'Dallas' finale postmortem: Producer, star talk about losing a Ewing
In Dallas‘ big season 3 finale, fans were forced to say goodbye to one member of the Ewing family. Specifically, they were forced to watch as Nicolas blew up Christopher’s car … with Christopher inside. But with one Ewing gone, there’s another on the horizon, because John Ross also discovered he has a sister. Needless to say, it was a gasp-worthy end to a season full of twists, turns, sketchy cartel members, and more.
Unfortunately, Jesse Metcalfe wasn’t able to hop on the phone, but the star did issue this statement about his departure from the series: “In classic Dallas fashion the producers and writers needed a season ending shocker. After three great years, I was ready to move on and pursue other projects. It culminated in the perfect opportunity to surprise fans and deliver that shocking twist. I enjoyed my time on Dallas and am grateful for the opportunity to work with Warner Bros and TNT, and I wish the cast and crew all the very best!”
As for executive producer Cynthia Cidre, we’ve got an exclusive interview where she talks about losing Christopher and what comes next for those who survived this finale.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How long had you all been planning Christopher’s death?
CYNTHIA CIDRE: We knew we wanted to have a big ending, and we have always tried to find some massively whiplash-y [ending], where your head spins on your shoulders. We had played with it for quite a while although it was really secret. We shot a completely different ending where he just walks to the car and nothing happens, but that had been in our back pocket for quite a while and here we are.
In terms of how he died, were you just going for the shock factor? You guys knew you wanted it to be big?
Well yeah. But also, that’s what we had, you know? We shot a scene where we’re in a mini-mart and he’s coming out of the mini-mart, getting in his car and I don’t know, it seemed more fun than to have somebody come up to him and shoot him in the head, you know? So that’s what we had, but we weren’t sure we could do it. It was going to cost a lot more money too, so it was something that we wanted to do. We wanted a big ending. We wanted season 4. We had to get permission from the studio and the network because they had to give us another $100,000 to do this, so we were trying to balance a lot of different things and if it hadn’t worked out, then it would have been the shock of the sister. We actually had John Ross go to Morocco to meet her but we didn’t have the actress, so we only had a hand meeting him and it was very dissatisfying. So because we are skipping six months [in season 4], it felt like if he found her too soon, what the hell has he been doing with his sister for six months? So by 401 he’s found her and [then] John Ross goes to Morocco.
Had you all ever considered killing any other character or were you set on Christopher?
We always thought it had to be somebody important who the audience would miss. It couldn’t be Bobby or Sue Ellen or somebody might kill me. It narrowed the choices. There were really only two choices who had the impact and with Larry [Hagman] gone, John Ross has been carrying the show. If people really work backwards from who the choices are, it’s not that hard to figure out.
So what can you tell me about the role that the sister will play in season 4?
Hey, she’s JR’s daughter. [Laughs] We know that he has a sister but that’s not the only surprise, because he had other spawns, there were other spawns. There’s actually something that you probably won’t see coming that is the more interesting revelation about this girl, but you know, she’s coming back to Dallas.
Obviously Nicolas is still around. Are you all planning on having him back next season?
Yes. Not in the first couple of episodes. We’re going to skip six months at the beginning of season 4. As you know, we don’t have an official pick-up, but they like us a lot and so they’ve given us a lot of money to continue, so we still have our offices and our stages and the writers. I wrote a 60-page bible with all 15 episodes for next season already, because at a certain point, even before we shot the scene with the car exploding, I had to commit to that idea for season 4. Because that’s going to be at the center of the emotional turmoil in season 4 with Bobby and, “What the hell happened with my son? I know it was Nicolas who did this and he’s in Mexico.” And he wants to extradite him. And Elena is giving birth is our first episode. Everything that happens in that episode is really the what propels season 4.
Let’s talk about Elena, because she witnessed this death and she’s going to be having Nicolas’ baby …
So you think it‘s Nicolas’ baby. There’s three possibilities, and it’s not the one you expect.
Really?! Okay. Well what can you say about how she will will cope with all of this?
Not well. She’s pretty much shunned and extremely guilty about what happened because you know, if she hadn’t brought them into the Ewings’ lives, this wouldn’t have happened, and so her hands are dirty. She wants everybody to forgive her. She feels terrible. And she’s also in postpartum depression and [has] her own anxieties, so she’s not in a good place.
Emma and John Ross keep having these great moments. Last time we spoke, you mentioned how they’re oddly suited for each other. Is there a future there you want to play with?
This is a little bit of a giveaway for 401, but I want them to be best friends in a weird way instead of lovers. I think that this moment that they have in 315 really bonds their relationship and that they care about each other, but like brother and sister, in a weird way. And then I find the completely broken, dysfunctional relationship between John Ross and Pamela, especially after he walks in on her with Nassar in bed, kind of fun. So that’s our thinking I think for season 4. There’s an awful lot of really fun pitches for this [season].
I love the partnership of John Ross and Judith!
And so does Judith. She loves Josh. [Laughs]