Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 36 — ‘Hurt’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Hurt, Patrick Duffy, TNT

His kingdom of dirt

Bobby Ewing is the steward of Southfork, but Patrick Duffy is the steward of Bobby Ewing. In “Hurt,” Duffy steps behind the camera and directs his first “Dallas” episode in more than two decades, demonstrating how well he knows both his character and the mythology that defines this franchise. This is an hour rooted in “Dallas” history, with references to Jock, Miss Ellie, the Barnes/Ewing feud and of course J.R., whose presence here is as strong as it was in last year’s funeral episode. Just as importantly, “Hurt” reveals Duffy’s knack for the conventions of modern “Dallas” storytelling, including cinematic, made-for-HD shots of Southfork and a musical montage that’s destined to be remembered as one of this show’s most moving.

Between the two of them, Duffy and scriptwriter Aaron Allen transform “Hurt” into a showcase for the “Dallas” ensemble, beginning with the riveting post-credits showdown, when Elena gathers the Ewings together and exposes the plot to frame Cliff. The staging evokes memories of the original cast standing around the living room, knocking back drinks and trading quips, although it also plays like a parlor scene out of a Miss Marple mystery. (One difference: On “Dallas,” everyone is guilty of something.) Next, Josh Henderson and Julie Gonzalo’s estranged spouses, John Ross and Pamela, have a nicely measured confrontation on the Southfork lawn, followed by a long-awaited moment of catharsis for Brenda Strong’s Ann, who finally gets to say what every fan’s been thinking lately: Isn’t Bobby being a hypocrite when he accuses his wife of keeping secrets from him?

Duffy also elicits a strong performance from Jordana Brewster, who brings the right mix of determination and doubt to Elena’s scenes, as well as another moving turn from Marlene Forte and a fun-but-too-brief appearance by Ken Kercheval, who gives us a glimpse of old-school Cliff Barnes giddiness when the character learns he’ll be getting out of jail. Of course, no one delivers for Duffy quite like his longtime friend and co-star, Linda Gray. In one of “Hurt’s” most powerful scenes, she confronts Bobby about not telling her the truth about J.R.’s death, allowing Gray to go from anger to disbelief to bitter disappointment. Her parting shot — “Miss Ellie would be ashamed of you” — is one for the ages. I can’t imagine any words that would hurt Bobby more, can you? (Also: Shades of Barbara Bel Geddes’ memorable “You both sicken me!” line to Jim Davis and Larry Hagman in “The New Mrs. Ewing,” the first of 29 episodes Duffy helmed during the original show’s run.)

Bobby and Sue Ellen’s scene also allows “Dallas” to address a mystery that has puzzled fans since her eulogy in “J.R.’s Masterpiece”: Why did J.R. invite his ex-wife to dinner if he knew he was never going to make it back to Dallas in the first place? I’ve always thought of J.R.’s invitation as a metaphor — he wasn’t asking Sue Ellen on a date, he was asking her to forgive him — which seems to be the subtext of Gray’s next great scene, when Sue Ellen visits Bum’s humble home in her quest for answers. The conversation ends with Bum asking Sue Ellen to forgive him. Her haunting response: “You’re not the one I need to forgive.” (In a lovely nod to Kevin Page, the wonderful actor and artist who makes Bum so sweetly charming, we also learn the character is the painter behind the J.R. portrait hanging at Ewing Global.)

Of course, Duffy is smart enough to give himself several good scenes too. If Bobby has gotten a little off course this season — always yelling at Ann and John Ross — “Hurt” might be remembered as the episode that puts him back on track, or at least the segment that makes him sympathetic again. In “Hurt’s” most poignant moment, Bobby enters Southfork, which stands empty after the rest of the Ewings have walked out on him. For an instant, he’s become J.R. at the end of the original series, wandering around that big house after he’s driven away everyone else. Then, with Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” playing in the background, Bobby demolishes his study in a flash of rage. The song might have been written about the horrors of drug addiction, but with its references to a “crown of thorns” and an “empire of dirt,” is it not also the perfect song for our favorite martyr-like rancher?

