Critique: TNT’s Dallas Episode 10 – ‘Revelations’

Ann Ewing, Bobby Ewing, Brenda Strong, Dallas, Patrick Duffy, Revelations, TNT

Resolved

No one gets shot, run over or blown up at the end of “Revelations” – and for this, we should be thankful. As much fun as the original “Dallas’s” season finales were, they feel a little gimmicky in retrospect. Smart storytelling, not splashy cliffhangers, keep today’s television audiences hooked.

Cynthia Cidre, the creative force behind TNT’s “Dallas,” seems to recognize this, so instead of trying to recreate old-school theatrics, she delivers a finale that focuses on concluding most of the show’s first-season storylines. This is a wise approach, but it might also be a function of circumstance: Since “Revelations” was filmed before “Dallas’s” second season was assured, the episode was no doubt crafted so it could serve as a satisfying series finale, if need be.

Whatever the reason, Cidre and “Revelations” co-writer Robert Rovner tie up a lot of loose ends, although one or two things also unravel. Mostly, though, this is an hour of victory laps: J.R. and John Ross confess their sins and are granted immunity by the feds. Sue Ellen tells her cheering supporters she’s staying in the gubernatorial race. Bobby recovers his health and his ranch. Christopher gets the girl.

Of course, the moment that leaves me cheering loudest belongs to Ann, who wears a wire and tricks Harris into admitting his illegal schemes against Sue Ellen. When Ann reveals her sting and Harris tries to snatch the recording device hidden beneath her blouse, she pops him in the mouth and declares, “You make a move against me, Sue Ellen or any member of my family – you’re going to jail.”

What a great scene. Brenda Strong’s delivery is determined, but it also carries a hint of vulnerability. This is probably how most of us would sound if we found ourselves conducting a sting against a creepy ex, heaven forbid. We still don’t know Ann’s secret – one of the few loose ends “Revelations” leaves hanging – but no matter. We know who Ann is, and thanks to Strong, we love her.

The other great scene in “Revelations” comes before the opening credits, when J.R. stands at Bobby’s hospital bedside and pleads with him to wake up after his surgery. J.R.’s speech echoes Bobby’s own soliloquy in “Changing of the Guard” but more importantly, it offers a glimpse into J.R.’s soul. “I love you, Bobby, and I don’t know who I’d be without you,” he says, gripping his brother’s hand. J.R. is finally acknowledging what the audience has known for a long time: He is incapable of checking his own impulses; he needs Bobby to do it for him.

A similar dynamic exists between John Ross and Elena, as we’re reminded in the charming scene where he proposes to her in the old Ewing Oil office space. “My life and everything I want it to be is better with you,” John Ross says while on bended knee. It’s a revealing line, but when Elena accepts John Ross’s proposal, the sweet smile that spreads across Josh Henderson’s face does more to humanize his character than any of the dialogue. (By the way: Kudos to Rob Cairns for scoring the beginning of this scene with a few notes from Jerrold Immel’s “Dallas” theme music.)

Visually, “Revelations” is another artistic achievement for the TNT series. Director Steve Robin’s opening shot of Tommy’s slow motion fall to the floor is creepily exquisite, particularly when the blood spurts out of the hole in his chest at the moment of impact. (This raises a question, though: If Tommy doesn’t start bleeding until he hits the floor, how do Rebecca and those stuffed monkeys wind up splattered?) I also love when the camera follows John Ross as he throws open the plastic tarp and sweeps into the old Ewing Oil office space with Elena in tow.

The two episode-ending montages are also fabulous. In the first, we hear Sue Ellen deliver her speech over scenes featuring other characters: When she talks about making mistakes, we see Carmen return Elena’s ring to John Ross; when the speech turns to overcoming adversity, we watch Ann embrace a wistful-looking Bobby on the Southfork patio.

The second montage – this one set to Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” – intersperses scenes of Christopher and Elena making love with images of John Ross staring out the window of his new office. In the last shot, the camera pulls back on John Ross, now with J.R. at his side, until we get a panoramic nighttime view of the dazzling Dallas skyline.

