Dallas: "Love Is For Pussies."

Hail to the king, baby.
Hail to the king, baby.

So much has happened since we last enjoyed the company the devious denizens of Southfork: Obama was re-elected, Stan "The Man" Musial passed away at 92, and the Texans suffered another ignominious early ouster from the NFL playoffs.

In short, not a lot of surprises.

But that's sure to change with the return of Dallas, right? What schemes do Ewing family nemesis Cliff Barnes and daughter Rebecca (formerly Sutter) have up their sleeves? Can Christopher and Elena make it work? Will Bobby be able to thwart J.R. and J.R. Jr. from taking over Ewing Energies? Will Sue Ellen be able to run on the slogan "Honesty for a Change" and keep a straight face?

Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray introduced the episode, acknowledging Larry Hagman's passing. As potentially crippling as losing J.R. will be, I admit I'm curious to see how they'll write him out. Here are the odds as I see them:

Gunshot: 3:1 Plane Crash: 5:1 Explosion: 8:1 Stampede (cattle): 12:1 Stampede (wlldebeest) 20:1 Smothered in oil (a la Quantum of Solace): 25:1

Sue Ellen (Gray) starts off with a press conference. She's 12 percent up in the polls for the governor's race. Meanwhile John Ross (Josh Henderson) randomly nails a girl having her bachelorette party. Aha, but it's no coincidence she's the daughter of the guy with the truck fleet John Ross needs, and he threatens to go public with his little girl's indiscretions if Daddy doesn't play ball. That was cold blooded.

Gratuitous Ricky Rudd cameo as Christopher (Jesse Metcalf) demonstrates his methane-powered stock car, which he wants Rudd to drive. I'm sure NASCAR will have no problem with this new, untested technology. Elena (Jordana Brewster) seems more enamored with his race suit. I'd say, 'get a room,' but Southfork has a thousand of them.

Going down?
Going down?

J.R. (Hagman) reminds John Ross that Christopher is trying to get the mayor to convert the city's vehicle fleet to methane and to concentrate on that instead of "personal issues." The cousins butt heads over the latter's attempted buying of Cardwell's(?) fleet, while Christopher goes to meet Lawyer Lou (Glenn Morshower) and the real Rebecca Sutter, who's more than happy to testify to get Christopher his annulment, but she wants assurances he won't go after Tommy. Yeah, that won't be a problem. Curiously, John Ross also has an investigator scoping out the quote-unquote real Rebecca.

Ann (Brenda Strong) is picking out art for Bobby's new office and is surprised by Harris (MItch Pileggi), who has an offer: return the tape he made for Sue Ellen and he'll reveal the whereabouts of their long-lost daughter. I forgot how everybody in these shows has a long daughter. Hell, if I came of age in the '70s ... no, I don't want to think about it. Anyway, Ann has an emotional moment in the car to the strains of some terrible chick song. I guess it's a good thing we don't all have these external life soundtracks. Mine would probably play this 24-7:

Because they have such a Strong Marriage, Ann confesses to Bobby that Harris has tracked down her daughter Emma, who was stolen over 20 years ago. Now that I think about it, wouldn't this have already come up? This is Bobby Fucking Ewing, he can't help but be supportive. It probably doesn't hurt that "Emma" looks like she's been raised by people as rich as they are. Anyway, Ann wastes most of the episode fretting before agreeing, with Sue Ellen's blessing, though not Bobby's ("You don't negotiate with a terrorist!"). I'm just happy she made it through a whole hour without pulling a gun on someone. 

Meet the new Barnes, same as the old Barnes.
Meet the new Barnes, same as the old Barnes.

Elena wants a bigger cut of Ewing Energies, but it's difficult to tell how seriously Christopher takes her when she follows up by de-pantsing him and humping him in the pool. Is this how business deals are done in Big D? Shameful. She also pays a visit to "Mark," some oil & gas bigwig who knew her old professor. Or something. She wants to buy four of his dry offshore platforms, presumably to get at the sweet, sweet methane below.

Now all we need is for Evil Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo) to show - oh, there she is, and Smiling Frank is there to meet her. She's ready to make her grab for a share of Ewing Energies, even if the new Rebecca's appearance makes that problematic. Christopher and Bobby are a bit taken aback to meet her at Barnes Global HQ, where she drops the biggity bomb that she's Cliff's daughter by way of Afton Cooper (remember her?) and her real name is "Pamela Rebecca Barnes," named for her aunt, y'see. She wants 30 percent of Ewing Energies, or she'll take Christopher to court. His response: hit me with your best shot. Frank looks pensive, but then, doesn't he always?

