assassin himself, Andre Shuman. Shuman, unsurprisingly, is somewhat less than forthcoming. "I wouldn't know," he replies airily when Bobby asks who wanted Veronica Robinson killed. Only when Shuman inquires about his wife does he betray any sort of vulnerability and Bobby threatens to show her the Veronica Robinson snuff movie. "That tape means nothing and you know it," retorts Shuman. "It doesn't prove I killed that woman on the plane and it certainly doesn't tie me to some murder in a Laredo hotel." Detective Howard then presents him with a stack of dossiers from the FBI and Interpol. I really like the speech the detective then delivers: "Have you read them lately, Mr Schumann? They're fascinating. You're fascinating. You've left a trail of corpses around the world - men, women, old, young ... but you crossed the line on this one. You freelanced your way into my world and that's just cost you the game, because by the time the prosecution gets through with you, there isn't a jury in this country that won't send you away for life."

    Thanks to this decidedly un-DALLAS speech (this is not, after all, a series that makes many references to infanticide) and Rod Arrants' effectively unemotional portrayal of Andre the assassin, the scene manages to evoke a bleak, cold world of international intrigue and danger. Set against this wintry, vaguely European backdrop, (I'm getting a DAY OF THE JACKAL vibe myself) the Jenna/Naldo/Veronica plot suddenly feels part of a much bigger picture. It subsequently acquires more tension and credibility. And it's precisely this sense of context that Peter Dunne fails to sustain over the course of the not entirely dissimilar Angelica Nero storyline of Season 8.

    

The police procedure surrounding the interrogation scene is a source of good old-fashioned cop show urgency. "Twenty-four hours, we can't hold him any longer than that without charging him with a crime," Howard informs Bobby gravely. "Does the DA think he can link both murders?" asks Bobby anxiously. "No." "Then we don't have anything to help Jenna ... He'll go to prison with his secret and take Jenna's last chance with him!" Cue doom-laden music and the screen fading fade to black.



    JR is pleased to learn that Naldo's killer has been apprehended. "Now Bobby and Jenna can get back together," he tells Sly. She's confused: "I thought you wanted Bobby and Pam to get back together?" "That was last week," he chuckles.



    Speaking of Bobby and Pam, "The evening was perfect," he tells her after chowing down on a bowl of her "killer chilli". "Yes it was," she agrees. "When Jenna comes home, we won't be spending anymore nights together like this." "No," he admits. "Well that makes me sad," she tells him, "and I'm sorry for us. Maybe I shouldn't say that, but it's how I feel." "Pam, if things could have just been different for us," he murmurs noncommittally. "Oh Bobby!" she laughs, "if anything were any different, if Jenna weren't in prison, I wouldn't let you out of my house tonight. I wouldn't let you out of my sight. I'd never let you out of my life again. I love you. I love you more than I ever did before, and I didn't think that was possible." This declaration of love has been a long time coming, but what's so surprising is the calm, clear-eyed, confident way Pam delivers it. For so long she was the shrill, neurotic, basket case in this relationship, but now it's Bobby, traditionally the hero, who is on the verge of tears and unable to look Pam in the eye. "I'm not ashamed of loving you," she continues, "and I'm not sorry for it ... I love you, Bobby." They embrace. "I love you so much my heart hurts." "I know," he finally replies. "I never stopped loving you and I never will." They kiss, and it's a big old Hollywood smooch, with him lowering her down onto the couch. A soon to be axed Eric Farlow spitefully kills the moment from off screen by passive-aggressively yelling at Pam: "Mommy, I'm weddy!" 



