The moment has finally come when all of the little cliffhangers that bridged the gap between Dallas episodes now give way to the larger, more truly shocking cliffhanger that will leave everyone talking until the series returns (which, apparently, is a lot sooner than expected). As this continuation of the series isn’t attempting to mimic, or pay homage to something from the past, as much as it is simply digging it up, there was undoubtedly some kind of expectation of the writers to provide a story note that even today’s jaded audiences wouldn’t see coming.
While ‘Revelations’ doesn’t exactly achieve that gather-around-the-water-cooler reaction Dallas had managed to cull decades ago, it does certainly raise the stakes for one character in particular. As far as season finales go, ‘Revelations’ feels a little as if the writers started with the final scenes and then tried to figure out the path of least resistance Dallas could take in order to get there from the (multiple cliffhanger) ending of ‘Family Business.’
The result is a series of quick fixes for the various predicaments the Ewings found themselves in that weren’t part of the inter-familial squabbling; namely, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) being rushed to the hospital following an aneurysm; J.R. (Larry Hagman) and John Ross’ (Josh Henderson) dealings with the Venezuelan criminal Vicente Cano (Carlos Bernard); and Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo) having shot her fake brother Tommy (Callard Harris).
As far as quick fixes go, Rebecca apparently has one on speed dial. No sooner can she say, “I’m in trouble,” into her cell phone than a team of faceless individuals show up at her apartment and promptly wrap Tommy’s carcass in a sheet of plastic where it can then fester in a non-descript van parked in an airplane hanger. The effect of this is that Rebecca is now far more connected, and powerful than the lovesick, reluctant thief she’d been portrayed as.
At the same time Rebecca is scrubbing Tommy’s blood out of her hardwood floors, Bobby is recovering in the hospital from the emergency surgery that saved his life, but left some concern regarding potential brain damage he may have suffered as a result of the aneurysm. J.R., unable to resist making poignant statements or gestures while his brother is unconscious, defies the hospital staff to urge Bobby to recover before confessing his true feelings about the tenuous relationship between the two. As emotionally charged as it sounded, there appeared to have been a hint of resentment in J.R.’s words – perhaps because he knew exactly what would be coming his way should Bobby recover.
And recover Bobby does. Apparently, the brush with death timed perfectly with his lawyer finding the cloud drive Veronica (Leonor Varela) had been uploading her entire life onto – which conveniently supplies Bobby enough juice to put not only Vicente behind bars, but J.R. and John Ross, too. Family being what it is, Bobby holds off on sending his brother and nephew to the slammer, likely finding the pleasure of watching them both confess and assist in bringing Vicente down more to his liking than a prison sentence.
The real loser in the arrangement, however, is John Ross, who had come so close to being the character better suited to Henderson’s acting talents by patching things up with his cousin and uncle, and proposing to Elena (Jordana Brewster) that his eventual, nearly unmotivated confession brings him full circle to the snake-in-training he was during the series premiere. John Ross’ quick turnaround to the world of villainy releases Elena to finally rekindle her sabotaged romance with Christopher – since he’s managed to pick up on the fact that Rebecca is involved in some Jason Bourne-level identity wrangling, and has decided to steer clear of her.
Meanwhile, because Ann (Brenda Strong) still needs something to do besides look worried that Bobby will drop dead at any second, she heads over to her ex-husband’s office to try and convince him to stop blackmailing Sue Ellen (Linda Gray). While Harris Ryland (Mitch Pileggi) goes into some detail about all his various illicit dealings, he proposes a trade with Ann that will effectively get Sue Ellen off the hook and clear her to run for Governor. Instead of caving to his demands, Ann reveals she’s taped the entire conversation and then hits him with the following threat: “The next time you ask me for a hug, you’ll be hugging the business end of my shotgun.”
It all ends with John Ross’ vow for reprisal against Bobby and Christopher, which is at once invigorating for his father, and promising for the future of J.R. on the show. Speaking of father’s leading their children down a path of ruin, Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval) is revealed to be Rebecca’s father (meaning he likely pulled an Anthony Quinn and sired a child when he should have been looking into the benefits of an AARP membership), and his encouragement leads her to swear she’ll follow through on helping him crush the Ewings once and for all. After all, if there’s one thing Dallas has taught its viewers, it’s that there’s no villain stronger than one in your family tree.
For a sometimes-uneven season, Dallas mostly managed to rekindle interest in an old series – if not entirely convince the flames to burn as brightly as they once did. Still, with the announcement of a longer second season, it’s hard not to look at the series’ continuation as a success. It’s only too bad that while this latest chapter of the Ewing story welcomes the kind of unironic and addictive trashiness of its predecessor, it may have done so by relying too heavily on its past.
Dallas season 2 will air in January 2013 on TNT.
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