Is it possible for the past to come back to haunt you? Can one mistake cost you everything else that you did right? That’s part of the premise behind the mid-season episodes of TNT’s “Dallas,” which picked up right where it left off last spring. Sure, it took a few episodes for the show it find its footing but those episodes were leading to a major reveal that will change everything come next week.
“Dallas” followed the wealthy Ewing family who made their money in the oil industry and through the complete destruction of the competition. Over the years, they have earned themselves a lot of enemies based on envy and as a direct consequence of any wrongdoing that they’ve done in the past. John Ross Ewing (Josh Henderson) worked extra hard to live up to his infamous father’s legacy, which ended up costing him everything. In trying to be like the late J.R. Ewing, he wrecked his new marriage to Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) by sleeping with Emma Ryland (Emma Bell). John Ross claimed that it was to secure the contracts to the Ryland trucking business to justify his betrayal, but he didn’t expect for it to blow up in his face so badly. Pamela found out through an anonymous video that was sent to her by Elena Ramos’ (Jordana Brewster) boyfriend Nicolas Treviño (Juan Pablo Di Pace) against her wishes. As a result, Pamela overdosed on a bottle of pills after she confronted her cheating husband. When she recovered, Pamela declared that the marriage was over. The Ewings also had to endure a new enemy that they never expected: Elena and her family. Elena had been working against the Ewings when she found out that J.R. switched deeds to plots of land that led to her father’s death and her brother Drew (Kuno Becker) causing the fire at Southfork, which Sue Ellen (Linda Gray) though she was the cause of. Sadly, the Ewings didn’t realize that the true threat was Trevino who was using his girlfriend’s vendetta to help a drug cartel launder money and so that they can take over Ewing Global in the process? Will the Ewings catch on before it’s too late?
In terms of questions, the third season has posed quite a few as to whether it could carry on without the late Larry Hagman. It’s taken a little time, but the answer has proven to be a resounding yes by relying on the familiar faces and the newcomers that can hold their own with the veterans. Sure, a few of the stories could still use some work, such as the crumbling of Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy) and Ann’s (Brenda Strong) marriage. Their marriage didn’t have that much drama going until the arrival of her ex-husband Harris (Mitch Pileggi) and his even more demented mother Judith (Judith Light) to cause the right amount of tension. It also didn’t help that Strong had slightly more chemistry with Pileggi, because their characters always had a contentious relationship which has proven to be much more interesting to watch than a completely happy one. It also helped that Light’s wickedly delightful Judith helped to cause the latest bout of tension in Bobby and Ann’s marriage by revealing by Ann’s illicit kiss with her ex-husband at the worst possible time before quickly leaving with a sly smile on her face. Light’s presence has also given purpose to Bell’s often whiny Emma by giving her layers beyond being the spoiled damaged rich girl. Towards the end of the most recent episode, she led the charge by working with her father’s drug cartel associates to put him in jail for his past and present sins. Another improvement was giving the female characters more to do than simply being damsels in distress by showcasing that they’re just as capable of breaking bad as the men were.
Sadly, the show’s weakest links were Di Pace and Becker because their characters changed sides so much that their motives were no longer clear. It also made it hard to root for them regardless. Luckily, the show already eliminated Becker’s Drew, which helped to drive one revenge story in the right direction and created another one in the process. Di Pace’s Nicolas will eventually get what’s coming to him, unless the show changes direction on his character once again. Only time will tell if that’s the case.
As for breakout performances, Brewster, Gonzalo and Gray who proved that women in Dallas could be just as complex as the men were. Henderson’s John Ross deserved an honorable mention for being able to garner some sympathy in the damaged character, but the new crop of episodes truly belonged to the women of Southfork. Brewster’s Elena had transformed into a one purely moralistic character who did everything by the book, until it was revealed that her father was cheated out of great riches by the Ewings. The character has turned to lying, scheming and even sleeping with John Ross in the most recent episode to get what she wanted. Of course, Brewster has had the chance to show Elena’s struggle with her deception, especially after Pamela’s suicide attempt. It would be interesting to see what happens when she truly confronts the Ewings for their sins, according to her. Brewster’s new character direction has also helped to eliminate any trace of the lackluster on-screen relationship between Elena and Jesse Metcalfe’s Christopher. She did have chemistry with Di Pace, but his character’s part in Drew’s death meant that the on-screen relationship was doomed. Gonzalo’s Pamela has gone through a wide array of character transformations. She has been sweet and innocent before becoming vengefully deceptive. After the suicide attempt, Gonzalo’s Pamela has become a coldly calm woman eager to make her estranged husband rue the day that he ever cheated on her. It should be interesting to see what unfolds in Pamela and John Ross’ complicated storyline now that Elena threw herself into the mix. As for Gray’s Sue Ellen, viewers had always connected with her whenever she was at her worst. She made viewers want to root for when she realized that she likely caused the fire at Southfork in one of her drunken stupors. Gray also made Sue Ellen realistic in the way that she tried to pick herself up after each misstep. Let’s hope that these three actresses can share some scenes together to see what could happen. Maybe, they can all team up and really make John Ross pay. Fingers crossed that it will happen sooner rather than later.
"Dallas" premiered on August 18th and airs Mondays at 9:00 PM on TNT.
Verdict: The show's mid-season premiere got off to a slow start, but the action is continuing to build to some shocking secrets being revealed sooner rather than later.
TV Score: 4 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)