“Truth and Consequences” offers a nice showcase for Brenda Strong and Julie Gonzalo, who haven’t had much to do on TNT’s “Dallas” until now. Both actresses make the most of the opportunities they’re given, delivering solid performances that add dimension to their characters, Ann and Rebecca, the newest Ewing wives.
Throughout this episode, Ann reminds me of “Dallas” heroines past. Seeing her stand up to J.R. (“They warned me. My whole marriage, they told me about you.”) recalls some of Pam’s best confrontations with him, while the scene where Ann, clad in her signature pearls, offers Rebecca some much-needed motherly advice evokes warm memories of Miss Ellie. This isn’t a coincidence. Ann exists to fill the void left by both Pam and Ellie, two of the old show’s most beloved characters, which means Strong might have the most thankless job of all among TNT’s “Dallas” cast.
This is why Ann’s visit to smug ex-husband Harris Ryland, played to the hilt by Mitch Pileggi, is so pivotal. With this exchange, Ann begins to come into her own as a character. She may not share Pam’s history with Bobby or Ellie’s connection to the land, but at least now we know Ann is willing to stick her neck out to help her husband fight for Southfork. This is the kind of wife our hero deserves, and the classy Strong fills the role nicely. Bravo.
Gonzalo does impressive work in “Truth and Consequences,” too. The young actress is moving during Rebecca’s tearful confession to Christopher in the barn (“You need to believe I love you!”), and her desperation is palpable when Rebecca turns to Ann for comfort and counsel. I’m not convinced the audience should trust Rebecca, but Gonzalo is helping transform her into “Dallas’s” most intriguing character.
Given this episode’s emphasis on the women of Southfork, it seems like this would have been an ideal time to let viewers continue getting reacquainted with Sue Ellen, but she doesn’t appear in “Truth and Consequences.” This is the second TNT episode in which Sue Ellen is missing in action; the character is also absent from “The Price You Pay.”
I find this astonishing. Like I wrote last month, with the exception of Larry Hagman, no actor on TNT’s “Dallas” has as much presence as Linda Gray, and it’s a shame the producers have struggled to find a meaningful storyline for her. The good news is this begins to change with next week’s episode, and not a moment too soon.
Overall, “Truth and Consequences” is a strong hour, with good writing from Robert Rovner and stylish direction from Randy Zisk, whose past credits include “Revenge” and the David Jacobs-produced “Lois & Clark” and “Bodies of Evidence.” I especially like the “Truth and Consequences” scene where J.R. quotes Jock (“Daddy always said beautiful women were the most dangerous”), which prompts an exasperated Bobby to respond, “I know all the things Daddy used to say.” This might be the season’s best line.
Other highlights: the scenes where John Ross and Christopher each show up on Elena’s doorstep at different points during the same night. (Some girls have all the luck.) Elena’s exchange with John Ross is particularly good. I love when he tells her, “You’ve accused me of awful things that I did not do, and yet I’m still here, at your door, asking you to take a chance on me.” Josh Henderson really makes me care about John Ross here; this is probably the actor’s best scene so far.
Moments like these compensate for some of “Truth and Consequences” shortcomings, beginning with J.R. and John Ross’s silly scene at Cowboys Stadium. On “Dallas,” J.R. is supposed to be a prominent Texan, but I don’t think he’s famous enough to warrant having his face flashed on a Jumbotron. The sequence makes TNT’s “Dallas” too self-aware; J.R. is a folk hero in real life, not within the context of the narrative. Not helping matters: Jerry Jones’ cameo, an unwelcome reminder of his appearance in “War of the Ewings,” “Dallas’s” abysmal 1998 reunion movie.
J.R.’s purchase of Southfork, just days after Marta bought it from Bobby, strains credibility, too. It reminds me of “The Decline and Fall of the Ewing Empire,” the next-to-last episode of the original series, when Ewing Oil changed hands two or three times in the course of a single episode.
Likewise, I find it hard to believe Bobby’s hands are as legally tied as Lou, his new lawyer (played by terrific “24” vet Glenn Morshower), claims. The sale to Marta was fraudulent because Marta isn’t really Marta, yet her sale to J.R. is perfectly legal? I wanted Lou to run that by me one more time, but alas, the show moved on instead.
That’s the thing about TNT’s “Dallas:” It’s always moving on.
‘TRUTH AND CONSEQUENCES’
Season 1, Episode 5
Telecast: July 4, 2012
Writer: Robert Rovner
Director: Randy Zisk
Audience: 5.1 million viewers (including 3.4 million viewers on July 4, ranking 16th in the weekly cable ratings)
Synopsis: Rebecca confesses Tommy sent the e-mail to Elena, prompting Christopher to kick the Sutters off Southfork. Bobby vows to reclaim the ranch after J.R. reveals he’s the new owner and departs Dallas, leaving John Ross in charge until he returns. To slow down J.R. and John Ross, Ann persuades her ex-husband, trucking magnate Harris Ryland, to not haul the oil pumped out of Southfork. Christopher discovers proof John Ross knew Marta’s true identity before she tricked Bobby into selling the ranch.
Cast: Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Julie Gonzalo (Rebecca Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Callard Harris (Tommy Sutter), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Jerry Jones (himself), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Glenn Morshower (Lou), Kevin Page (Bum), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Leonor Varela (Marta del Sol)