Critique: TNT’s Dallas Episode 6 – ‘The Enemy of My Enemy’

Dallas, Enemy of My Enemy, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Compromised integrity? Check.

At long last, Sue Ellen.

Linda Gray comes off the sidelines in “The Enemy of My Enemy” – and not a moment too soon. Last week, in a candid interview with Ultimate Dallas, Gray politely – but pointedly – expressed her disappointment with the limited amount of screen time she’s received on TNT’s “Dallas.” As she reminded fans, Sue Ellen’s fate rests with the new show’s writers, who are now working on the second-season scripts.

Although “The Enemy of My Enemy” was filmed months ago, it serves as Exhibit A in the case for giving Sue Ellen a more prominent role on the show. Gray makes this one of TNT’s strongest episodes yet. She only appears in three scenes, but she dominates each one – not by chewing scenery but through the force of her grace and elegance. The actress has inherited Barbara Bel Geddes’ mantle as “Dallas’s” elder stateswoman, and that’s why I hope TNT will keep her front and center. This show needs her.

The nice thing about “The Enemy of My Enemy” is how it gets Sue Ellen involved in the fight over Southfork while finally delving into the subplot about her gubernatorial run, which has been simmering on the back burner all season.

In the storyline, John Ross asks his mama to use her political connections to persuade trucking magnate Harris Ryland to ship the oil being pumped out of Southfork. Initially, Sue Ellen resists (“John Ross, if I go down that road….”), but she eventually gives in and visits Ryland, offering him a coveted appointment in her administration if he’ll help her son. Ryland, played with wicked charm by Mitch Pileggi, rejects the offer because he says he doesn’t want Sue Ellen to compromise her integrity. Nevertheless, he agrees to help John Ross – and to demonstrate his admiration for Sue Ellen, he cuts a big check to her campaign.

The first time I watched this episode, seeing Sue Ellen sell out made me cringe. This didn’t feel like something the new, improved version of our beloved heroine would do. But then I thought about Sue Ellen’s guilt over her shortcomings as a mother when John Ross was younger. I can see how her judgment might be clouded where he’s concerned.

Besides, let’s face it: A saintly Sue Ellen is a boring Sue Ellen. Like I wrote earlier this week, I’m happy the character has changed with the times, but the show needs to reveal Sue Ellen’s humanity, and her foibles in “The Enemy of My Enemy” feel credible. It’s worth noting Sue Ellen’s actions also place her squarely in the tradition of other “Dallas” mothers (Miss Ellie, Rebecca Wentworth) who make questionable choices on behalf of their adult sons.

In addition to finally giving Sue Ellen a meaningful storyline, I like how scriptwriter Gail Gilchriest brings Elena and Rebecca together in “The Enemy of My Enemy.” Having Elena drive Rebecca to the doctor is a clever way to highlight the uneasy bond developing between these characters, whose relationship is beginning to recall the one shared by “Dallas’s” ultimate frienemies, Sue Ellen and Pam.

I also appreciate how director Jesse Bochco showcases some of the lighter moments in “The Enemy of My Enemy.” At the end of the episode, I love when Bobby and Christopher storm into John Ross’s room, prompting his exasperated, “What now?” There’s also an amusing scene before the opening credits, when the roughneck Earl interrupts Bobby and John Ross’s argument on the Southfork patio.

“Mr. Ewing?” Earl says.

“Yeah?” Bobby answers.

“I meant John Ross.”

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out this episode’s big historical inaccuracy: The discovery that Miss Ellie’s father left her sons the mineral rights to Southfork contradicts long-established “Dallas” lore. In the past, major storylines have hinged on the fact Ellie controlled the ranch’s mineral rights.

The other eye-roller comes when Bobby discovers his grandfather’s prized pistol in the safe deposit box. During the original show’s classic “Jock’s Trial” episodes, we learned Ellie’s father had given the gun to Jock before his death, signaling he had finally accepted the young oil baron as a member of his family.

