Dallas Parallels: Fatal Falls

A beautiful woman feels mistreated by her Ewing lover. She is distressed, distraught, desperate. There’s a confrontation. Harsh words are exchanged. Before you know it, the woman has plunged to her death, leaving the police to sort out if this was a suicide or murder.

Sound familiar? This scenario has played out on “Dallas” more than once. More than twice, actually.

In the original show’s second-season episode “The Red File, Part 1,” J.R.’s ex-secretary and on-again/off-again mistress Julie Grey realizes he doesn’t love her, so she decides to give Cliff Barnes a copy of J.R.’s “red file,” which details his shady dealings with Jeb Ames and Willie Joe Garr. Dumb move, darlin’: When Jeb and Willie Joe find out what Julie’s up to, they show up at her apartment and chase her to the roof – and then they chase her off it.

Flash forward two seasons: In “Ewing-Gate,” Kristin Shepard, another of J.R.’s ex-mistresses/ex-secretaries, threatens to spill the beans about their secret love child if he doesn’t pay her more hush money. When J.R. refuses to give in to Kristin’s scheme, she shows up at Southfork and, after a confrontation with J.R., falls from the balcony and drowns in the swimming pool.

Now, flash forward three decades: In “Collateral Damage,” an episode of TNT’s “Dallas,” John Ross races to the high-rise hotel room of his ex-lover Marta del Sol, who has tricked him into believing she has kidnapped his girlfriend Elena. Once John Ross realizes this is a ruse, he leaves, passing two shadowy men on his way to the elevator. Marta ends up reaching the driveway before John Ross.

Echoes from both older episodes reverberate in the newer one. All three women feel used by the Ewing men in their lives, but they’re also victims of their own deceit: Julie secretly copied J.R.’s red file and Kristin fooled both J.R. and Jordan Lee into believing they fathered her child, while Marta cheated business partner Vicente Cano during their Southfork swindle.

There are other similarities: Marta dies at the hands of two men, just like Julie. The shot of Kristin’s dead body (in “Missing Heir,” the episode that follows “Ewing-Gate”) is creepily reminiscent of the haunting image of Marta’s bloodied corpse. The police briefly suspect J.R. killed Kristin, while John Ross is arrested for Marta’s murder.

Eventually, John Ross is cleared of wrongdoing, just like J.R. was in Kristin’s death. But did John Ross learn a lesson? Or like his daddy, will he continue to get involved with dangerous women? Most importantly: Will those women be smart enough to steer clear of heights?


‘What Do You Want?’

Baby daddy?

In “Ewing-Gate,” a fourth-season “Dallas” episode, J.R. (Larry Hagman) walks into his office, followed by the visiting Kristin (Mary Crosby).

J.R.: What ill wind blew you into Dallas? I thought we had a deal. [Sits his briefcase on his desk]

KRISTIN: The baby’s just fine, J.R. Thank you for asking. He looks just like his daddy.

J.R.: [Turns to face her] What do you want?


J.R.: Do you now?

KRISTIN: I’m tired of your little monthly checks, J.R. I picked up some very expensive habits in California – and I want you to pay for them.

J.R.: This is not the time to try to negotiate with me, Kristin.

KRISTIN: Well, now I think it’s the perfect time. Judging from what I read in the papers, you’re making the headlines everywhere. Poor Jock and Miss Ellie. They must be shattered. Think of how they’d feel if they read about a paternity suit on top of everything else.

J.R.: All right, but you gotta give me time. I can’t pull too much out of the bank right now.

KRISTIN: Don’t take too long, J.R. I’m not very patient.

J.R.: You’ll be hearing from me real soon. Where can I call you?

KRISTIN: [Rises] I’ll call you, J.R. Somehow, I’d feel safer that way. Don’t take too long now. [Walks toward the door, stops, turns to face him] Oh, and give my love to Sue Ellen.


‘What the Hell Do You Want?’

Oh daddy, what a babe!

