Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 19 – ‘Home Again’

Dallas, Garrison Southworth, Gene Evans, Home Again

Missing heir

I can’t watch “Home Again” these days without thinking about “Downton Abbey,” PBS’s hit British soap opera. Both shows feature land-and-lineage stories that entertain but also baffle.

In “Downton Abbey,” a World War I-era nobleman is legally prohibited from leaving his estate to his daughters because, well, they’re daughters. It’s an odd concept for American audiences to grasp, but “Dallas’s” take on patriarchalism is even harder to understand.

In “Home Again,” when Miss Ellie’s long-believed dead brother Garrison Southworth turns up alive, she offers to give him Southfork because she feels he’s the rightful owner.

It seems Ellie inherited the ranch only after Garrison, the intended heir, was lost at sea. “My daddy made Garrison the sole heir,” Ellie tells Jock and her sons. “But that’s the way things were done in those days, father to son. Daughters, daughters always came second. It was my daddy’s wish that Garrison have the ranch. My conscience won’t let me do differently.”

Sorry, “Dallas.” I’m not buying it.

Ellie may feel bad about Garrison missing out on his inheritance, but this is her home, not a family heirloom. It’s a bit much to ask the audience to believe the character would give away Southfork so easily.

My guess is the “Dallas” writers came up with the “Home Again” storyline to show how Ellie is more principled than the rest of her cutthroat family, but the plot just doesn’t work. How can we respect Ellie’s desire to do right by her brother when it means giving the rest of her family the shaft?

I might be more willing to forgive the unconvincing plotting if “Dallas” used “Home Again” as a jumping off point to explore sexism, but the show never really goes there. We never find out, for example, how progressive Pam feels about Ellie’s decision.

Of course, “Home Again” has its strengths, beginning with Gene Evans’ fiery turn as Garrison. The actor proves to be an effective foil for Jim Davis and Larry Hagman.

It’s too bad Garrison didn’t stick around longer. He might have made an interesting addition to Southfork – just not as its owner.

Grade: B

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Bobby Ewing, Cathy Baker, Dallas, Garrison Southworth, Gene Evans, Home Again, Melinda Fee, Patrick Duffy

Big brother’s house

‘HOME AGAIN’

Season 2, Episode 14

Airdate: January 7, 1979

Audience: 19.1 million homes, ranking 11th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Don McDougall

Synopsis: Miss Ellie’s brother Garrison Southworth, whom she believed died 40 years ago, visits Southfork. Ellie considers Garrison the rightful heir to Southfork and offers him ownership of the ranch, but he reveals he’s come home to die.

Cast: Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Gene Evans (Aaron Southworth), Melinda Fee (Cathy Baker), Meg Gallagher (Louella), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Michael McManus (Matt), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Charles Wilder Young (Charlie Watters)

“Home Again” is available on DVD and at Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Comments

  1. I too thought the story about Ellie deciding to give him the ranch was silly. Yes it’s her home–and the home of six other people! Plus, given that her brother wasn’t did, but just kicking around ignoring his family, I think you could argue that he relinquished any claim on his inheritance.

    • Yeah, this story just didn’t work.

      • Lloyd Ferrigon says:

        First of all why is Ellie’s brother coming into her life after all these years if not to disrupt her life? The episode was dumb and make little sense. Garrison is not intitled to Southfork. Jock saved the ranch from the sheriff not Garrison.

      • Yeah, this isn’t the strongest hour of “Dallas.” Still, I wouldn’t have minded if Garrison had stuck around a little longer.

  2. I always found it funny no mention was made of even an offscreen death. Once you set aside the premise this is not a bad episode. In a lot of ways (hair trigger temper excluded) Garison was a template for Clayton. Mostly in the way that Bobby and JR differed in relating to him. JR immediately goes after him but Bobby gives the man a chance and tries really hard to play peacemaker.

  3. Garrison Southworth was alright. Just like Ellie’s 2nd son Gary, his Uncle’s namesake he never really belonged at Southfork. But can u imagine if the 2 Garrison’s lived there all the troubles J. R. would have C. B.? That would be fun!

  4. – This was on my mind the entire espoide!! OH EM GEE. I have to be honest and say that I think it’s the Sutters. Mind you, John Ross is having someone research who sent the email since the claims he didn’t and Christopher is saying he didn’t either. Also, Rebecca made it a point to say that everything is going according to plan , which makes me think her and her brother and up to a scheme. HMMMM. We shall see .

  5. iandel1507@hotmail.co.uk says:

    I always felt that this particular episode lacked credibility. If Ellie’s brother thought so much about his sister and the ranch, why did he leave it until his final days to go back home?

    The other aspect of this is that Garrison was never honest about his intentions from the very start, and kept his terminal illness a secret until after Bobby and Pam managed to get the truth from his nurse. Rather than be upfront about what was actually happening, he kept the truth of his visit from the family which left an open door for Jock and J.R. to jump to the wrong conclusions. What else were they supposed to believe?

Trackbacks

  1. […] “Home Again,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) is seated in a chair in the […]

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