Dallas season finale recap: J.R.'s Masterpiece Unveiled
J.R.'s killer is revealed, as are two new alliances we didn't see coming
Patrick Duffy told us to call him if the scene at J.R.’s grave, in which the truth about J.R.’s death was revealed, didn’t make us cry. No need: I’m guessing we all got misty. As much as Bobby’s breakdown got to me, it was John Ross’ broken line delivery that hit me hardest: “I’m sorry, I’m confused. Who shot my father, Uncle Bobby?” he asked. “I shot your father, John Ross,” Bum confirmed. J.R., it turns out, was dying of cancer, and his masterpiece was framing Cliff Barnes for his death. He’d asked Bum to steal Cliff’s gun and shoot him in Mexico, where Cliff travels for an annual fishing tournament. “The only person that could take down J.R. was J.R.,” John Ross said, shaking Bum’s hand. Did you see that coming? Let’s back up.
We opened with John Ross and Pamela on the Barnes Global jet marveling at her gumball machine wedding ring. Her father called, wanting her to come home so she could enjoy the takeover of Ewing Energies with him. She’d told him she was meeting with a casino in Vegas — he still didn’t know about the nuptials. John Ross told Pamela whatever problems awaited them in Dallas they’d face together, including the one of taking down her daddy. She asked how much longer their flight was, and he looked at the plane’s flight history and saw that Cliff had been in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico the night that J.R. had died. John Ross called Bobby, and he phoned Bum and told him it was time to put the plan in motion. Cue the music!
Back at Southfork, John Ross was ready to call the police, but Pamela and Bobby said they didn’t have enough to pin this on Cliff — yet. In Zürich, Elena took a call from her mother, who was worried about Drew. Elena phoned him to check in. She wanted him to go straight to Mexico, but he wanted to play CSI on a pair of Harris’ stolen shoes and find Roy so the Ewings can connect Harris to the rig explosion. Christopher came into the hotel room having talked to an investigator downstairs who gave him the address that his mother’s bank account was registered to. The home is owned by an American who used to be a plastic surgeon, Dr. David Gordon. Elena was worried about Christopher because he hasn’t seen his mother in over 25 years. But Christopher doesn’t consider her his mother, he said. All he wants is her shares.
Bum found Ken Richards, and Sue Ellen surprised him in the Cayman Islands. She told him he had to give her hard evidence of the governor’s involvement in the TESHA cover-up because now the governor is allowing Harris and Cliff to destroy the Ewings. Ken said he couldn’t: The governor knows that Ken buried a report saying his son’s startup tech company was polluting a river. Sue Ellen took a page out of J.R.’s book: If Ken doesn’t help her and trust that she’ll protect him, she’ll out him and that buried report herself. Nice!
Christopher showed up at the house and Dr. David Gordon said Pam wasn’t there. He clearly recognized Christopher’s name. We heard a noise upstairs, and Christopher followed it. It wasn’t Pam, it was another woman. Gordon said he was Pam’s surgeon, they fell in love and married. She doesn’t want to see Christopher. After the accident, Cliff had found her in Houston, he said, and asked her to come back with him, Bobby, and Christopher, and she’d said no. That part of her life was over. She didn’t want any part of the Ewing/Barnes feud. She never wants to see him again. Christopher left in tears.
After we found out Emma had agreed to go to rehab to get out of jail, Christopher told Elena what Gordon had said. He fought back more tears, and Elena said they’re not leaving until Christopher gets to confront his mom face-to-face. He was happy Elena was there. For now, Christopher!
NEXT: Shower time, again
Back at Southfork, Rhonda, the woman J.R. had met with the night he died, was brought in so Pamela could show her a picture of Cliff. She had seem him before: He was at the club that night, too, staring at J.R. and her. John Ross stormed off, convinced that was all the proof they needed. Bobby said he believed Cliff was the killer now, too, but he couldn’t do what John Ross wanted: Sheriff Derrick had no jurisdiction since the crime took place in Mexico, and even if Carlos could help in Mexico, there wasn’t enough evidence for a conviction if they could somehow get Cliff there. John Ross wanted the gun that J.R. had left him then. If Cliff wasn’t going to jail, he’d put him in the ground, he said. Bobby reminded John Ross what J.R. had written in the letter: They take from Cliff what he wanted from them — his company — and then Bobby would know what to do. They had to get control of Barnes Global, which means Christopher needs Pam’s shares. Then Bobby would need a day to get things ready, and they’d need Pamela’s help, he said. I love Bobby and John Ross scenes.
