Dallas Recap, Episode 3: “The Price You Pay”

Our third entry of the season, “The Price You Pay”, opens in an august, oak-paneled room at a gentleman’s club (the kind without a pole) where two captains of industry — both named John Ross Ewing — are enjoying a nice afternoon shave. The elder of the two, J. R. is reminded of his first shave at the club which was paid for by his daddy, who was also named John Ross Ewing. He’s also reminded of the time that he went to his father about a horse that he had his heart set upon.  So it was that father Jock sent little eight-year-old J.R. out into the Ewing oil fields to earn the money for the horse, toiling twelve-hour days digging trenches in the hot Texas sun. Finally J. R. had enough money to pay and was sold the horse by his daddy as promised, only realizing after the sale that 1) the horse was blind and 2) people named John Ross Ewing tend to be jerks. As J. R. begins to shave his son John Ross he reminds him that his relationship with Jock was based upon love, trust, and-above all- fear — as the blade pauses menacingly at his son’s throat. J. R. reveals how he spent his Mexican vacation; he knows that Del Sol does not have a deal to buy Southfork from Bobby. He also knows that the “Marta del Sol” that he has been conniving with isn’t the real Marta del Sol. He also knows that Southfork is sitting atop two billion barrels of oil. What he wants to know is did John Ross ever think he can cheat the master at his own game?  John Ross replies with the truth: Yes, he did. A beaming J. R. then congratulates his son on his foiled double cross, after all that’s what John Ross Ewings do. He then apologizes for all the years he neglected his upbringing and he wants to make things right by teaching him all there is to know about the “Awl Bidness.” And so begins the Fathers’ Day episode of the new Dallas!

Lesson one begins as John Ross tells J. R. about his problem with the Bobby’s crooked lawyer Lobell, who is threatening to snitch to Bobby all about John Ross’ scam with Marta to bilk him out of Southfork.  J. R. has the remedy for this situation as he knows about Lobell’s dark secret: fifteen years ago the lawyer’s beloved son, after a drink too many, ran an old woman down at a crosswalk, and paid the only witness off for their silence.  If John Ross finds the witness, then problem solved.

Meanwhile Bobby’s wife Annie and her new bestest friend, Christopher’s wife Rebecca, are down at the shootin’ range.  Rebecca’s brother (and, as we learned last week, co-conspirator) Tommy rides up on a horse. As Southfork’s newest cowhand he gives Annie the morning report of the ranch. This is interrupted by a call from Bobby’s oncologist on Annie’s phone which prompts her to leave quickly, leaving Rebecca and the increasingly-dirtbag Tommy to plan their next moves in their secret plot to destroy the Ewing clan.  To get more intel on Chris’ research, Tommy gives her a device that will enable Rebecca to clone her husband’s computer and provide a window on what exactly he has been working on. Sensing Rebecca’s growing apprehension with their plot and comfort with her new family, Tommy fans the flames of jealousy by bringing up Christopher’s meetings with ex-girlfriend Elena to work on the fix to Christopher’s energy patent problems.  He then shows off with Annie’s practice revolver, hitting every target with deadly accuracy. “It’s more fun when they move,” he says cooly.

John Ross then sets up a sitdown for J. R. with “Marta’s” true backers, a Venezuelan oil cartel led by Vicente Cano (who looks a lot like Tony Almeida from 24).  J. R. lays out the plan: the Venezuelans will buy Southfork for fifty million from an unsuspecting Bobby and then turn and give it to J. R. in return for 14% (a percent lower than John Ross and Marta’s offer) of the profits from drilling at the ranch.   Cano expresses his trepidation at forking over such a large amount of scratch, cattily insinuating a threat if the oil wells don’t produce or if something happens to J. R.  After these oil barons silently size each other for signs of weakness, J. R. offers Cano something to mull over: you can tell a man by his friends and enemies. J. R.’s friends are in the State House and his enemies, well darlin’, they’re harder to find.  Appreciating the man across the table as a fellow badass, Cano accepts the offer. Outside, Maria attempts to chide J. R. about renegotiating the offer that she spent a lot of effort putting together. He gives her a pass in her earlier double-dealing with John Ross, but J.R. ensures her that there will be no third chances. After the old man walks away, a nervous Marta reaches into her purse for a medication bottle and pops a pill.

