'Dallas' recap: Trial of the … month

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"Dallas" -- "Trial and Error"
Julie Gonzalo, Linda Gray, Larry Hagman, Jesse Metcalfe and Patrick Duffy in the "Dallas" Season 2 episode, "Trial and Error."

Let's start this week's recap with special kudos to "Dallas" writers for making the most, the absolute most, of a single setting. The majority of this week's episode, "Trial and Error," takes place in the Dallas courthouse, inside a courtroom, the hallways, the corridors that lead to holding rooms, large meeting rooms, outside on patios and little hideaway corners, and, yes, even in the courthouse bathrooms.

If you're going to pay those location filming fees, make the most of them, so well played, "Dallas" writers and producers, for getting the most bang for your buck.

The episode begins with a brief visit to the hospital, where that rascal Harris gets a visit from Ann. She furiously demands to know why he lied to the police and told them Bobby shot him. "You've taken my daughter, you want my husband now, too?" Ann asks.

"We've all made our choices now, haven't we?" Harris replies. "This is the price you have to pay for yours, for thinking you could live in a world without my tender loving care."


Harris's supercreepy mama, meanwhile, is calling for security, afraid her Norman Bates will be harmed by the evil Ann, while Harris and Ann's daughter Emma is out in the hallway taking in the entire exchange.

"If your heart weren't so small, you'd be dead," Ann says before leaving. "I wish you were dead."

Well, she certainly tried to make sure that happened, but now a frustrated Ann stomps out of the hospital. She's so upset that when she gets to her car, she drops her keys on the ground. And when she bends down to pick them up, she sees her boots. Her blood-splattered boots. Splattered with Harris's blood -- the proof she needs to convince cops she, not Bobby, shot Harris, which she does by walking into Dallas PD and dropping her boots, and her confession, on the desk.

Convalescing with the Creepy Creepersons

One more quick trip back to the hospital, where Harris, still in his hospital bed, is being fed by Mama Ryland, and it's a scene straight out of a Gerber commercial. Seriously. Emma, standing at her dad's bedside, looks just as skeeved as we are, and she has a question. If her dad knew Ann was the one who shot him, why did he lie to the cops and say Bobby did it?

Well, uh, I, uh, that is, I uh … Harris makes a quick recovery and tells his daughter he'd just awakened from his coma and was fuzzy on who'd tried to murder him. She pretends to buy it, but we can see the seeds of doubt have been planted in her kidnapped little brain.

And more parental issues: Cliff is scolding BeckyPam, telling her that she's letting her emotions rule her again, this time in her dealings with John Ross, who, Cliff proclaims, is as Machiavellian as his father. True dat.

Cliff also reminds BeckyPam that three people are dead (Frank, Tommy, and Real Rebecca, for those keeping score) because of the mistakes she's made already, and he'll have no more of it. She promises not to let emotions get in the way again (as she's crying … yeah, we know).

Over at Southfork, Lou says now that Bobby's off the hook for the Ryland shooting, he's going to mount a sudden passion defense for Ann, focusing on the many ways Harris's evil machinations pushed her to the breaking point (also commonly known as the Harris Ryland Is a Massive Tool defense).

And then we get our first glimpse at J.R., who's out on the patio enjoying his morning cup o' joe and perusing his iPad for ways to undo the Rylands. Let that be a lesson to those of you who use your iPad as nothing more than a very expensive e-reader or Words With Friends gadget … it can be a powerful productivity tool/weapon, too.

J.R. gets a call that brings his research to a halt, though. It's Cliff Barnes, his sworn enemy, who's calling to shoot the breeze and to casually mention that, oh yeah, John Ross betrayed his father by paying a visit to Cliff and warning him what J.R. and Frank were up to behind his back.

"You go to hell, Barnes!" J.R. says.

"I would, but seems like you've cornered that market," Barnes replies.

OK, good one, Cliff, but the "My God!" J.R. exclaims after hanging up all but guarantees he is going to get his revenge on the Barnes clan.

One month later

We know it's one month later in the action, because a title card, oddly, has told us so. Pan in on the Dallas courthouse, where we'll be spending most of the rest of the episode. Bobby and Ann are arriving, swarmed by media, and J.R., John Ross, Sue Ellen, and Chrelena are also there.

First up, Mama Ryland testifies and can barely control herself as she pours out tales about how that trashy, gold-digging Ann roped her poor baby into marriage, against her objections.

Speaking of, Lou objects to Mama's whole shtick, and after a skirmish with the judge, she leaves the stand.

Outside the courtroom, John Ross calls his man Clyde and asks what Elena's brother Drew is up to. No good, says Clyde, and he's about to find out the deets.

And in yet another corner of the courthouse, Christopher sees BeckyPam talking to Lou and wonders what she's up to. Nothing bad, she says. She just wants to be a character witness for Ann, as Ann is the only Ewing who never turned her back on BeckyPam. Christopher is skeptical, and BeckyPam tells him to shape up and quit harassing her, or else she'll pack her bags and move her company to Bermuda, and he'll never see their unborn twins.

Oh yeah, finally, BeckyPam's pregnancy is starting to show, which is a reminder of how complicated her world is when she goes off to yet another corner of the courthouse for a secret meetup with John Ross. She thanks him for warning Cliff about Frank, and they start looking all goo-goo-eyed at each other.

"My father thinks we're no good for each other," she says. "Mine, too," says John Ross, who then proposes they have dinner together, a date BeckyPam turns down.

"Nothing personal, just protecting our business arrangement," she says, though it's clear both Romeo and Juliet have already developed a thang for each other.

Scene: The courthouse, and yes, another hallway

Sue Ellen takes notice of the fact that J.R. and John Ross stare each other down when their eyes lock in the courthouse. She sashays over to J.R. and tells him it would behoove him to stop being a jackass and forgive their boy.

