Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘Sly, Why Did You Betray Me?’

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, To Catch a Sly

What he always wanted

In “To Catch a Sly,” a seventh-season “Dallas” episode, J.R. (Larry Hagman) stands in his office doorway as Sly (Debbie Rennard) gets ready to leave for the night.

J.R.: Sly, would you mind hanging around for just a few more minutes? There’s something I’d like to discuss with you.

SLY: [Nervous] Uh, yes, sir.

He goes to his bar and opens a wine bottle. She slowly enters the room.

J.R.: Join me?

SLY: No, thank you.

J.R.: You’re not going to let me drink alone. You’re a white-wine lady, aren’t you?

SLY: Mm-hm.

J.R.: You know, you’ve been looking a little peaked lately, Sly. [Pours a glass]

SLY: Well, I’ve just been having some personal problems. It’s nothing serious.

J.R.: [Turns to face her] If it’s the problem I’m thinking of, it’s very serious indeed. [Hands her the glass] You nervous? [Silence] Well, maybe you have your reasons. Sit down, Sly. [She moves to a chair in front his desk. He stands near the desk and retrieves a stack of photographs.] You recognize anybody in these pictures? [He sits next to her and flips through the pictures, which show her with Cliff in various settings.] Hm? Sure, you do. This is you, and this is Cliff Barnes, a man you know feels as kindly towards me as I do to him.

SLY: [Weeping, looking down] I’m sorry, J.R.

J.R.: Sly, why did you betray me to that man?

SLY: He forced me. He found out my brother is in jail and that he’s up for parole soon. And he promised that if I helped him, he’d talk to the right people and get him off. Cliff used to be with the district attorney’s office.

J.R.: Yes, I know. One of the darker periods of our city’s history. Why didn’t you come to me, Sly?

SLY: I couldn’t. I was so scared. Don’t you see? He threatened me. He said if I didn’t help him, he’d make sure my brother served his full sentence. And he had years and years to go. [Faces him] J.R., I love my brother. I couldn’t pass up a chance to help him. I’m so sorry. I didn’t want to do it. You have every right to fire me. Even to call the police.

J.R.: I’d never do that. You didn’t try to cover up after I showed you these pictures. That pleases me.

SLY: I didn’t mean to hurt the company, J.R.

J.R.: No, of course you didn’t. As a matter of fact, I’m glad I found out it was you. Not somebody else. Because I can trust you, Sly. And you’ve given me something I’ve always wanted: a way of communicating with Cliff Barnes.

SLY: What do you mean?

J.R.: He doesn’t have to know I found out about you. And you can be very useful in passing on information — information I control.

SLY: You’re going to set him up?

J.R.: Mm-mm. He set himself up. What I’m going to do is bring him down — and bring him down very, very hard.


  1. The title “To Catch A Sly” is of course base on the saying “To Catch A Fly.” I think is mindblowing that J. R. wants Sly to continue to goose things for Cliff that are partly true, but mostly lies so that Cliff spends money, time, & resources tracking down phony leads. Yes C. B., its Napoleonic genius from the master & best of all, Miss Lovegren will get some extra cash from Barnes & a few extras from J. R. Gosh is this ever sneaky, underhanded, & brilliant!


  1. […] follows is one of the great “Dallas” moments. Sly sits in one of J.R.’s guest chairs as he walks to his desk and retrieves a stack of photos […]

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