Or is that why Bobby seems to smile mischievously when he pulls the gun out of the lockbox in this episode? In that instant, does he realize his granddaddy pulled a fast one on Jock, all those years ago?

Maybe the Southworths were more like the Ewings than they cared to admit.

Grade: B

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dallas, Enemy of My Enemy, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Empire of the son

‘THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY’

Season 1, Episode 6

Telecast: July 11, 2012

Writer: Gail Gilchriest

Director: Jesse Bochco

Audience: 5.3 million viewers (including 3.6 million viewers on July 11, ranking 26th in the weekly cable ratings)

Synopsis: With Rebecca’s help, Bobby and Christopher find an old legal document that will give Bobby control of Southfork’s mineral rights. After business partner Vicente Cano threatens him, John Ross turns to Sue Ellen, who persuades Harris to transport the oil pumped out of Southfork. Bobby punches Harris after he sends Ann a locket that upsets her. John Ross fears Marta is stalking Elena. In Las Vegas, J.R. tries to muscle in on Cliff’s high-stakes poker game. Rebecca tells Tommy she’s pregnant.

Cast: Carlos Bernard (Vicente Cano), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Marlene Forte (Carmen Ramos), Julie Gonzalo (Rebecca Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Callard Harris (Tommy Sutter), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Kevin Page (Bum), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Matthew Posey (Earl), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Faran Tahir (Frank), Leonor Varela (Marta del Sol)

“The Enemy of My Enemy” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Comments

  1. Great critique and very thorough. Sue Ellen on the original Dallas is still growing on me, but I agree with your thoughts on her decisions here. Notice how she didn’t tell John Ross that Ryland put his trucks back without the bribery lol. Ryland is becoming a very interesting villain. Like he said he’s villain and hero. I loved when Bobby called John Ross ‘Big hat, no cattle.’ I hope someone uses my other favorite, “He think the sun comes up to hear him crow.” lol. I’m very curious about Anne’s breakdown over the necklace. And Bobby is in true form with that famous temper! And I couldn’t help but notice the RED folders!

    • Thank you! Sue Ellen is a terrific character when you consider her arc over the course of the series. She is dynamic. I agree: Mitch Pileggi makes an excellent villain.

      And I love, “He thinks the sun comes up to hear him crow.” I can envisions Bobby saying that about J.R. Someone send this to the TNT writers, pronto!

      I missed the red folders. Great catch!

      • Those pesky red folders are on my brain because of the first few episodes of season 2 when Bobby goes to work for the office. He’s dying to know what’s in them and J.R is sneaking around and hiding everything. lol. I’d have to look again, but I think Christopher’s folder was a reddish-PINK, but grandpa’s folder was red. But that could go back to the fact that Christopher is not ‘quite’ a Ewing, so his folder doesn’t exactly match. LOL.

      • Good metaphors. I like the way you think!

  2. I agree with the B rating. Sue Ellen stole the show! The scenes with Bobby and Christopher were disappointing. JR is obsessed with using Cliff Barnes as a punching bag, just like old times. The upcoming card game reminds me of the TV Movie “Dallas: The Early Years”. If I remember correct there was already an issue involving South Fork land and the drilling rights to Southfork issue brought up in the original series. I do not know why this had to be re-discovered. I forget the episodes and the characters names. I do remember Miss Ellie and this other person working things out. It involved this person getting some Southfork land but not the drilling rights. It was made clear .

    • I think you’re referring to the “range war” storyline from the original show’s 12th season, when Carter McKay, played by George Kennedy, battled the Ewings for control of Southfork’s oil-rich Section 40. One thing is certain: The new series is definitely rewriting history when it comes to the drilling rights issue.

      Also, I forgot about the card game in “The Early Years.” I need to re-watch that. Thanks for reminding me and thanks for commenting.