This brings me to a gripe: In this final scene, I’m disheartened to see John Ross declare he wants J.R. to teach him “every dirty trick” he knows. I understand John Ross is angry after Elena spurns him, but as we saw in the previous episode, “Family Business,” he is more interesting when he’s rising above J.R.’s wicked ways, not embracing them. John Ross has grown so much this season; I hate to see him go backward.

I’m also troubled by the big revelation in “Revelations” – not that Rebecca is Cliff’s daughter (what “Dallas” fan didn’t see that coming?), but that he’s the mastermind behind her scheme. I can accept that Cliff, despite his wealth and success, is still hell-bent on getting revenge against the Ewings, but I have trouble believing he would use his own daughter in a plot to hurt Christopher, the son of his beloved sister Pam. (Not to mention the fact Cliff knowingly allowed Rebecca to marry her own cousin, which is pretty icky, even if they’re not blood relatives.)

Hopefully, Cliff’s motivations will become clearer when “Dallas’s” second season begins in January, along with the precise identity of Julie Gonzalo’s character: Is the actress playing Pamela Rebecca, the daughter we discovered Cliff had toward the end of the original “Dallas’s” run, or is this another daughter we never knew about?

Whoever she is, I love hearing Frank (the menacing Faran Tahir) call Gonzalo’s character “Miss Barnes.” At its best, “Dallas” has always been the story of two families whose fates are forever linked – the Ewings and the Barneses – and I’m thrilled the new show is returning to those roots.

No matter how the rest of this storyline plays out, here’s hoping the new “Dallas” will maintain the quality of its past few episodes. The show hit its stride as it barreled toward the end of the first season. Can it keep the momentum going in Season 2? That’s the real cliffhanger here.

Grade: B

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dallas, Julie Gonzalo, Pamela Rebecca Barnes, Rebecca Sutter Ewing, Revelations, TNT

Revealed

‘REVELATIONS’

Season 1, Episode 10

Telecast: August 8, 2012

Writers: Cynthia Cidre and Robert Rovner

Director: Steve Robin

Audience: 5.9 million viewers (including 4.3 million viewers on August 8, ranking 7th in the weekly cable ratings)

Synopsis: After the gunshot kills Tommy, Rebecca’s mysterious associates dispose of his body. Bobby recovers from his seizure. J.R. and John Ross confess to their fraud scheme and are granted immunity from the feds, who nab Cano. Elena accepts John Ross’s marriage proposal but returns the ring after she discovers his role in the fraud. Christopher discovers Rebecca isn’t Tommy’s sister and tells her their marriage is over, then reunites with Elena. John Ross tells J.R. to teach him to play dirty so he can take Ewing Energies away from Christopher and Elena. Rebecca apologizes for botching her scheme and pledges loyalty to the mastermind behind her plot: her father, Cliff.

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), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Alex McKenna (Rebecca Sutter), John McIntosh (Dr. Bennett), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Glenn Morshower (Lou), Kevin Page (Bum), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Faran Tahir (Frank), Gail Washington (nurse)

“Revelations” is available at DallasTNT.com, Amazon.com  and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Comments

  1. I agree: beautifully shot, well acted and (mercifully) steering shy of the sensationalist season denouements that are very much better left in the 80s.

    Two mild points of disagreement. Firstly, this entire series has been John Ross’s story – from first episode to the last. It was painful to see the hard won redemption so cruelly thwarted once he lost the girl and was seduced like Anakin Skywalker by Hagman’s Palpatine. The mere fact we found this so unpalatable is part of what made it such good drama.