I also have to appreciate how expertly this sequence is edited, especially when Cash sings “my sweetest friend” and J.R.’s face, smiling from behind the framed glass, fills the screen. Indeed, “Hurt” can be seen as a kind of companion piece to the elegiac “J.R.’s Masterpiece.” It’s fitting that our hero’s final scheme falls apart here, given how many of his schemes backfired during the original series. Allen’s script seems to acknowledge this when Elena delivers her comments about how the Ewings “rushed to sentimentalize” J.R. after his death. She might as well be talking about the “Dallas” audience — although for the record, I believe J.R. did change in old age. Of course, I’m also the first to admit that I’ve always worshipped at the altar of J.R. Ewing, even before he was redeemed.

Elena’s comments are an example of how Allen’s “Dallas” scripts always contain dialogue that sticks with you. Another example is Henderson and Gonzalo’s conversation on the lawn in “Hurt.” John Ross: “If you give me the chance, Pamela, I’ll fix everything.” Pamela: “I don’t want you to fix things. I want you to stop breaking them.” I also love this episode’s sharper exchanges, beginning with John Ross’s farewell to Elena and Nicolas, which Henderson delivers with perfect acidity (“Y’all can both go to hell”), as well as Bobby’s description of his family’s longest-running conflict and Elena’s non-role in it: “The Barnes/Ewing feud is a whole other beast. And it doesn’t involve you. You want to take that dog for a walk? Fine. But if it bites somebody, it’s because you let it.” This sounds like the sort of thing a Texan would say, does it not?

I also like how “Hurt” gives the “Dallas” women the upper hand in several scenes. It’s good to see Sue Ellen figure out Bum shot J.R., and I appreciate how Elena puts the power to pardon Cliff in Pamela’s hands, although I’m not sure what to make of Elena giving Pamela land that Jock “stole” from Digger. Then again, the origins of the Barnes/Ewing war have always been kind of murky. In that spirit, I even like Ann’s common-sense prescription to resolving the conflict — “You end a blood feud by walking away from it” — although I sure as hell hope no one on this show ever follows that advice.

I even like “Hurt” because of what it doesn’t contain: Duffy and Allen give us no whiplash-inducing plot twists, choosing instead to offer character-driven surprises like the revelation about Bum’s artistic skills. Yes, this episode’s drug cartel sequences get in the way of the real drama involving the Ewings, but at least one of those scenes features Emma Bell’s Emma Ryland, who is always a kick. Her conversation with Luis about the Beach Boys is kind of kooky, but it’s also an example of another Allen signature: Recall Carlos Bernard’s monologue about dancing in “Collateral Damage” and Mitch Pileggi’s speech about Komodo dragons in “Let Me In.” Sometimes it’s clearer than others what the characters are really saying in these scenes, but for me at least, figuring it out is part of the fun.

Ultimately, any complaints about the cartel scenes are quibbles, because no matter how you slice it, this is a terrific hour of “Dallas.” It’s an achievement for everyone involved, but most of all Duffy, whose turn in the director’s chair marks the first time someone who had a hand in shaping the storytelling on the original series does something similar for the sequel. We’ve known for a while that Duffy is still capable of dazzling us when he steps in front of the “Dallas” cameras, and now we know the same is also true when he works behind the scenes.

Grade: A


Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Hurt, Patrick Duffy, TNT

Hurts so good


Season 3, Episode 11

Telecast: September 1, 2014

Writer: Aaron Allen

Director: Patrick Duffy

Synopsis: Elena tells the Ewings how J.R. swindled her father and also exposes Bobby, John Ross and Christopher’s conspiracy to frame Cliff for J.R.’s “murder.” Bobby is chastised by Ann, Pamela and Sue Ellen, who later confronts Bum. Bobby agrees to give Elena restitution and land and arranges for Cliff to be pardoned, but Elena gives both the parcel and the clemency paperwork to Pamela, telling her she should decide if her father gets out of prison. John Ross learns Nicolas sent the video to Pamela and retaliates by telling Nicolas that Elena slept with him to get her hands on J.R.’s letter. Nicolas forgives Elena and leaves town with her, but not before consulting the mysterious Victor Des Lauriers about Ewing Global’s looming initial public offering. Christopher realizes Nicolas is Elena’s childhood friend, Joaquin. Harris tells Emma about his work with the CIA after he learns she’s been meeting with the cartel.

Cast: Emma Bell (Emma Ryland), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Juan Pablo Di Pace (Nicolas Treviño), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Marlene Forte (Carmen Ramos), Julie Gonzalo (Pamela Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Antonio Jaramillo (Luis), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Kevin Page (Bum), Gino Anthony Pesi (George Tatangelo), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Max Ryan (Victor Des Lauriers), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing)

“Hurt” is available at, Amazon and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.


