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Dallas draws its "Battle Lines"

Dallas (2011) poster

Written by : published Thursday 31st January 2013


TNT's Dallas is back this week with two new hours, "Battle Lines" and "Venomous Creatures." The installments continue the story begun last summer, with the new Ewing Energies launched, family members battle for the direction of the company, and some more secrets brought out into the open.

A pallor hangs over this season because most people know that Larry Hagman, who plays J.R., died mid-way through filming, meaning that his character won't be around much longer. J.R. really drives this program, and while lots of sentimental words have been said in the press recently, it is completely true that the show will be lacking something when he goes. Even while he stays on the fringes of the conflict, egging things on, he's still a driving factor, and no one else in the cast matches his energy and drawing power.

I think an attempt is being made to make John Ross (Josh Henderson) a fitting successor for J.R. Sadly, it's not completely working, at least not yet. Part of this is because there is already a swing towards him being a good guy in the summer run. And, in front of others, he is maintaining that nice persona. Yet, he's also being slimy, sneaking around behind backs to go around his relations. Yes, J.R. does the same thing, but without the history of J.R.'s treachery, John Ross's play for good still seems like it might be authentic. It's a shame that it's not, even if the series needs a villain.

Not that J.R. and John Ross are all bad. When Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) needs them, they go to her side in one of the best scenes in the rebooted series thus far. No one had better mess with their family without their permission.

The struggle for whether Ewing Energies should stay in oil or move to clean energy remains a linchpin of the series, and likely will for some time. It's a debate we have in society at large, too, so it's one that viewers will relate to.

I do find it interesting that the bad guys represent the oil side of things in Dallas. I don't think one can say the series promotes a liberal agenda (even should clean energy be politicized as "liberal," which I firmly feel it should not be), but there is definitely an old world vs. new world sensibility, and the heroes in this show are for progress, not maintaining outdated values. To be honest, given where Dallas is set, I would have expected the opposite.

I do think Ewing Energies is vulnerable to a take over by John Ross because Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) is distracted by his impending divorce proceedings with "Rebecca" (Julie Gonzalo). He is so focused on getting his unborn kids away from her that his methane projects are taking a back seat. And yet, he's not focused enough to realize that John Ross is making agreements with Rebecca, who looks to be setting Christopher up for a big fall, even though Christopher is highly suspicious of both her and John Ross separately. Surely Christopher will catch on soon, no?

Of course, even should the unthinkable happen and Rebecca gets all of Christopher's share of Ewing Energies in the divorce, her and John Ross's combined stock would only make up 50%. As long as Elena (Jordana Brewster) and Bobby (Patrick Duffy) keep their portions of the company secure, then John Ross cannot take it over.

Elena is totally invested in Ewing Energies, so I don't think she'll have any problems, but Bobby has a weakness that can be exploited. His wife, Ann (Brenda Strong), learns that her ex-husband, Harris (Mitch Pileggi, now a series regular), is the one behind the kidnapping of their daughter so long ago. Now Ann has now found her daughter, Emma (Emma Bell, also a series regular), used as a cruel pawn by Harrison, but Emma has been taught to hate Ann by the grandmother that raised her (Judith Light, Ugly Betty, Who's the Boss?).

Now, the reason this matters to Bobby is because he is a good and loving husband. Ann hasn't done anything wrong, as far as we know thus far. So should John Ross talk to Harris, they could easily use the Emma card to leverage Ann and, by extension, Bobby.

Emma is an interesting plot development, to be sure, but something has to stop her from being held over Ann's head for too much longer. She has already cost Sue Ellen her election, a sad development that I was disappointed not to see play out further, since Sue Ellen gets so little story as it is. But Emma cannot continue to be used as a weapon against the family all season. That would cripple them. It looks like Ann may just have to overcome her grief, at least until Emma finds out the truth about her father and grandmother.

Dallas returns true to form, continuing the soapy drama and mystery, moving the arcs along, with really solving anything. That's the way the fans like it, and so viewers should not be disappointed. At least until J.R. is gone, Dallas continues to deliver.

Want to read some of my fiction? It's on my website, JeromeWetzel.com! Also, for the latest updates and article links, as well as commentary on episodes I don't fully review, please follow me on Twitter! 

About the author JeromeWetzelTV

JeromeWetzelTV

Jerome Wetzel is a huge fan of stories, in both books and television. He writes TV reviews and fiction. He currently posts articles for TheTVKing, Seat42F, and BlogCritics, as well as his own personal blog, as well as writing fiction. His website is www.jeromewetzel.com Follow him on twitter @JeromeWetzelTV

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