    Secondly, Cliff Barnes got progressively more mean the wealthier that he got. In fact, it was an observation that was made several times in the show by Pam. Yes, he has been transformed into a monster, but after the passage of 20 years this was the only fate left for the character; that, or being a washed up bum like his Daddy. Why go after Bobby and Christopher? Because this is where the power now lies – JR is no longer the gatekeeper to the Ewing’s (albeit diminished) fortune. Cliff’s entire life was fuelled by an irrational hatred that can never be sated. The Ewings need to be ground into the dust – nothing less will suffice. Even then, I think Cliff would still find a reason for grievance. As far as ‘using’ his daughter is concerned, Cliff was the ultimate pimp on the original show – he used every single female character, including his ‘beloved’ sister.

    I thought it a fine episode and a season closer that was, as you say, much more in keeping with a contemporary audience and its expectations.

    • Good points, Vance. I like the comparison between John Ross and Anakin. You’re also right that Cliff became meaner as the original series progressed. He was kind of a pimp with the women in his life, wasn’t he?

    • Great critique Chris!! Only you would catch the first chords of music in that proposal scene. –Jerrold Immel! So cool you mentioned it and then I just figured that one out/ durr! LOL

      I like Vanceadair’s theory on Cliff Barnes, I totally agree. What caught me was when Rebecca got all excited about the Chinese food! LOL. At first I thought she was a FED!

      Christopher is sort of like Bobby with his furious temper, but he doesn’t have that same gentleness about him…calling Rebecca a lying piece of garbage. Can you hear Bobby telling that to Pam? LOL. ehh, maybe I’m just biased because I love Patrick Duffy to pieces. lol.

      She was right when she said he still loved Elena. She got him there. Rebecca was the rebound girl. Chris is very impulsive, you swing him one way he immediately goes the other, like running right to Elena after his fight.

      My favorite moments in this were with Ann–She rules the roost! Love it! And it was totally creepy the way Tommy fell to the floor. I think there would have been blood spatter on the initial shot and more just spilled out. But i’m no forensic expert. I thought what Elena did by sending Carmen to John Ross was very cruel. Though I think a marriage between John Ross and Elena might not have worked. I know he lied, but he seemed so sincere. She’s gonna have to face him.

      I really like John Ross, and I actually look forward to seeing him become a chip off the old block, that’s when Dallas is at its best – with all the wheelin’ and dealin’, I love the quick scene when Bobby says something about how John Ross is just like his daddy, and then John Ross lifts the scotch to his lips and takes a swig. Just like J.R in the old days.

      But I don’t think J.R is too worried about his son, he can take him down in a heartbeat. He’s proud of the little devil he spawned. haha. The quiet intimate scenes between J.R and Bobby were dynamite! it make watching the original right now so much more special for me. Too bad J.R can’t tell Bobby he loves him when he’s conscious.

      The Ewing Oil’s offices! I got chills when John Ross was like– Jock… Bobby…and then J.R’s space. Cuz right now I’m watching little John Ross swivel around in his daddy’s chair and J.R making promises that one day it will all be his. Now that day has come.

      I also love how Bobby and Ann got the dirt on everybody, they better hide those recordings and cloud devices. LOL.

      • Vanceadair has really good insights! I’m glad he shared this comments here. I’ve been re-thinking this episode a lot today.

        I like John Ross too. And like you, I love Ann. I also think you make a good observation about Christopher: I can never imagine Bobby calling someone “garbage.”

        As always, thanks for commenting!

        Chris

  2. You’re welcome, keep churning out the great articles! I love to read them. I certainly can see Bobby mouthing off to some greedy oil man or something, but I just can’t imagine Bobby calling a woman he once loved ‘garbage.’ It’s almost like Christopher revealed his true feelings, he never truly loved her the way he should have. I think finding out she’s a Barnes will throw him over the edge and Bobby right back to the hospital! :P
    Ahh how times have changed though, in the past, the men were a bit more charming and sensitive to the women, even when they were behaving like two-timing scum (cough…cough…J.R…cough!) Though there were times when J.R was downright despicable to Sue Ellen. Especially in seasons 2-4.

