TV Recaps

‘Dallas’ Recap: JR Goes Out With a Bang (Again)

Photo: Martin Schoeller/TNT

Monday night’s landmark episode of Dallas marked the end of an era, as actor Larry Hagman made his final appearance as the delightfully despicable, and groundbreaking, villain J.R. Ewing, but just how did the show bid farewell to one to televisions most iconic characters in the episode “The Furious and the Fast”? The answer: With a bang!

The episode started off in typical Dallas fashion, picking up right where the previous one had left off. John Ross and Sue Ellen now have majority control over Ewing Energies and John Ross is talking to his father on the phone. He tells his daddy that their plan is working perfectly, and that he cannot wait for his father to come home so he can announce that JR will be taking the corner office as they had always planned. He ask JR when that will be, only to have his father say “once I am done.”  After hanging up, John Ross and his mother go into their meeting with Bobby, Christopher and Pamela.  It’s there that a dangerous game of chicken begins as Bobby announces that he and Gary have reneged the mineral rights and that there will not be any more drilling on Southfork until Bobby and Christopher are back in control.  John Ross say’s fine, calling their bluff saying they will sell off Christopher’s alternative energies patent in order to stay afloat. It is while the two parties’ fight it out that they realize Pamela is the one with the final vote. Noticing this, Christopher takes her to the racetrack and shows her what he’s been able to do, he asks Pamela to wait until the race is over to make her final decision as to whom she will side with, to which she agrees.

Meanwhile, back at Ewing Enterprises, actor Ted Shackelford made his triumphant return to the franchise as the loveable drunk Gary Ewing.  Gary meets with Bobby where he relays that he and Valene have been going through a bit of a rough patch, it caused him to fall off the wagon again, to which Val tossed his drunk rear to the curb. Bobby asked why he didn’t tell him sooner, to which his brother replied that he had hoped that they’d simply work it all out and reconcile before he’d have to tell anyone, but that was over a year ago. As a result of the breakup Gary was going through some financial difficulties, he was really banking on having the money from the Southfork oil deal to come in and help him ride some of this out. He tries to convince Bobby to wrap up this game of chicken with John Ross sooner rather than later, but Bobby just ask Gary to trust him, and offers his brother a loan to get him through it.

Over at the Ryland residence, Harris and his mother Judith wander their way into Emma’s room where they tell her that they are going to get her life back on track now that the trials are over, and that they are leaving first thing in the morning to move back to London. Emma looks shocked, but remains quite. She doesn’t want to anger her father or grandmother, so goes along with what they are saying…for now.

After talking to Bobby, Gary runs into Sue Ellen as he is fixing himself a cup of coffee –”the alcoholic’s beverage of choice” Sue Ellen proclaimed – the two reunite and talk about old times. Sue Ellen apologized for John Ross’s behavior and invites Gary to the race on Saturday, to which he agrees.

Emma visits with Ann, asking her mother to take her riding, the two do, while back at the Ryland’s Harris starts throwing things like a child, and Judith tells him that it will be alright, that they must take care of “our daughter.”

Elena and her brother Drew start doing a bit of exploration on their old land, they find out that while it may be a bit complicated that there is in fact oil underneath. Drew ask Elena if she’d be willing to go into business with him and help him reclaim their father’s legacy, to which after much debate she finally agrees to do so.

John Ross decides that he can’t win the battle by playing fairly, so he takes a trick out of his father’s book and pays someone off to rig the Ewing Car not to run properly during the race.

At the race everyone gathers around to see if Christopher’s car will actually win it all, after a few close calls, Christopher is able to ensure everything is working properly and despite John Ross’s manipulations is able to win the race. Christopher is ecstatic, he goes up to John Ross and tells him that Pamela is with them, so they need to sign back over the shares. John Ross says they are calling their bluff. “You know you’re going to look back one day and realize that you let all of that oil slip through your hands, because of that greed, and you will only have yourself to blame”  Chris replied gleefully before walking off.

Back at Southfork Emma is awaiting their arrival, she asks if she can stay, to which Ann simply says “welcome home”

John Ross is drowning his sorrows back at the office when he gets a phone call from his father. He explains that Christopher has won the race, but he plans to fix it. JR tells him not to worry about it, that he has a plan, and it is going to be his masterpiece because he shouldn’t have to pay for his sins. He reminds John Ross that he is his son, “from tip to tail”, and it is then that we hear three bullets ring out, and John Ross scream for his father, as the screen fades to black.

My take:  Seriously what an amazing way to kick off the “Who Killed JR” storyline. It was sad that we only really got two scenes with Larry Hagman this week, but the way the editors manipulated things and made it seem like they went into the episode with the intentions of killing JR, made it all work.

I loved seeing Ted Shackelford reprise his role as Gary, he really shined on screen and fell right back into the role, really showing a range of emotions in a way that I haven’t really seen from him in a good while during his stints on The Young and the Restless. What I am really interested in however is seeing how they handle the Knots Landing continuity. For those not in the know, Dallas spun off Gary and his wife Val onto Knots Landing back after season 2, for the first few years Dallas and Knots were kept in the same continuity with events happening in one show being reflected in the other. It wasn’t until Dallas brought Bobby back from the dead that Knots Landing severed all ties with its sister soap, because Bobby’s death had resulted in a few major plot points for Knots that didn’t simply go away because everything in Dallas was a dream. So while Bobby was alive and well in Dallas as far as Knots Landing was concern he was dead. So will we get a mention of Gary and Val’s other children that occurred post Bobby’s death? Or will they be selectively ignored?

Speaking of selectively ignoring pieces of history, I wish that I could selectively ignore the horrific nature of the current Ramos and Ryland storylines. Dallas has historically never done really well with stories that are not directly revolving around the Ewing family, and these nobodies are yet another example of this. I could really care less that Harris’s mama was an evil lady who was mean to him growing up so he hooked up with the loony toon that is Ann. I could also care less that some history rewritten characters think they have any right to do anything on Southfork land. It doesn’t help that both storylines are plagued with more plot driven writing that continues to segregate itself away from the ‘core’ of Dallas that infuriates me more than anything else. It is this style of writing that is causing an even bigger disconnect for me, as I lack any emotional investment in the characters. This is because, in my opinion, they lack the real depth needed to even be called ‘characters.’ As it currently stands they are merely plot points awaiting their next dose of airtime to fill up, which is sad given that I believe all of the actors involved are actually talented and deserve a much better story than they are being given.

Overall I am still really enjoying Dallas despite its flaws, but I will honestly say that if it doesn’t involve a Ewing it is seriously getting close to becoming fast forward material for me, and that is hard to say considering that Dallas is one of my favorite shows on TV, but if I am not feeling the story then why should I bother to waste my time and hate something that I otherwise love?  Anyways next week is the end of an era as JR is laid to rest. I am sure I will have plenty to write about next week, so until then, RIP Larry Hagman, you will be missed, but your legacy shall live on.

About the author

Johnathon K.

  • Nikki

    Thanks so much for enlightening me on the history between Dallas and Knots Landing! I just started watching Dallas, and only found out yesterday from one of the ladies I work with at DISH that this show was around in the eighties. WHAT? After going back and watching a few of the new episodes, I started to notice this obvious fact. I’ve been inspired to watch all fourteen seasons of Dallas, so I’ve added them all to my Blockbuster @Home queue that I have through DISH. At first, I thought that it would be impossible to find them all from one place, but I was elated that I did, and that they’ll be mailed so I can watch them at my own convenience.