Christopher and Elena take more showers than any other two people on television. While she was in the shower, he stumbled upon the cell she used to call Drew. He dialed, Drew answered, and Christopher knew Elena had been lying to him. He confronted her, and she tried to explain. But Christopher was having none of it. After a lot of shouting and a little lip quivering, he said she better be gone by the time he got back.
Things started moving fast: At Southfork, Emma was not at all happy about being weaned off her pills in preparation for rehab. In Zürich, Christopher wasn’t taking Elena’s calls. In the governor’s office, Sue Ellen was showing McConaughey her copy of the initial TESHA report saying there were two explosions. Sue Ellen poured herself a drink, or so we thought. It was for the governor. She doesn’t need it anymore. She was going to screw over Ken Richards and blackmail the governor sober. While they talked eminent domain, Drew went into a bar and told the barmaid to call him at his hotel room if she hears from her friend Roy. Drew can’t be that stupid, right? He wanted her to call Roy and tell him where he was staying.
After sourpuss Emma showed up on her dad’s doorstep and asked to come home, Bobby gave John Ross a replica of J.R.’s belt buckle. He had John Ross ask Pamela to help plant it on Cliff to tie him to the murder. The buckle had been stolen the night J.R. died. He told her they may not be able to prove Cliff’s role in the rig explosion, but this can give them both justice. She agreed. (And that was J.R.’s real belt buckle, right? They were just lying because we weren’t supposed to know Bum was there to take it.)
At Drew’s motel, we got a masterful dual Honda and F-150 product placement shot as Roy pulled in next to Drew’s bike. While Roy went upstairs to Drew’s room, Drew planted the shoe, which dissolved into cocaine, in the back seat of his truck. We thought Roy was then chasing Drew, but when the cops pulled them over, the rider wasn’t Drew — it was the dude we’d seen sitting at the bar when Drew talked to the barmaid. I guess he wanted to make a few quick bucks by allowing himself to be chased by a guy who wanted the man he was posing as dead? Not smart. But it worked out for him.
NEXT: The truth about Pam
After Sue Ellen reported her good news to Bobby while wearing a bold white suit — she’s feeling anything but evil — Bobby got a call from Drew, who told him Roy had been arrested and that the shoes Harris was transporting were made from high-impact pressure-molded cocaine. Drew said the Ewings should be able to leverage the charges against Roy to get what they need on Harris, and, oh yeah, he’s not turning himself in. Coward! But good riddance. That character was boring. Let’s never hear about Papi’s well again. (Wishful thinking!)
While Christopher slept off a hangover in Zürich, Elena was home in Dallas hearing her mother tell her that Drew had other options than to blow that rig. Elena needs to apologize to Christopher and give him time to forgive her, mom said. Um, mom, you’re the one that made Elena help him in the first place!
At the bank, John Ross and Pamela prepared to slip the belt buckle into Cliff’s safe deposit box. Won’t there be a paper trail saying the two of them visited the box? That worries me. Meanwhile, Emma snuck into her dad’s office presumably looking for pills — or was she helping the Ewings? Confused!
Christopher got a call that his mother was cleaning out her account. He ran after her and Gordon, in slow-motion, and it was the woman we had seen making the noise at the house earlier. He asked who she was, and my DVR cut off. Cliffhanger! Until I played the second hour. Pamela and John Ross found Pam’s death certificate from Abu Dhabi in Cliff’s safe deposit box — dated July 14, 1989. Sad trombone. No Victoria Principal for us!
Harris found Emma rifling through his things, and she told him she was looking for pills. Good thing he kept those in the safe… with whatever she was really interested in scoring.
Gordon told Christopher that Pam had come to him after the accident that burned over 60 percent of her body. She left Dallas because she didn’t want to scare her little boy — she thought she was hideous. They got to the final round of surgeries, and she found out she had pancreatic cancer and was dying. She wanted to recover and see Christopher again, so he brought her to Abu Dhabi for an experimental treatment, but it didn’t work. She died. When Cliff found out that Pam’s shares would go to Christopher, he contacted the doctor and the woman who’d been Pam’s nurse and asked them to keep her death a secret so that he could control her shares. In exchange, Cliff supported them. The nurse gave Pam’s will to Christopher, along with a letter she’d written to him before her death. Cry, Christopher, cry! And cue the music.
NEXT: The truth about Cliff
Roy, we found out, wouldn’t turn on Harris and Cliff. But he did recognize Pamela, who’d come with Bobby and John Ross to see if he’d struck a deal. Cliff called a meeting with Harris, who assured him that Roy would do his time like a man. The minute Harris got out of Cliff’s car, Cliff called someone with a job (killing Roy in prison). Pamela visited Roy and played on his weakness as a father. She asked him if he knew she was having a boy and a girl. She told him to just tell her the truth, and he did: He told her to have other children and forget her father — there was nothing unintentional about the rig explosion. We’d seen how conflicted Roy was the day of the blast. The writers had earned that confession. And as expected, Roy, a grandfather, got knifed in the neck as he was calling his son. Cruel!
