The second season of TNT's "Dallas" do-over has arrived, and much like the upcoming final season of "Breaking Bad," it's sparking mixed emotions. On the one hand, we can't wait to see J.R. Ewing and Walter White, two primetime TV icons doing what they do best -- which, of course, is being bad. At the same time, their returns spell the beginning of the end for both men, who are about to get their long-time-coming comeuppances.
We still don't have much of a clue what will become of Walt, though everyone involved with "Breaking Bad" has assured us throughout the series' run that it won't end happily for him.
As for ol' J.R., we may not know the specifics yet, but we know he will ride off into that big oil rig in the sky midway through this second season, and just the thought of it is enough to make this lifelong "Dallas" and Larry Hagman fan sniffle.
[Related: How Larry Hagman created TV's best villain]
Monday's two-hour season premiere began with a touching intro from original and remake "Dallas" stars Patrick Duffy, Hagman's best friend since they starred in the 1978-1991 series, and Linda Gray, Hagman's friend and onscreen ex-wife, paying homage to their friend.
"It's a bittersweet moment for us, because this is the beginning of the final season with our beloved friend Larry Hagman," says Duffy, surrounded by the series' newest cast members.
Duffy talks to "The View" about Hagman:
Adds Gray, "While we'll miss our friend dearly, the legacy of J.R. Ewing will live on each week through the Ewing family in this incredible new season of 'Dallas.'"
[Related: 'Dallas' Season 2: Who killed J.R.?]
And with that, we're off … like John Ross's clothes after he invites himself to a bachelorette party.
Oh yes, right down to the swagger and the cocky grin, he is his father's son, and when John Ross beds a bride-to-be -- in her bedroom, with her father right downstairs -- you just know there's more to the story than a little wild oats sowing.
And as he gathers his clothes, with the bachelorette begging him to tiptoe out of the house undetected, J.R. Jr. instead walks right into his new pal's daddy's office and introduces himself. Big daddy is the owner of a fleet of trucks that the Ewings want to purchase. And John Ross sweetens a potential business arrangement by assuring Mr. Cartwell that not only will his company be paid with a goodly sum of cash if he sells to the fam, but also John Ross's little roll in the hay with the bachelorette daughter will remain a secret. Otherwise … well, the society editor of the Dallas newspaper will get a peek at the video snapped during the previous night's activities.
"For Christ's sake, Ewing, my daughter and her fiancé, they love each other," says Cartwell.
"Love is for pussies," says John Ross, sealing the trucking deal and letting us know that it's apparently OK to use that word now in the 9 PM hour on basic cable. Good to know.
From J.R. Jr. to Bobby's son, as we catch up with Christopher when he and Elena try to sell their methane fuel idea to retired NASCAR driver Ricky Rudd. Rudd's impressed, which boosts Chrelena's (yep, just made that up) confidence that their methane fuel business will grow and that they have a bigger shot at selling Dallas on running its entire transportation system on Ewing methane.
John Ross, of course, wants to continue turning Ewing Energies' focus to oil, and he needs $50 million of the company's funds to close that deal with Cartwell. Chrelena wants the cash to push the methane biz. Heads butting, cousins fighting. And J.R. advising; John Ross was greeted in his Ewing Energies offices by J.R., with his feet up on Jr.'s desk, asking him if his trick with the trucking company heiress had worked. Ahhhhh! J.R. further advised John Ross not to get too cocky, yet; his cousin and his methane plans still need to be dealt with.
Elsewhere in Ewingland, Christopher, newly reunited with Elena after dumping his lying and oh-so-pregnant wife, Rebecca, in the Season 1 finale, is trying to get an annulment based on Rebecca's scheming and feels confident that he'll easily be granted one, which would free him from having to give her money and would provide him a chance at securing custody of the twins she's carrying. Christopher has even padded his case by flying in Tommy's sister, who will testify that Rebecca stole her identity in her big plot to defraud our boy Chris.
And it was a good, solid plan. Except that, while Christopher was off having prehearing sex with Elena in the Ewing pool, John Ross did a little stealth work and found out about Christopher's secret witness.
And just a minute on that pool. Man, the things that pool has seen over the decades, including, most infamously, the floating dead body of Sue Ellen's sister and J.R.'s one-time lover Kristin Shepard. Kristin, of course, is also Christopher's biological mama. You know how some people have a sign near their backyard pool, asking others not to pee in it? Apparently, Southfork's residents need to post a little plaque reminding each other that a son should probably not have sex in his mother's death place. Or maybe that's just us. We tend to err on the conservative side.