    The third Ewing brother we catch up with on his return from California is Ray. He's at home, celebrating the impending court victory with a bottle of beer and a polish of his boots, when Donna appears. Clad in a glamorous silky outfit, she looks overdressed for such a down home scene, and the contrast only serves to underline the inherent 'cowboy and the lady' differences between them. The couple are kind of treading water at this point in the series; the writers obviously don't want Ray to learn about Donna's pregnancy until the finale episode, which requires her to behave with an uncharacteristic lack of forthrightness towards him. What this results in, however, is the opportunity to watch Donna in one of her of apparently non-judgemental, but actually very judgemental, moods. "Looks like the Ewing brothers have done it again," she observes. "First time I had anything to do with the business of Ewing Oil or had anything to say about it," replies Ray, "it felt really good, you know? Especially since we're gonna whip Cliff Barnes at the same time." "I'd be careful," she tells him, a fixed smile on her face. "You're starting to sound a little bit like JR ... I just thought you'd be glad to have this behind you so you could get back to your ranching ..." "You don't think I can handle the Ewing Oil business, do ya?" he asks. "'What is Ray the cowboy doin' in the boardroom,' huh?" "You know, you were the one who said he preferred horses to people," she snaps. "Just some people. People who pass judgement on others." "... Good night, Ray. I really didn't come here to fight." Oh no, Donna, you came here expecting to take the moral high ground without being challenged. In fairness, there's another reason she came, of course, but let's drag that out for one more week, shall we?

    

Jack is also back from California, but we won't see him until much later in the episode. We do learn of an offscreen conversation between he and Jamie, however. "He was upset that I was fighting my own family," she tells Cliff. "He doesn't think I should be part of the lawsuit." "... I guess JR got to him," Cliff muses, "to split us up ... Divide and conquer." It's a shame we're not privy to the exchange between Jack and Jamie. As it is, the contrast between their antagonistic first meeting of a few weeks ago and their abrupt buddy-buddiness in Season 8 feels a somewhat jarring. This conversation might have helped bridge that gap, or at least explain Jack's apparent personality transplant.

    

The following day, there's good news for Bobby and Jenna, if not for Bobby and Pam. "We got our indictment," announces Detective Howard. "Since the murder was committed on an airplane, the conviction probably carry a life sentence with no chance of parole." "... This means he's got nothing to lose by confessing to Naldo's murder," realises Bobby. "Frank, I gotta see him!"

We then cut straight to a scene in which Bobby makes Schuman a proposition: "You got nothing to lose and everything to gain by admitting that you killed Naldo Marchetta. I will make sure that your wife has all the money she'll ever need ... You help my lady and I'll help yours." Erm, call me old fashioned but isn't buying a confession kind of illegal? However, Bobby is a Ewing and Dallas is their town so I'm happy to chalk this one up to police corruption rather than clunky story telling.

    Interesting that we never meet the now-set-for-life Mrs Shuman, despite the pivotal role she plays in this storyline. Those still with an urge to rewrite the dream explanation for Bobby's resurrection could do worse than contrive a scenario that somehow fuses Mrs S and Angelica into the same person. After all, there's nothing that fan-fictioners love more than a vengefully mysterious woman in a big hat. 



    His invisible wife's future assured, Andre gives us a wibbly wobbly flashback. This returns us to the night of Naldo's death in "Odd Man Out" fifteen episodes earlier, but now with extra footage of what took place in between the scenes of Jenna being pulled into the hotel room and the police kicking the door down at the end of the instalment. This fresh footage is so seamlessly edited into the original scene (compared to the flashbacks of Kristin shooting JR and Katherine shooting Bobby, for instance) that I wonder whether it was shot at the same time, or especially for this flashback? At this point in the series, Priscilla Presley's hair is notably shorter than it was in "Odd Man Out", but we see so little of her inside the hotel room that it's hard to tell whether or not she's wearing a wig. 

"I waited for Marchetta in that hotel room," narrates Shuman in voice over. "He was late. They always seem to be late." (I like that bit of detail.) "Marchetta came in. He didn't look behind him. He never saw what hit him. He went out like a light. She was standing in the hallway. I grabbed her, pulled her through the door and chloroformed her. She passed out almost instantly. I took my gloves and put them on ... I picked up Marchetta's automatic, put my silencer on it, and shot him. Then I took the silencer off my automatic, put the gun in the girl's hand making it look like she'd shot him. Then I disarranged some lamps to make it seem like a quarrel had taken place, called the police and reported hearing a couple arguing and a gunshot. Then I left." It's very satisfying to have the missing pieces of the puzzle--the chloroform, the silencer, the phone call to the police--finally explained. "It was all very easy," Shuman tells Bobby and the police calmly. In contrast, Bobby looks shaken, disturbed. "I thought you'd be happy," Detective Howard tells him, "You did it!" Bobby's reaction is less surprising when one considers what he has been through over the past few days: impersonating his dead father, coming face to face with an assassin, and knowing that every step he takes to help Jenna takes him further away from Pam. On the other hand, perhaps he's just feeling the after effects of Pam's chilli. (And it's not just any chilli, remember: it's killer chilli. Truly, death is at Bobby's shoulder.) 