A father-son combo with a healthier relationship, Bobby and Christopher, are hanging outside the courtroom where Ann's trial is unfolding when they catch sight of a disturbing, dangerous blast from the past: Vincent Cano, the Venezuelan businessman the Ewings ruined last season. It looks like Cano might get a pass for killing fake Marta and putting out a hit on John Ross, Bobby and Christopher fear, but given Cano's vow for vengeance against the Ewings, and what we know about what's going to happen to J.R. in just a few episodes, it's J.R. we fear.

[Related: First Look: 'Dallas' lays J.R. to rest]

And man, what a coincidence (or is it?) that Cano's legal proceedings are unfolding on the same day the Ewings are in the hizzouse. For reals, the Dallas courthouse is the place to be today!

With Ann's trial resuming, the surgeon who worked on Harris postshooting takes the stand, and his testimony is damaging to Ann's case. He says Harris was shot just once. When people shoot during a crime of passion, there are usually multiple gunshots, he says. So what does one bullet usually indicate, the prosecuting attorney asks.

"Execution," says the surgeon.

Is that a Birkin bag?!

During a brief break from the courthouse, we go to Waco, where Drew has just been pulled over by cops. They stopped him for a broken taillight (which Clyde busted earlier), and when they ask him whom he's driving for and what's inside the truck, he doesn't know. They open the back and look inside, and whaddaya know … he's supposed to be carrying furniture, but it looks like the boxes are filled with designer shoes and bags (including what looks like a Birkin bag, the most coveted of all bags that cost more than your car), or what will end up as the cause of Drew being arrested for the receipt and transport of stolen goods. As Sue Ellen and BeckyPam testify as character witnesses on Ann's behalf, Elena gets a call from Drew to alert her to this very event.

[Related: Sarah Michelle Gellar to star in CBS’s Robin Williams comedy pilot]

Meanwhile, it's potty-break time at the courthouse, and when John Ross comes out of a stall in the little mogul's room, J.R. is waiting.

"Your mother is of the opinion that I should forgive you for consorting with the enemy," J.R. says. "And since staying on Sue Ellen's good side is the prudent thing to do at the moment, I'm inclined to oblige."

"I don't need your forgiveness," says John Ross.

"You don't need my wrath, either," his daddy replies. "We dinosaurs know how to bite." (Best J.R. line of the week, by the way.)

Just then Junior gets a text filling him in on Drew's arrest. He tells J.R., who surprises John Ross by telling him he understands the significance of Drew's arrest. Elena's loan agreement with Sue Ellen has a morals clause, and if Elena or anyone she employs -- i.e., Drew -- breaks it, Sue Ellen can call in the loan immediately.

Harris testifies

Back to Ann's trial: Harris arrives in a wheelchair, tethered to an oxygen tank, to testify. He says Ann is the one who shot him, and then takes a stroll down memory lane as he recalls how Ann once left baby Emma by herself, crying, hungry, sitting in dirty diapers, while Ann went out drinking. That's why, he says, on the day all those years ago when Ann took an 18-month-old Emma to the Texas State Fair, he followed them, only to find that Ann left Emma unattended again while she wandered off. That's why he took the baby, as any good father would, he says.

After a brief intermission in which Bobby asks if any of what Harris said is true -- and Ann admits some of it was -- Ann finally tells her side of events. She was poor, tall, and awkward, and Harris was the first man to pay any attention to her. They were happy, at one time, she says, with Harris telling her that she brought light into his life, which had been tightly controlled by his mama since his father had committed suicide when Harris was a child.

[Related: Felicity Huffman to star in Fox pilot 'Boomerang’]

Mama Ryland then, of course, vowed to turn off the light that was Ann, and began to interfere and convince Harris that Ann was a no-good wife and a horrible mother. He then became as controlling of Ann as his mother was of him, Ann testifies, and a case of postpartum depression led her to therapy and multiple drug prescriptions that she abused.

But, she insists, she never left Emma alone. On the day Harris claims he found Emma alone at home, Ann says she had left her with Mama Ryland while she went to visit a divorce attorney. And at the Texas State Fair, she says she turned her back for just a few moments to buy a soda, and that's when Harris took her.

Emma testifies

Outside the courthouse on a patio (told ya … every nook of this building was used), Christopher approaches Emma and urges her to tell the truth about her life. She seems frightened that her dad and granny will return and see her chatting with the enemy, but she also seems to consider what Christopher says.

Yet when she takes the stand as a rebuttal witness, she says Ryland was a good dad, with a big heart, and that she's grateful every day that he rescued her from her mother.

With the case sent off to the jury for deliberation, the courtroom clears, save Christopher and BeckyPam. Having witnessed the parental tug of war that is part of Ann's trial, Christopher says he'll agree to mediation, as BeckyPam requested, so their unborn children won't have to deal with such tension. BeckyPam is grateful, and their pseudo-truce is punctuated by Christopher getting the chance to feel the babies kicking.

It's a banner day for BeckyPam all around -- well, except for that part where she can't be with the man she's falling for because he's the son of her family's sworn enemy -- as Papa Cliff congratulates her for getting Christopher (his nephew, lest we forget) to the bargaining table.

The verdict is in

At last, all this time at the courthouse ends with a verdict. On one charge of attempted murder, the jury finds Ann Ewing … guilty. So guilty. As she's handcuffed and led away, Bobby tells her, "We'll figure it out," while Harris and Mama Creepy Creeperson look on smugly.

Ann is steered through the courthouse and into a van to be transported off to the hoosegow, and along the way she passes another person in handcuffs: Vincent Cano, being led out of the holding area.

Yeah, really, really don't have a good feeling about where this is headed.

"Dallas" airs Mondays at 9 PM on TNT.