Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 3 – ‘Spy in the House’

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Julie Grey, Larry Hagman, Spy in the House, Tina Louise

The spy who loves him

Julie Grey isn’t just J.R.’s longtime secretary and mistress, she’s also his protégé. In “Spy in the House,” when Julie tires of J.R. taking her for granted, she seeks retribution the only way she knows how – the way he taught her.

Consider: Julie is angry when J.R. mistreats her, but she never confronts him. Instead, she connives behind his back – just like J.R. plotted behind Bobby and Pam’s backs in “Digger’s Daughter,” “Dallas’s” first episode.

And just as J.R. uses Julie for sex, she uses Cliff for sex and revenge. Notice how she leaves the incriminating document at Cliff’s bedside after they sleep together – just like J.R. leaves the $100 bill on Julie’s pillow after their sexual encounter at the beginning of this episode.

Julie’s final scene in “Spy in the House” is also telling. Wracked with shame and guilt, she finally comes clean to J.R., then cleans off her desk and walks out of his life – just like he walks out on Sue Ellen in the episode’s first act.

The denouement makes it clear: Julie, the woman who once longed to become Mrs. J.R. Ewing, has instead become J.R. himself.

Despite the havoc Julie wreaks in “Spy in the House,” Tina Louise’s sympathetic performance leaves us rooting for the character, even if Julie doesn’t root for herself. It’s too bad “Dallas” didn’t make Louise a regular cast member or at least give her more screen time as a guest star. She’s a terrific actress.

As for Larry Hagman, he makes J.R. seem genuinely wounded by Julie’s betrayal, infusing his character with a degree of humility that isn’t always evident as the series progresses.

Julie won’t be J.R.’s last mistress – or secretary – to use his own tricks against him, but the look on Hagman’s face when J.R. learns the truth about her suggests she may be the one who hurts him most.

Emotionally, that is.

Grade: A


Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Julie Grey, Larry Hagman, Spy in the House, Tina Louise



Season 1, Episode 3

Airdate: April 16, 1978

Audience: 11.5 million homes, ranking 40th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Robert Day

Synopsis: J.R. angers his secretary and lover Julie Grey, who retaliates by sleeping with Pam’s brother Cliff Barnes, a crusading government lawyer investigating Ewing Oil. Julie leaks to Cliff a document that proves the company bribed a state senator, who is forced to resign when Cliff makes the document public. J.R. accuses Pam of being the “spy” and is stunned to learn the real culprit is Julie, who quits in disgust.

Cast: Norman Alden (Senator “Wild Bill” Orloff), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Donna Bullock (Connie), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Hugh D. Gorrian (reporter), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Tina Louise (Julie Grey), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing)

“Spy in the House” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.


  1. Julie was a great character. She leaves a big impression, despite having appeared in only a handful of episodes.

  2. Julie did the right thing I suppose morally. But she was a Ewing Oil Co. Ltd. employee still when she gave up the document on the State Senator to Barnes. What she should have done is snuck copies out, typed up a letter of resignation, then gave them to Cliff & then sleep with him if she wanted to instead of resigning in a huff as she did. It makes her look weaker to have resigned after the betrayal instead of b4.


  1. […] is refreshing, but so is Pam’s. She’s never afraid to let her husband know she enjoys sex. In “Spy in the House,” for example, Pam invites Bobby to help her “try out” their new living […]

  2. […] Good-government crusader Cliff thought so. When J.R.’s disillusioned secretary/mistress Julie leaked a copy of the trust deed to Cliff, he exposed the Ewing-Orloff shenanigans and Orloff was forced to resign his seat. But he […]

  3. […] how I love Tina Louise in “Spy in the House.” Of all of J.R.’s mistresses, Julie Grey will always be my favorite because Louise makes the […]

  4. […] “Spy in the House,” a first-season “Dallas” episode, Pam (Victoria Principal) sees Julie (Tina Louise) leaving […]

  5. […] who supplies state legislators with broads and booze to get them to vote the company’s way. “Spy in the House” features a state senator who takes bribes. In “Old Acquaintance,” another senator’s mistress […]

  6. […] moment of domestic soap opera, this conversation reminds us how Julie, in the first-season episode “Spy in the House,” fails to recognize her relationship with J.R. is toxic until it’s too late. The pattern […]

  7. […] Ellen — and Gray savors every second of it. Indeed, consider how far her character has come: In “Spy in the House,” “Dallas’s” third episode, a sexually neglected Sue Ellen buys a negligee, hoping to get […]

  8. […] the years. Remember: This isn’t the first time one of J.R.’s secretaries has betrayed him. In “Spy in the House,” the show’s third episode, Julie Grey sneaks a copy of Ewing Oil’s notorious “red file” to […]

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