Back to the action: It's not all about the young'uns this season. Bobby's wife, Ann, was being haunted by a big secret, and she finally spilled all the deets to Bobby. Ann has a daughter named Emma, who was kidnapped at the state fair at 18 months old, when Ann turned her back for just a second.
Ann's creepy ex, Harris, has located Emma, and he'll end Ann's years of suffering and tell her where she can find her daughter … if Ann will get her pal, gubernatorial candidate Sue Ellen, to cough up a tape of Harris admitting to money laundering.
Bobby, thanks to years of dealing with the blackmailing likes of J.R., smells a rat and agrees with Ann that she should have a DNA test done to prove that the girl whom Harris is offering up is her missing daughter.
But first, Bobby has to rush off with Christopher for a hastily scheduled meeting with Rebecca, who drops on father and son the bombshell that viewers learned in the Season 1 finale. "I should probably introduce myself," Rebecca tells Bobby and Christopher. "My middle name is Rebecca. When I was a little girl, that's what my mother called me. But my father, he likes to call me by my first name, by my aunt's name … Pamela. My full name is Pamela Rebecca Barnes. Cliff Barnes is my father."
Bam! Bobby and Christopher are shocked -- shocked! -- at the reveal, and they dismiss Rebecca's assertion that she changed her name only because she fell in love with Christopher and knew that their last names would come between them.
OK, we have to have another little recap side conference here, to point out the one thing nobody is talking about in this situation. Rebecca and Christopher are cousins. No, not biologically, but she knew Christopher's identity and family history when she married him. She knew she was marrying the adopted son of her biological aunt. Isn't that worth at least a quick acknowledgment on someone's part? Please tell us that J.R., at least, will have a snide comment to make when he gets the full scoop on just how creepy this cross-pollination of the Ewing and Barnes family trees is.
Back to the meeting: Rebecca Pamela, or Pamela, or BeckyPam as we'll dub her for now, tells Christopher she doesn't want his money. She just wants him to be a part of her kids' lives. Oh, and if he could see fit to give her 30 percent of his ownership in Ewing Energies, that'd be swell, too.
"You're out of your mind! And you better come at me with everything you've got, because I'm gonna take you down. I'm gonna take you down to Chinatown," Christopher says.
Nah, he didn't really say that last part, about Chinatown, and we're not sure Dallas even has a Chinatown. But he is wicked ticked off about BeckyPam's demands and tells her that he's confident she'll get nothing -- not even access to her own unborn children -- once the annulment hearing happens.
And Christopher is still ticked off at the Ewing family gathering held to discuss the latest Barnes threat (a meeting where, disappointingly, J.R. does not address the Christopher/BeckyPam cousin thing). J.R. tells the gang that the best way to deal with Cliff's latest machinations is to hire a couple of good old boys to give him a thrashing, and he scoffs at Christopher's assertion that he's going to take care of the Barnes family through legal channels.
John Ross tells his cousin that he has his full support in the crisis, despite their differences, and he delivers the message with the same level of sincerity he used when telling Elena earlier that he hoped they would work together like they used to. Pu-huh!
And then, in quick order (i.e., the last few minutes of hour one), everyone's lives fall apart:
- Sue Ellen's campaign, the one in which she had been 12 points ahead in the polls, crashes when the doctor she bribed goes on TV and tells everyone what she did.
- Ann and Sue Ellen give the tape to Harris, and he hands over the address of where Ann can find her all-grown-up daughter. Bobby is ticked off at Ann for negotiating with a terrorist (his word, not ours, and while we don't think "terrorist" is quite the right word, Harris is one bad motherfella). Bobby does agree to accompany her to the stable where her kidnapped daughter is riding horses. Ann is rejected by Emma, who tells her that she wants nothing to do with her. "I was hoping I'd never see you again," Emma says with a disturbingly satisfied smile on her face.
- John Ross arrives at BeckyPam's swanky penthouse, where he pours himself a drink and proposes that they team up against their mutual enemy, Chrelena, even though they hate each other too. "What do you possibly have to offer that would make me want to get in bed with you?" BeckyPam asks. Well, she should probably talk to that bachelorette. Oh wait, she means "get in bed with you" metaphorically. Anyway, John Ross makes a compelling case for a partnership between the two: He brings in Tommy's sister, whom he has persuaded (read: bribed) to testify on BeckyPam's behalf at the annulment hearing.
And that, dear fellow primetime soap lovers, is the first hour of the "Dallas" season premiere.
Hour two opens with Chrelena cooing over each other at Southfork while he paints his childhood crib for his unborn twins. John Ross arrives and "commends" -- pu-huh! -- Elena for being so willing to raise another woman's children.