In “Collateral Damage,” TNT’s seventh “Dallas” episode, John Ross and Marta (Josh Henderson, Leonor Varela) argue in her hotel room.

MARTA: Vicente froze my bank accounts. I have no money. And I really need to get out of the country.

JOHN ROSS: How much?

MARTA: What?

JOHN ROSS: Money. How much money?

MARTA: I don’t want money.

JOHN ROSS: Then what the hell do you want?

MARTA: I want you to take responsibility. You got me into this. You need to help me!

JOHN ROSS: Marta, I’m here to find Elena. Where the hell is she? [She stares at him silently.] You don’t have her.

MARTA: It was the only way to get you here.

JOHN ROSS: You stole that phone.

MARTA: [Goes to him] You need to help me. Please, John Ross. Please. [He notices a camera in the corner.]

JOHN ROSS: [Pushing her away] You’re filming this? What did you think was going to happen here? What is wrong with you?

MARTA: I have earned what I have. I’ve earned my way out of the slums of Caracas.

JOHN ROSS: Congratulations.

MARTA: I need to watch out for myself. I thought we had that in common. But you’re just a spoiled boy. You’re not entitled to anything. Not me. Not your girlfriend’s love. Nothing.

What do you think of J.R. and John Ross’s entanglements with Julie, Kristin and Marta? Share your comments below and read more “Dallas Parallels.”

The Art of Dallas: ‘Missing Heir’

J.R. (Larry Hagman) watches Cliff (Ken Kercheval) recover the dead woman’s body from the Southfork swimming pool in this 1981 publicity shot from “Missing Heir,” “Dallas’s” fifth-season opener.

Dallas Scene of the Day: ‘Kristin is Dead’

Baby, come back

Baby, come back

In “Missing Heir,” “Dallas’s” fifth-season opener, J.R. (Larry Hagman) visits the Southern Cross ranch, where he speaks to Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) outside.

J.R.: Sue Ellen, I have some bad news. I really don’t know how to start –

SUE ELLEN: [Angry] Just start, J.R.

J.R.: Something terrible has happened. I don’t know if you heard it on the radio or not.

SUE ELLEN: Is this another one of your tasteless tricks?

J.R.: No. [He looks away, then back at Sue Ellen.] Kristin’s dead.


J.R.: They found her on Southfork last night.


J.R.: I thought you’d want to know.

SUE ELLEN: [Increduously] I don’t believe it.

J.R.: Come on, I wouldn’t lie about a thing like this.

SUE ELLEN: You are capable of lying about almost anything.

J.R.: Kristin is dead. She was found floating in the pool last night on Southfork. The sheriff was there, the TV, the media, everything. It was awful.

SUE ELLEN: What happened?

J.R.: I don’t know.

SUE ELLEN: You. You’re the one who killed her.

J.R.: Of course I didn’t kill her.

SUE ELLEN: You and I both know that you had the perfect motive.

J.R.: I didn’t tell you this to hear a bunch of accusations.

SUE ELLEN: Her baby. What about her baby?

J.R.: All we ever had was Kristin’s word that there was a baby.

SUE ELLEN: But you paid her. You sent all those checks to California every month.

J.R.: I didn’t want a scandal. Especially the way things were with mama and daddy. I figured it was better to pay her than to call her bluff.

SUE ELLEN: I don’t know, J.R. [Voice cracking] I don’t know what to believe.

J.R.: Kristin is dead. There’s nothing we can do about that. [Moves closer] Sue Ellen, come on home. We’ll put all this behind us. Start all over again. Chances are there never was a child.

SUE ELLEN: [Begins walking away, then turns around] If you think that Kristin’s child was the only reason I left you, then you are wrong. Because you’re never going to get John Ross and I’m never going back to Southfork.

J.R.: [Angry] You really want the cowboy that bad?

SUE ELLEN: I love him.

J.R.: Well, you can have him, honey. But I swear you’re not going to keep my boy.