    No sooner has one year long story-line been resolved (sorta) than it's time to wrap up another, as the Barnes clan arrive for their day in court. Cliff appears with Jamie on his arm, Jordan and Marilee following close behind and Pam bringing up the rear. As Cliff is pounced on by the waiting press, Bobby grabs the chance to speak to Pam. "This is it," she says simply. "Yes," he replies. Here they are again, Romeo and Juliet on opposite sides on the war. Somehow it feels like a return to the beginning of the series, only now everyone's worth millions and they're all wearing fancier clothes. "Bobby, no matter how it turns out, I never wanted to see you get hurt," she tells him, before turning the subject to something even more depressing: "Have you heard anything new about Jenna?" "Yes," he replies, "the killer confessed. We're hoping to have her freed by tonight." "Well that's wonderful," she says. So why do they both look like they're trying not to cry? "I guess it's finally over." "Yeah, it's over," he agrees. This last exchange has all kinds of resonances. It's not just Jenna's ordeal that's over, or even Bobby and Pam's second chance at romance. It's also the end of an era: Patrick Duffy's on his way out and DALLAS will never really be the same again. No wonder Duffy looks so fatigued throughout the episode. 



    Bobby goes to join his brothers and Pam is left alone. Instead of entering the courtroom, she turns and walks back down the hallway, cutting a lonely figure as she does so. As I've said before, if one didn't know better, one might think it was Pam who was about to leave the series. I like that she's so unabashedly disappointed about Jenna's release from prison. She has a similarly selfish reaction to Jenna's pregnancy in Season 9 when she guiltily admits to Cliff that she feels like sticking pins in a voodoo doll. As Cliff tells her on that occasion, such feelings only make her more human (and therefore a more believable character).

    

As the hearing gets underway, presided over by the same Judge Harding who ruled in favour of the temporary injunction against Ewing Oil earlier in the season, Lucy is in Atlanta, sipping tea by the fire with Mitch après a bout of rainy day lovin'. "Now that you're here, I don't want you to leave," he coos. "Then ask me to stay," she simpers. "I love you, Mitch. Southfork was a great place to grow up, but what I want now is my future." "Then move here, live with me." Southfork was a great place to grow up? Really? Gee, it feels like they can't get Charlene Tilton out of the door quick enough.

    

Outside the courtroom, Sue Ellen takes a cheeky nip from a flask, just as she did during Jock's trial in Season 2. This is the second of three brief appearances by Linda Gray in this episode. She speaks in only one of them, and even then it's just chit chat--which rather suggests the programme makers had little idea what to do with Sue Ellen this season, be she sober or drunk. In an earlier scene, JR sticks his head round her bedroom door to find her curled up in bed with a bottle of vodka. "Sue Ellen, I feel sorry for you," he sighs. "Sometimes I really do believe you'd be better off far away from here." She can't hear him of course; she's far too smashed - which means his words are spoken for the benefit of the audience. In this respect, the scene is similar to the one in the Season 5 finale where he apologises to his unconscious wife for driving her back to the bottle. Then, JR's words came as a genuine revelation, as we realised he was capable of sincere remorse and compassion towards Sue Ellen. In this episode, however, they feel like a toothless assurance that JR's snarl is worse than his bite. Having been allowed to be as cruel to Sue Ellen over the past few weeks as he used to be in the good old days, writer Peter Dunne is now at pains to dilute JR's unadulterated cruelty. A harbinger of what is to come in Season 8, perhaps ...?



