Critique: TNT’s ‘Dallas’ Episode 6 – ‘The Enemy of My Enemy’

Dallas, Enemy of My Enemy, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Compromised integrity? Check.

At long last, Sue Ellen.

Linda Gray comes off the sidelines in “The Enemy of My Enemy” – and not a moment too soon. Last week, in a candid interview with Ultimate Dallas, Gray politely – but pointedly – expressed her disappointment with the limited amount of screen time she’s received on TNT’s “Dallas.” As she reminded fans, Sue Ellen’s fate rests with the new show’s writers, who are now working on the second-season scripts.

Although “The Enemy of My Enemy” was filmed months ago, it serves as Exhibit A in the case for giving Sue Ellen a more prominent role on the show. Gray makes this one of TNT’s strongest episodes yet. She only appears in three scenes, but she dominates each one – not by chewing scenery but through the force of her grace and elegance. The actress has inherited Barbara Bel Geddes’ mantle as “Dallas’s” elder stateswoman, and that’s why I hope TNT will keep her front and center. This show needs her.

The nice thing about “The Enemy of My Enemy” is how it gets Sue Ellen involved in the fight over Southfork while finally delving into the subplot about her gubernatorial run, which has been simmering on the back burner all season.

In the storyline, John Ross asks his mama to use her political connections to persuade trucking magnate Harris Ryland to ship the oil being pumped out of Southfork. Initially, Sue Ellen resists (“John Ross, if I go down that road….”), but she eventually gives in and visits Ryland, offering him a coveted appointment in her administration if he’ll help her son. Ryland, played with wicked charm by Mitch Pileggi, rejects the offer because he says he doesn’t want Sue Ellen to compromise her integrity. Nevertheless, he agrees to help John Ross – and to demonstrate his admiration for Sue Ellen, he cuts a big check to her campaign.

The first time I watched this episode, seeing Sue Ellen sell out made me cringe. This didn’t feel like something the new, improved version of our beloved heroine would do. But then I thought about Sue Ellen’s guilt over her shortcomings as a mother when John Ross was younger. I can see how her judgment might be clouded where he’s concerned.

Besides, let’s face it: A saintly Sue Ellen is a boring Sue Ellen. Like I wrote earlier this week, I’m happy the character has changed with the times, but the show needs to reveal Sue Ellen’s humanity, and her foibles in “The Enemy of My Enemy” feel credible. It’s worth noting Sue Ellen’s actions also place her squarely in the tradition of other “Dallas” mothers (Miss Ellie, Rebecca Wentworth) who make questionable choices on behalf of their adult sons.

In addition to finally giving Sue Ellen a meaningful storyline, I like how scriptwriter Gail Gilchriest brings Elena and Rebecca together in “The Enemy of My Enemy.” Having Elena drive Rebecca to the doctor is a clever way to highlight the uneasy bond developing between these characters, whose relationship is beginning to recall the one shared by “Dallas’s” ultimate frienemies, Sue Ellen and Pam.

I also appreciate how director Jesse Bochco showcases some of the lighter moments in “The Enemy of My Enemy.” At the end of the episode, I love when Bobby and Christopher storm into John Ross’s room, prompting his exasperated, “What now?” There’s also an amusing scene before the opening credits, when the roughneck Earl interrupts Bobby and John Ross’s argument on the Southfork patio.

“Mr. Ewing?” Earl says.

“Yeah?” Bobby answers.

“I meant John Ross.”

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out this episode’s big historical inaccuracy: The discovery that Miss Ellie’s father left her sons the mineral rights to Southfork contradicts long-established “Dallas” lore. In the past, major storylines have hinged on the fact Ellie controlled the ranch’s mineral rights.

The other eye-roller comes when Bobby discovers his grandfather’s prized pistol in the safe deposit box. During the original show’s classic “Jock’s Trial” episodes, we learned Ellie’s father had given the gun to Jock before his death, signaling he had finally accepted the young oil baron as a member of his family.

Or is that why Bobby seems to smile mischievously when he pulls the gun out of the lockbox in this episode? In that instant, does he realize his granddaddy pulled a fast one on Jock, all those years ago?

Maybe the Southworths were more like the Ewings than they cared to admit.

Grade: B


Dallas, Enemy of My Enemy, John Ross Ewing, Josh Henderson, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing, TNT

Empire of the son


Season 1, Episode 6

Telecast: July 11, 2012

Writer: Gail Gilchriest

Director: Jesse Bochco

Audience: 5.3 million viewers (including 3.6 million viewers on July 11, ranking 26th in the weekly cable ratings)

Synopsis: With Rebecca’s help, Bobby and Christopher find an old legal document that will give Bobby control of Southfork’s mineral rights. After business partner Vicente Cano threatens him, John Ross turns to Sue Ellen, who persuades Harris to transport the oil pumped out of Southfork. Bobby punches Harris after he sends Ann a locket that upsets her. John Ross fears Marta is stalking Elena. In Las Vegas, J.R. tries to muscle in on Cliff’s high-stakes poker game. Rebecca tells Tommy she’s pregnant.

