The Art of Dallas: ‘Aftermath’

Aftermath, Dallas, Holly Harwood, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Lois Chiles

Holly and J.R. (Lois Chiles, Larry Hagman) are seen aboard her yacht in this 1982 publicity shot from “Aftermath,” a sixth-season “Dallas” episode.

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘He Wants It For John Ross’

Aftermath, Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Patrick Duffy

The more things change

In “Aftermath,” a sixth-season “Dallas” episode, Pam (Victoria Principal) sits on her bed while Bobby (Patrick Duffy) sits in a chair, writing on a notepad.

PAM: Bobby?


PAM: It’s really late. What are you doing?

BOBBY: I’m just doodling.

PAM: [Gets up, walks toward his seat, sits and looks at his notepad] You’ve already started working on it, haven’t you? You didn’t waste any time.

BOBBY: Do you think J.R.’s going to?

PAM: Bobby, forgive me, but it was really unfair of Jock to put you in this contest.

BOBBY: Oh Pam, no. It’s not like that at all. He didn’t have a choice.

PAM: Yes, he did. He could have given each of you half of the company. It would have been better for everybody.

BOBBY: You can’t split a company like Ewing Oil.

PAM: Well, then he could have left it the way it was. The whole family was able to vote.

BOBBY: No, that was just an interim agreement. Ewing Oil needs long-range leadership.

PAM: You know I’m behind you in this. It’s just I’m afraid it could hurt us.

BOBBY: Pam, Daddy did the only thing he could possibly do. How could he leave Ewing Oil to one son and not the other? And yet he had to be sure that whoever was in charge was the toughest man for the job. Actually, I’m kind of pleased about the way it turned out. Daddy had confidence in me. He put me up against J.R. J.R.’s been in that position of leadership for a long time.

PAM: Well, you’d be better be sure it’s worth it, because he’s going to fight you with everything he has.

BOBBY: Well, I’m going to fight him just as hard. Pam, J.R. doesn’t want that company just for himself. He wants it for John Ross. And you and I have a son too. And I’m not going to sit back and watch J.R. steal something that rightfully belongs to Christopher.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 109 — ‘Aftermath’

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

Staying afloat

“Aftermath” lets the audience into J.R.’s head in a way other “Dallas” episodes don’t. In the most revealing scene, J.R. and Sue Ellen sweep into a fancy French restaurant, where the dinnertime crowd congratulates our hero on his recent return to power at Ewing Oil. The handshakes and backslaps end when J.R. and Sue Ellen encounter Rebecca, who interrupts her meal with Clayton to remind J.R. that she still blames him for Cliff’s attempted suicide and wants revenge. “Since the only way to your heart is through your company, I intend to make that company bleed,” Rebecca says.

J.R. plays it cool, telling Rebecca she has her work cut out for her, but when he and Sue Ellen are alone at their table, we see how rattled he is. “I can take Bobby with one hand tied behind me, but I get the distinct feeling there’s an army mobilizing against me,” J.R. says. It’s a reminder that he isn’t impervious. Not that this moment of vulnerability lasts long. A few scenes later, J.R. is all smiles as he tries to persuade state government official Walt Driscoll to allow him to pump more oil than the law allows. Stop and think about what Larry Hagman does here: He plays a man who appears to be brimming with bravado, even though he’s secretly afraid his enemies are out to get him. It’s a tricky performance, but of course Hagman does it beautifully.

The scene with Driscoll is also interesting because it underscores the sexism in which “Dallas” seems to revel. J.R. meets Driscoll on Holly’s yacht, where J.R. refers to her as a “pretty little thing” and suggests she’d be willing to sleep with Driscoll. “She has a thing for men our age,” J.R. says. Driscoll demurs, telling J.R. that he’s happily married. Later, after J.R. has asked Harry McSween to dig up dirt on Driscoll, the detective reports Driscoll’s wife has been arrested a few times for reckless driving. “Boy, you follow that lady for a couple of blocks and you’ll see why,” McSween says. Watching this exchange, I can’t help but feel like the people who make “Dallas” are having a little too much fun playing up old stereotypes about women behind the wheel.

The other women in “Aftermath” don’t come off much better. After Rebecca threatens J.R. in the restaurant, she buys Wade Luce’s oil company; the suggestion is she plans to use the business as a weapon in her war with the Ewings. I like seeing Rebecca depicted as a woman who is so successful, she can buy an oil company on a whim, but her obsession with revenge makes her seem irrational. Likewise, I appreciate how the opening scenes of “Aftermath” show how J.R., Bobby and Ray are each sorting through the implications of Jock’s will with help from the women in their lives. But wouldn’t it be nice if the women had a little more to do than listen to their men? At least in J.R. and Sue Ellen’s scene, she figures out he knew what was in Jock’s will before anyone else.

Even though Pam doesn’t have much to do in her scene with Bobby besides express her worry about the contest, the couple’s exchange is still worth paying attention to. “Pam,” Bobby says, “J.R. doesn’t want that company just for himself. He wants it for John Ross. And you and I have a son too. And I’m not going to sit back and watch J.R. steal something that rightfully belongs to Christopher.”

Oh, Bobby. If you only knew how right you are.

Grade: B


Aftermath, Dallas, Priscilla Pointer, Rebecca Wentworth

Out for revenge


Season 6, Episode 6

Airdate: November 5, 1982

Audience: 20.3 million homes, ranking 3rd in the weekly ratings

Writer: David Paulsen

Director: Leonard Katzman

Synopsis: J.R. returns to Ewing Oil and pressures state regulator Walt Driscoll for permission to pump more oil than is allowed, but Driscoll turns him down. The McLeish brothers invite Bobby to join them in a Canadian oil venture, but he fears the wells won’t come in before his contest with J.R. ends. Rebecca buys Wade Luce’s oil company and asks Cliff to run it. Lucy decides to resume her modeling career.

Cast: Robert Ackerman (Wade Luce), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), James L. Brown (Detective Harry McSween), Danone Camden (Kendall), Lois Chiles (Holly Harwood), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Kenneth Kimmins (Thornton McLeish), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), J. Patrick McNamara (Jarrett McLeish), Timothy Patrick Murphy (Mickey Trotter), Paul Napier (Harold Boyd), George O. Petrie (Harv Smithfield), Ben Piazza (Walt Driscoll), Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Debbie Rennard (Sly), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Cooper), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis), Ray Wise (Blair Sullivan), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

“Aftermath” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.