Bobby and Annie are at the doctor’s office where the x-rays show that Bobby’s operation was successful, and the tumor was removed without a hitch. Problem is that the tumor was larger than expected and there may be a reoccurrence, but with an experimental drug, it may not be a problem.  Annie asks the doctor if there will be any side effects, as anyone with a lick of sense is wont to do. Bobby asks the doctor if he will experience hair loss, as anyone with Patrick Duffy’s awesome head of hair would do. Only the chance of liver and heart damage, replies the doctor.  The threat to his beautiful mane abated, Bobby gives the go-ahead for the prescription.  He then comforts Annie, realizing at last that his fear of death and the desire to leave at long last a legacy of a family at peace was pushing his desire to sell Southfork. But he’s over that now. He will call Lobell and discuss a way out of the sale.

Speaking of Lobell, he’s meeting with John Ross to receive his blackmail money, which falls far short of the 2 million that was promised. John Ross lets him know blackmail won’t work as J. R. knows about their scheme. While scooping up his loot, Lobell tells John Ross that Bobby’s halting the sale of Southfork indefinitely. Later that night at Southfork, Bobby receives a call from the director of the rest home that J. R. has been living in these past years. It appears that Bobby’s visits have been very therapeutic in his brother’s recovery from his catatonic state — just think how far he’ll come if you got to talk to him 24/7. “Will you allow J. R. to come home to the ranch?” the director asks. While Annie thinks it’ll be fun for the two brothers to be together in the family home once again (someone get this girl a Ouija board to ask Pam if this is cool), Bobby wonders aloud about the rattlesnake he’s bringing back to the nest. While Annie’s fluffing pillows, we discover that the “director” is really just a fellow resident at the home, who got to play act in return from the warmth of a hot blonde and a respite from red Jell-O.  After Granddad returns to his room with dreams of Christina Aguilera and rib-eyes, J. R. confides to John Ross about the lost time spent chasing fast women and wheelin’ and dealin’. He will get Southfork back for his boy.

The next day, Elena applies her mad geology skills to Christopher’s problems extracting methane from the ocean without causing tsunamis that endanger the entire Pacific Rim. The two come to a solution (spouting technobabble that would give Wesley Crusher wet dreams) and share an awkward embrace.  The phone rings for Elena. Guess what? It’s Rebecca, and she wants to have lunch with her husband’s ex-girlfriend that he’s been spending a lot of time with! That’ll be cool, right?

At Southfork, J. R. and John Ross (who’s been relatively silent this episode, he must have skipped the writing staff in the commissary line) arrive to move back into the ranch to no fanfare. That’s because Bobby is entertaining a guest. . .none other than Pamela’s brother and J. R.’s archnemesis Cliff Barnes(!).  The two lovebirds waste no time getting in their barbs and J. R. discovers that Cliff is there to declare his interest in buying Southfork, thereby claiming the ultimate prize in the feud started by Jock Ewing and Digger Barnes. Though Cliff is turned down by Bobby, J.R. launches into his brother after his enemy departs, unable to understand how Bobby can renege on the deal with the “del Sols” and even give audience to their blood enemy. Bobby tries to calm J.R. down as he invites him down to the fishing hole.

At their luncheon date, Rebecca tries to smooth her relations with Elena, who tries to assure her that Rebecca is the one that Chris has chosen and that she is well with the situation. When prodded about details about how Chris was as a child, Elena confides that he never got over the disappearance of his mom Pamela and that his status as an adopted son has made the young man more determined to prove himself as a rightful heir. Because “Ewings don’t fail”, he has taken the responsibility of realizing his dreams of procuring alternative energy sources to diversify the family business. Rebecca finds him hard at work when she returns home and reports that she had a good time with Elena.  They are then interrupted by a knock at the door, revealing a man bearing an invitation for the young couple to have dinner with Chris’ uncle. . .Cliff Barnes.  Upon meeting with Cliff, Christopher seems enough Ewing to view every bonhomie offered by his uncle with suspicion. Finally Cliff reveals his reason for the invite: he’s got a million in cash to invest in Christopher’s enterprise. Viewing this present as just another scheme to get a leg up on Cliff’s hated rivals — his nephew’s family — Chris turns him down flat. As Christopher and Rebecca leave, Cliff tells him that he will never be a Ewing no matter how hard he tries and to not let them destroy him as they did Christopher’s mother (and Cliff’s sister) Pam.

