Dallas season premiere recap: The Devil's Son
As we begin season 2 and the late Larry Hagman’s last handful of episodes as J.R. Ewing, let’s remember it’s okay to get misty. I know I got teary-eyed and rewound when, at the start of the premiere’s second hour, Hagman beamed after J.R. told Josh Henderson’s John Ross that it was okay to feel something as he watched Elena and Christopher kiss. “Use it,” he said. “Love, hate, jealousy: mix ‘em up and they make a mean martini. And when we takeover Ewing Energies, you’ll slake your thirst — with a twist.” It’s also okay to see how Dallas, while never the same without Hagman, might be able to keep our interest. (John Ross is going to need to have a lot of sex.) Here we go.
We opened with gubernatorial candidate Sue Ellen enjoying her 12-point lead in the polls and chants of “You are Texas!” Cut to John Ross at a swanky bar, eliciting his own cheers when he approached a bachelorette party and wrote-in “French kiss a stranger until his toes curl” on the bride’s to-do list apron. She guessed he was trouble — he’s got his daddy’s grin, after all — and he was. The next morning, she told him to sneak out the back to avoid her father. Turns out, her dad is the reason he slept with her: The man had refused to sell J.R. Ewing’s son his fleet of trucks, so John Ross recorded the rendezvous on his phone and threatened to take it to a society reporter. The father said his daughter and her fiancé were in love. “Love is for pussies,” John Ross said. “Now do we have a deal?”
The reason John Ross is so down on love, of course, is because Christopher and Elena are together — and he sees them, together with Bobby, as a voting block at Ewing Energies. The men each own 30 percent of the company, while Elena has 10 percent. That’s especially important at a time when John Ross wants to spend $50 million on those oil trucks and Christopher has his heart set on a new methane rig. As we learned when Christopher asked NASCAR driver Ricky Rudd to test a Ewing Energies-sponsored stock car that runs on methane, he’s hoping to win the city contract to provide fuel for all of Dallas’ public transportation. And as we learned when J.R. made his first appearance sitting with his cowboy boots up on John Ross’ desk (and taking credit for John Ross’ “screwing that trucker heiress girl” scheme), J.R. and John Ross don’t want that contract to happen because they need Bobby turned back into an oil man. That should be their main goal, but John Ross wants to destroy Christopher. J.R. warned him that “vengeance is a dish best served cold” (a little too cliché for J.R. Ewing, writers), when really, he should have told John Ross what Bobby said to Christopher last season: “An eye for an eye just makes both people blind.”
NEXT: The real screwing begins
At the start of these episodes, Christopher wasn’t nearly worried enough about what John Ross might be cooking up. He was more concerned with prepping for the hearing that would determine whether he and “Rebecca” would be granted an annulment (so he owes her nothing and probably gets primary custody of the babies) or have to go through divorce proceedings (in which case, she could take part of his Ewing Energies shares and keep the kids). Christopher thought he had it in the bag when he secured Tommy’s sister, the real Rebecca, to testify that “Rebecca” had stolen her identity to deceive him by agreeing to not press charges against Tommy, whose remains have not yet been found. In fact, he was so confident and relaxed now, he went home and had sex with Elena in the pool, where, I would argue, she sent mixed messages: One second, she’s telling Christopher she’d like to earn a bigger stake in the company so she’s a real partner to him outside of the bedroom, and the next, she’s stealing his trunks. But back to Christopher. He wanted to keep his surprise witness a secret, only John Ross had him followed and found out that the real Rebecca had surfaced. Before we saw what he’d do with that information, we had to give Ann a story line and get “Rebecca” back.
Ann was busy looking at an allegedly “evocative” painting she’d commissioned for Bobby’s new office when Harris appeared to tell her that he’d found their daughter, Emma. If she gives back the tape she made of him confessing to money laundering for Sue Ellen, he’ll tell her where she is. He gave her a picture of equestrian Emma, posing with a horse. Here’s my thing: Yes, Harris gave her a 48-hour deadline, but Emma was wearing a medal in that photo. It seems like there should have been a way to use that to track down her current name and whereabouts without Harris, no? After Ann did some crying behind the wheel in her driveway (a real moment that somehow seemed over the top for this over-the-top show), she went inside to tell Bobby the truth: 22 years ago, she had a daughter. When Emma was 18 months old, they were at the state fair, and Ann turned away from Emma’s stroller to get a soda. When she turned back, Emma was gone. Someone had taken her, and she was never found. She told Bobby about Harris’ deal, and they decided the first step was to get her DNA tested.
Rebecca, meanwhile, arrived on a Barnes Global helicopter and told Frank it was time to make an entrance. The next day, she summoned Christopher (accompanied by Bobby) to the Barnes building and told them her real identity: She’s Pamela Rebecca Barnes. She said she changed her last name because of her father — she knew what a burden “Barnes” would be to the Ewing family. She had an offer for Christopher: He could visit the babies every day, and she’d have 30 percent of his shares of Ewing Energies. No deal!
