Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 24 – ‘Guilt by Association’

Christopher Ewing, Dallas, Guilt By Association, Jesse Metcalfe, TNT

Not the mama

Oh, how I wanted Victoria Principal to be under that hat.

“Guilt by Association,” the “Dallas” episode that promised to reveal Pam Ewing’s fate, ends with Christopher spotting the woman he believes is his mother in the lobby of a Zurich bank. She’s wearing a wide-rimmed hat and walking alongside the doctor that Christopher believes she married. Christopher runs after the woman, grabs her shoulder, spins her around and comes face to face with … a stranger. “Who are you? Where’s my mother?” he demands. Cut to John Ross and Pamela in the vault of another bank, where they’ve just stumbled across a death certificate for Pamela’s namesake aunt. “Christopher’s mother is dead,” Pamela announces.

Talk about feeling deflated! Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a blind loyalist to Pam Ewing. I adored the character when the original “Dallas” began but always regretted how the show turned her into the saint of Southfork in her later years. I suppose that’s the main reason I hoped Principal would reprise the role: so that she could take Pam back to her scrappy, sexy roots. And even though I read the actress’s recent statement in which she eschewed the idea of playing Pam again – and even though I remembered that the last time we saw the character, she was, you know, dying – I still held out hope that somehow, in some way, Principal might actually resurface at the end of this episode.

Of course, “Guilt by Association” leaves me feeling as disappointed for Christopher as I do for myself. He goes through this episode insisting the only reason he wants to find his mother is so he can get his hands on her shares of Barnes Global and stop Cliff’s war against the Ewings. But clearly this is about more than business for Christopher. We see his true feelings when he begins to weep after Dr. Gordon tells him that Pam never wants to see him again. We also hear the hope in Christopher’s voice when he catches up with the mystery woman and says, hopefully, “Mom!” Is there anything more heartbreaking than a Ewing who misses his mama?

This makes “Guilt by Association” another showcase for Jesse Metcalfe, who has quietly established himself as a forceful presence in “Dallas’s” post-Hagman era. But this episode is also historic. Pam Ewing, “Dallas’s” original heroine, is dead. We don’t find out the details of her demise until the next episode, “Legacies,” but there’s no doubt we’re witnessing a moment of consequence. Symbolism abounds. Notice how Taylor Hamra’s smart script allows Cliff’s daughter to announce the death of Digger’s. I also appreciate how “Guilt by Association” mimics “The Prodigal Mother,” the classic “Dallas” episode in which Pam goes to Houston to confront her long-lost mother, Rebecca Wentworth. Director Jesse Bochco even gives us a shot of Christopher sitting in a car, scoping out Dr. Gordon’s house, that recalls a similar scene from the earlier episode of Pam spying on the Wentworth mansion.

The other highlight of “Guilt by Association:” the sly, sexy confrontation where Sue Ellen marches into the governor’s office and blackmails him into abandoning his scheme to prevent the Ewings from pumping oil out of their land. The exchange reminds us how much Sue Ellen learned from J.R., but it also demonstrates how essential Linda Gray has become to the new “Dallas.” You could have given this scene to another Ewing, but would it have been nearly as much fun? I also love Steven Weber, who plays Governor McConaughey to smirking perfection. I hope he returns in the show’s third season. What a great foil.

“Guilt by Association” also gives us the cool car chase that ends with a signature “Dallas” fake-out – that’s not Drew on the motorcycle, it’s his very blond friend! – as well as a memorable guest turn from reliable Sam Anderson, who takes over the role of Pam’s plastic surgeon Dr. Gordon, played on the original series by Josef Rainer. Anderson also made a couple of appearances on the old “Dallas” as a cop who investigated the death of the star witness in Jenna Wade’s murder trial, beginning with a 1985 segment called “Dead Ends.” Come to think of it, that would have made a fitting title for this episode too.

Grade: A


Dallas, David Gordon, Guilt By Association, Sam Anderson, TNT

Another dead end


Season 2, Episode 14

Telecast: April 15, 2013

Writer: Taylor Hamra

Director: Jesse Bochco

Audience: 2.8 million viewers on April 15

Synopsis: In Zurich, Christopher discovers Elena has been protecting Drew and sends her home, then comes face to face with the woman he thought was Pam. When John Ross and Pamela conclude Cliff killed J.R., they work with Bobby to plant evidence that will lead the police to Cliff. Sue Ellen uses information from Ken to persuade McConaughey to ease up on the Ewings. After the Ewings bail out Emma, she moves back in with Harris, who later finds her snooping in his office. The police nab Vickers after Drew plants cocaine in his car.

Cast: Sam Anderson (Dr. David Gordon), Kuno Becker (Drew Ramos), Emma Bell (Emma Brown), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Marlene Forte (Carmen Ramos), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Barnes), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Micky Hoogendijk (Mikki), Annalee Jeffries (Carina), Emily Kosloski (Rhonda Simmons), Lee Majors (Ken Richards), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Kevin Page (Bum), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Steven Weber (Governor Sam McConaughey)

“Guilt by Association” is available at, and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.