Critique: ‘Dallas’ Episode 78 – ‘Missing Heir’

Drowned and out

Drowned and out

In “Missing Heir,” “Dallas’s” fifth-season opener, we learn the dead woman floating in the Southfork swimming pool is Kristin, who notoriously shot J.R. one year earlier. This gives Mary Crosby the distinction of being the central figure in the two most-watched cliffhangers in “Dallas” history.

But “Who’s in the Pool?” proves much less satisfying than “Who Shot J.R.?” To begin with, there’s hardly any suspense here: It took “Dallas” four episodes to reveal Kristin as J.R.’s assailant, but she’s identified as the floating corpse just 65 seconds into “Missing Heir.” And while J.R.’s shooter could have plausibly turned out to be any number of suspects, was there ever any question who would turn out to be the brunette doing the dead woman’s float? (You didn’t really think it would be Sue Ellen or Pam, did you?)

The main reason I dislike this cliffhanger’s resolution is because killing off Kristin feels so shortsighted. The character appeared on “Dallas” for three seasons, and during that time she shifted effortlessly from ugly duckling kid sister to husband-stealing hussy to homicidal ex-mistress to con artist. Her death means the show has lost its most malleable character. What a shame.

Of course, “Missing Heir” isn’t a total washout. Having Cliff acknowledge the parallels between Kristin’s death and Julie Grey’s demise is a nice touch, and by dispensing so quickly with the cliffhanger’s resolution, the show is able to get down to the business of unspooling its fifth-season plot threads (even though one of them – Pam’s renewed obsession with having a baby – is a third-season retread).

“Missing Heir” also offers several nice examples of character development, including scenes where Afton comforts a heartbroken Mitch and Lucy and Donna each turn to Bobby for advice – presaging the wise head-of-the-family role Patrick Duffy does such a fine job filling on TNT’s “Dallas.” There’s also a moving moment where J.R., in a show of genuine compassion, breaks the news of Kristin’s death to Sue Ellen.

I also appreciate “Missing Heir’s” climax, when Sherriff Washburn suggests J.R. might be arrested for Kristin’s murder. I’m sure the “Dallas” producers don’t expect us to believe J.R. really killed his sister-in-law/ex-mistress, but isn’t it comforting to know Kristin is still capable of causing him trouble, even after she’s dead and gone?

Grade: B


Presumed guilty

Presumed guilty


Season 5, Episode 1

Airdate: October 9, 1981

Audience: 26 million homes, ranking 1st in the weekly ratings

Writer: Arthur Bernard Lewis

Director: Irving J. Moore

Synopsis: The police question J.R. after Kristin’s dead body is discovered in the Southfork swimming pool. Sue Ellen, who now lives with John Ross at the Farlows’ Southern Cross ranch, rejects J.R.’s plea to come home. Pam’s mood swings worry Bobby. Donna frets over Ray’s burgeoning business career. Lucy tells Mitch their marriage is over.

Cast: Barbara Babcock (Liz Craig), James L. Brown (Harry McSween), Barry Corbin (Sherriff Fenton Washburn), Mary Crosby (Kristin Shepard), Patrick Duffy (Senator Bobby Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen Ewing), Larry Hagman (J.R. Ewing), Susan Howard (Donna Krebbs), Harlan Jordan (Sheriff Bull Hawkins), Steve Kanaly (Ray Krebbs), Sherril Lynn Katzman (Jackie), Howard Keel (Clayton Farlow), Ken Kercheval (Cliff Barnes), Audrey Landers (Afton Cooper), Bill Lucking (Deputy Matland), Jared Martin (Dusty Farlow), Leigh McCloskey (Mitch Cooper), Priscilla Pointer (Rebecca Wentworth), Victoria Principal (Pam Ewing), Herbert Rudley (Howard Barker), Charlene Tilton (Lucy Cooper), Deborah Tranelli (Phyllis)

“Missing Heir” is available on DVD and at Amazon.com and iTunes. Watch the episode and share your comments below.