The Art of Dallas: ‘Lover, Come Back’

Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) finds Dusty (Jared Martin) again in this 1981 publicity shot from “Lover, Come Back,” a fourth-season “Dallas” episode.

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘Goodbye, My Darling’

Farewell, my lovely

Farewell, my lovely

In “Dallas’s” fourth-season episode “Lover, Come Back,” Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) is preparing to leave Dusty (Jared Martin) for the evening.

SUE ELLEN: I have to get to Southfork, darling, but I’ll be back first thing in the morning. [She kisses him and begins walking away.]

DUSTY: No, Sue Ellen. Don’t come back. Ever.

SUE ELLEN: [She turns back toward him.] I have to. I couldn’t stand to lose you again.

DUSTY: You have lost me, Sue Ellen. You’re pretending we are as we used to be. We’re not.

SUE ELLEN: [She stands behind him, leans down and puts her arms around him.] But we love each other. That hasn’t changed.

DUSTY: The only thing we have left is a memory of how we were. And that was perfect. But I’d rather remember it like that than to be together now and have it die.

SUE ELLEN: [Moves around to face him, kneels down] But I won’t let it die.

DUSTY: I know you wouldn’t, Sue Ellen. You wouldn’t want to. You look at me now, you see me the way I used to be, and nothing else matters.

SUE ELLEN: And it never will.

DUSTY: Sue Ellen, someday it will. Not now, not a month from now, not a year, maybe even more than that, but someday you’re gonna walk in that door and you’ll see me – not as you want to see me, but as I really am. And then you’re going to realize that you’re married to a man who can’t walk again, who’s never going to make love again.

SUE ELLEN: [Crying] No, no.

DUSTY: And I’ll see it in your eyes. And you’ll cover it up, pretend that nothing has changed, but I’ll know. And that’s going to destroy me.

SUE ELLEN: No, I’d never hurt you. Dusty, I love you.

DUSTY: I love you. That’s the only thing I have left. If I didn’t know that, I might as well not have survived that plane crash. But if you really love me, don’t make me see myself in your eyes every day. Let me have my memories of you, and my dreams of you. Love me enough to do that.

SUE ELLEN: [Sobbing] You’ll never know how much I love you. Never. [They kiss.] Goodbye, my darling. [She rises, exits the room] Goodbye.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 70 – ‘Lover, Come Back’

Tracks of her tears

Tracks of her tears

“Lover, Come Back” is an episode about reunions. Sue Ellen discovers Dusty is alive and rushes to his side, Ray and Donna get back together and J.R. returns to the cartel. All three stories require a healthier-than-usual suspension of disbelief.

Dusty’s return is the most fantastical, of course. At the end of “Dallas’s” third season, Sue Ellen learned Dusty died in a plane crash. In “Lover, Come Back,” after some Nancy Drew-style sleuthing, Sue Ellen finds out Dusty survived the accident but is now confined to a wheelchair; the body found in the wreckage belonged to one of his ranch hands.

Today’s audiences might find the character’s return from the dead clichéd, but Linda Gray brings so much conviction to Sue Ellen’s weepy reunion with Dusty – and charismatic Jared Martin is such a welcome presence on “Dallas” – I’m willing to overlook it.

Both actors are especially wonderful in the episode’s touching final scene, when Dusty sends Sue Ellen away because he believes he can’t make her happy as long as he’s paralyzed. Everything here works, particularly scriptwriter Leonard Katzman’s beautiful dialogue (“Don’t make me see myself every day in your eyes.”) and Martin’s stoic delivery. This is good old-fashioned soap opera, right down to the tight close-up of Gray’s tear-streaked face.

Surprisingly, the reunion of Ray and Donna, who are usually “Dallas’s” most down-to-earth couple, feels less credible. In “Lover, Come Back,” he asks her to persuade Miss Ellie to drop her fight against the Takapa development. Donna gets righteous, Ray gets angry, their argument turns passionate and the next thing you know, she is waking up to his marriage proposal, which she accepts on the spot. How efficient!

But the real eye roller comes when J.R. summons the cartel members to his office, just as Hank phones to announce the Asian coup succeeded and the nationalized oil wells will be returned to their rightful owners. The cartel members are gleeful – J.R. even gets a kiss from Marilee, who sued the Ewings at the beginning of the season because she blamed J.R. for her husband’s suicide – and Leslie later compliments him on a job well done.

“I do have my moments, don’t I?” he responds.

Yes, J.R., you do. But this isn’t one of them.

Grade: B

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Together again

Together again

‘LOVER, COME BACK’

Season 4, Episode 16

Airdate: February 20, 1981

Audience: 27.1 million homes, ranking 1st in the weekly ratings

Writer: Leonard Katzman

Director: Irving J. Moore

Synopsis: Sue Ellen learns Dusty is alive but he doesn’t want her back because he’s paralyzed. Ray and Donna get engaged. J.R. is welcomed back into the cartel when the Asian coup succeeds and the oil wells are “denationalized.”

Cast: Robert Ackerman (Wade Luce), Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Len Birman (Claude Brown), Claudia Bryar (cleaning lady), Jeff Cooper (Dr. Simon Elby), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Joel Fabiani (Alex Ward), Fern Fitzgerald (Marilee Stone), Susan Flannery (Leslie Stewart), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Ron Hayes (Hank Johnson), Susan Howard (Donna Culver), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Sherrill Lynn Katzman (Jackie), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Jared Martin (Dusty Farlow), Leigh McCloskey (Mitch Cooper), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Paul Sorensen (Andy Bradley), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Cooper), Martin West (Phil McKenna), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

“Lover, Come Back” is available on DVD and at Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.