'Dallas' Season Finale Recap: J.R.'s Killer Is...
Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing and Ken Kercheval as Cliff Barnes on TNT's "Dallas."
SPOILER ALERT: This recap of the second-season finale of "Dallas" contains storyline and character spoilers.
We already knew who shot J.R. Ewing the first time around, way back in 1980, but who put the final bullet in the Texas oil baron who took great delight in being called a "scoundrel"?
It was J.R. himself. Sort of.
In a twisty Season 2 finale that paid homage to both Larry Hagman's iconic J.R. Ewing character and the "Who shot J.R.?" storyline from the original series, the "Dallas" writers revealed it was J.R. who had plotted his own murder, part of a grand scheme to put an end to the decades-long Ewing/Barnes feud while ensuring it was the Ewings who emerged victorious.
J.R. didn't pull the trigger himself, however. In a letter to brother Bobby (Patrick Duffy), J.R. revealed he had been diagnosed with cancer, and had just days to live when he made his fateful journey to that hotel in Mexico.
With his death a foregone conclusion -- and no one but his friend/private eye Bum aware of it -- J.R. had Bum (Kevin Page) shoot him, then left enough evidence to frame his lifelong enemy, Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval), for his killing.
[Related: What Were J.R.'s Last Words to His Son?]
By the end of the two-hour finale, Cliff -- who'd been set up by the entire Ewing clan (even good-guy Bobby) and his own daughter Rebecca (Julie Gonzalo) -- sat in a Mexican jail, after J.R.'s stolen belt buckle and the murder weapon had been planted in Cliff's car and safe-deposit box.
Lest you feel too sorry for old Cliff, however, note that earlier in the season he had ordered a bomb to be detonated on an oil rig, knowing Rebecca and his two unborn grandchildren were onboard. Becky later lost both babies, whose father was a Ewing (Christopher, who's also Cliff's adopted nephew).
And don't underestimate Cliff's ability to orchestrate revenge from that Mexican jail cell; he dug up some old documents and presented them to Elena (Jordana Brewster) after summoning her to Mexico. The papers revealed that J.R. had years earlier pulled a switcheroo with some deeds that left Elena's father in possession of the wrong piece of land. The piece of land he intended to buy was full of enough oil to make the Ramos family wealthy instead of being employees of the Ewings. The piece of land Elena's dad actually got was devoid of oil, and was the site of his death.
Elena, who'd just been dumped by fiancé Christopher, was egged on by Cliff to believe the Ewings had cheated her family just the way they'd cheated the Barneses, setting up what will be a potentially powerful new storyline if the series is renewed for a third season by TNT.
Cliff also gave Elena the power to control his one-third of Barnes Global (versus Rebecca and Christopher, who each own one-third of the company).
Other major happenings in the briskly paced finale:
- During his trip to Zurich, Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) found out that his adopted mother, Bobby Ewing's ex, Pamela, was dead. She had died in 1989, a fact that Cliff knew and paid people to keep secret so he could control her shares of Barnes Global instead of Christopher inheriting them. So yeah, again, no need to feel too badly for Cliff.