The first half of the second season of TNT's Dallas focused pretty heavily on Ann (Brenda Strong) as she learned her kidnapped daughter was not only alive but in her ex-husband's custody this whole time. Ann struggled and faltered a little bit, which led to shooting him point-blank in the chest, only for him to still live and testify against her. But Ann held her head up high during the trial and managed to win sympathy not only from the judge and jury but also her own daughter who had been raised under intense scrutiny and many lies about her mother. Emma (Emma Bell) moving further into Ann's life-- and house-- just may be the toughest challenge this strong Texan has to face, though, as she learns that the darling daughter she sees still as a toddler she lost at a fair is actually a flawed and troubled young woman.
"Ann is being tested to the core of her being. And you know it's when we care most deeply about something that we have the greatest stakes of loss. So Emma represents that Achilles' heel or that vulnerability for Ann. It's the place where Ann has a hard time finding her ground," Strong said when we caught up with her at PaleyFest in Los Angeles.
"She's absolutely the fierce Ann who punched Harris Ryland in the face last season and got the gun when the intruder came in, but she's also the vulnerable mom that hasn't quite had the opportunity to fulfill that role. So we're going to see her buoy between those two Anns."
A further challenge for Ann in the back half of season two is bound to be adapting to life with Harris (Mitch Pileggi) back in it. After all, he isn't going to go out quietly, with his daughter living with her mother, and intimidation comes easiest to him. But he did love Ann once, and seeing her with their daughter now may stir up old feelings. And in actuality, losing his daughter was the catalyst to force an action (presumably the first-- ever) against his mother. Could they potentially co-exist peacefully?
"I think in a lot of ways, the testimony actually gave Harris humanity," Strong said.
"You got to see the foundation that went awry, and I never thought we'd feel sorry for Harris Ryland, but that testimony he gave? I actually went, 'Aww...' He's a master manipulator!"
Dallas airs on TNT on Monday nights at 9 p.m. Be sure to check out our quick video chat with Strong at PaleyFest here.
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