Harris told Emma he had nothing to do with Roy’s death. She pretended she didn’t care: She said she was happy Drew was gone and Roy was dead — now they can’t hurt him. Still, the Ewings thought Harris orchestrated it, not Cliff. Regardless, Christopher came home and presented the copy of his mother’s will. John Ross handed over the death certificate. Pamela announced they were two-thirds of the way in to Barnes Global, and John Ross told Christopher and Sue Ellen that he’d married Pamela. “Surprise,” he said, awkwardly. Sue Ellen was elated, and Christopher was somewhat happy for them.
Now that they could run Barnes Global, Bobby said it was time to reveal what was in J.R.’s letter. He’d spent the last few months of his life working to protect the family, which meant taking down Cliff. Bobby took out the gun — and Pamela ID’d it as her father’s. Bobby said it was used to kill J.R., and Bum explained that J.R. had caught wind that Cliff had followed him to Mexico, got worried, and called him. By the time Bum got to the hotel, J.R. was dying. J.R. told him Cliff was using the cartel to cover his tracks and to call Carlos. Carlos bought the gun back from the cartel. That would seem like a lot for a dying man to say. I should have suspected that was a load of crap.
John Ross was angry that Bum and Bobby hadn’t told him the truth sooner, but they said J.R. wanted them to be patient to destroy Cliff. And also, John Ross would have killed Cliff. Bobby said Cliff would fight extradition to Mexico. Pamela said she’d get him there. After we saw Christopher NOT accept Elena’s apology, we found out how Pamela planned to set her father up: She told her dad that Frank had been working on a casino deal in Mexico before his death, and she wanted to finish it. Cliff was happy to go: “Talk about dancing on J.R.’s grave,” he said. Hubris!
It’s nice that it all came down to the women, in the end: Sue Ellen worked over the governor. Police found the belt buckle and the gun Pamela had planted in that safe deposit box and Cliff’s car, respectively. Emma drugged her dad while making him breakfast and found his ledger documenting all his dealings with the cartel and where he was hiding the money. She’d taken it to Ann, who turned it in to Derrick, who arrested Harris. Did Emma think that up herself? (No. Must have been John Ross.)
At J.R.’s grave (“The only deal he ever lost,” his tombstone reads), his body was exhumed to recover the bullets. Ballistics confirmed they came from Cliff’s gun.
NEXT: John Ross becomes J.R.
At their hotel in Mexico, Pamela hung up on a woman who called to warn Cliff about police searching his office. She disconnected the phone. There was a knock at the door, and in walked Bobby, Christopher, John Ross, and Sue Ellen. I cheered. Christopher told Cliff about his shares, and Pamela told him about her marriage to John Ross. We knew Cliff was lying when he told Pamela that he wasn’t responsible for the rig, but we couldn’t be sure that Cliff was fibbing when he said his gun was stolen before J.R.’s shooting and that someone had moved his plane (he says he was in Mexico, but it was Cabo). Cliff was arrested, repeating again and again that he didn’t kill J.R. as he was escorted out. Cliff was convincing enough that at that point, I was willing to consider that J.R. had developed a terminal disease and decided to pay someone to end his life and frame Cliff for it. (And I was right!)
Bobby went to see Cliff, who still insisted that he was being framed for J.R.’s death, and Bobby made him an offer: He’d help him get back to an American prison if he admitted to sabotaging the rig, killing their grandchildren, and partnering with Harris. Cliff said he’s never done what the Ewings wanted him to do and he’s not starting now. As Bobby left, Cliff asked who killed J.R., and Bobby said Cliff would never know. WHAT? So Bobby knew Cliff didn’t do it. Bad Bobby!
Back in the States, Bobby and Bum drove up to J.R.’s grave, and John Ross and Christopher seemed to surprise them there. They, too, now suspected that Cliff didn’t kill J.R. and wanted the truth. They demanded to know what was in J.R.’s letter, and luckily, Bobby had it on him.