  1. This was one of my favorite episodes.

  2. one word :amazing

  3. Possibly the best episode since JR’s Masterpiece from last season. You could tell that Duffy directing the episode that he knew everything about the series and the characters in general. The confrontations and surprises harked back to the original series. Congratulations to Duffy on directing an episode in this new incarnation and hopefully he will have more chances in the future if Dallas returns for a fourth season.

  4. Wonderful, and well-put, Patrick D, did another JR for this series, great dialogue, and intrigue, let’s keep this going, and on… to another great season of the one.. and only

  5. Incredible episode. Kudos to Duffy and Allen. When the hell will Linda Gray get her long overdue Emmy?????

  6. Maybe what Elena was doing by giving Pamela land that Jock “stole” from Digger was shoulda been done a long time ago. The Barnes/Ewing feud dead and gone

  7. Excellent critique! This was one of my favorite episodes yet, for all the same reasons you gave it an A. I am so glad you host #DallasChats on Tuesdays because I immediately wanted to talk about it!

    I also like the picture you chose for the top of your post. I thought it was a pretty powerful shot for only lasting a split-second on screen.

  8. One of my favorite episodes ever and I’m including the original series in this count. There was a perfect blend of the current series and thoughtful nods to the original- which made the episode compelling to watch. Each character had a strong showing and with out the sometimes frenetic plot twists of other episodes, the storyline stayed strong and connected through our the episode- I will watch this episode over and over- its a beautiful creation!

  9. For once I’m happy with the fast paced timing of this show. If the CBS era would have went down this path, it never would have had the opening scene as we see it here. At the CBS pace Elena would have dropped her bomb and that would have been it for several weeks. Here we got all the back and forth right away. When Pamela walked in the room she was bombarded with both sides of the story in their entirety. She was reminded while Cliff didn’t kill JR he did order the bombing killing her children. Everyone chimed in and everything that needed to be said was said. If we have to have this ridiculous Ramos storyline at least it was all out there.

    The scene with Bobby and Sue Ellen was great too. I might even say it was in character. Sue Ellen is initially mad. But (so far) she isn’t drinking and last words aside, I won’t rule out her coming around to the Ewing side. She’s going to be conflicted along the way though. At least she (unlike Elena) deserves to be conflicted. I might even say she is the only one who has that right.

    Bobby goes on to be a standup guy by telling Pamela to be mad at him not John Ross. I’ve been very critical of characters which have been screwed up by these writers. (Cliff!) So it is only fair I give them props here.

    I got one prediction right. Bobby said to Anne what I’ve been saying along. He didn’t tell her so she would have had that plausible deniability. She doesn’t see it that way though. She really believed she could have/would have talked Bobby out of all this. Well then she never did know her husband.

    Should I be concerned that Emma had the exact some reaction I had when learning of Harris’ involvement with the CIA? I don’t think Harris should be confiding this in Emma though. She might use this to stab him and her entire family further.

    I like how Kevin Page’s personal passion got worked into the episode.

    Again the real Bobby was the one with Elena in that study. I loved it. Is it just me or was he even channeling a little Ric Flair and Arn Anderson in that speech?

    Somebody help me out. I’m drawing a blank. Who is this Victor that Joaquin is talking to at the end of the episode?

    So what is this land that Elena took? She mentioned it was something that was stolen from Pamela’s grandfather. Is this some sort of reference to The Early Years TV movie? If so I think they got it wrong. Yes Aaron Southworth (not Ewing) tried to give him some land which turned out to have oil but it was Digger who spitefully sold it back to Southworth (not Ewing). If that is what they were referring to then this episode too had to have a continuity error. The Ewings never took the land I’m thinking of from Digger.

    Sue Ellen made an entire episode without so much as contemplating a drink. This is promising.

  10. Garnet McGee says:

    A very good episode that was kept from being great by silliness with Emma and the cartel. Everyone did a great job with Jordana being the stand out as Elena. My favorite moments of the episode were between John Ross and Elena with the true zinger being “who knew Elena could be such a thieving whore” Funny how John Ross isn’t slut shamed when he sleeps with a woman in exchange for a business advantage. I liked all the references to the past.