Jr. also mentions that he and his pops are about to visit his mom, who lost the election to become the governor of Texas.
Speaking of dejected mamas, Ann has taken to bed with a case of the vapors and is in need of a daily injection of lorazepam, so melted down is she over being cruelly rebuffed by her daughter. (Note to Ann: That drug didn't work out so well for Michael Jackson. We're just sayin'.) Bobby is on the case, though, and as he suspected, Harris is up to no good. No damn good. Bobby learns that it was actually Harris -- and his meddling mama, played by Judith Light -- who kidnapped Emma, because they didn't think Ann was good enough to raise their little princess. They had her swiped and let Ann feel guilty and heartbroken for the next two decades while they raised Emma the "proper" way in Europe. Who's the boss? Yeah, still Angela. Er, Judith. Er, Harris's manipulative mom!
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, or rather, Sue Ellen's house, J.R. and John Ross arrive to console her just in the nick of time … the humiliation and disappointment of her election loss have led Sue Ellen to pour herself a glass of hooch, and she is seconds from taking a drink when her Ewing fellas arrive. J.R. reels off a list of Sue Ellen's post-divorce accomplishments and tells her that he's going to help her, J.R. style, to avoid jail time and rebound from her scandal.
"Darlin', I'm only going to say this once, and I'll deny it the minute I leave this room, but the best decision you ever made was the day you walked away from me," J.R. says in a moment that -- the writers couldn't have known at the time -- proved to be a particularly touching encounter between two original "Dallas" stars before Hagman's untimely death.
And then it's annulment-hearing time, and the real Rebecca Sutter takes the stand and pulls the switcheroo on Christopher's plan to bury BeckyPam. She testifies that BeckyPam had changed her ways and put a stop to her fraudulent identity. And since Christopher had temporarily reunited with BeckyPam after she confessed to faking her identity (but before she revealed the truth about being Cliff's daughter), the judge rules that there are no grounds for annulment and that Christopher will have to rid himself of BeckyPam via divorce.
As for the rest of the premiere, we'll summarize in the interest of getting to our list of J.R.'s best lines from the two hours:
- Chrelena celebrated Elena's deal that will save them millions of dollars for their methane business and give John Ross the cash to buy the trucks he wanted.
- J.R. visited BeckyPam and tried to warn her against going up against the family.
- J.R. stuck his hand into his bag of tricks and blackmailed the state attorney into dropping any thought of legal action against Sue Ellen.
- Christopher, Bobby, and John Ross each rewarded Elena with some of their shares, which resulted in the four of them being equal partners in Ewing Energies.
- Christopher shared with Real Rebecca a voicemail that implicates her and BeckyPam in the plot to defraud him (and it's underestimated Barnes employee Frank who sold BeckyPam out).
- J.R. and Sue Ellen celebrated her lack of legal woes with tea at her house.
- Enemies-turned-allies John Ross and BeckyPam sealed their partnership to destroy Chrelena -- and make sure that she gets her hands on Christopher's methane patent and he gets her share of future Ewing Energies shares -- with a … well, not handshake.
Finally, in honor of J.R., his best lines from the premiere:
- Upon trying to woo the Ewing Energies secretaries with a big pink box of muffins and finding out that many of them are male: "Now where's the sport in that?"
- To the state's attorney who was considering prosecuting Sue Ellen for her bribery: "A state attorney needs a secretary with tighter lips, you know that?"
- To BeckyPam: "I'm here to look my enemy in the eye. And since your daddy is about two feet shorter than I am, I guess you'll have to do."
- To BeckyPam: "If you've got it in your pretty little head to go after Ewing Energies in the divorce, you won't be dealing with Christopher, you'll be dealing with me … you're not the first Pam to fox her way into the henhouse. I'm one-for-one on flushing out Pamelas. And I plan on being two-for-two."
- To Frank, Cliff's former driver and now corporate advisor, whom J.R. likes to deride as being nothing more than a Barnes family tool: "How does it feel to be a poodle?"
- To John Ross, as they broke down their plans for making sure that Sue Ellen has to call in her loan to Elena, which would put her shares of Ewing Energies in their hands eventually: "Son, you've got the devil in ya." John Ross: "Takes one to know one."
- Upon watching John Ross mope over Chrelena being all lovey-dovey at Southfork: "Love, hate, jealousy: mix 'em up and they make a mean martini. And when we take over Ewing Energies, you'll slake your thirst … with a twist."
Slake! Your assignment for the next week, "Dallas" fans, until we get another batch of new J.R. lines to quote: Use the word "slake" as often as possible, in honor of the only actor who could have delivered that line that deliciously.
"Dallas" airs Mondays at 9 PM on TNT.