“Bobby, doctors say I’ve only got a few days left. Damn cancer.” I WAS RIGHT!!! He didn’t tell Bobby he was sick because he detested pity. He’d had Bum steal Cliff’s gun because he knew Cliff came to Mexico every year for a fishing competition. He’d had Carlos smooth things out on that end. He wanted Bobby to end the Ewing/Barnes feud once and for all. The letter said Bum was the best friend J.R. didn’t deserve to have — that’s when I knew Bum pulled the trigger. It referenced a time when J.R. had framed Bobby as the one who’d borrowed their daddy’s favorite shotgun by putting extra shells in Bobby’s room. Bobby broke down and couldn’t finish reading the letter. A single tear fell down his cheek as Christopher continued. J.R. hoped Bobby knew that his love for him outweighed his jealousy: “Goodbye, baby brother, I guess I’ll be duck huntin’ with daddy. I’ll tell him I was the one who borrowed his gun.”
If you weren’t tearing up then, Josh Henderson’s broken delivery of John Ross’ response definitely got you. “I’m sorry, I’m confused. Who shot my father, Uncle Bobby?” he asked. “I shot your father, John Ross,” Bum confirmed. He said that J.R.’s last act was one of love for his family and for his son. BUT DID HE HAVE TO DO IT WHEN HE WAS ON THE PHONE WITH JOHN ROSS???
“The only person that could take down J.R. was J.R.,” John Ross said. And he held out his hand to Bum. Tears!
Bobby handed John Ross the letter and left him alone, kneeling at the grave. “Thank you, daddy, for watching over us. I love you,” he said. We could have ended there, but we had to set up for season 3 with some serious craziness.
Elena found out that her father died for nothing. His land had no oil. As if on cue, papers were delivered to her from Cliff Barnes’ lawyers. They were land records — one of them had J.R.’s name on it, and the other was her father’s land. Cliff wanted her to come to the jail in Mexico to see him. WHAT?
Emma went to see her father in jail to gloat and assure him that she’s exactly the daughter he raised. Harris told Ann she must be enjoying this. Ann didn’t have much to do in these episode, but this could be the line of the night: “Actually, I’m not, Harris,” she said, “because I’m not a sick, sadistic prick like you are.” He was speechless.
At Southfork, Christopher drank a Miller Lite and read the letter from his mother — who had the handwriting of a fifth grader. (Oh, was that burn-related? Now I feel bad.) Pamela walked the grounds, unsure about whether she was moving back into Southfork but knowing she doesn’t want to go home. She wants to start a new life with John Ross. Christopher said he was happy for her, and she told him he’s always loved Elena. Even though he’s mad at her, he should forgive her. All you get holding onto anger, she said, is wreckage like her father left. Who would’ve thought we’d end the season loving Pamela?
Elena went to see Cliff, who told her that J.R. had paid someone to switch the deeds so that Elena’s father got J.R.’s worthless land, and J.R. got her father’s goldmine. Elena told Cliff he must be making this up, but Cliff said to go check the records: J.R. had done the same thing to his father. He wants her to be his proxy for the third of Barnes Global he still owns and to make the Ewings pay for the sins against her family. J.R.’S SINS. And he’s gone. Rise above it, Elena.
At the newly christened Ewing Global, a portrait was hung of J.R. as a reminder that no one goes against a Ewing and bourbon was poured. Ann came to the office, and she and Bobby kissed and made up. He told her that he’d only shut her out because he didn’t want her to see him act like J.R. — but she said he’s still the best man she knows. Ah.
After Sue Ellen told John Ross to treat his bride right (and he joked that he wasn’t a scoundrel), he went off to buy champagne and flowers. We saw Christopher try to tell Elena he loved her, but he was talking to an empty room. And Elena, well she was at a compound owned by someone she and Drew grew up with in Mexico who is now, it appears, into some serious s—. That was a lot of armed guards. Please don’t tell me Drew is there. What is she plotting? A coup?
John Ross arrived at a hotel room with his romantic gestures, found a pair of discarded panties, and went into the bedroom. I totally thought he and Pamela were celebrating their honeymoon. I was wrong. IT WAS EMMA. WHAT? She’d gotten the briefcase out of her dad’s safe for him. He told her it looks like they hit the motherload. “That look’s gonna cost you,” she said. “Darlin’ trust me,” he replied. “I’m willing to pay the price. Just don’t tell my wife.” He picked her up, and they hit the sheets. Scoundrel! I really thought he cared about Pamela. I feel like a fool. When did he have time to orchestrate this with Emma? And how does he explain to his new wife that he’s not spending the night with her? What happens if Pamela finds out Cliff didn’t kill J.R.? Would she be fine (because he did kill her babies) or would she turn on John Ross again? And how soon will she find out he’s cheating on her? Notice he didn’t say he loved her when she said it. Are we going to see her fall back into Christopher’s arms? How sick would that be? Theories? Go!