Cast: Carlos Bernard (Vicente Cano), Jordana Brewster (Elena Ramos), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Marlene Forte (Carmen Ramos), Julie Gonzalo (Rebecca Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Callard Harris (Tommy Sutter), Josh Henderson (John Ross Ewing), Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher Ewing), Kevin Page (Bum), Mitch Pileggi (Harris Ryland), Matthew Posey (Earl), Brenda Strong (Ann Ewing), Faran Tahir (Frank), Leonor Varela (Marta del Sol)

“The Enemy of My Enemy” is available at, and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘Don’t Try and Play His Game’

Bobby Ewing, Dallas, Jock's Trial Part 1, Patrick Duffy

He should know

In “Jock’s Trial, Part 1,” a third-season “Dallas” episode, Bobby and Sue Ellen (Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray) chat on the Southfork patio while little John plays in his crib.

BOBBY: Sue Ellen, you’ve been spending an awful lot of time by yourself lately. Is there anything I can do?

SUE ELLEN: Oh, I don’t think so. [She looks at little John, then at Bobby.] Bobby, you don’t really believe that I’ve started drinking again, do you?

BOBBY: I don’t wanna believe it.

SUE ELLEN: I need someone on my side.

BOBBY: [Leans toward her] I am on your side. Sue Ellen, I’ve always been on your side.

SUE ELLEN: J.R. has done everything he can to put me back in that sanitarium.

BOBBY: Why? Everything’s been going so well between you two.

SUE ELLEN: No, it hasn’t. I just made it seem that way. I wanted to be the perfect wife so everyone would forget my past.

BOBBY: I don’t understand. Why all this game playing then?

SUE ELLEN: To try to get custody of little John. [She looks at the baby.]

BOBBY: What?

SUE ELLEN: Bobby, I can’t live with J.R. anymore. I want a divorce.

BOBBY: You’re telling me you’re not drinking and J.R.’s trying to make you look like a drunk?

SUE ELLEN: [Nodding, tearing up] Yes.

BOBBY: Sue Ellen, if you feel you have to leave J.R., then do it. But do it in the open. Don’t try and play his game. Honey, he’s too good at it. And don’t rush into anything.

SUE ELLEN: But what about little John?

BOBBY: Well, that’s a … that’s a choice you may have to make. You’re gonna have to take your chances.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 51 – ‘Jock’s Trial, Part 1’

Dallas, Jim Davis, Jock Ewing, Jock's Trial Part 1

Face of a killer?

“Jock’s Trial, Part 1” comes toward the conclusion of “Dallas’s” third season, and it very much feels like the beginning of an ending. By the time this episode’s closing credits roll, Digger is dying, Dusty is dead and those skeletal remains discovered on Southfork nine episodes ago have finally been identified.

Hutch McKinney’s 28-year-old murder dominates “Jock’s Trial, Part 1,” making the episode feel a bit like “CSI: Dallas.” Although Cliff is motivated by his suspicion the Ewings are implicated in the death, his investigative skills – including his embrace of forensics – turn out to be pretty sharp. Maybe Cliff has finally found his calling.

I also like how J.R. and Bobby, after spending much of this episode sniping at each other, stop squabbling and join forces the moment it looks like Jock might be fingered for Hutch’s murder. The Ewings are fun to watch when they’re at each other’s throats, but it’s also satisfying to see them circle the wagons when a family member is threatened. These are the moments I wish I was a Ewing.

“Jock’s Trial, Part 1” also offers a terrific scene between Bobby and Sue Ellen that showcases the nice chemistry between Patrick Duffy and Linda Gray. I love Duffy’s impassioned delivery when Bobby warns Sue Ellen against emulating J.R. “Don’t try and play his game,” Bobby says. “Honey, he’s too good at it.”

I’m less enthralled with Miss Ellie’s storyline here. Barbara Bel Geddes is wonderful as always, but Matt Devlin’s declaration that he’s fallen in love with Ellie – and that he knows she has feelings for him, too – seems rather sudden. I don’t object to having Ellie be tempted by another man, but wouldn’t it have made more sense if that man was Digger, a character with whom she already has a rich history?

Imagine how much more poignant Digger’s looming death would seem if Ellie had been flirting with him at the end of the third season instead of with Matt. The title “Jock’s Trial” would have taken on a whole other meaning.

Grade: B


Cliff Barnes, Dallas, Jock's Trial Part 1, Ken Kercheval



Season 3, Episode 22

Airdate: February 22, 1980

Audience: 17.5 million homes, ranking 16th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Irving J. Moore

Synopsis: Cliff, now an assistant district attorney, determines skeletal remains found on Southfork belong to onetime foreman Hutch McKinney, whom Jock fired decades earlier. After a bender, Digger is hospitalized. Dusty dies in a plane crash, sending Sue Ellen back to the bottle. Matt tells Miss Ellie he loves her. Jock is arrested for Hutch’s murder.

Cast: Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Christopher Coffey (Professor Greg Forrester), Jeff Cooper (Dr. Simon Elby), Barry Corbin (Sheriff Fenton Washburn), Nicolas Coster (Assistant District Attorney Lyle Sloan), Mary Crosby (Kristin Shepard), David Cryer (Professor Wilbur Calder), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), Meg Gallagher (Louella), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Dennis Holahan (Tiny Voight), Al Hopson (Merdo Ferris), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Joan Lancaster (Linda Bradley), Joel Lawrence (Gene), Don Porter (Matt Devlin), Dan Priest (Newly), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing), Keenan Wynn (Digger Barnes)

“Jocks’ Trial, Part 1” is available on DVD and at and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.