    Harve calls Atticus Ward - I mean Wallace Windham - to the stand. "I was what some people might call an entrepreneur," he explains, "I dabbled in all sorts of ventures, as long as they were legal and profitable." "Did you ever dabble in the oil business?" asks Harve. "Once, briefly, in 1933 ... At that time our country was in great trouble. So many people out of work, so few jobs. A man would even sell you the shirt off his back for his next meal." This chimes with what Miss Ellie told us in Season 1: "The thirties were like a plague around here. There was drought, depression." "The price of petroleum was tumbling," Windham continues. "People couldn't afford to drive cars. Industry around the country was coming to a standstill, and Jason Ewing wanted out of the oil business before his share of Ewing Oil became worthless." "So he offered to sell his share of Ewing Oil to you?" "Yes." Windham goes onto reveal how he bought Jason and Digger's two thirds of Ewing Oil "for a very low price," and Harve submits bills of sale as evidence to that effect. "I never bought anything that I couldn't turn over for a quick profit," Windham explains. "So after that first visit I checked on Ewing Oil and I found out that they could and wanted to sell me their shares without telling Jock Ewing ... He was the brains of the outfit. The company meant everything to him. So I knew I had a buyer ... When he found out about the deal, he was furious and ashamed ... He didn't want anyone to know what his brother and best friend had done to him. He asked me to spare him the embarrassment of not changing the name of Ewing Oil." (The "not" in that last sentence would appear to be a verbal slip on the part of either the writer or the actor.) "So we agreed to conduct our business in secret." This agreement helps explain why Miss Ellie wouldn't have known anything about the deal with Windham, even if she had known Jock at this time (as she claimed to when this story-line began). At this point, Jamie turns around and sees Jack sitting at the back of the courtroom. Like Sue Ellen, he appears to have taken a vow of silence for much of this episode. "He borrowed up to his eyeballs, mortgaged everything he owned and then week by week, month by month for over a year, Jock made payments to me. I don't know how he scrimped and saved so much," continues Windham. Submitting a final bill of sale to the court, Harve concludes his case: "Jock Ewing bought back Jason Ewing's and Willard Barnes' share of Ewing Oil from Wallace Windham, and became the sole legal owner of Ewing Oil on November 28, 1932." The prosecution caves, the case is dismissed and Cliff lapses into a catatonic sulk. 



    I have mixed feelings about the way the "Who really owns Ewing Oil?" story-line is resolved. Strictly within the confines of this season, it holds together as a satisfying end to the story. And yet ... the idea that the Texas Ewings might not be sole owners of Ewing Oil is one of those possibilities, like that of JR being Christopher's father or of Wes Parmalee being Jock, that suggests that life for the Ewings will never be the same again--after all, Kristin was pregnant with JR's child, Jock was the only passenger aboard Chico Steve's helicopter, and Jason, Digger and Jock were all partners in Ewing Oil. But then at the eleventh hour the writers pull something out of the bag that looks like a clever twist--a miscarriage and second pregnancy for Kristin; an unscheduled stop to pick up Wyatt Haines for Jock and Chico Steve; the selling and buying back of two thirds of Ewing Oil--but is actually a retroactive contrivance designed to preserve the status quo. In each case, the family is returned to where they were before the story-line began with the minimum of repercussions. But surely an ongoing saga like DALLAS should be all about repercussions? 

Also, having the truth of the origin of the Barnes/Ewing feud, which has been part of the DALLAS mythology since the series began, explained away so tidily robs it of its dramatic resonance. All the ambiguities surrounding Jock's role in Digger's downfall, the same ambiguities that gave the early seasons their sense of moral complexity and intrigue, are lost. (It's no coincidence that the year immediately following this one has the least sense of history of any DALLAS season.)

    And of course there's continuing deification of Jock. As Ken Kercheval says so succinctly in Suzy Kalter's 'Complete Book of DALLAS', "I think in this particular episode they were trying to make Jock look honourable after he was dead." If only it were just in this particular episode. After this story-line, no one will ever say anything derogatory about Jock again. David Paulsen has insisted this wasn't a conscious decision: "We didn't over-think it like that." Nonetheless, Windham's somewhat gratuitous witness stand assessments of Jason ("greedy and stupid") and Digger, ("We met three times, I think he was drunk every time") accompanied as they are by dismayed reaction shots of Jamie and Cliff, add to the sense that not just the Ewings, but the show itself, is now revelling in humiliation of the Barneses at the hands of the Dallas Ewings. How very DYNASTY. And there'll be a lot more of that in Season 8.



