Dallas Parallels: Grave Decisions

The Ewings are always in crisis, but life at Southfork was downright agonizing at the beginning of “Dallas’s” ninth season: Bobby was dead, Sue Ellen was in a police station drunk tank and J.R. was scheming to keep Pam out of Ewing Oil. So when Jeremy Wendell took Miss Ellie to lunch and offered to take the company off her hands, the Ewing matriarch was understandably tempted.

In “Resurrection,” the season’s fourth episode, Ellie visits Bobby’s Southfork grave, near the tree house Jock built for Bobby when he was a boy. (A wooden Ewing Oil sign on the house proclaims “B.J. Ewing” president.) Sitting on a bench near Bobby’s headstone, Ellie tells him she’s leaning toward selling the company to Wendell, in part so “your little Christopher and little John Ross” won’t have to grow up to inherit unhappiness. “I hope you’ll understand,” Ellie says.

This terrific scene – along with everything else that happened during “Dallas’s” ninth season – was notoriously wiped away when Bobby’s death was written off as Pam’s dream, but that doesn’t mean fans should forget it. Nor does it mean the people who make TNT’s sequel series can’t draw inspiration from it.

In “No Good Deed,” one of the strongest hours during the new show’s first season, Bobby visits Ellie’s grave on Southfork, where life is once again in turmoil: J.R. has disappeared and John Ross, now an adult, has had the stuffing beaten out of him in jail. To make matters worse, J.R. and John Ross’s shady business partner Vicente Cano is inching closer to tapping the ocean of oil flowing beneath the ranch.

Bobby, who promised Ellie he’d never let anyone drill on Southfork, stands over her headstone and tells her it might be time to relent. “I keep trying to think what you’d do if you were here,” Bobby says. “But I know: You’d do whatever it takes to protect the family. And that’s just what I’m gonna do, Mama. And I know you’ll understand.”

Aside from echoing one of “Dallas’s” most resilient themes – the idea that sometimes you have to sacrifice your principles for the greater good (see also: “Ellie Saves the Day”) – this scene reminds me how much I love Patrick Duffy.

The actor has always been one of the “Dallas” franchise’s unsung heroes, but his gravitas is more readily apparent on the TNT series. Duffy has inherited the quiet strength and dignified spirit Barbara Bel Geddes brought to the original series. Like her, he never strikes a false note. And just as I can’t imagine the old show without Bel Geddes, it’s difficult to conceive the new “Dallas” without Duffy. Thankfully, we don’t have to.

 

‘I Hope You’ll Understand’

Troubled

In “Resurrection,” a ninth-season “Dallas” episode, Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) visits Bobby’s Southfork grave.

ELLIE: Bobby. Oh, Bobby. [Sighs, sits on a nearby bench] This seems to be the only place where I can find peace. It’s the only place where I can get away from everyone’s questions. Here I’m just left alone with my own questions. You may not agree with me, but I hope you’ll understand. If this was the best of all worlds, I wouldn’t think of selling Ewing Oil. But it’s not the best of all worlds – or the best of all times. With you gone and Sue Ellen where she is, the family’s in trouble. I want to do what’s right, Bobby, for your little Christopher and for little John Ross. I don’t want them to inherit unhappiness. I couldn’t bear that. Your daddy always said that the only thing that really means anything is family. You knew that. Those were the last words that you, you tried to say to us. And now I have to do my part to, to keep us together.

 

‘I Know You’ll Understand’

Fractured

In “No Good Deed,” TNT’s eighth “Dallas” episode, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) visits Miss Ellie’s Southfork grave.

BOBBY: Hey Mama. I spent the last 20 years trying to protect this land. Protect your legacy. I remember you once told me that family is like baking a cake – from scratch. Real messy. Well, I wish I could tell you things are different, Mama, but they’re not. Our family is as fractured and dysfunctional as always. And I keep trying to think what you’d do if you were here. But I know: You’d do whatever it takes to protect the family. And that’s just what I’m gonna do, Mama. And I know you’ll understand.

What do you think of Miss Ellie and Bobby’s grave decisions? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

Comments

  1. I love your screen-captures. They are so sweet and really look like mother and son. I love Duffy’s scene at the gravesite. Such a sweet parallel post! And I love what you said about Duffy’s role on Dallas. I totally agree.

    • Thanks Lady G.! I had a feeling you’d like this post. You’re so right: Bel Geddes and Duffy really do look like they could be mother and son.

      I appreciate your comments, as always.

      Chris

  2. barbara fan says:

    Lovely Comment and very true – sadly she didnt get her wish with her grandsons

  3. Nicely done, both in the scene selection and comparing their roles as family protectors.

  4. the_lost_son says:

    Thanks again for this great review. It was right on the spot.
    Somehow it’s weird – Miss Ellie talking to Bobby’s grave and vice versa 😉

  5. Love this! On a certain fan site, Duffy gets beat up all the time regarding his performance on new Dallas. But I have to agree with you….he has been great and does channel Miss Ellie a lot. Nice photos as well. As always I enjoy reading your postings!

  6. The thing about Bobby is he’s so underestimated. In life, in death (even in a dream sequence death), & a return in the shower with Pamela at his side. Yes he beat J. R. in “The Contest”, despite on paper being the weaker oilman. But he knew J. R.’s chicanery helped him & Miss Ellie in many ways to keep the land. Look at the respectful way he honoured both his mama & brother & linked them IIgether at J. R.’s funeral. It was MASTERFUL!

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