Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 72 – ‘The Mark of Cain’

Mr. Ethics

Mr. Clean

In the Bible, God physically marks Cain to warn the world of the man’s sinful nature. In “The Mark of Cain,” Bobby discovers he bears a similar – albeit metaphorical – stain when his new colleagues in the state senate wonder if his family ties will compromise his integrity.

Bobby is assigned to the senate committee that will decide the fate of the proposed development at Takapa Lake, a project that has divided the Ewings. Jock and Ray are investors in the development, while Miss Ellie and Donna are leading the fight to preserve the land.

At first blush, it might seem unfair for Bobby’s fellow senators to be suspicious of him, but let’s face it: Senator Ewing has a glaring conflict of interest. In real life, there’s no way he would be permitted to be involved with any Takapa-related dealings in the statehouse. But this is “Dallas,” so Bobby refuses to recuse himself, casting his decision as an example of his Capra-esque idealism. “I promised the people in my district that I’d represent them. I’m not going to back out of this committee just because it’s unpleasant,” Senator Ewing tells his colleagues.

Despite this credibility stretch, Bobby’s move into politics shows promise. His new role as a senator plops him in the middle of the Takapa storyline, one of the most sweeping narratives in “Dallas” history. Several major characters are now involved in the fight over the project (interestingly, J.R. isn’t one of them), which allows “Dallas” to return to one of its most resilient themes: the conflict between conservation and capitalism.

I’m also happy to see Lucy experience some professional success in “The Mark of Cain.” Her new modeling gig makes her seem more adult and adds strain to her marriage to Mitch, a storyline I appreciate more now than I did when I watched “Dallas” in my youth.

Of course, it’s worth noting Lucy gets the job mainly because she’s a Ewing. So like Uncle Bobby, she also bears the mark of Cain – but for her, it isn’t a curse.

Grade: B

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Model wife

Model wife

‘THE MARK OF CAIN’

Season 4, Episode 18

Airdate: March 6, 1981

Audience: 25.1 million homes, ranking 1st in the weekly ratings

Writer: Leah Markus

Director: Larry Hagman

Synopsis: Bobby is assigned to the senate committee that will decide the fate of the Takapa project and resists pressure to quit the post. Jock and Ellie continue fighting. Leslie tells J.R. she wants him, but only after he divorces Sue Ellen. Rebecca, now widowed, moves to Dallas. Lucy’s newfound fame as a model rankles Mitch.

Cast: Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Joel Brooks (Larry), Ellen Bry (Jean), Jeff Cooper (Dr. Simon Elby), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Senator Bobby Ewing), Susan Flannery (Leslie Stewart), Meg Gallagher (Louella), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), John Hart (Senator Carson), David Healy (Senator Harbin), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Sherril Lynn Katzman (Jackie), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Monte Markham (Clint Ogden), Leigh McCloskey (Mitch Cooper), George O. Petrie (Harv Smithfield), Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Cooper), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis), Jay Varela (Senator Arvilla), Joseph Warren (Senator Dickson), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

“The Mark of Cain” is available on DVD and at Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Comments

  1. Garnet McGee says:

    I’m a member of “the mountain club” so I like environmental stories but the Takapa story is dragging. After a steady diet of fast paced Dallas TNT the start and stop storylines can be frustrating. I understand Mitch’s objections because it is not easy to witness how the game is stacked against the havenots by the wealthy. Mitch is being a sexist jackas* to Lucy. As likable as Charlene Tilton is it is clear that Leigh McCloskey is a much, much better actor. Sue Ellen continues to frustrate me. She does not use her time wisely. She should be plotting her escape from Southfork with John Ross while JR is distracted with Leslie Stewart. Sue Ellen, have you learned nothing! The ominous words “community property” should be issuing from Sue Ellen’s lips not JR’s. Stop wasting your time with that Clint dork.

  2. Mitch Cooper is a joke. He as a busy Dr. tells Mrs. Lucy Ewing Cooper that he wants her to be “independent” & that “work is healthy.” But then gives her hell C.B. when she does so. I hate that she married him a 2nd time. As for J.R. not being involved in Takapa, its not like he isn’t backing his daddy. Remember, J.R. is sitting at the table with the cartel at the Cattleman’s Club when Jock yells about real power to Bobby & at other junctures during the deal C.B.

  3. Forgive me but I’m a little obsessed about that painting that originally hung in the Ewing Oil offices during the first couple of seasons. In this episode, it shows up in the scene with Bobby and Cliff (about 13 – 15 minutes into the show on the DVD). Bobby is moving into his senate office and is hanging up a print that has both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln on it. While he does this, on the floor at his feet is that portrait of a man in a red jacket. It looks like a 1700’s or 1800’s gentleman. I’d really like to find out who that is in the portrait. Apart from the show, which is obviously enjoyable, I’m enjoying looking at all the paintings and prints that were used on the various sets for the office and home decorations. Also, I thought it said a great deal about Bobby that he was hanging in his office a print that had both Washington and Lincoln on it.

    • Geoff, this is excellent stuff. As much time as I’ve devoted to “Dallas” over the years, I never noticed the Washington and Lincoln portraits. I’d love to talk to a set designer or set decorator from the original series to ask about the artwork used on the show.

  4. What astonishes me most about Lucy is her dress-style. Why is she always dressing like… like that? And now, when she is a model, her dress-style has been even more funnier and, can I say, uglier. These caps! These braces! These sloppy trousers! This baggy boys’ school’s outfits on the pretty and very feminine girl! 0_0
    Why? Is it possible that smart young people in 80′ USA liked to dress like that? And where were jeans and leather jackets, for God’s sake?

Trackbacks

  1. […] “Dallas’s” fourth-season episode “The Mark of Cain,” Bobby (Patrick Duffy) is participating in a senate committee meeting on the Takapa Lake legislation […]

  2. […] senate strains credibility. Shouldn’t Senator Ewing have recused himself from the legislature’s hearings into his parents’ fight over the Takapa Lake development – or its inquiry into J.R.’s […]

  3. […] demurred, so party leaders turned to Bobby, who ran for the job and won in a landslide. Bobby then hired Cliff as his legal counsel, which might explain why he seemed so unfamiliar with the term “conflict of […]

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