Dallas June 13 Premiere Recap: Changing of the Guard
June 13 – America was reinvited tonight into the lives of the most famous fictitious oil family in Texas 21 years after the end of Dallas’s original run (and 14 years after the last reunion movie Dallas: War of the Ewings). The Ewings are living pretty sedate lives nearly two decades later but not for long. Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) is fighting cancerous stomach tumors and choses not to tell his family so as not to disturb the upcoming marriage of his son Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) to Rebecca Sutter (Julie Gonzalo), a lawyer he met on a train ride from Hong Kong after his romance with childhood sweetheart Elena Ramos (Jordana Brewster) was abruptly called off. Elena, the daughter of the Ewing family’s cook Rosa, is following in her late father’s career as an oil man and is helping JR Ewing’s son John Ross (Josh Henderson) drill for oil on Southfork against Bobby’s wishes. Christopher, true to the nature of his do-gooder dad, dreams of creating an alternative energy company that mines methane. Naturally, the two young men’s opposing business ideologies and interwoven love lives set the stage for the next family war and the battle lines are soon drawn. Bobby puts a quick stop to John Ross’s drilling site and announces his plan to sell Southfork to protect it as his mother Miss Ellie always wanted. John Ross disrespects Miss Ellie’s wishes and challenges her will, claiming she was not of sound mind. Bobby is disgusted. That old rattlesnake JR (the indomitable Larry Hagman), who’s been living in silent depression in an old age home, is proud of his son’s tactics. Little does he know he’ll need to keep his eye on his duplicitous progeny. JR tells John Ross that court is for sissies and John Ross starts applying his daddy’s life lessons. He manipulates Elena into spying on Christopher to learn more about his methane mining project. Elena learns that the methane mining process may cause earthquakes, but doesn’t share the information with John Ross. Later that night, Ann Ewing (Brenda Strong), Bobby’s new wife, discovers his cancer medications after scaring off a masked intruder with a shot-gun. We like Ann! What was the intruder looking for in Bobby’s office? Two other young thugs have better luck in Christopher’s office and give John Ross the lowdown on the earthquake threat. Bobby, unaware that Ann knows his secret, continues to endure excruciating pain but pushes on with his plan to transfer ownership of Southfork to a famous conservancy, meeting with Marta del Sol, the beautiful daughter of its founder. We soon learn that Marta ain’t all she appears.
As Ewing traditions go, Southfork weddings are sure bets for bitterness, backstabbing and bitching and it’s nice to note that the writers of the new Dallas haven’t messed with the formula. A hefty Charlene Tilton and Steve Kanaly have what amounts to an insulting cameo as Lucy Ewing and Ray Krebbs at the reception for Chistopher’s marriage to Rebecca while John Ross goes on the war path, causing Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) to offer her influential Dallas contacts as support in his power struggle with Bobby and Christopher. He next blackmails Christopher with the knowledge of his methane mining’s riskiness, but it backfires when Chris accuses Elena of telling John Ross. Their confrontation unearths the fact that their split up was due to a mysterious email Elena received supposedly written by Christopher to end their engagement. This plot twist is remarkably similar to the one in the 1980s where Pam’s wicked half-sister Katherine Wentworth (Morgan Brittany) forged a letter from Bobby to convince Pam that he’d given up on their marriage, causing their divorce so that she could have Bobby to herself. Has history repeated itself? John Ross denies sending the email. He’s too busy being in cahoots with sexy Marta del Sol, who’s pretending to be in league with JR! John Ross also has Bobby’s lawyer, Mitch Labelle, on his payroll but Mitch gets greedy and ups his asking price, sweetening the deal by threatening to blow the whistle on the young Ewing. At the Oil Baron’s Ball, now rechristened The Cattlemen’s Ball replete with a glamorous red carpet, JR makes his first public appearance outside the old folks’ home and sweet talks Bobby and Ann. He’s transfixed, however, by the sight of a radiant Sue Ellen, who is being courted to run for governor of Texas. “You’re still the prettiest girl at the ball,” he tells her. John Ross’s troubles mount when Elena breaks up with him and tells him Sue Ellen is financing her oil drilling venture. He then turns to Marta for more hush money for Mitch the slimy lawyer. Marta agrees, but only after she drugs his drink and films their sex session. The dark-haired schemer has a sinister sensuality that brings to mind Barbara Carrera’s performance as the murderous Angelica Nero in the show’s infamous “dream season.” JR learns Miss Marta isn’t at all what she seems, quite literally, when he flies to Mexico to meet with her father and discovers the gal back home is not the real Marta! A more surprising twist comes when Rebecca and her brother Tommy are revealed to be involved in some scheme against the Ewings. If Rebecca is named after Pam Ewing’s mother Rebecca Wentworth, could it be possible that the Sutter siblings are the children of Katherine? Have they been planted in the Ewings’ lives in yet another of her schemes to destroy Bobby’s life?