Christopher and Bobby called a family meeting that included J.R. and John Ross. Christopher was convinced this was about the methane, and told the family about his surprise witness to assure them that he wasn’t losing any of his shares. J.R. said it was personal and suggested they hire roughnecks to take Cliff Barnes for a long ride. Ha! John Ross pretended to be a team player — it’s easy to believe he’d want to keep the business in the family. Christopher told him to give the orders to tighten security, re-encrypt the methane plans, and watermark everything while he went and got his car back from Ricky Rudd (who ended up saying he’d race it).
Ann got the DNA results back, and this Emma is her daughter. She knew Bobby would tell her not to negotiate with a terrorist (which he later did), so she went to see Sue Ellen and Harris on her own. Sue Ellen agreed to exchange the tape recorder for Ann’s daughter’s whereabouts. “If this isn’t my daughter’s address, Harris, believe me, I will send you to hell,” Ann said. Yay, Ann! She asked Bobby to go with her, and they found Emma at a stable. Ann tearfully told Emma that she’s her mom. Emma said she was told her mother was coming and it was a mistake — she never wanted to see her again. WHAT THE HELL? Ann was distraught, collapsing in Bobby’s arms as they turned and walked away from the Ice Princess. We all knew Harris was in on this, right? Can J.R. have him taken for a long ride, too?
Sue Ellen also got screwed, though I’m assuming Harris didn’t have anything to do with that since she’d be more useful to him in office. The day before the election, the medical examiner she bribed to declare the death of “Marta” a suicide when John Ross was accused of murder came clean and resigned. She lost the election.
John Ross finally went to Pamela Rebecca and pitched an alliance since they both want to destroy Christopher and Elena. He brought in the real Rebecca Sutter and said she could be theirs.
NEXT: Court time!
The second hour, which was the day of Christopher and Pamela Rebecca’s hearing, was even better than the first because it included more J.R. sound bites. It was after he spotted John Ross looking out a window at Christopher and Elena kissing over Christopher’s old crib that he told his son to mix up that emotional martini if he felt like punching something. The way he put his hand on John Ross’ shoulder and grinned — I not only teared up, I rewound.
While Bobby worried about Ann, who needed to be sedated after being rejected by her daughter, and promised to get to the bottom of what happened to Emma even though the police know nothing, J.R. and John Ross headed over to check on Sue Ellen. They showed up just as she was about to do a guest spot on Cougar Town and drink a glass of white wine (I know, the Cul-De-Sac Crew prefers red). J.R. was genuinely sweet in this scene: He told her that the best decision she ever made was to leave him. She started her foundation, she ran for governor, and she beat the bottle. But the foundation is now losing donors and the state’s attorney wants to indict her on bribery charges, Sue Ellen said. “So add jail to my long list of post-J.R. accomplishments,” she quipped. J.R. said he’d make sure that “twit” never presses charges, and Sue Ellen said she wouldn’t learn her lesson if she tried to worm her way out of this. “That’s why you have me darlin’. I never learn my lesson,” he said. Ah. Then, he proved he has a heart again: He told Sue Ellen that Ann was broken up over her daughter and could use some of her strength now. That was enough for Sue Ellen to pour out the wine.
Pamela Rebecca had a busy day. She interrupted Frank’s meeting on a $250 million dollar casino to tell the execs that her father wanted the company to shift focus to clean energy development. Because it’s just that easy. Then, she went to court and watched the real Rebecca lie for her. With Christopher unable to prove that Pamela Rebecca had kept conning him after her initial confession and their reconciliation, the judge said there was no fraud, so there’d be no annulment. Christopher told her he’s ready for war.
Pamela Rebecca had texted John Ross to meet her later that night at her place to talk about the terms of their alliance, but he was waiting in her limo after the court appearance. This power struggle will be fun. He wants her to win shares in Ewing Energies and fork them over to him. “I’m forking the shares over to my father, and he’s gonna hang them over J.R.’s head like a mistletoe,” she said. Best Rebecca line ever! John Ross said he is willing to funnel her the methane profits once he’s in charge of the company, and that got her thinking… that he needed to get out of the car and come see her that night. Her terms.
J.R. and Bobby had equally unproductive conversations. J.R. went to see the state’s attorney at the golf course (the man does know how to work secretaries, doesn’t he?) and was told there were no skeletons to be dug up and used as blackmail. Please, we’ve seen The Good Wife. And Bobby tried to find out when and how Harris had discovered Emma, but Harris wasn’t talking. Christopher, however, made out better with Elena: She told him about the deal we saw her cutting in the first hour with an oil man who has four fixed platforms in the Gulf that are sitting on no oil but a goldmine of methane. This turned Christopher’s day around immediately, and they went off to have sex while I wondered how someone with only 10 percent control of the company could close a deal like that without Christopher, Bobby, or John Ross knowing.
