Baby Big Bad and Mommy Dearest. (Josh Henderson as John Ross and Linda Gray as Sue Ellen, in Dallas Season 3, Ep. 1)

Dallas Season 3, Episode 1 Recap: All in the Family

Welcome to third (and first J.R.-deficient) season premiere of Dallas, helpfully entitled “The Return” for those of you pessimists who bet the show wouldn’t make it this far without its affably evil main attraction

Hello darlin’!

Welcome to Dallas’ third and J.R.-deficient season premiere, helpfully entitled “The Return” for those of you pessimists who bet the show wouldn’t make it this far without its affably evil main attraction. The official word from TNT: Nanny nanny boo boo.

And although the Big Bad has shuffled off this mortal coil and is now managing Hell’s Garland offices, his son John Ross still aspires to the family legacy of unabashed jerkwaddery that J. R. perfected. In the cold open, the recently married scion is already committing adultery (check) with Emma Ryland, his comely cousin (family member, double douche score). Now that Emma’s crazy grandma Judith is in the looney bin and Pop’s spending extended summers at Camp Lew Sterrett, Emma’s in control of the family trucking firm. This fact is not lost on Junior, since he’s bartering his sweet, sweet lovin’ in exchange for Ryland Transport shipping Ewing Energy oil (all’s fair in sex and business—check). And that’s all during the first few minutes, folks! Tell him what he’s won, family henchman Bum! Why, it’s J. R.’s big ol’ WWE-issue belt buckle. Daddy willed to him once Junior pulled off a TV Villain three-hit combo.

While John Ross is hanging out his shingle, we turn our attention to his hapless cousin Christopher, who is moping around the ranch chopping wood with a scruffy beard. This is what we TV types now refer to as “getting one’s Dexter on.” Remember, though, that he had a kinda rough Season Two, what with his marriage falling apart, twins dying, and losing his childhood sweetheart Elena. Though he told her to sod off back in Switzerland, Chris still holds a torch and blows up her phone to speak with her. But Elena’s too busy meeting with Cliff Barnes in a Mexican prison, his new home courtesy of a Ewing frame job for J. R.’s murder. Not one for just letting stuff go, Barnes convinces Elena to continue his ancient feud against the family by providing evidence that J. R. swindled her papi in an oil deal decades ago. Which, by the way, is like complaining about getting a hair in your soup at Robin Williams’ house—it’s a given. Still, she returns to Southfork, makes nice with the Ewings, and gets a job at Ewing Global thanks to her geological knowhow.

At the offices of Ewing Global, the family (which now includes John Ross’ wife Pamela Barnes) stands around a huge world Risk board plotting the company’s next move. After Bobby loses Kamchatka, Russia to Sue Ellen’s onslaught from adjacent Alaska, Chris notes that the Arctic contains the world’s largest concentration of methane and oil. This is energy that Ewing Global is uniquely suited to synthesize into car juice, apparently, but our science is a little rusty. In order to have a seat at the table when contracts go up for bid, the Ewings have to pony up half a billion, pocket change they plan to get by selling off divisions of newly-acquired Barnes Global. It’s a good plan, but…

“Psych!” yells Mexican billionaire Nicolas Trevino, who reports that he is serving as the proxy for Cliff Barnes, who still owns stakes in Ewing Global. And since they can’t override him without a supermajority on the board, they can forget about making money off the Barnes empire. He also lets the Ewings know that he will be hanging around the office doing general pain in the ass stuff until Cliff is released from prison. He then smugly walks off, presumably to drink up all the coffee in the break room. . .and not brew another pot. Bwah hah hah.

Thanks to Christopher’s crack research skills—looking up Trevino’s Wikipedia page—the family bunkers down to consider their options. Until they can figure out what Barnes has on Trevino and use that as leverage to make him an ally, they have to find a way to generate the scratch to bid on the Arctic contracts. With time running out, John Ross puts the screws to Bobby into drilling on oil-rich Southfork land, which Bobby refuses to do after promising Miss Ellie on her deathbed. Junior pouts a bit, and says he doesn’t need Bobby’s permission to do drill since the oil’s located in a shale and the shale blah blah SCIENCE! Elena conveniently watches behind a tree as Ewing infighting threatens to do Cliff Barnes’ takedown job for him.

Meanwhile, our favorite wife-abusing dirtbag Harris Ryland is let out the back door at the county jail at the behest of some shadowy, Spanish-accented guy who lets him know that he has 24 hours to get their presumably-illicit cargo to its destination or his little girl Emma’s gonna pay. Said little girl is at Southfork slutting it up for John Ross, who still needs her company’s icebreakers for his Arctic scheme. After a late night tumble with Emma, he’s caught leaving her room by Sue Ellen. Oops.

Hey, remember that time Elena went to that Mexican mansion/fortress that was swarming with armed goons? Yeah, me too. What happened there? Through the magic of flashback, all is revealed: she was visiting her foster brother Joaquin, who eventually sought his fortune south of the border made some billions and changed his name—to Nicolas Trevino. Eternally grateful to Elena’s family for saving him from a life selling chiclets on the streets (really, writers?), he’s more than willing to assist his “seester” in her ultimate goal: total Ewing destruction.

And with that last reveal, that’s the third season premiere, folks. Not a lot of location shots this week. It’s great to be back watching the show with you guys since Community took time off for the Olympics, I gotta get my laughs where I can find them. See y’all next week for Episode 2.