Dallas Parallels: Caught!

Dallas, Julie Gonzalo, Linda Gray, Pamela Rebecca Barnes Ewing, Sue Ellen Ewing, Tangled Webs, Where There's Smoke, TNT

History repeats itself during “Dallas’s” third season when Pamela finds John Ross cheating with Emma. It’s not unlike the classic scene from the original show’s sixth year, when Sue Ellen walks in on J.R. in bed with Holly. There’s one major difference, of course: Sue Ellen flees the scene of J.R.’s crime in tears — unlike the smiling Pamela, who joins John Ross and his mistress in a shocking threesome.

Why do J.R. and John Ross cheat? Both men justify their extramarital activities by claiming they sleep around for business, and in J.R.’s case, it might be that cut and dry. He treats Holly as nothing  more than a pawn in his quest to beat Bobby in the contest for control of Ewing Oil. Similarly, John Ross begins his affair with Emma to gain access to Ryland Transport’s shipping fleet, although he comes to genuinely care for Emma, even risking his life to rescue her when she’s kidnapped by the Mexican drug cartel.

No matter the reason for their behavior, J.R. and John Ross are both humbled by their actions. After Sue Ellen catches J.R. with Holly, she falls off the wagon and is almost killed while driving drunk. Meanwhile, Pamela’s discovery that John Ross is cheating prompts her to overdose on pills — an ill-conceived attempt at revenge that almost costs Pamela her life.

Two scenes show J.R. and John Ross coming face to face with the consequences of their choices. In the 1983 episode “Penultimate,” J.R. sits on Sue Ellen’s bed, apologizes and begs for forgiveness. It’s similar to the scene in the 2014 episode “Dead Reckoning,” when John Ross sits near Pamela’s hospital bed and makes a similar declaration. Larry Hagman and Josh Henderson’s performances are also similar: J.R. tells Sue Ellen he’s sorry and stumbles over his words (“I can’t, I can’t tell you how sorry I am”), then concludes by saying, “I truly love you.” John Ross also trips over his words (“I will, I will be different”) after telling Pamela, “Look, I love you, okay?”

It’s somewhat startling to hear J.R. and John Ross pour out their hearts like this. Both scenes leave “Dallas” fans wondering what’s more shocking: seeing these master manipulators caught with their pants down, or seeing them caught being human?


‘I Truly Love You’

Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Penultimate

A game?

In “Penultimate,” a sixth-season “Dallas” episode, J.R. (Larry Hagman) enters his bedroom, where Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) sits in the bed.

SUE ELLEN: I waited up to talk to you.

J.R.: All right.

SUE ELLEN: I want you to explain to me why this nightmare happened.

J.R.: [Walks toward the bed] Sue Ellen, it was a terrible, terrible mistake.

SUE ELLEN: Mistake? If you wanted to be with other women, why didn’t you just go ahead and do it, instead of playing this silly charade?

J.R.: What charade?

SUE ELLEN: Our marriage, J.R. Why did you want me to marry you again? Why did you chase me like you did? Do you find some kind of perverse pleasure in hurting me?

J.R.: You know I don’t want to hurt you, Sue Ellen. [Sits on the bed]

SUE ELLEN: Then what is it? Is it the game? Is that what it’s all about, J.R.?

J.R.: What happened between Holly and —

SUE ELLEN: [Shouting] Stop it! Stop it! I don’t want to hear any more from you!

J.R.: Listen to me, please. I can’t, I can’t tell you how sorry I am about what happened. But I promise you it was a direct result of the battle for Ewing Oil. Winning the company means everything to me. When we got married, the second time, I vowed I would never hurt you again. But things got out of hand, Sue Ellen — and I don’t blame you for hating me. But I hope you can reach down in your heart and believe me when I say that I love you. [She closes her eyes and turns away.] I truly love you.


‘I Love You, Okay?’

Dallas, Dead Reckoning, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, TNT

An excuse?