Now back to Pamela Rebecca. She was right to worry that someone had seen John Ross in her limo. Frank — who’s tired of her disrespecting him in front of their colleagues and knows she’s more concerned with avenging her broken heart than big business — told her he knew who she’d shared a ride with. His timing was impeccable, it was right as J.R. came to see Rebecca. “I’m just here to look my enemy in the eye. And since your daddy is about two feet shorter than I am,” J.R. told her, “I guess you’ll have to do.” The Barneses bring out the best in J.R.’s snark. “You’re not the first Pam to fox her way into the hen house,” he warned her. “I’m one for one on flushing out Pamelas. And I plan on being two for two.” He was on fire, even when he left and lobbed this at Frank: “How’s it feel to be a poodle?” Could J.R. and Frank end up working together?
NEXT: Which is more exciting: A Judith Light guest spot or John Ross-Pamela Rebecca sex?
Things started to move even more quickly now. Bobby’s sleuthing continued, and he went back to the stable and found out that Emma and her horse had arrived the previous week from London. Pamela Rebecca paid off the real Rebecca, who was counting on her helping to find Tommy, and told her to leave town now before Christopher put her in jail. While J.R. went back to the golf course to threaten the state’s attorney with a caddy’s photos of him taking advantage of an overly friendly hospitality tent at a charity tournament last year, Sue Ellen told Ann that she decided to let J.R. take her problems away instead of the bottle. “The first time in his damned life, J.R. was the lesser of two evils,” she said. Sue Ellen’s words of empowerment: They may have suffered bad men in their lives that drove them to numb the pain, but sometimes those men drive them to be stronger. That was a nice moment — and enough for Ann to forgo her next shot.
Speaking of bad men, John Ross wasn’t done making moves. He was angry seeing Bobby, Christopher, and Elena talking without him — until they told him about Elena’s deal being a way for them to all get what they want, including his trucks. Bobby and Christopher were going to give her some of their shares, and John Ross played it brilliantly: He suggested they all give her 5 percent to make the four of them equal partners. Christopher suspected something was up and asked a woman in his camp to befriend John Ross’ naturally hot secretary and find out all she can. Meanwhile, John Ross went to see J.R. and told him about the four-way share in the company. Their new plan: Get Sue Ellen to call in the loan she gave Elena for the Henderson land, and when she can’t come up with it, have her seize the land and Elena’s main asset — her shares in Ewing Energies. Then get Sue Ellen to sign them over to John Ross (who claims he’ll give J.R. his piece). Having J.R. Ewing tell you that you have the devil in you must be awesome. But man, J.R. is right: Elena really did carve John Ross’ heart out with a spoon and lick it clean. I just hope we have enough time to see J.R. fight back when he finds out John Ross is in bed with a Barnes. With Elena’s shares, and part of Pamela Rebecca’s, John Ross would control the company instead of Christopher and Bobby.
There were more bombshells to be dropped. Christopher received an envelope at work that Tommy had supposedly asked the center to delay delivery of for a month. Inside, there was a cell phone and a note saying that if anything should happen to Tommy, Christopher deserves to know the truth — which he’d find out by listening to the voicemail. Later, we saw Christopher play it for the real Rebecca. It was Pamela Rebecca telling Tommy that she has powerful contacts that can make him disappear if he pushes her one more time. There was a second voicemail, and that one was from Rebecca, confirming that she’d been in on the con, too, and wanted her cash. Christopher told her they were going downtown so she could file a missing persons report and recant her testimony. Nice move, Frank. He gave an addict drugs to play delivery boy. He must have taken Tommy’s cell phone when he got rid of the body.
Bobby got a call from his stable contact who told him that Harris owns that horse that Emma Brown has ridden for eight years. He went to see Harris, and instead, found the Ice Queen, Harris’ mother, played by Judith Light. He saw photos of Harris with Emma when she was young, and he put it together: They’d taken her from Ann and raised her in secret in England. Bobby tried to tell Emma that she’d been stolen from her mother, and Emma said no, Harris had saved her from her mother. I hope the Ice Queen is as scary as she looks. I wish she could face off against J.R. at some point — if anyone’s gonna screw with Bobby, it should be him, not her, you know.
J.R. dropped by Sue Ellen’s house to tell her the charges won’t be filed, and she’d already heard. She said she was grateful and kissed him on the cheek. How about that surprised sigh Hagman gave? Rewind again. “And that’s all you’re getting,” Sue Ellen told him. So great. She told J.R. that if he could behave himself, he was invited in for tea. In he went.
And I saved the best twist for last: John Ross went to see Rebecca that night, as requested, and after he quoted The Great Gatsby, they began negotiating. She offered 50 percent of whatever shares she gets in the divorce in exchange for Christopher’s methane patent. He got her up to 70 percent — and she kissed him. He pulled away and said he would have done it for 50 percent, then left. At first, I wished she hadn’t reversed the elevator to bring him back up. I like that they hate each other and have that power struggle. But then, her waiting at the elevator door and him charging off to meet her was pretty hot and twisted. And you know what, sex is the ultimate power play, and sleeping with Christopher’s cousin/baby mama is the biggest F U.