TNT’s Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘Once a Bitch, Always a Bitch!’

Dallas, Ewings Unite, Joan Van Ark, Valene Ewing, TNT


In “Ewings Unite!,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) is seated at her office desk when Valene (Joan Van Ark) storms in and slams the door behind her. 

VAL: Once a bitch, always a bitch!

SUE ELLEN: Yes, it has been a long time. It’s good to see you too.

VAL: You just called me to Dallas to humiliate me. You are just as sadistic as J.R. ever was.

SUE ELLEN: I called to see if I could get you and Gary back together again.

VAL: Oh, please! [Steps forward] Gary is buying your wounded bird drunk routine. And he’s a good enough man to try to save you. But I know that you’re just trying to get your hooks into him.

SUE ELLEN: I don’t want your husband.

VAL: [Rests her palms on the desk] He may not come back to me. But I can promise you: I am not leaving Southfork until I show him what a manipulative monster you are. [Stomps away]


  1. Oh, even reading this makes me laugh. I so love these characters.

    • Me too, Hel. Isn’t this a great scene? I hope you’re OK with my choice for “Scene of the Day.” (Which really should be renamed “Scene of the Week,” but oh well.)

  2. midnightrose434 says:

    Wasn’t there no love lost between the two characters on the old Dallas as well?

  3. I loved the scene too but there was no build up to it for Val so it felt forced and over-reactive to me. I know this show moves at a fast forward pace but the character development suffers for it. Val says Sue Ellen lured her to Dallas just to humiliate her so we have to assume Gary rejected her from the one second encounter in the Southfork foyer? A short scene showing their interaction would have been time well spent and made Val’s rage at Sue Ellen more believable. And these are our beloved original players! I think it was a big missed opportunity.

    • Great points, Team Sue Ellen. This scene is a hoot, but I wonder if there was more to Gary and Val’s scene that would have explained Val’s rage? If that’s the case, I hope someone rescues that footage from the cutting room floor. I’d love to see it at some point.

    • Lee Venet says:

      I have to say that Val actually scared me with her harsh attitude towards Sue Ellen. I don’t think she even spoke like that to Abby in Knots Landing. I felt Sue Ellen didn’t deserve that treatment. Sue Ellen isn’t perfect, certainly flawed but she isn’t a bitch. Even Gary saying that ‘unlike his wife, Gary likes to help people’ which was obviously a reference to Val which again was so unlinke the Val we know from Knots Landing and her orginal Dallas appearrances. I don’t even think Val and Sue Ellen have actually shared that much screen interaction before in the original, so Val’s ‘bull in a china shop’ attitude seemed very strange.

    • It looks to me that Val know Sue Ellen all too well. No need for the build up and niceties!

    • knots_dallas_fan says:

      I actually know Joan and she told me that she and Ted filmed a long, interactive scene after she arrives at Southfork but that it was cut from the episode. I’m hoping that they’ll have that in the dvd’s “deleted scenes.”

  4. it seems that in this incarnation of Dallas we are supposed to read between the scenes quiet often… maybe if there werent so many commercials we would have more dialogue/development ..but of course,commercials pay the bills so i guess i should be thankful :/

  5. See I think one can infer A LOT from this short scene and the later Gary/sue Ellen scene as to what what said between Gary and Val. Now, I would have loved to see it! But, it is also fun imagining what was said.

  6. You know, I think it was in the Ultimate Dallas interview with JVA that she said that she choose to the scene ‘harder’ (i think is how she said it). She said she put a lot of thought into how she would play that scene. When I read the article initially, I thought that was interesting and was curious to see what she meant by those remarks. Certainly, after watching this scene, I know exactly what she meant.
    Personally, I think she made the scene interesting by playing it that way.

    It certainly made it very amusing and fun to watch. Sue Ellen took it in stride. After years of JR, no one can get her that upset by just calling her names!

    You know, it reminds me of Chris’ writing about when Dallas characters visited Knots Landing. Bobby seemed to have more of an edge there then he did in Dallas. I think the actors enjoy being able to give a different feel to their characters (while remaining faithful to their core) when they get to play the character in a different setting.

    BTW…anyone else wonder what her feeling will be towards Sue Ellen if they have her back? 🙂

    • I want a rematch! This time, Sue Ellen gets the last word.

    • To Hel, yes I see your point and what was ironic for me was that I always found JR’s appearances on Knots Landing to have a sort of comedy light feel to it! There are some scenes from a KL episode called ‘Daniel’ which JR appeared in and can be viewed on Youtube! Although he was his usual conniving self, everybody seemed please to see him when he turned up on the Cul-de-sac. Even his treatment of Val in Knots Landing was lighter and comedic than how he treated her on Dallas.

      • Totally agree with you Lee regarding JR on Knots Landing! Thanks for the ‘Daniel’ tips!

  7. Hooked on Dallas says:

    I am thinking that the scene was originally written for Val and J. R. Val’s outburst would make a lot more sense with J. R. as opponent . Also, getting Val to Dallas to interfere with Gary helping Bobby looks a lot like something J. R. would do. Sue Ellen could be a bitch in the old show, even ruthless when cornered. But I don’t recall right now that she was doing a lot of elaborate plotting. She was usually more reactive. So maybe this was a scene and story line that was meant to be for Larry Hagman and Joan van Ark, but he didn’t get to it anymore. But it was necessary to keep the scene to make at least some sense of Val being in Dallas.

  8. In looking back at the scene with Suellen I was prompted to look at this again.


  1. […] Kercheval’s chilling performance in the final scene and the sensational, old-school soap opera showdown between Joan Van Ark and Linda Gray, which is destined to become a “Dallas” classic. […]

  2. […] What to choose? Sue Ellen’s putdown of Afton (“She’s drama, John Ross.”)? Val’s greeting to Sue Ellen (“Once a bitch, always a bitch.”)? Vicente’s observation after realizing the […]

  3. […] You said it, honey. “Dallas” fans are spoiling for a Sue Ellen/Val rematch after this year’s showdown. […]

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