  11. Phenomenal episode…every actor/actress involved stepped to the plate and hit it out of the park on this one.

    It will be quite interesting to see how they go about the Ewing Global ownership storyline. Will Cliff have legal recourse for the one-third Christopher took? Granted, it was always meant to be Christopher’s, per his mother’s will, but the fact that this revelation happened while Chris was off American soil concerns me. And it’s not like Chris was going to be able to take a seat in the company boardroom at the age of 7. I can see Cliff arguing that in his sister’s deteriorating condition, she wasn’t thinking straight. Perhaps he offers the Gordons some dough to testify on his behalf (we already know they can be bought) that Pam was out of her mind with pain. They could be on his **bleep** list anyway for betraying him.

    As I recall from the Dallas movie about the early years (forgot the exact title), Jock really never wronged Digger at all. Digger was usually too drunk to put two coherent thoughts together and very flaky about everything, and was given every reasonable opportunity by Jock to get his act together and be a true business partner. He even gave Digger a fair shot at Miss Ellie, warning him that if he didn’t get his head on straight, he (Jock) would consider her fair game. I have only seen the movie once, and I could have some of the details wrong, but what I took away from it was that poor old Willard Barnes had always been his own worst enemy, and had only himself to blame for his misfortunes.

    I’m really excited to see where the show goes from here, with Elena possibly carrying John Ross IV in her womb…I can’t see Nicolas being the father, if she is pregnant at all yet. It would be kind of neat, though, if Pamela was also pregnant. There has never been a Dallas character with both Ewing and Barnes blood. After the original Pam had two miscarriages, I theorized it was because it was somehow cosmically “wrong” for a Ewing and a Barnes to breed. Then came the revelation that Pam wasn’t a true Barnes, which sort of squashed my theory.

    I just hope by some miracle Cliff remains behind bars. He doesn’t deserve to get out. As I said in a post after last week’s episode, I’ll be sickened if the show is canceled with him back in the driver’s seat. Frankly, if that is the case, I’ll be sorry we even got a Season 3. The Season 2 finale would have been an ideal series finale, minus the whole Elena-going-rogue storyline. To ultimately tarnish JR’s masterpiece because the ratings were just good enough to warrant one more season would be most unfortunate. Here is hoping those ratings remain strong enough to carry us a little further!

    • The title of the prequel was The Early Years and yes your memory has the facts right. Of course Digger was probably too drunk to perceive things as they actually happened and thus a fued is born.
      Which is why that Dandy Dandrich storyline giving Cliff the epiphany it did was so special and why I’ll be eternally upset at Cidre and company for screwing up that character.

      As for Cliff and his post incarceration ownership rights I guess that all depens on how easy it is to undo an IPO. The teasers for next week make it seem like it goes through and the cartel does end up the big winner. So that mess will have be unknotted before Cliff, Bobby or even John Ross himself can have a say in the company again.

  12. It took them close to three season and I believe they got it right. I notice that Elena, just as the previous episode, reveals what is really going on with her. This time to Christopher. This episode is one solid hour.

  13. Quick question? are we suppose to know who tht victor guy is.

    This episode was awesome

  14. I just love this show, and last nights episode was yet again an epic moment in Dallas history, I am in hi hopes that there will be another season and after last night seeing Patrick Duffy in the directing chair and working his wisdom I hope he will be able to direct more of great epic moments like he did last night. I love the plot changes and switches that Dallas brings but last nights was a nice switch of the fast pace drama from the start to the finish. Fans should be screaming their praises on Elena giving Pamela that piece of land that ties into the Barnes feud, it has looked like all season this was about making the Ramos clan the head of the empire but instead the torched passed back to the Barnes the original feud of Dallas history, great job Dallas, well done Patrick Duffy, Arron Allen and the whole cast for bringing this great Episode I can watch it over and over