In “Dead Reckoning,” a third-season “Dallas” episode, John Ross (Josh Henderson) enters the hospital room, where Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) sits in bed, waiting for him.

JOHN ROSS: I don’t want to be like this anymore. I don’t want to be the guy that … I don’t want to be the guy that could have done this to you. I know it’s going to be hard for me to convince you of that right now. All I can do is try to prove it to you, every single day of my life. [Sits on the bed] Pamela, I’m so sorry. For everything.

PAMELA: I didn’t call you in here so you can try to fix us, John Ross. I called you in here to tell you to stop sitting out there, because it’s over.

JOHN ROSS: Pamela, don’t say that.

PAMELA: Look, I spent my entire childhood trying to get my father to love me. And all I’ve done in my adult life was continue that pattern by falling for a man who would put greed and ambition before me. And just like with my father, I was willing to do anything to get you to love me, John Ross. But I see now: Our marriage was just an excuse to get my shares of Ewing Global. You didn’t put your mother away to get her help, but to push the IPO through. I see now that there will never enough success, enough money, to fill that hole where your heart should be.

JOHN ROSS: Pamela, please. Look, I love you, okay? I swear, from now on it’s going to be different, okay? [Voice cracks] I will be different. I will, I will be different for you. I’ll be different. I promise.

PAMELA: You ask me what I want. I want you to leave because our marriage is over.

Did J.R. and John Ross deserve forgiveness? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”


  1. I agree with what you said, but then the new Dallas ruined what was a very moving scene by having John Ross jump into bed with Elena that same evening. As was sadly typical of the new Dallas, characters were forced to fit the producer’s storylines, even if they didn’t make much sense. In this case, John Ross’ apology, unlike J.R.’s, didn’t give the viewers a chance to feel his anguish or that he was genuinely sincere. Not if only a couple of hours later he could sleep with yet another woman. It diminished his apology and made the whole “threesome” seem even more ridiculous and pointless – particularly for Pamela’s character – who was supposed to be a very bright young lady. Her reason for doing what she did, or so the script told us, was so he would never be able to make love to Emma again without seeing her “eyes roll back in her head.” But if John Ross could be so unfeeling as to crawl into the bed with Elena so soon after that whole sick, tawdry scene, what was the point? He clearly didn’t care enough about Pamela for it to even matter and she nearly killed herself for nothing. His infidelity so soon after his “apology” spoiled what could have been a special scene between them. Their chemistry was so good, the writers and producers should have done more with them, not less.

    • Yes, braking up John Ross and Pamela was the biggest mistake that the PTB at DallasTNT made. Josh and Julie’s chemistry was off the charts, they should have been written as a power-couple.

  2. Garnet McGee says:

    JR and Sue Ellen’s situation was slightly different. Sue Ellen had a very good point. JR could have remained single and have any woman he wanted. Why did he pursue her if he was only going to betray her? It made Sue Ellen feel stupid and gullible. It made me as a viewer think Sue Ellen was stupid and gullible for falling into the same trap she struggled so hard to get out of. Flash foward to TNT Dallas. I was cheering for John Ross and Pamela to make it. I thought for sure the writers would make the new Mrs. John Ross Ewing stronger than Sue Ellen had been. After all she was a confident, well educated, wealthy business mogul in her own right. The NuDallas writers made the mistake of making her even weaker than Sue Ellen. I wouldn’t have minded John Ross sleeping with Elena if he was immediately contrite and truly tried to treat Pamela with the love she deserved. But he didn’t. Instead the writers lost interest in Pamela and focused on Emma and John Ross. They didn’t seem to have a clue what the audience wanted which is one of the dangers of filming most of the season before being able to gauge audience reaction. John Ross sleeping with his ex-fiancee would have driven a lot of future story if Elena had reunited with Chris. But that wasn’t going to happen. What was the point of ruining Pamela’s character with a suicide attempt? I would like to believe that season 4 would have brought us a more Pamela focused season but I doubt it.

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