    The court ruling provides Bobby with his second victory of the episode, but still he is in no mood to celebrate. While JR smooches with Mandy and Ray makes small talk with a freshly peroxided Marilee, (I'll say it again, that boy gets everywhere this season) Bobby returns to a moodily lit visitor's room at police headquarters. "I have got to know," he says to Shuman, "who wanted Naldo dead?" A good question, and with so much else going on at this end of the season, one that is in danger of being overlooked. (The same applies to the mystery of who sent Pam to Hong Kong. Indeed, if one were to skip the dream year entirely, both of these questions would remain unanswered.) "I couldn't tell you even if I wanted to," shrugs Shuman. "I don't know ... I received my instructions and money in a train station locker in Vienna." "You never met the person who hired you?" asks Bobby incredulously. "Do you at least know why they wanted these people killed?" "I don't ask," Shuman replies flatly. "Doesn't that bother you, not even knowing why you're killing somebody?" persists a clearly troubled Bobby. There's something touchingly innocent about his question. He really is one of the good guys after all. "If it bothered me, do you really think I'd be doing it?" replies Shuman patiently, as if talking to a child. Bobby turns to leave, then turns back. "There is one thing you can tell me," he says. "You put the gun in Jenna's hand and made it looked like she killed Naldo. Were you making that up as you went along, or were you still following your instructions?" "Instructions all the way," Schuman tells him. "Lucky her ... In my line of work, you don't leave survivors." Which rather begs the question, why did Katherine go to all the trouble of framing Jenna for murder when she could have had her killed in that hotel room instead?



    The Ewings then congregate at the Oil Barons' for a victory celebration. This is the rare DALLAS party indeed that does not end in some sort of punch up or disaster. JR, sporting a flower in his lapel given to him by Mandy, ("This will remind you of me") arrives with Jack and introduces him to Miss Ellie and Clayton. "We'd like you to come out to Southfork and give us a chance to know you," smiles Mama. He'll take her up on that invitation in both Seasons 8 and 9, but with a very different result each time. When Mitch shows up with Lucy, he and JR are all smiles, their last meeting when Mitch threw a punch at JR in Season 4 apparently forgotten. "I'm going to be moving to Atlanta with him," Lucy announces. "That makes me real happy, darlin'," JR tells her with a straight face. Meanwhile Donna, looking very nice in a fancy red dress, admits to Clayton that she still hasn't told Ray about the baby. Sue Ellen, looking even better--even her dress is drunk--has a high old time swiping other people's drinks. (I used to love doing that when I was younger; it's so exciting.) Sly doesn't seem to notice when hers goes missing. Phyllis is there too. Is this the first time we've seen her outside of the office? Having emptied her flask, Sue Ellen gets the shakes, and thinks she sees Dusty across the room. He vanishes from view as soon as he appeared and her eyelids droop. Was he really there or is this the onset of the DTs? Nope, for the opening credits states very clearly: "Jared Martin as DUSTY FARLOW", not "Jared Martin as WEIRD HALLUCINATION."

    

While Marilee makes goo-goo eyes at Jack, ("Isn't anyone going to introduce me to this handsome young man?") Bobby turns up with Jenna and Charlie. "Jenna, we've waited so long for this moment," sing songs Donna Reed. JR then makes a toast to Bobby and Jenna's future, just as he did at the Oil Baron's Ball twenty-one episodes earlier. Bobby looks as uncomfortable now as he did then. Following JR's speech at the Ball, we then saw Pam at home, gazing tearfully at old photographs of herself and Bobby. The equivalent scene in this episode takes place with some faceless creature with red finger nails, blonde hair and a frilly blouse sitting in a chair holding a copy of the good old Dallas Press. JENNA WADE FREED: EWING FIANCE CLEARED OF MURDER CHARGES, says the front page headline. Bobby Ewing and Jenna Wade will Head for Altar "No!" gasps the blonde, clawing at Jenna's picture and stroking Bobby's. Who could the mystery woman be?? Danone Simpson I reckon. And she still doesn't get a closeup.
     
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  20. Presea

    Presea Soap Chat Addict

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    OMG! What you said about Jack and his pants made laugh so hard! Back on the old forum, people pointed that out as well, but for some reason I never noticed it. I guess I was too busy staring at his handsome face! But I agree that it was horrible, especially since I did have the misfortune of noticing Jamie's, um, nipplage. Not cool!
     
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