    I don’t know how those 3 are gonna work together for Ewing energies. Unless Chris and Elena hide their relationship, fat chance of that happening for long though. Everyone seems to wear hearts on sleeves! For me, Rebecca has turned out to be the most evasive and interesting character of the bunch, with John Ross in a very close second.

    • In a tweet yesterday, Patrick Duffy indicated Bobby’s health problems are over for now. My poor mother will be relieved. She spent the whole summer worrying about her beloved Bobby.

      You make a good observation about Christopher. And yes, I agree: John Ross and Rebecca are the most intriguing characters among the younger set.

      As always, thanks for commenting Lady G.!

  3. Oh I forgot to add, using that last Johnny Cash song was brilliant! Off to ITunes! :D

  4. The first season have been a treat, and – I must say – it did exceed my expectations; Cidre’s balacing between honoring the old show and creating a series that stands on its own feet was quite the achievement. Also: I’ve very much appreciated coming to this site!
    As with Gonzalo’s character – I think we received just the proper amount of clues, served over the course of the season: when the series began, we had her name and apparent age, which opened up for speculation. Then it was revealed that she wasn’t telling the whole story about herself, although the (supposed) fact that she had a brother kept me from really getting my hopes up. As it was revealed that she was a law graduate, I remember thinking that that would be a really nice foreshadowing of her being Cliff’s daughter, and when she, Cliff and Chris had their dinner, I kinda noticed some peculiar moments of eye contact between Rebecca and Cliff (although I’m still not sure it wasn’t just my imagination)
    Then, as it was reveled that she and Tommy wasn’t siblings, I was almost convinced of her identity, and when Chris brought her chinese food, I actually let out a “yesss” =)

    However – like you, I’m not sure what to think of Cliff being the mastermind behind Rebecca’s plan to get to the Ewings… I also found it a big odd, a couple of episodes ago, when Cliff claimed himself the rightful owner of SOUTHFORK. What’s up with that? Okay – if Digger had married Ellie, I guess Cliff would have be brought up on the ranch. But I don’t remember Cliff ever making any claims to SF during the original series, and Digger certainly did not. Also – as Cliff apparently ended up wealthy as a Rockefeller on Ewing Oil, one would think it would make even HIM calm down – not have him engaging his only child in a two year long heist, planning to leave his nephew heartbroken, broke, and humiliated.
    Still – I very much enjoy watching Kercheval portraying the Man in the Shadows, rather than the doofus Cliff became in the later years of the original series.

    Also – thanks to Brenda Strong, Ann has become my favorite character, only second to JR. Ann’s smack-down of Harris was pure gold.

    Also – did Chris said he and Elena used to play with the “McKay kids”? I have a hard time picturing them engage in a game of peek-a-boo with Tommy McKay and Tracey Lawton ;)

    • Thank you for your kind words and observations. I very much appreciate them.

      It sounds like you share my concern about Cliff. I was beginning to think I was the only one. And thanks for making the point about Cliff’s interest in Southfork. I found that a little odd too. Of course, despite my concerns, I’m also enjoying Ken Kercheval’s performance. He’s terrific.

      And yes! Brenda Strong’s scene with Harris was pure gold!

      Not sure what to make of the reference to the McKays. Perhaps Tracey had kids? Or maybe John Ross and Christopher used to play with Carter himself? (Ha ha)

      Thanks again.

      Chris B.

  5. With the Season Finale now done with, I have some thoughts on the future but not just Season Two. Although Hagman as JR is invincible or it may seem like that, Larry Hagman is the opposite after his bout with cancer. In the UK we have many long running soaps with main stay characters like JR Ewing, the actors stay on so long that when there sudden passing happens the script writers have no idea what to do and just give there characters an off screen death. Which I feel robs the audience from seeing the characters final moments.

    I’m hoping Hagman lives as long as this Dallas series runs for but there is a 50/50 chance that might not be the case. What I’m suggesting is have something in place like a scene already filmed with JR Ewings demise. Even if Hagman lives and this is just me being silly. I do think JR should die at some point in this Dallas run and have few idea’s how he should go.

