Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘That Has Nothing to Do With Me’

Conflicted

Conflicted

In “Dallas’s” fourth-season episode “The Mark of Cain,” Bobby (Patrick Duffy) is participating in a senate committee meeting on the Takapa Lake legislation – along with Chairman Harbin (David Healy) and fellow senators Dickson (Joseph Warren), Carson (John Hart) and Varela (John Arvilla) – when Dickson asks to speak.

HARBIN: The chair recognizes Senator Dickson.

DICKSON: May we speak informally for a few minutes, please?

HARBIN: If you’d like to, senator. [Toward stenographer] Please don’t record this.

DICKSON: I’d like to address what I have to say to our new senator, Mr. Bobby Ewing. [Smiling] Senator, do you think you can address this problem in a disinterested fashion?

BOBBY: [Puzzled] Senator?

DICKSON: I think there’s a conflict of interest here.

BOBBY: I wish to address this committee on the record.

VARELA: [Leaning forward] There is certainly a conflict of interest, senator. That great organization, the Daughters of the Alamo, they are behind the present injunction of the court and Mrs. Ellie Ewing is chairing the Save Takapa Committee.

HARBIN: Gentleman –

DICKSON: On the other hand, one of the directors of Unified Development is Mr. Jock Ewing.

BOBBY: That has nothing to do with me.

CARSON: Mr. Ewing, with all due respect, this is the way I see it. Your daddy’s people have the perfect right to try and build a resort at Takapa, if that’s their choosing. But how’s it gonna look if there’s a Ewing on this panel?

BOBBY: Mr. Chairman, I have no interest in Unified.

DICKSON: [Smiling] But you have an interest in Ewing Oil.

CARSON: Now, don’t get us wrong, Mr. Ewing. We’re not concerned that the newly elected senator’s in the oil business. After all, there’s a whole lot of people in Texas in the oil business, including some of our most distinguished members. [Harbin and Carson smile.]

DICKSON: The problem, senator, is that the Ewing family has a present financial interest in Takapa.

VARELA: The way I see it, senator, it would be best for everyone, and for this senate body in particular, if you were to ask the lieutenant governor to remove you from this panel.

Bobby looks surprised.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 72 – ‘The Mark of Cain’

Mr. Ethics

Mr. Clean

In the Bible, God physically marks Cain to warn the world of the man’s sinful nature. In “The Mark of Cain,” Bobby discovers he bears a similar – albeit metaphorical – stain when his new colleagues in the state senate wonder if his family ties will compromise his integrity.

Bobby is assigned to the senate committee that will decide the fate of the proposed development at Takapa Lake, a project that has divided the Ewings. Jock and Ray are investors in the development, while Miss Ellie and Donna are leading the fight to preserve the land.

At first blush, it might seem unfair for Bobby’s fellow senators to be suspicious of him, but let’s face it: Senator Ewing has a glaring conflict of interest. In real life, there’s no way he would be permitted to be involved with any Takapa-related dealings in the statehouse. But this is “Dallas,” so Bobby refuses to recuse himself, casting his decision as an example of his Capra-esque idealism. “I promised the people in my district that I’d represent them. I’m not going to back out of this committee just because it’s unpleasant,” Senator Ewing tells his colleagues.

Despite this credibility stretch, Bobby’s move into politics shows promise. His new role as a senator plops him in the middle of the Takapa storyline, one of the most sweeping narratives in “Dallas” history. Several major characters are now involved in the fight over the project (interestingly, J.R. isn’t one of them), which allows “Dallas” to return to one of its most resilient themes: the conflict between conservation and capitalism.

I’m also happy to see Lucy experience some professional success in “The Mark of Cain.” Her new modeling gig makes her seem more adult and adds strain to her marriage to Mitch, a storyline I appreciate more now than I did when I watched “Dallas” in my youth.

Of course, it’s worth noting Lucy gets the job mainly because she’s a Ewing. So like Uncle Bobby, she also bears the mark of Cain – but for her, it isn’t a curse.

Grade: B

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Model wife

Model wife

‘THE MARK OF CAIN’

Season 4, Episode 18

Airdate: March 6, 1981

Audience: 25.1 million homes, ranking 1st in the weekly ratings

Writer: Leah Markus

Director: Larry Hagman

Synopsis: Bobby is assigned to the senate committee that will decide the fate of the Takapa project and resists pressure to quit the post. Jock and Ellie continue fighting. Leslie tells J.R. she wants him, but only after he divorces Sue Ellen. Rebecca, now widowed, moves to Dallas. Lucy’s newfound fame as a model rankles Mitch.

Cast: Barbara Bel Geddes (Miss Ellie Ewing), Joel Brooks (Larry), Ellen Bry (Jean), Jeff Cooper (Dr. Simon Elby), Jim Davis (Jock Ewing), Patrick Duffy (Senator Bobby Ewing), Susan Flannery (Leslie Stewart), Meg Gallagher (Louella), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), John Hart (Senator Carson), David Healy (Senator Harbin), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Sherril Lynn Katzman (Jackie), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Monte Markham (Clint Ogden), Leigh McCloskey (Mitch Cooper), George O. Petrie (Harv Smithfield), Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Don Starr (Jordan Lee), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Cooper), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis), Jay Varela (Senator Arvilla), Joseph Warren (Senator Dickson), Morgan Woodward (Punk Anderson)

“The Mark of Cain” is available on DVD and at Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.