  1. I really enjoyed the episode. I thought it was fast-paced, full of great intrigues and a lot of fun. I loved Sue Ellen’s scene with the governor and appreciate just how well the show has made Linda Gray an essential player this season after under-utilizing her in the first.

  2. I loved the truck chasing the motorcycle fake-out scene. The new Dallas has many instances of making you think one thing and having it be something else. Even though we knew Drew Ramos had some sort of setup in mind.

    The doctor and his wife are complete scumbags. He had been living off of Christopher’s inheritance and wants to have Christopher believe his mother is still alive and that she abandon him. Some doctor he turned out to be. I feel that the doctor talking about Pam was a real slap in the face to Victoria Principal. Good. V.P. does not have to return to the show. Just be polite and say you don’t want to do it, don’t say you are not returning to benefit the fans of the show.

    Sue Ellen was great. It was good to see Lee Majors help her out. It seemed clear that this is a strong, smart, woman that knows how to get men to do what she wants. The Governor needed some help going along with the game plan, so Sue Ellen was kind enough to pour him a drink to help get started. I love how everyone has a stash of booze in their office on Dallas, just like the old show.

    Elena knows Christopher is about to be right back and she calls Drew anyway. That was dumb.

    Great review. Great observation with pointing out the clear similarities of this episode and “The Prodigal Mother.” I appreciate the “decoding” that goes on in here.

  3. Good review, Chris! I am one of the old fans who was glad that Pam turned out to be dead. Why? Because if she was alive, it would mean she had walked away from Christofer without ever a second look back. I wouldn’t want that to happen to him and I never believed that Pam would do that….she wanted him so badly and loved him so much. I hated the way the original writers mangled Pam’s story on the old show. Having her actually die all those years ago…redeems the character. (Although it is very sad that Pam died far away from her loved ones. :((((( ….She didn’t deserve that.)

    I am glad that it was Sue Ellen who took down the Governor. I jsut can’t say enough how glad I am that she is now an integral part of this show. BTW…was this episode or 25 that we saw her rock the white pantsuit? That was great!

    I can’t say that I found a single weak spot in this episode. It was well written, acted, and directed. Excellent job by the whole cast and crew.

    • Linda Gray deserves an award or two for her performances this season

      • I agree, Jump. Let’s give her a Dallas Decoder Award if nothing else.

      • joesiegler says:

        In recent scenes, my wife and I thought she looked pretty good in the legs department. Then we looked up how old she really is, and was even MORE impressed.

        Most people know, but I’ll throw it out there just in case someone doesn’t. Linda Gray is the “leg” that Dustin Hoffman is looking at in the movie poster for “The Graduate” many a moon ago.

        Nice to see those legs are holding up well in 2013.

  4. I love your site!

    But… you are far too generous to the new Dallas, and I think you know it. In 10 years, you will regret putting a connection with the TNT PR department above being truly honest about new show.

    Love EVERYTHING you wrote on the old, very little what you write on the new

    • Oh, Seth….there actually are a lot of us who truly like and/or love this show. Just because someone likes the show and writes as such doesn’t make them dishonest. Chris is rather forthcoming when he is not happy with some element of the show. I, for one, truly enjoy his points of view. I may differ in opinion at times, but I believe he has one of the best blogs on the new show.

      In the end, it is all merely opinions about a work of art. Everyone is going to have an opinion. Just because someone’s opinion doesn’t agree with yours doesn’t make their opinion less valid or less true to themselves. ( or make them a lackey for the TNT pr department lol)

    • Seth, thanks for your comment. I genuinely love the new show. The original series will always be my favorite, but I still believe the new series is fun, enjoyable television. And trust me: The TNT PR department isn’t paying this little website much attention.

  5. Dan in WI says:

    Check out that phone call John Ross makes on the Barnes’ plane to Bobby. Patrick Duffy plays this so well. You can see the struggle and anguish on his face. He’s not comfortable play the role of JR. He knows it’s time to enact the final phase of the plan and frame Cliff for something he didn’t do but he really struggles to do it.

    So JR taught Sue Ellen if you can’t count on someone to do the right thing, don’t give them the choice? Maybe my memory is a little hazy here but I don’t recall JR blackmailing too many people for the purpose of getting them to do the right thing.

    I may have got JR’s killer wrong. But I called one thing. Just like Tommy McKay got between Tracy and Bobby, Drew has inadvertently driven a wedge between Christopher and Elena.

    I do hope Sue Ellen knows what she is doing. How can be sure that her having a little dirt on the Governor is enough to protect Ken Richards? One thing is for sure. She can’t overplay this hand. If the Governor ever gets the sense he is going down then he will take Ken with him. So Sue Ellen owns him but only to a point.

    I still don’t completely understand what bank account Dr. Gordon was cleaning out. Remember in episode 22 I questioned the apparent double payment of dividends to Pam. In that episode we were told a trust fund was receiving the full dividend allotment and that trust fund has been untouched since 1989. Then there is the Swiss bank account with money equally that of the dividends. We were never told the trust money was in that bank account. After all how could it be untouched and have money in that Swiss account. I kind of wonder if that Swiss account wasn’t a regular hush payment from Cliff to the good Dr.

