Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 7 – ‘Reunion, Part 2’

Charlene Tilton, Dallas, David Ackroyd, Gary Ewing, Joan Van Ark, Lucy Ewing, Valene Ewing

Enter at your own risk

I’m not a big fan of “Reunion, Part 1,” but I love “Reunion, Part 2.” The writing and acting are beautiful.

In this installment’s most memorable sequence, a drunken Digger barrels onto Southfork in his nephew Jimmy’s beat-up sports car and asks Jock to “pay” him for Pam. The Ewings watch as Jock pulls a wad of cash from his pocket and tosses a $100 bill at the feet of his onetime business partner, who scoops it up and proclaims his daughter “sold.”

The attention shifts to Pam, who is humiliated, but I find myself wondering what Gary makes of this embarrassing scene. To him, Digger must seem like a ghost from the future – a vision of the person he’ll become if he doesn’t get away from the Ewings.

Think about it: Gary is already following in Digger’s footsteps. Like Digger, Gary is an alcoholic. Like Digger, he has failed to live up to Jock’s expectations. And like Digger, he has “lost” a daughter to the Ewings.

I believe Gary leaves Southfork at the end of “Reunion, Part 2” not just because he feels pressured by J.R., but also because he doesn’t want to become as embittered as Digger. He says as much when he bids farewell to Valene and tells her, “I’m alright. It took me a long time to realize that. I just don’t belong with them – and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

David Ackroyd is really good in this scene, but Joan Van Ark is magnificent. When Val tells Gary she’s never loved another man like she loved him, you feel her pain.

I also love Van Ark’s performance in the next sequence, when the actress spins on a dime and channels Val’s tears into anger at J.R., who’s been watching her from Southfork’s front porch.

“So what’s my future?” she asks him.

“None around here,” J.R. responds.

“Any choices?”

“Well, $5,000 and an escort out of the state?”

“Any others?”

“An escort out of the state.”

Dialogue this sharp – and acting this good – make me wish scriptwriter David Jacobs and Van Ark had spent more time at Southfork before heading west to “Knots Landing” during “Dallas’s” third season.

The farewell scene is also elevated by Robert Jessup’s cinematography, which makes Southfork’s blue skies and gold-green pastures look stunning. Jessup’s work here reminds us of one of “Dallas’s” great dichotomies: No matter how ugly the characters on this show behave, the scenery around them is always gorgeous.

Grade: A


Dallas, David Ackroyd, Gary Ewing, Joan Van Ark, Valene Ewing

Goodbye, for now


Season 2, Episode 2

Airdate: September 30, 1978

Audience: 9.5 million homes, ranking 59th in the weekly ratings

Writer: David Jacobs

Director: Irving J. Moore

Synopsis: Pam is humiliated when her father, Digger Barnes, asks Jock to “pay” him for her. J.R. gives Gary a Ewing Oil subsidiary to run, but when Gary feels pressured, he leaves Southfork without saying goodbye. Val also departs, and J.R. lies and tells the family she asked him for money to leave.

Cast: David Ackroyd (Gary Ewing), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Sarah Cunningham (Maggie Monahan), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Joan Van Ark (Valene Ewing), David Wayne (Digger Barnes)

“Reunion, Part 2” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.


  1. I never thought about Gary and Digger having similarities. That’s a good comparison.

  2. Brother J. R., always watching, but never really being seen in the background if he didn’t want to be! Thats the genius of the character. The porch & balcony J. R. watching episodes didn’t really give him “control.” They C. B. gave him in fact the “sense of control” or “perception” of it. Which at times C. B. can be JUST AS POWERFUL!

  3. Maryann says:

    The scenes I like in this episode is the one where Jock ask Pam about Digger after she comes back from visiting him and the sarcastic remarks she makes. Pam like Bobby was not afraid to confront or stand up to Jock, The second is the one where Gary says farewell to Valene, Valene confronting JR and Lucy slapping JR, he truly deserved it!!!!

  4. Ian Delaney says:

    I always had the sense with this episode that Gary and Valene were never given a fair chance. It is obvious on the one hand that Gary had a troubled past and could never be the son who would live up to his father’s expectations, but the storyline where JR sets him up with a failed company seemed too much like “fitting a round peg into a square hole”. Bobby’s anger towards the family after Gary’s departure was also very telling. He was willing to accept Gary for who he was and regretted that he hadn’t picked up earlier on JR’s attempts to push him to the limits.

    • I agree, Ian. Thanks!

    • I knew Jacobs was more focused on KL, but it would have been interesting to have interconnexions between the 3 (and next, 4) brothers inside Southfork. I mean I would like to have Gary living a long time in Southfork.

      BTW, is Texas’s weather always awfully WINDY ? I would have hate living in Southfork with this damn perpetual wind.

  5. That whole deal with Digger in the driveway is one of my favorite scenes. I always noticed it must have been awkward for Gary to witness that, but never made the connection that he realized he could become like Digger… awesome observation!

  6. The scene at the end between J.R. and Valene is probably my favorite of the series. Hagman and Van Ark are both formidable actors, and they have great chemistry.


  1. […] don’t care how many times I watch it, Joan Van Ark’s performance at the end of “Reunion, Part 2” always knocks me out. In the blink of an eye, Valene goes from anguished when she bids Gary adieu […]

  2. […] 11. “Buying” Pam. Jock was chilling on the Southfork patio when drunk Digger roared into the driveway, demanding $10,000 for Pam. “Ten thousand! There’s a hundred,” Jock huffed as he tossed a C-note at his ex-partner, who eagerly scooped it up and pronounced his daughter “sold.” If Pam felt insulted, she shouldn’t have. When a Ewing is willing to negotiate your purchase price, you know they truly care. (“Reunion, Part 2”) […]

  3. […] are on Bonnie,” she says. It brings to mind the great scene from the second-season episode “Reunion, Part 2,” when Jock “buys” Pam from drunken […]

  4. […] creator David Jacobs holds a clue. Elikann’s name comes up in the audio commentary on the “Reunion, Part 2” DVD, which was recorded in 2004. Jacobs remembers the director being “very gruff” and tells […]

  5. […] “Reunion, Part 2,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Jock (Jim Davis) is reading the newspaper on the patio when […]

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