Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 9 – ‘Bypass’

Barbara Bel Geddes, Bypass, Dallas, Dan Ammerman, Dr. Harlan Danvers, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing

Ticker shock

“Bypass” has a little bit of everything – a health crisis, family squabbling, corporate intrigue. There’s not much romance, but there is a cattle drive.

The small moments in this episode are among its best, beginning with Jock and Miss Ellie’s heart-to-heart in his hospital room. As he lies in bed, with medical tubes taped to his chest, he urges Ellie to “keep the family together” if “anything happens” to him.

Like Jock’s plea with Bobby and Pam to stay at Southfork at the end of “Barbecue,” this scene reminds us how much family means to the Ewing patriarch. Jock is usually so gruff; it’s always nice to see his sentimental side.

“Bypass” also casts J.R. in a softer light. Yes, he does a dastardly thing when he forges Jock’s will so he can drill for oil on Southfork once his father dies, but remember: J.R. sets this plot in motion before Jock gets sick. After the heart attack, J.R. doesn’t have much enthusiasm for the scheme and seemingly goes through with it only after Jeb and Willie Joe pressure him.

Another small-but-revealing moment comes when Sue Ellen arrives at the Braddock emergency room, not knowing which Ewing is being treated there, and is relieved to discover J.R. isn’t the patient. “I thought it was you,” she tells him.

Later, when J.R. expresses regret about bringing Jock to a small-town hospital not equipped to effectively treat him, Sue Ellen reassures him, “J.R., you did the right thing.” Aside from being sweet, this exchange helps blunt the ugliness of Sue Ellen’s behavior later in the episode, when she drunkenly sashays around Southfork and threatens to evict Pam if Jock dies.

But as much as I appreciate the human drama in “Bypass,” my favorite part of this episode is the lightning-fast cattle drive at the top of the hour.

The sequence begins with a grounds-eye view of the herd as it surges forward, trampling the earth and covering director Corey Allen’s camera lens with clods of Texas dirt. Then, when Jock dashes off to round up some strays, Allen keeps the camera fixed on Jim Davis as he rides high in his saddle. It’s almost as if we’re bouncing alongside Jock.

Throw in John Parker’s triumphant score and Robert Jessup’s sumptuous cinematography and you have an exhilarating action sequence. It’s a fine way to open one of “Dallas’s” finest early episodes.

Grade: A


Bypass, Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing

Power steering


Season 2, Episode 4

Airdate: October 14, 1978

Audience: 10.7 million homes, ranking 52nd in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Corey Allen

Synopsis: Jock suffers a heart attack and is rushed to the hospital. J.R. shows cronies Jeb Ames and Willie Joe Garr a codicil to Jock’s will that gives J.R. permission to drill on Southfork when Jock dies, but Jeb and Willie Joe don’t know J.R. forged it. Bobby takes leave from Ewing Oil to help run the ranch. Jock’s bypass surgery saves his life.

Cast: Dan Ammerman (Dr. Harlan Danvers), John Ashton (Willie Joe Garr), Barbara Babcock (Liz Craig), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Lisa Lemole (Susan), Ed Nelson (Jeb Ames), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing)

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


  1. Is the scene where Sue Ellen threatens to evict Pam the one where Miss Ellie is on the landing above them? That’s a great one.

    • Yep, this is the episode with the “eviction” scene. It’s a good scene. It almost got “Scene of the Day” honors, but I decided to go instead with Miss Ellie’s bedside conversation with Jock. It’s such a nice moment between Barbara Bel Geddes and Jim Davis.

  2. prometheus1 says:

    Funniest scene in this episode had to be a VERY hung-over JR stumbling into the latrine (still in a necktie from the night before) and a disgusted Miss Ellie hastily closing the door after beholding thee scene

  3. Dan in WI says:

    In the notable first department as an ambulance transports Jock from Braddock hospital to Dallas Memorial it passes by the Campbell Center twin towers would go on to become the Barnes Wentworth Oil buildings.

    The opening cattle drive shot with the camera on the ground is incredible. You have to stop and think about it for a moment to put in perspective. This is 1978. That camera had to be pretty big and not easily buried. (Today that would be a surgical on wire type camera.) It’s amazing they got as much footage as they did before it had to be inevitably trambled.

  4. Anonymous says:

    J. R. Ewing the Ist & IInd are both dead, J. R. Ewing the IIrd aka as “John Ross” will also die. The key is heart failure, or whenever John Ross’s time comes he must have Pamela or his mistress give him a J. R. Ewing the IVth C. B. Then he can instill his business values in him. If Emma Ryland gave John Ross a son. He’d have both Harris Ryland & J. R. Ewing DNA in him! That would be one hell of a strong streetfighter of a kid!

  5. J. R. Ewing the Ist, aka as “Jock” Ewing & J. R. Ewing the IInd are dead. So now J. R. Ewing the IIIrd must carry on the business fights to try & seize business power in the new Ewing Global. He must have J. R. Ewing the IVth with Pamela or Emma. Imagine Emma Ryland popping out a son for John Ross! That kid would have both J. R. Ewing & Harris Ryland DNA in him. He’d be 1 hell of a streetfighter & an asset in future Ewing Global battles!

  6. This episode has one of my favorite scenes and I don’t think it has been mentioned in the critique or the comments. The family are in the waiting room and Miss Ellie convinces the rest of them to leave, she politely declines Sue Ellen’s offer to bring her a coffee, and when she is finally alone she allows herself to break down and cry.


  1. […] It’s probably coincidental, but the calf’s arrival also recalls the birth of a foal in “Bypass,” a classic episode from the original […]

  2. […] The absurdity of it all makes “The Maelstrom” one of the season’s weakest entries, but the hour isn’t a total loss. Patrick Duffy, the episode’s director, delivers several clever shots. I especially like how he pans his camera above Charlene Tilton and Dennis Redfield during their love scene and zooms in on one of the glamour shots of Lucy plastering Roger’s wall. Sue Ellen’s shadowy arrival at Cliff’s apartment is also cool, and it’s nice to see Bobby and Ray branding cattle, even if the footage is recycled from the second-season episode “Bypass.” […]

  3. […] a man from Jock’s generation would say. You have to go back to “Dallas’s” ninth episode, “Bypass,” to see the character acknowledge his own mortality with such […]

  4. […] who originated the role of Ewing family physician Dr. Danvers in the second-season episode “Bypass,” shows up here as the Farlows’ doctor; and daytime soap opera star Stephen Nichols (“Days of Our […]

  5. […] “Bypass,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Jock (Jim Davis) lies in his hospital bed, talking to Miss […]

  6. […] since Jock Ewing surged across the Southfork plains at the beginning of the second-season classic “Bypass.” “Ray’s Trial” also marks Lois Chiles’ final appearance as Holly Harwood. In her last scene, […]

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