Dallas: "I'm Taking Back What Should've Been Mine in the First Place."

I can think of few things more patriotic than watching Dallas. At least, that's what I told myself when I withdrew from Independence Day-related festivities to watch the latest episode, inexplicably airing just as the pyrotechnic-related festivities were getting underway.

But it's cool, really. Because isn't the story of the Ewing family really the story of America itself? Can't we see the parallels between the rise of Ewing Oil and the ascendancy of American culture? Doesn't the resurgence of J.R. bode well for our own renaissance as a world power?

Whatever. Not like I'm pissed off about the fireworks or anything.

Picking up right where we left off, Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo) confesses to Christopher (Jesse Metcalf) about the e-mail, meaning she rats out Tommy for sending the break-up e-mail to Elena, though she never really gives any indication what Tommy's motivation was (maybe she did; fireworks are loud). In any event, either Rebecca is truly upset about the turn of events or she's a better manipulator than I'd given her credit for.

Christopher takes the news well, meaning he plunges into the farewell picnic and ground-and-pounds Tommy (Callard Harris). He also kicks Rebecca to the curb before zipping off in his shiny black Corvette. John Ross (Josh Henderson) is worried Elena (Jordana Brewster) will take back up with the fiery young domestic car aficionado, but Christopher's brusque payoff last week seems to have poisoned that particular well.

The next morning, while Bobby (Patrick Duffy) and Ann (Brenda Strong) wax worrisome about Christopher's whereabouts, they receive the other bombshell from Lobell (via courier): Southfork now belongs to J.R., who plans on sinking more wells on the property. Simply put, it comes down to J.R.'s desire to continue Jock's legacy winning out over Bobby's desire to continue Miss Ellie's.

Ann says she couldn't have imagined J.R. "would stoop to this." J.R.: "Well, darling, you're just gonna have to work on your imagination." Christopher shows up just in time to join Bobby and confront Lobell, who has conveniently skedaddled. Worse, he learns Lobell was scamming him on the whole Del Sol Conservatory angle, that "Marta" wasn't who she said she was and Lobell has likely left the country. Bobby's only recourse, according to new attorney "Lou," is to somehow prove J.R. was in on the original fraud. So what's the bad news, doctor?

For some reason, Tommy keeps Rebecca around as he describes his plans to steal Christopher's methane plans off his laptop or "monetize" whatever he can dig up from the Southfork records he copied. When engaging in fraud, one should always keep around the person least likely to see it through to its conclusion.

Elena confronts John Ross about his role in J.R.'s takeover of Southfork. Lest we forget, the chin-whiskered one had no knowledge of daddy's plans, but Elena's not buying it.

Bobby and Christopher return to find J.R. has wasted little time initiating drilling operations. Christopher wants to "fight fire with fire" and use J.R.'s people to screw him. Bobby balks at "doing business with crooks." To quote Carter Blake, "Are you the first rich guy in history who's squeaky clean?" Bobby insists he can beat J.R. again, his way. Christopher is understandably dubious.

Meanwhile, John Ross goes to visit Marta/Veronica, curious as to her role in J.R.'s takeover. She responds with a picture of him and Elena frolicking with the hose. This is where John Ross should listen to his inner Gavin de Becker voice and get the hell out of Dodge, as Marta/Veronica has obviously gone bye-bye. To his credit, he does, but only after reminding her to stay away from him. If this was the '70s, somebody would've punctuated that conversation with a slap. How far we've come.

So that's that, except for Marta/Veronica tearfully watching her and John Ross's sex DVD and ejecting it, to give to...who?

If there's a real-life Dallas figure as villainous as J.R. Ewing, it's Jerry Jones, so of course we have a scene with the two of them toasting each other's health. It's like seeing Voldemort and Sauron having brunch together.

J.R. justifies his actions as "throwing him in the deep end" in trying to teach him the oil business. He's going out of town and leaving John Ross in charge. With simple instructions to "make him proud." Let me guess where this is headed. Anyway, J.R.'s leaving on a jet plane helicopter and we don't know when he'll be back again.

Rebecca calls Ann, requesting a meet-up to explain herself. Being married to Bobby has made Ann too trusting, it would appear. Still, they get together. Rebecca confesses she worries about what Tommy will do if he suspects her of going soft, while Ann tells her she has to earn a second chance with Christopher. Jeez, Rebecca...your eyes well up more than that penguin in the Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Christopher, on the other hand, bribes his way into John Ross's apartment and finds the DVD Marta left for him. He seems pretty amused.

John Ross returns to Southfork, trying to make amends with Bobby. Though he has a funny way of showing it; blaming Bobby for...forcing J.R.'s hand. Oh, and threatening to kick Bobby out if he interferes with their plans to drill. He also pays a visit to Elena, insisting he's not his father. Elena seems reluctant to take him at his word.

Elena has a lot of visitors that night, as a drunken Christopher swings by and, by way of apology for his cutting her a "see ya" check, passes out at her place. She still doesn't forgive him, but he stops just short of giving her the DVD. Maybe he's not as willing to take the low road as he claimed.

Ann visits her ex-husband, Harris Ryland (Mitch Pileggi), owner of Ryland Trucking, who's been contracted by J.R. to transport oil from Southfork. She wants him to cancel it. Oh, he's a winner. He'll do it, for a hug. Eww.

Final scenes: Elena tells John Ross she won't help him with the drilling because she doesn't want to get involved in the internecine Ewing conflict, then they have sex on his desk; Rebecca's playing the dutiful accomplice to Tommy; Christopher returns John Ross's DVD and demands proof J.R. was in on the deal or he's turning it over to the cops so he'll be busted for conspiracy.

Is Christopher turning bad? Is John Ross turning good? What of doughnuts? What?

Next week: Bobby slaps Harris, someone has a gun and lots of daddy issues come to the fore.

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