The next morning at the ranch, after hearing a rustle in the stable Annie gets her gun . . . I’ll pause for your groans. She finds J. R. amidst a pile of fileboxes and paperwork.  After seeing Annie’s gun, he deadpans that “bullets don’t seem to have to have too much effect on me, darlin’” (Hagman’s totally rockin’ killer lines tonight).  He invites Annie to look over a photo album with a picture of young Bobby with-God rest her soul-Miss Ellie. J. R. confides that he never was as close to his mother as Bobby, Jock having taken his eldest to raise in his own image. All the fights with Bobby got in the way of being brothers. Maybe selling Southfork is a good idea, allowing the younger Ewings to have a chance to live in harmony. Though Annie abruptly ends their conversation,  J. R.’s insidious attempts at fake contrition leave some seeds to take root. Later he schemes with John Ross in the bedroom, pushing his son to live up to the name of John Ross Ewing and its accompanying jerkwaddishness. It’s time for Lesson Two.

Elsewhere, Christopher leaves a sleeping Rebecca to burn the midnight oil at the office, but his wife’s slumber is interrupted by brother Tommy, who wants to know why he’s not up on Chris’ laptop. Rebecca complains that he is never without it, but Tommy insists that she figure out how to place the bug, and fast. At breakfast, J. R. cooks breakfast for the family. John Ross storms in demanding satisfaction from his uncle Bobby. In his hand he holds a leather book, Miss Ellie’s journal, which J.R. says was stolen from his room. The book, John Ross claims, reveals that Miss Ellie was a onetime resident at a sanitarium during the sad time after Jock’s death in South America. Though Bobby tries to brush this attempt to declare his late mother’s will void due to mental instability, John Ross maintains that it’s good enough for a day in court, where he will air every bit of Ellie’s journal to the city.  After J.R. tells his son that he will not let this happen, John Ross declares that he will not end up a failure like his old man, which earns him a slap. He then issues an ultimatum: if he doesn’t get a call from Bobby in twenty-four hours, he’s filing.

Chris awakens Elena with great news: whatever science thing they were trying to do, it works! And how do we know? Because the big white rock in the glass thing, it’s on fire! Let’s go tell Dad. This is totally gonna save Southfork!  They arrive just as Bobby applies his signature to the deed, selling the ranch as Mitch Lobell looks on.  After the attorney leaves, Chris yells at Bobby. He’s angry at his father’s lack of fight and his seeming lack of trust that Chris could take on John Ross. Bobby then finally reveals his cancer scare to his son and his desire to put decades of bad blood to rest. Chris goes outside to tell Elena of this sad news, and in her desire to comfort him, she kisses him. The three seconds long smooch is captured by Tommy on his cam, who sends it to Rebecca’s phone while she sits with Chris’ laptop — and the bug.

John Ross receives the good news from his dad. Their bit of breakfast theater went down amazingly; Bobby signed the papers and now Southfork is theirs for the taking! The celebration is short-lived after John Ross meets with Mitch Lobell, who threatens to tell everything to Bobby — the Venezuelans, the fake Del Rios, J.R. and John Ross — unless he gets five million. Christopher talks to his wife, telling her about Bobby’s cancer and Elena’s helping him throughout (yet not explaining what kind of help). He now realizes that he’s neglected Rebecca and that he realizes his duty to her and his family, and they must go to Southfork to be nearer his father. He tells her that he loves her and she reciprocates, Tommy’s bug tossed into the wastebasket.

Bobby and Annie are in their bed, reflecting on the tumultuous day’s events. When Annie asks how he feels after finally selling the ranch, Bobby is resigned. Annie tells him that she is absolutely certain that J.R. gave John Ross the journal, Bobby doesn’t dispute it. For him, that is the nature of his brother John Ross Ewing, Jr. — he can’t help himself but to be bad. What kills Bobby is that after all this time J.R. thinks Bobby’s not smart enough to know it.

Across town, John Ross meets with Creepy Spanish Detective Guy. To his chagrin, the investigator turns up with bad news: the witness to Lobell’s kid’s vehicular homicide has been dead for ten years. But on the plus side, he did score on the extra credit assignment. That e-mail that was sent to Elena years ago breaking things off with Chris?

It was from Rebecca Sutter. Who is now Christopher’s wife.  Oh boy…..

Tune in next week, folks!


  • LJT

    J.R. got some good lines all right, but none better than “Time has not been kind to that face, but I do recall the smell of brimstone and crazy” upon seeing old Cliff Barnes. Classic!