    • Anonymous says:

      @StevenDixon: You bring up a very good point about Hagman’s illness. And the same goes for Ken Kercheval since he is also up there in age. Pre-filming a ‘death’ scene would be the best way to do it. Though a minor trivial point– If it’s 2 years from now for example, the actors and looks may change. Remember when Cliff Barnes was in the hospital back at the end of season 5, and Sue Ellen is hovering over him with her long wavy hair? Then season 6 starts and what happens? She re-filmed the scene with that dark mullet! ughh! which she seems to have lasted for the next few seasons. LOL.
      But that only jumped out at me because I’m watching the series in succession right now.
      These great Characters are immortal, but not the actors. The characters deserve a proper send-off if necessary. I think that they are prepping the character of Harris Ryland to take over as the resident Dallas villain should Hagman pass away too. But honestly, J.R IS Dallas, without him, I don’t see the show lasting too long. Though I would certainly watch for Duffy and to see how Henderson fills the shoes.

      • Oops, I’m sorry, my comment came up anonymous. Well, it was from me, Lady G. lol.

      • No worries. Thanks Lady G.!

      • Glad you agree, the characters looking slightly different is a minor issue and one that would need to be addressed. Other than that I’d like to see a something put in place like I said.

        To address what you said about Hagman’s leaving would kill Dallas I disagree, If he left now or before Season 4 if we get lucky to get that fair then Dallas would not last much longer your right. Season 5 onwards I thing Dallas could survive because how ever JR is written out could span the next season over.

        How I see JR leaving is in a season finale, Sue Ellen is been captive by some unknown man who has his life destroyed by Sue Ellen’s polices as governor. JR walks in and after an intense 5 minutes the gun goes off. We don’t see who receives the bullet. Next season, we see JR saving Sue Ellen.

        JR goes out with a bang saving his son’s mother and his love of his life, and shows JR was not always bad. The aftermath of this could last a long arc of the series.

      • Interesting idea, Steven. I like the idea of J.R. doing something heroic, although I can’t imagine “Dallas” — or life — without him. Thanks for commenting!

  6. With “cloud storage services” in the story line, it makes me reflect on how office technologies evolved in real life and on Dallas. Sly use to use a typrwriter and hold a land line telephone to communicate. I apreciate how Dallas had always kept up with the times on how people use technology. I thought using Johnny Cash again at the end was overkill. Christopher is with Elena, good-bye nice Sue Ellen and hello wrathful bitter Sue Ellen. Season 2 can not start fast enough! I am sure John Ross, with the help of J.R. and Sue Ellen will dominate Ewing Energies. Characters in Dallas, like characters in Shakespear plays, are never entirely good or bad and I am most interested in how the stroyline with Rebecca will unfold. I have a feeling that J.R. is going to destroy Cliff Barnes one last time. Dealing with South/Central American oil always turned out bad for the Ewings, J.R. ended up in jail and Jock ended up dead. One thing that I do not understand about this season is why there was not a poker game in Las Vegas with J.R. and Cliff Barnes at the same table? Is this something that is going to take place in Season 2?

    • I particularly appreciated Bobby’s helpful explanations about what “cloud storage” is. Good observation about the changing depiction of office technology and good question about the poker game. I’d like to know the answer to that one too!

      As always, thanks for commenting Jumpsteady!

    • Good thoughts about the technology, Jumpsteady. And I completely forgot about Sue Ellen and the ‘deal’ she made with Elena! That is really gonna get her goat. And I am also wondering about the high stakes poker game. I assumed it happened already. But it was like the writer’s dropped the ball with that.

