Episode 9: Family Business
By: Carlos Uribe
Dallas is a show about the wealthy, powerful, and scandalous Ewing family. It's a continuation of the 1978-1991 CBS series of the same name.
There is something to be said about setting up alliances in television shows. I don't mean alliances between nations but between characters. Two characters who are supposed to be enemies decide to team up. This can either work for the show if there is a common enemy. When there isn't one, this removes a lot of conflict and tension from the show. It predictably will turn out that the two betray each other and the alliance quickly falls apart. The problem with this is that while the alliance still exists, it can make the show dull. It is possible that Dallas plans to introduce someone that Christopher and John Ross both want to beat. That might even be Cliff Barnes, who has been in the very background in this season. Right now I'm wary about them coming together. While they haven't been the most likeable characters, most of the show's plot has revolved around their rivalry. If that rivalry doesn't fuel the plot, then there needs to be a new source of conflict. This makes it likely that the alliance will be back in the next episode. This calls into question on why it's even necessary in the first place, other than to present a possibility that I'm wary of.
It is true that they do have a common goal and that is to save Southfork from the Venezuelan drug cartel. The problem is that they didn't come together because of the goal but beyond it as well. Most alliances that work on television effectively for drama are the ones who are only temporary. It's when characters decide to temporarily work together where it works fine. This is an alliance that's being presented as a permanent one. It has an objective, taking back Southfork, that might be able to bring them together but it's doubtful that it's one that's going to keep them united. It's entirely possible that the alliance will only last as long as this goal exists and then quickly fall apart. Considering that this is a show about characters who are supposed to be backstabbing each other for their own gain, the only real outcome is that Ewing Energy is a failure. Even Bobby realizes that there's a high chance that this won't work. They might have Elena as a referee, but she's also in the middle of a love triangle/square that involves all three of them. It is precisely because of Elena that this alliance will more than likely fall apart.
This is an episode that is largely built on trust. One of the themes about this entire series is about trust. It's possible that the original series also dealt with this theme, especially considering it's reputation. I can't speak for a show I haven't seen, but I can say that trust has been very important in Dallas. The problem with setting up an alliance is that it requires trust and the only character that is trustworthy in that alliance is Elena. The alliance is a big part of the episode, but it isn't all. It also deals with Rebecca. She's dealing with her ex-boyfriend, who wants to be a millionaire. Through his exposition, we learn that Rebecca was the only who planned the Ewing heist in the first place. Rebecca is hard at work trying to earn Christopher's trust and yet she's still unable to be completely honest with him. It's her inability to tell the complete truth that helps lead to her getting attacked by her brother. The episode had ended with one of them getting shot, but not revealing who it was. My guess is on the brother, but there's also a chance that Rebecca was shot and she loses the baby. If she does lose the baby, that ties the current bond that she has with Christopher.
Trust also comes into play with J.R. He's not a trustworthy character and he is very self-absorbed. He does sign the deed back to Bobby, in a rare instance where he shows a conscience. J.R. might not be trusted by anyone but he seems to have lost his faith in his son, John Ross and vice versa. It's nice to see him back interacting with the other characters since he brings the show alive that the other characters simply can't. He's the real reason to watch the show and his absence was very much noted. Sue Ellen has to face the consequences for betraying the trust that she had from her supporters. Trust also came into play when John Ross and J.R. learned about Bobby's cancer when Bobby gets yet another medical attack: one where he has an aneurism. The episode had ended with him potentially having his aneurism popped.
Dallas had a pretty good episode but arranging the alliance is a bit troublesome. If the show is serious about it, then it's going to need to find a new way to drive the plot. There is only one episode left this season and this episode has quite a bunch of cliff-hangers for that finale. The best part about this episode is the return of J.R. to Southfork and his interactions with all the characters. This was an episode that also placed a couple of characters in direct life-and-death danger and it'll be interesting to see how this is all resolved.