Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 29 – ‘John Ewing III, Part 2’

Dallas, John Ewing III Part 2, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

Crash test mommy

What a difference a year makes!

Sue Ellen has just four lines in “Digger’s Daughter,” “Dallas’s” first episode, but “John Ewing III, Part 2,” which debuted 369 days later, features the character in almost every other scene.

My favorite: When Sue Ellen tells Bobby that Cliff may be the father of her unborn child. This really isn’t a conversation as much as it is a monologue. For four-and-a-half uninterrupted minutes, Linda Gray delivers almost 500 words of heart-wrenching dialogue. It’s a tour-de-force performance, and it makes me appreciate how far Gray has come from those first-season episodes, when all she had to do was gaze adoringly at J.R.

The most surprising moment during Sue Ellen’s monologue comes when she kisses Bobby. No matter how many times I see the scene, the kiss is always a little startling. I used to find it odd how Patrick Duffy barely reacts to it, but I’ve decided it’s because the kiss isn’t a romantic gesture as much as it is an expression of Sue Ellen’s desperate loneliness.

Gray dominates “John Ewing III, Part 2,” but the other actors have good moments, too.

Larry Hagman’s performance in the final scene, when J.R. and Bobby sit at Sue Ellen’s bedside, is one of his most memorable. Despite all the rotten stuff J.R. does in the second season, it’s hard not to be moved when Hagman purses his lips, shuts his wet eyes and bows his head. J.R. has never seemed more human.

Ken Kercheval is equally moving in the penultimate scene, when Cliff sees Sue Ellen’s baby in the incubator and tearfully collapses into Pam’s arms. Like Duffy in Bobby’s scene with Sue Ellen, Victoria Principal doesn’t have much to do here, but she makes the most of it. I like how the actress moves from exasperation when Pam first spots Cliff in the hospital corridor to tears when he begins sobbing.

That Duffy and Principal shift so effortlessly from “Dallas’s” stars when the series begins to supporting roles in this episode reflect the cast’s evolution into a true ensemble.

What a difference a year makes, indeed.

Grade: A


Dallas, John Ewing III Part 2, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Crying, shame


Season 2, Episode 24

Airdate: April 6, 1979

Audience: 17.8 million homes, ranking 11th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Leonard Katzman

Synopsis: In the sanitarium, Sue Ellen bribes a nurse for booze, escapes and is injured in a car crash. Her doctors are forced to prematurely deliver her son, whom Jock names John Ross Ewing III. J.R. weeps as the lives of Sue Ellen and the baby hang in the balance.

Cast: Dimitra Arliss (Nurse Hatton), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Karlene Crockett (Muriel Gillis), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Meg Gallagher (Louella), Ellen Geer (Dr. Krane), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Michael C. Gwynne (Dr. Rogers), Heidi Hagman (receptionist), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Peter Horton (Wayne), Dawn Jeffory (Annie Driscoll), Sherril Lynn Katzman (Susan), Ed Kenney (Senator Newberry), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Jeanna Michaels (Connie), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Alan Rachins (Dr. Miller), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing)

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


  1. I believe J.R. really does love Sue Ellen. He’s just awful at it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I love your reviews – you really know the show and you have a enormous to taltent to express everything so well.
    Great job!

    • Thank you very much. I really appreciate this. I’ve always loved “Dallas” and I’m having a lot of fun writing these reviews. Thanks again.

  3. Lloyd Ferrigon says:

    I think its assumed that JR would name his son after himself and his father. True it should have been JR and Sue Ellen who should have announced the baby’s name.

  4. No C. B. its right that Jock name his grandson to continue the Ewing Legacy of J. R.’s. Sue Ellen was alcoholically incapacitated, J. R. was emotionally distraught at maybe losing her &/or his new son. No, the grandpa stepping in & stating the name was the right thing to do. Jock unlike his son & daughter-in-law had a clear sense of thinking capacity here! He started the Ewing Legacy & Empire, let him helpguide the birth of Generation III!


  1. […] by the quiet power of Gray’s performances. I marvel at her work in classic early episodes like “John Ewing III, Part 2,” when Sue Ellen confesses her affair with Cliff in a heartbreaking, four-and-a-half-minute […]

  2. […] “For Love or Money” is the saddest and “Royal Marriage” is a sentimental favorite, but “John Ewing III, Part 2” gets my vote for the season’s all-around best episode. Linda Gray is mesmerizing in the scene […]

  3. […] 5. Tears for Sue Ellen. After J.R. has a very pregnant, very alcoholic Sue Ellen committed to Fletcher Sanitarium, our heroine escapes, steals a car, wrecks it and goes into premature labor. With the lives of both Sue Ellen and newborn John Ross hanging in the balance, J.R. sits with Bobby at his wife’s hospital bedside and recalls happier times. He concludes his moving monologue by saying, “Oh, Bobby. She’s got to live. She’s just got to.” With this line, Hagman purses his lips, shuts his tear-filled eyes and bows his head. It’s an early glimpse into J.R.’s soul – and one of the few times the character cries on camera. (“John Ewing III, Part 2”) […]

  4. […] 15. Naming John Ross. The Ewings are in a waiting room at Dallas Memorial Hospital, where Sue Ellen has gone into labor. A nurse enters and tells J.R. his wife has given birth to a son, prompting a beaming Jock to declare, “John Ross Ewing III!” Did it ever occur to the Ewing patriarch that J.R. and Sue Ellen might want to choose their child’s name themselves? Do you think it would’ve mattered to him if they did? (“John Ewing III, Part 2”) […]

  5. […] had a wonderful life together. What have I done to you?” The monologue brings to mind the second-season finale, when J.R. sits at the hospital bedside of a comatose Sue Ellen and laments the turn their marriage […]

  6. […] “John Ewing III, Part 2,” “Dallas’s” second-season finale, Bobby and Sue Ellen (Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray) are seated […]

  7. […] the other hand, Sue Ellen’s near-death experience in the second-season finale, “John Ewing III, Part 2,” seemed to stir long-forgotten feelings that remain strong in this installment. Never before has […]

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