      And @Stevendixon, great ideas for J.R to play the hero! I loved how he tried to save Sue Ellen and John Ross at the Southfork fire at the end of season 6. He has it in him to be noble that way. And It’s so true Sue Ellen is the love of his life. Their relationship reminds me of the songs, “I hate you then I love you” with Celine Dion and Pavarotti. And also the simple moody song “This love” by Sarah Brightman with the lyrics–
      This love…This love is a strange love, A faded kind of day love…This love
      This love…I think I’m gonna fall again…And even when you held my hand…It didn’t mean a thing…This love
      “This love Never has to say love Doesn’t know it is love…This love
      This love Doesn’t have to say love Doesn’t need to be love…Doesn’t mean a thing”

      • Quick, someone create a music video using clips of J.R. and Sue Ellen and the songs Lady G. has recommended!

        Thanks for these good observations, Lady G.

        CB

  7. I have really become captured by this new series. I remember Friday nights as a child with my mom and aunt glued to the tv! I got into the original a little later myself.
    Does anyone else find Christopher a little wishy-washy? His emotions are so up and down, it seems he can’t think straight. Although come to think of it, I always found Pam a little bit like this to. His father is so solid.
    I couldn’t love John Ross more. His loss of Elena is making me root for him even more. I don’t think they make a great couple though.
    I think the writing is so perfect. Viewers should hate j.r. And John Ross, but we cheer them on.
    I have to admit, I didn’t expect Cliff to be the mastermind and use his own daughter. I did catch the Chinese food thing though, but didn’t put it together that rebecca was his daughter.
    My main concern? I’m wondering why no one else brought this up? Where is James? I’d like to see him as a complete failure somewhere. Never liked that character.

    • Good observation about Cliff and Pam! They really are similar in many ways.

      I’m glad to hear you like the new series too. Like you, I really like John Ross. And even though I’m no fan of James Beaumont, it would almost be worth having him on the new show just to see him as a “complete failure.”

      Thank you for commenting!

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’m watching CBS Dallas. It is hinted that it is Miss Ellie’s influence that caused Jock to reign in his bad impulses. As you noted that same dynamic existed between John Ross and Elena. Instead of making a life with a woman more like his grandmother John Ross chooses a woman more like his mother. Perhaps if he had Elena in his life he would be more like Jock than JR. Kudos to the writers for revisiting those ideas from the original series.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] world collapsed in the season’s final hours. Seeing Rebecca drag around Tommy’s dead body in “Revelations” reminded me of when Abby Ewing did something similar on “Knots Landing” – which is fitting [...]

  2. [...] that we know Rebecca is Cliff’s daughter, it’s also worth revisiting “Changing of the Guard” to see how closely her introduction to [...]

  3. [...] 1. Brotherly love. J.R. finally does the right thing when he ends the war for Southfork and returns ownership of the ranch to Bobby, but the drama isn’t over: Bobby suffers a seizure and is taken to the hospital for emergency surgery. Standing at his brother’s hospital bedside, J.R. holds Bobby’s hand and pleads with him to wake up. “I’m going to tell you something you never heard me say before,” J.R. says. “I love you, Bobby, and I don’t know who I’d be without you.” With this line, J.R. acknowledges what the audience has always known: He’s incapable of checking his own worst impulses; he needs Bobby to do it for him. This is a deeply moving moment in its own right, but it takes on added poignancy now that we know Duffy was at Hagman’s side when he died. It’s also comforting to know J.R.’s greatest fear – having to face life without his beloved baby brother – will never be realized. How sad for us, though, that we must now face a world without Larry Hagman. (“Revelations”) [...]

  4. [...] Pamela’s plan? At the end of “Revelations,” the first-season finale, Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo) went to an airport hanger to meet with the [...]

  5. [...] bit comes from “Sins of the Father.” “Tip to tail” was memorably heard at the end of “Revelations,” the first-season [...]

  6. […] Greatest Moment: Who loves J.R.? His son John Ross, who ends the season by gazing at the Dallas skyline with dear old dad and asking him to teach him “every dirty […]

  7. […] chores in “Dallas” history — returning Elena’s engagement ring to John Ross — in “Revelations.” Also: More Johnny […]

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 260 other followers

%d bloggers like this: