Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 124 — ‘Caribbean Connection’

Bobby Ewing, Caribbean Connection, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman

Scene to remember

The final moments in “Caribbean Connection” set up one of “Dallas’s” best week-to-week cliffhangers. J.R. is in a seedy cocktail lounge, delivering $100,000 in cash to Walt Driscoll, along with instructions for him to use the money to pay off the middleman in their scheme to sell oil to Cuba. Little does J.R. know that Bobby has discovered J.R.’s plot and is in midst of creating a replica of Driscoll’s briefcase. The next time we see Bobby, he’s on his office phone talking to Ray, who has followed Driscoll to his motel. “I’m on my way. You keep him busy if you have to,” Bobby says. He rushes through the Ewing Oil reception area and runs into J.R., who steps off the elevator as Bobby steps on. The ever-cocky J.R. tells Bobby that it’s going to be “a red-letter day” for his half of the company. Bobby smiles slyly. “Maybe you’re right, J.R.,” he says. “Maybe it will be a day to remember.”

Freeze frame, cue questions: What is Bobby up to? Where’s the dummy briefcase? How will Ray keep Driscoll from getting away? And who is “Ted,” the person Bobby tells Ray to call before he hangs up the phone? The audience won’t learn the answers until the next episode, the appropriately titled “The Sting,” but no matter. Like all great cliffhangers, this sequence is done so well, we don’t require an immediate resolution. Watching this piece of expertly made television is its own form of satisfaction. Surely Patrick Duffy, who directed “Caribbean Connection,” and editor Lloyd Richardson deserve a lot of credit, but no one contributes more to the success of this sequence than composer Richard Lewis Warren. His underscore, with a steady beat that mimics a ticking clock, adds urgency and tension, making this one of the sixth season’s highlights.

Bobby’s attempt to foil J.R.’s Cuban deal also offers another example of how much the younger brother has changed since the fight for Ewing Oil began. Earlier in “Caribbean Connection,” we see Bobby snoop around Sly’s desk in search of evidence linking J.R. to Driscoll. Later, Bobby and Ray sneak into Driscoll’s hotel room seeking more clues. Bobby is also unusually cranky in this episode: He snaps at Ray when they’re staking out Driscoll in the motel parking lot and he’s rude to Afton when she tells him that Pam helped Cliff forge a business deal between with Mark Graison. “It’s amazing how nice she can be to some people, isn’t it?” Bobby sniffs. The sadness that he felt when Pam left him a few episodes ago has gradually turned into anger. Now Bobby seems downright bitter. Notably, this is the first “Dallas” episode in which Duffy and Victoria Principal have no scenes together.

“Caribbean Connection” yields several other good moments, including Donna’s confrontation with Mickey. I’ve always believed she was a little hard on him in this scene, especially when she calls him a “cocky, snotty little kid.” Then again, who can blame her? The audience knows that Mickey has softened since he arrived at Southfork, but Donna hasn’t been privy to his transformation, which has mostly occurred in his private conversations with Lucy. Besides, the most important part of this scene isn’t what it reveals about Donna and Mickey’s relationship to each other, but what it reveals about Mickey’s feelings toward his cousin. “Ray happens to think the world of you. … I just keep thinking that one of these days, you are going to let him down with a great big thud,” Donna says. Mickey’s response: “I won’t let Ray down!” Timothy Patrick Murphy delivers the line with such conviction, there’s no doubt that Mickey has come to think the world of Ray too.

Another great scene in “Caribbean Connection”: J.R. and Sue Ellen’s meeting with Roy Ralston, the local TV host who’s trying to talk J.R. into running for office. Sue Ellen worries a campaign could bring their marital skeletons out of the closet, but she tells J.R. she’ll go along with his political aspirations regardless. “I’m touched, Sue Ellen. I truly am,” J.R. responds. The exchange brings to mind a terrific deleted scene from the new “Dallas’s” first-season DVD set in which Sue Ellen, now a gubernatorial candidate, tells her campaign backers that she won’t run away from her scandalous past. The “Caribbean Connection” scene also seems unusually relevant, given the real-life political headlines from recent years. Ralston predicts voters won’t hold J.R. and Sue Ellen’s marital troubles against them. He tells the couple: “Despite all your earlier problems, you’re still together and more in love than ever before. I can just see it: True love conquers all!”

Spoken like a modern-day politico, huh?

Grade: B


Caribbean Connection, Dallas, J.R. Ewing, Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, Sue Ellen Ewing

Modern marriage


Season 6, Episode 21

Airdate: March 4, 1983

Audience: 20.9 million homes, ranking 4th in the weekly ratings

Writer: Will Lorin

Director: Patrick Duffy

Synopsis: J.R. pressures Holly to send 50 million barrels of oil to Puerto Rico, unaware the real destination is Cuba. Bobby discovers J.R.’s connection to Driscoll and works with Ray to set up Driscoll. Katherine encourages Mark to keep pursuing Pam. Sue Ellen worries her past will hurt J.R.’s political prospects. Mickey and Donna clash.

Cast: E.J. André (Eugene Bullock), Mary Armstrong (Louise), Tyler Banks (John Ross Ewing), John Beck (Mark Graison), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Morgan Brittany (Katherine Wentworth), Lois Chiles (Holly Harwood), Roseanna Christiansen (Sly), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Dulcie Jordan (maid), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Timothy Patrick Murphy (Mickey Trotter), Ben Piazza (Walt Driscoll), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Debbie Rennard (Sly), John Reilly (Roy Ralston), Patricia Richarde (Ms. Finch), Joey Sheck (Mark’s friend), Danone Simpson (Kendall), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Ewing)

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