FAMILY MEETING: John Ross offers his help (though J.R.'s suggestion of getting a truckload of roughnecks to take Barnes for a "long ride" sounds promising). Of course, John Ross is full of shit, and plays his trump card: he's got the real Rebecca, and she's willing to play ball with him to screw over Christopher and Bobby.

In the final five minute expository pile-on: Ricky Rudd agrees to drive Christopher's car, the state medical examiner wastes no time in fingering Sue Ellen for bribing him in covering up crazy Marta Del Sol's murder (which John Ross didn't actually commit, remember). Not only does Sue Ellen learn her campaign has imploded from a soundbite on the news, but her gubernatorial opponent is named "McConaughey." All right, all right, all right.

Ann's reunion with Emma doesn't quite go as planned. It sucks, as a point of fact, since Emma wants nothing to do with "mom." This whole thing is more than a little fishy: what kind of rich people kidnap kids from state fairs? Don't they usually just go to other countries like Malawi or something?

The day of the big annulment hearing arrives. Predictably, "Good Rebecca" reverses herself, while Christopher's temper gets the better of him and the judge holds over for D-I-V-O-R-C-E proceedings at a later date. Christopher vows war, while Pamela appears shaken up over his holding hands with Elena. She and John Ross kvetch about the future disposition of Ewing Energies following her no-doubt inevitable victory in the divorce.

Ann looks to be about as useless this episode as last, laid up in bed while Bobby smells a rat. Sheriff Derrick (Akai Draco) urges Bobby to cool his jets, but we can tell from his steely blue eyes he has other plans. He confronts Harris, but before we can enjoy an "old people fight," security breaks it up. Bobby hunts down the horse and finds out it belongs to Harris, and Emma "Brown" has been riding it for eight years. What the? 

J.R. can't come in unless you invite him.
J.R. can't come in unless you invite him.

Sue Ellen is so distraught over her election loss (that was quick) she's about to drown her sorrows in chardonnay, but then J.R. and John Ross pay a visit. J.R. praises her strength and offers to lean on the state attorney. She dumps out the bottle and goes to talk to Ann, while J.R. shows the attorney guy surreptitiously taken pictures of him shtupping some sweet young thing at a charity golf tournament. Predictably, he elects not to pursue the case.

"Pamela" (gotta get used to that) goes behind Smiling Frank's back and announces Barnes Global's new focus: clean energy. Frank is no longer smiling, but then J.R. shows up (he gets around pretty good for an old guy), and informs her erstwhile niece he's "one for one on flushing out Pamelas." DAMMIT TNT, THIS IS EXACTLY WHEN VICTORIA PRINCIPAL SHOULD'VE WALKED IN. So disappointed.

The real Rebecca gets her payoff, but is still antsy about finding Tommy and tells Pamela so. Awk-ward. Pamela hopes the sack of money will send her back to Des Moines and keep her from asking pesky questions about her dead brother.

John Ross walks in on a meeting between Christopher, Bobby, and Elena where the subject of making Elena a bigger partner comes up. He makes the magnanimous gesture of offering some of his shares to make her equal with everyone else. The real reason, of course, is leveraging her shares against the money Elena owes Sue Ellen. Oh, and haggling over how many shares to give Pamela in exchange for the methane patents.

What I don't get is Christopher asking his secretary Jill to "get close" to John Ross's secretary. He's the head of the freaking company, he can't get the IT guys to look at his brother's emails and trace his phones for him?

In another blast from the past: Christopher receives a phone and a note from Tommy (actually from Frank, who's not pleased with the direction the company's taking). On it are messages from Pamela and sister Rebecca, asking for her cut of the scam. Where does the deception end?

In the second final five minute expository pile-on this week (or perhaps the only one, if you think about it), John Ross and Pamela do the nasty in her office, Bobby goes to confront Harris and meets ... his mother Judith (Judith Light), who reveals she and Harris were the ones who kidnapped Emma and spirited her to Europe. In Emma's version, they "rescued" her from her mother. Is Ann a monster? Is Harris just a mama's boy? Can Ricky Rudd drive Christopher's car to Sprint Cup glory, even though HE RETIRED SIX YEARS AGO?

The whole premiere was bittersweet, with Hagman stealing every scene he was in. Henderson and Gonzalo are doing their best to shoulder the sleaze load, but I really don't know if this show survives Hagman's passing.

Next week: well, it's difficult to tell. Lots of sex and violence, certainly.

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