  3. I loved Sue Ellen back on the show, but I hated how they used her. Since Bobby went in and slapped Ryland, he would have sent the trucks back in, regardless. That made her entire performance irrelevant, she didn’t make a difference and didn’t really do anything. I also disliked her weak hesitancy in regard to John Ross- she didn’t take the bull by the horns, she sort of stumbled to the finish line. The mineral rights plotpoint is just an absolute mess. It might seem plausible if we had not already had this exact storyline with “Ellie Saves the day” which makes it impossible that JR did not factor in the mineral rights. Since we have not heard from him on this point, I will wait until we do to officially condemn the whole storyline, it’s possible he did know about it and has some means of getting around it. But surely the show can’t expect us to believe everyone got amnesia where this is concerned- it’s just too unbelievable.

    John Ross is definitely growing on me and I think he’s doing a great job. Christopher continues to be terrible, and Jessie Metcalfe is an awful actor, the only one out of the new cast who can’t pull his weight. Bobby is in his 60’s and he is still resorting to physical violence whenever he gets upset. It’s no longer cool for people to hit people, and both Bobby and Christopher have done it- and not many seem to support, I wonder why. Both are very unlikable- the Bobby character needs to relax and loosen up. It’s outrageous he berates Ann for not talking things over when he seemed to sell Southfork without her input and dismisses her constantly.

    Josh Henderson did a good job of filling the episode, especially since there was so little of JR. Elena was also likable in this episode. Her helping Rebecca out seemed like a nice gesture, and she doesn’t seem like she cares much about having been manipulated into a break-up. Maybe she realized she dodged a bullet.

    • Good point about Sue Ellen’s “sacrifice” probably being for nothing! That hadn’t occurred to me. Like you, I’m also eager to see how the drilling rights storyline is going to be resolved. I don’t like seeing the new show rewrite history. But as you point out, the show is consistent in one area: Its depiction of Bobby’s hypocrisy and propensity for violence!

      I like Josh Henderson, too. Sorry to hear you’re not a fan of Jesse Metcalfe. I like him a lot as well. Elena dodged a bullet — that made me laugh.

      Thanks for your insightful comments, Archie. You always give me something to think about!

      Chris

      • Very cool insights, everyone! I was thinking that because this is a continuation of the series, they want to give the old fans a little something they remember, hence Bobby knocking someone’s lights out! But he didn’t throw a punch, just slapped him around. I guess that’s how he mellowed with age. LOL

        It was a little unfair the way he scolded Anne. But I know now that Bobby is still very much a Stubborn Ewing with the old values of the Man makes all the major decisions and no ifs ands or buts. Yes, Anne definitely should have discussed it with him, but as the other comment said, he didn’t tell her about the sale of South Fork either. I guess we’ll have to see where that goes. Something tells me he’ll buckle down for a nice heart to heart with his awesome wife. I’m all for team Anne ♥ Bobby.

        I’m not stuck on Jesse Metcalf as an actor either, but I thought about it, and realized that even when the old pros were young on Dallas, they were old pros from TV and theater trained actors. You can tell the new kids aren’t. But I feel like everyone tried to put their best foot forward in this episode, they are getting more comfortable in the roles. One thing so cute about John Ross is that perpetual ‘innocent’ deer in headlights look he has. I think he resembles Sue Ellen a lot in that way!

        Thanks for the compliment on my thoughts. Chris. I appreciate it. I am all unfamiliar with the mineral rights issue so of course I cheered when they found the Document. But you so know JR will find a way around it.

      • I like the way you think, Lady G. When Bobby was younger, he threw punches; now that he’s older, he just slaps guys around a little. Nifty insight.

        I’m rooting for Bobby and Anne, too. Something tells me they’ll be OK in the end.

        Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

        Chris

  4. The show last night was a real exciting. Had me on the edge of my chair. Moves very fast. I was a bit upset when Sue Ellen caved. Guess I was hoping she was going to be different.

    I am really wondering why the necklace upset Ann so much!! Also, now that Rebecca is pregnant, will that child be a Ewing heir?

    I am so happy Bobby owns the mineral rights to Southfork. John Ross could be in a lot of trouble.

    What about the red folders??

    • Hi Mom!

      On the original show, J.R. kept confidential “red files” with records of his payoffs to senators, congressmen, judges, etc.

      As far as Ann’s locket: I want to know what it means, too! I’m eager to find out. I’m glad Bobby and Gary control the mineral rights, even if the show is rewriting history a bit.

      Thanks for commenting!

  5. On a separate note, I do not like the way the show was presented. Too choppy.

  6. Reblogged this on jumpsteady.

  7. The rewriting of the ‘mineral rights’ issue notwithstanding, this was another excellent episode. Indeed it was great to see Gray back on screen, but what was most revealing is proof that Josh Henderson can carry an episode (almost) without Hagman. The fact that Henderson can command the viewer’s attention in such a relatively short time is quite an accomplishment. The ‘test’ by JR is also one by writers who cannot rely on Hagman to ensure the show’s longevity. I also have a sneaking suspicion that Pileggi is being groomed as the show’s elder villain should Hagman have to finally lay down his Stetson for good.

    As far as Henderson’s portrayal is concerned, I also chuckled at his exasperated ‘What now?’ when the self righteous father and son team confronted him at the end of the episode. He may not yet possess the charm of his daddy, but like his old man did in the classic series, I am beginning to root for him if only to frustrate the (dubious) moral posturing of Bobby.

    If the mineral rights dispute had been a plausible plot twist (and it will be to those new to the show) my rating would have been B+. The writers have a vast resource at their disposal with the online die hard fans to ensure they get their facts correct. I would hope that they use it for Season 2. A succession of blunders on this scale could alienate permanently some long standing fans of the show.

    • I agree. I don’t like the way the mineral rights issue is being handled, but I think this was a strong episode overall, especially where Josh Henderson is concerned. I also think it’s wise for the new show to keep an eye on the future by grooming actors like Henderson and Mitch Pileggi, who also makes a strong impression. As much as I love the original stars, the new characters will have to carry the “Dallas” franchise into the future.

      And yes, here’s hoping the writers will pay a little closer attention to the original show’s history during the second season.

      Thanks for commenting, Vance. You have good insights and I appreciate your sharing them!

      Chris

      • I like those thoughts! Pileggi and Henderson are being ‘groomed’ for the future should something happen to Hagman in the long run. I think Ryland made it quite clear about his future on the show when he told Sue Ellen he can go from being the hero to the villain so fast. That right only belonged to J.R. He’s boldly stepping in to cause another round of trouble for Bobby.

        I still find it funny that J.R. wants South Fork all to himself, you would think at his age he’d just give it up already. When he dies he’s gonna want his ashes scattered all over the place and when the wind blows they’ll get Bobby in the eyes. LOL. (Sorry dark humor there) ARRH! Greedy old coot!

  8. Who is the designer of the dress Marta wore in Dallas episode 6 my enemy of my enemy..Its gray sombre…fitting

Trackbacks

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  3. [...] character is featured in several pivotal scenes in “The Enemy of My Enemy,” the episode TNT will telecast tomorrow night. As audiences will see, some of Sue Ellen’s old [...]

  4. [...] zip-front dress Sue Ellen wore when she visited Ryland in “The Enemy of My Enemy” was the perfect garment for a woman who was exposing her vulnerabilities in a bid to help her son. [...]

  5. [...] begins in “The Enemy of My Enemy,” when Bobby finds Ann sobbing on the Southfork patio after receiving a mysterious locket from her [...]

  6. [...] solid hour of “Dallas.” The script comes from Gail Gilchriest, who also wrote last season’s “The Enemy of My Enemy,” the episode that brought Sue Ellen off the sidelines and got her involved in the Southfork oil [...]

  7. […] a.m. We learn jewelry makes Ann (Brenda Strong) cry in “The Enemy of My Enemy.” Then again, doesn’t […]

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