    • J.R. always believed he was doing the right thing. I think with the dividends to the bank account, it had something to do with the money laundering and identity theft aspect of the scheme.

    • I agree with you about Bobby. I think he really did struggle with enacting that final plan. If Cliff had ever did something right, Bobby would not have went thru with the final stage.

      LOL…I agree with Jump steady about JR. Lets face it. JR always felt his way was the right thing to do…especially if it benefited him.

      • Dan in WI says:

        Hel, do you think Bobby is still remembering the times when he and Cliff were friends? The man was his best man at the April wedding don’t forget.

      • joesiegler says:

        Hey Dan.. I think most modern series fans would go “April? Who the hell is that?” 🙂

      • Dan in WI says:

        joe, By rights the modern series fan should also say who is Katherine Wentworth or Pam? I suspect what you meant was fans of the old who dropped out after the dream season and are trying the new show. Those same fans would also say Cliff was never anything but evil…

        Oh and I say April was the best of Bobby’s wives. There I said it and I’ll say it again if I have to.

      • joesiegler says:

        Dan I meant new show. If you just randomly mention April, without at least giving some backstory, people who go “Who?” There’s been no indication that he’s been married to anyone else other than Pam or Ann.

        I loved April. Both are better than Pam. However, I think I have to give the edge to Ann, but that’s mostly because of her being incumbent. 🙂

    • I didn’t quite follow the business with the bank accounts either, Dan.

    • Actually, Joe…it has been mentioned that Bobby has been married to 3 different women. remember, JR referred to Ann as wife number 3 when he got slapped by Sue Ellen. She then told Ann that JR called her wife number 3.

      Anyhow….to Dan…I think that even knowing that crazy Cliff had killed the babies by ordering the bombing and truly believing he had arranged Ron Vicker’s death….Bobby still had qualms about Cliff being framed. If Cliff had been repentant to Bobby at that point in the jail scene….I think Bobby would have relented. I think Bobby had affection for Cliff…..and let’s face it…Bobby is not JR..he has a merciful heart.

      • Dan in WI says:

        Exactly. Bobby and Cliff have BOTH positive and negative history. So in addition to Bobby being a different man than JR he views Cliff differently than JR.

  6. missiea5 says:

    Am I the only one who finds it odd Elena is suddenly being called “Ellie?” It started out slowly just with Drew but it seems like that is becoming her new nickname. I cannot say I particularly like it.

    • Dan in WI says:

      I can’t recall anybody other than Drew or Carmen doing it.
      I look at it same way as JR and Ray being the two to call Bobby Bob on occasion.

      • missiea5 says:

        Dan, I meant the use of Ellie in particular. If she had been called “‘Lena” or something, fine, but Ellie is kind of a loaded name in this series.

      • I agree, missiea5. I’m fine with “Lena” or “Lanie.” Not so wild about “Ellie.”

      • Dan in WI says:

        Miss, I understand what you are saying. We are talking about a series here that needs a few different names. John Ross (I, II, or III), Pamela and now the nickname Ellie make up 82% of the characters in the history of the series.

      • Great point, Dan. Thanks for doing that math!

    • I’m not wild about Elena’s nickname either, missiea5.

  7. joesiegler says:

    From your review..

    “Oh, how I wanted Victoria Principal to not be under that hat.”

    Fixed it.

  8. joesiegler says:

    Chris, you don’t have a page for the finale yet (I think – did I miss something).

    The biggest burning question of the finale is this. Now that Rebecca has moved back into Southfork.. Does Ann get the “Miss Ellie’s grandmother’s” cookbook back that she gave her early on in Season 1?


  1. […] “Guilt by Association,” a second-season “Dallas” episode, Governor McConaughey (Steven Weber) is seated at his office […]

  2. […] are the questions we’re pondering as we await tonight’s telecast of “Guilt by Association” and “Legacies,” the final episodes from “Dallas’s” second […]

  3. […] “Guilt by Association” the first of the evening’s two episodes, was seen by 2.82 million viewers, including 1 million adults between ages 18 and 49, an important demographic in TV ad sales. […]

  4. […] “Guilt by Association” and “Legacies,” the last two episodes of “Dallas’s” second season, averaged 2.9 million viewers when TNT telecast them back-to-back on April 15. During the next three days, DVR users boosted the combined average for the two episodes to 3.8 million viewers, a 26 percent increase from the previous week. […]

  5. […] to TV Guide, the producers of TNT’s “Dallas” hoped Rainer would play Gordon again two recent episodes of the new show, and when they were unable to track him down, they recast the role with […]

  6. […] parallels: In the TNT episode “Guilt by Association,” Christopher sat in a car and watched the Zurich home where Pam supposedly lived; the shot was […]

  7. […] p.m. Christopher discovers the mystery lady under the big hat is not his mama in “Guilt by Association.” It’s not Aunt Katherine either, […]

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