  15. I think this was an awesome episode and one very needed and good timing! The ratings weren’t as good as I was hoping with the last 2 episodes and this one I believe had the audience back on the edge of their seats again! I’ve been watching Dallas since it first aired on April 2, 1978! Since we’ve lost our true legend Larry Hagman I figured the ratings would decline some because in my opinion he and his character JR Ewing were Dallas! I love Linda Gray and Patrick Duffy and the 3 of them were unbeatable in the original series! I’m glad to see that hopefully soon Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval) will be brought back in to Dallas and start his evil and corruption again because I think that’s what the series needs to get ratings back up to maintain enough viewers for a season 4! That’s what made the original so interesting to me was the fights and corruption between Cliff and JR! Unfortunately we cant have JR except in memory and flashbacks but to get Cliff back in action I believe is a big plus for Dallas TNT! Of course that’s just my own opinion but there is no bigger fan of Dallas than me! And Im so proud of Cynthia Cidre and Aaron Allen and all those involved in bringing a new Dallas and new generation back for us long time faithful fans to get excited all over again! Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray and Ken Kercheval should direct more of the scenes because the were there in the beginning and no one knows the show and characters better than them! The all had turns directing in the original and they were some of the best episodes ever! I love Dallas and that just about sums it up!

  16. quite possible the best episode of the show, with jr’s masterpiece being its only rival. THIS is what I’d hope for in a Dallas revival series! it also show that the show doesnt really have to change – the writers just have to care about what they do.

  17. Why Miss Jenny Irons isn’t commenting more here upsets me. But besides that, Brother Bobby directing. Wow the exterior wide shots were immaculate. I wish Brother J.R. could have directed 1 more episode of this reboot b4 he died. Perhaps his hand is guiding Brother Bobby right now from behind the camera!

    • The Miss Ellie reference from Sue Ellen to Bobby was one line that seemed right in an otherwise contrived and convoluted “Ramos Revenge” plot. Miss Ellie would be disappointed in Bobby, and the late, great Barbara Bel Geddes would be disgraced by the tawdry direction that Cynthia Cidre has taken with a Dallas TNT.

      I would like to see Duffy direct more episodes if there is a season 4, but the Ramos family has to go. Buh-bye!

  18. Dan in WI, I do remember the Dandy Dandridge storyline, but wasn’t Cliff’s epiphany relatively short-lived? He seemed to fall back into his anti-Ewing mindset rather quickly. I know he had formed somewhat of a friendship with Bobby in the latter seasons, even to the point Bobby (at Miss Ellie’s suggestion) took Cliff into Ewing Oil as a partner. But it always seemed tempered by past events, and the Stetson-wearing elephant in the room, one John Ross Ewing II.

    Sue Ellen’s line was certainly powerful, but I don’t believe Miss Ellie would have been ashamed of Bobby. What did he really do that wasn’t completely necessary to protect the family? I recall something Ellie once said on the old series…I’m paraphrasing here, but it was along the lines of “We have always stuck together against our enemies, even when we knew we were wrong.”

    Will there EVER be a reference to Clayton, beyond his last name being on Ellie’s gravestone? The man was pretty damn important to the old show for a number of years.

    • It lasted a while. That epiphany was what lead to Miss Ellie asking Bobby to take Cliff into Ewing Oil. Cliff’s departure was based on two things: He was distracted by Afton kind of returning to his life and forced out the door when JR wouldn’t allow him any kind of role in dealing with the Westar tanker collision fallout. Remember JR wasn’t a part of Ewing Oil when Bobby took him in but later wormed his way back in. And even when Cliff had his epiphany he said out loud it didn’t matter what his last name or JR’s last name was. They would always be enemies and by and large JR was the only one Cliff waged war against post epiphany. When Cliff finally stole away Ewing Oil at the end Bobby was no longer part of the company so the only one Cliff was attacking was JR. It all made sense and was consistent in that way. Plus Cliff was never the type to use thugs on CBS. That’s why I’m so upset he’s coming so hard against Bobby today and the tactics he now uses.

  19. SweetLee @Dallas_follower says:

    Excellent, Chris. Well Done!

  20. I loved last week’s Dallas. Patrick Duffy did a wonderful job behind the camera. I have been very upset with the way Bobby Ewing been acting. My self I think Cliff Barnes is part of the cartel.
    I hope that Cliff Barnes bites Elena just like Bobby told her would happen. Elena blaming Bobby for what happened to her Dad’s land and death was wrong . Bobby Ewing had nothing to do with any of it and was very good to Elena and her family. I hope and pray there is a season 4 and Elena and the whole Ramos clan are gone . Why Bobby did not throw Elena and her family off his ranch is beyond me.
    John Ross comment that Elena is a thieving whore was priceless and that is what she is. Christopher and John Ross need to stay a way from her.
    I do not believe J.R switched that land. Cliff has faked that I think.

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