Dallas Styles: The Colors of ‘Return Engagements’

Green, green glow of home

When “Return Engagements”begins, Miss Ellie is sitting in her missing son Gary’s bedroom, leafing through pictures he drew as a child. It’s a fitting opening. At times, this episode looks more like a Crayola production than something Lorimar made.

The actors and sets in “Return Engagement” are splashed with bright colors, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence. The hues seem to offer clues to help the audience better understand the Ewings and their predicaments.

The most striking examples are found in Val’s stylish living room, which brims with blues and greens. The sofa is navy, the walls are aqua and leafy plants abound.

The soothing blues let us know Val’s life is less turbulent than in her previous “Dallas” appearances, while the greenery suggests her fortunes are rising. We don’t know what Val is doing professionally these days, but this doesn’t look like the home of someone scraping by on waitressing tips.

Blue is also used to signal Miss Ellie’s changing moods. When a saddened Ellie looks at Gary’s childhood drawings, she wears a light blue blouse. At the end of “Return Engagements,” when true-blue Ellie delivers her moving monologue and admits she didn’t do enough to help Gary and Val keep Lucy, she wears a navy suit.

Peachy, but not so keen

In “Return Engagements,” we also learn Gary and Val have renewed their romance, making her apartment their sanctuary during his secret visits to Dallas. Perhaps to signify the couple’s enduring love, the show makes Val’s bedroom wall-to-wall peach, a symbol of immortality in Chinese mythology.

Other uses of color in this episode: In the first act, J.R., his morals as muddied as ever, is covered hat to boots in brown, while jealous Kristin sports a green polo shirt when she finds J.R. cozying up to Sally Bullock.

Speaking of the Bullocks: Crotchety Mr. Eugene and gold-digging Sally don’t sport anything particularly bright in this episode, but that’s OK. With personalities as colorful as theirs, who cares what they wear?

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