The March 11 episode of TNT’s Dallas features J.R. Ewing’s funeral, but tonight’s hour (9 p.m. ET) is, according to the network’s promo, “the end of J.R. Ewing.” Haven’t been watching the reboot’s second season but want to take part in this pop culture moment? Here’s a quick primer:
1. While season 1 of TNT’s Dallas was about J.R. (Larry Hagman) and his son John Ross (Josh Henderson) scheming to steal Southfork from Bobby (Patrick Duffy), whose name is still on the deed, season 2 has revolved around John Ross and J.R. trying to gain control of Ewing Energies. John Ross, Bobby, Bobby’s son Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe), and Christopher’s fiancée Elena (Jordana Brewster) were equal partners in the business until last week’s episode. John Ross had made sure Elena’s brother Drew (Kuno Becker) got caught transporting stolen goods. Drew pled guilty, which violated the morality clause in the contract Elena had with John Ross’ mother, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), who’d loaned Elena money in season 1 to drill a well that Drew had recently been put in charge of (Elena had yet to strike oil and Sue Ellen, prompted by John Ross, was demanding a return on her investment). Bobby had season 1 dirt on J.R. and John Ross saved on a cloud drive, which he was prepared to turn over to the authorities if Sue Ellen tried to seize Elena’s assets — namely her shares of Ewing Energies. But when Bobby went to show the evidence to Sue Ellen, he realized a video that J.R. had sent him of a dog playing basketball had planted some kind of virus on Bobby’s laptop that erased the cloud drive. J.R., by this point, was already gone. We have no idea where he went. Sue Ellen, meanwhile, later showed up at Ewing Energies ready to take her seat at the table. Assuming that sticks, John Ross and his mother now control 50 percent of the company. That’s important because…
2. Christopher is losing 10 percent of his shares to Pamela Barnes (Julie Gonzalo), the daughter of J.R.’s nemesis, Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval), in a divorce settlement. Follow us here: As the reboot began, Pamela was hiding her real identity from everyone (including the audience) and tricked Christopher into marrying her instead of Elena. Turns out, Cliff had asked Pamela to not only get Christopher’s plans for his revolutionary methane extraction system — she failed, because she actually fell in love with Christopher — but also a stake in the company. Though J.R. schemed to have Pamela — who’s now carrying Christopher’s twins — arrested for the self-defense murder of her co-conspirator Tommy, who’d posed as her brother in season 1, J.R. didn’t know that John Ross had struck a deal with Pamela in which she’d give him a portion of the shares she’d win from Christopher in the divorce. John Ross told Cliff Barnes about J.R.’s plan to destroy Pamela, and Cliff Barnes pinned the murder on J.R.’s co-conspirator, Frank, who’d been like Cliff’s son. Hearing how proud her father was of her for securing shares in Ewing Energies, Pamela decided she had to keep them. John Ross was pissed at her, but he may have cooled off somewhat after last week’s episode: Pamela and the Ewings (minus J.R) were taken hostage by a revenge-seeking Venezuelan oil man named Vicente, who John Ross and J.R. had used to steal Southfork from Bobby in season 1 (before turning on him to save their own asses when their fraud was exposed). Drew shot and killed Vicente as he tried to flee with Christopher’s methane prototype and Elena. So the big questions: Will that have consequences for the Ewings, or does their trouble with the Venezuelans end with Vicente’s death? Whose side will Pamela be on in the boardroom? Sometimes it seems as though she still has feelings for Christopher, but Pamela and John Ross — who had his heart broken by Elena when she left him for Christopher — had started sleeping together before their deal went south. And what does Cliff want Pamela to do next?
3. Christopher has a deal with a NASCAR driver to run methane in his car. In order to show how efficient methane is as a fuel, Christopher has arranged for a driver to use Ewing Energies methane in a race. The hope is, if the car does well, it could help convince Dallas officials to award Ewing Energies the contracts for all the city’s transportation. We’ll be back at the track tonight.
4. Bobby’s wife Ann (Brenda Strong) was just sentenced to probation for the attempted murder of her ex-husband Harris (Mitch Pileggi). Harris kidnapped their daughter Emma (Emma Bell) from Ann years ago when she was 18 months-old because Ann was going to divorce him. By the time Emma resurfaced this season, the statute of limitations was up. Ann took it upon herself to shoot Harris in the chest. She was found guilty, but the jury and judge let her off easy because Harris and his ice queen mother Judith (Judith Light) are evil. Emma is slowly starting to believe that her mother isn’t the monster Harris painted her as. But are Harris and Judith done making Ann suffer?
5. J.R. has no allies, in the end. Though Bobby and J.R. have shared tender moments in the reboot (like when Bobby nearly died from a brain aneurysm following a bout with cancer, and when it seemed Bobby would take the fall for Ann shooting Harris), they’re definitely on the outs now that J.R. erased the cloud drive. Bobby had been the peacekeeper in the family, but he announced at the end of last week’s episode that he’s ready to give them the fight of their lives. J.R. and Sue Ellen had a nice moment earlier this season when he kept her from being indicted after news broke that she’d bribed a medical examiner while running for governor, but she still thinks he’s done more damage than good when it comes to John Ross. And while John Ross has teamed with his father on various plots, he really wants to be the one in charge (see: going to Cliff Barnes, partnering with his easily manipulated mother).