DALLAS versus KNOTS LANDING versus the rest of them week by week

Franko

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As much as it pains me to say it, there are only four weeks of DALLAS (and therefore this thread) remaining.
Sorry for the late response, but is there any hope of perhaps a finale essay if or when you complete EMPIRE?

DALLAS also ends darkly. Judith and Harris are unnerved when Luis shows up at their home unexpectedly bearing a gift-wrapped box. Even before opening it, Judith knows she isn’t going to like what she finds inside. (I’m tempted to suggest it’s because she’s already seen the episode of EMPIRE where Cookie opens a similar box to find her cousin’s head inside, but that won’t be broadcast for another two years.)
Who knew SEVEN was such a popular flick in Soap Land?
 

Franko

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Throughout their conversation, she has been combing her eight-year-old daughter’s hair. “You know, your daughter has such beautiful hair,” Andre tells her on his way out. “I can see why you love it.”

The tone of the subsequent scene, where the kid wakes up to find her cherished locks have been cut off while she was sleeping falls somewhere between the intensity of Luis making Emma’s family believe he has just blown her brains out — an incident so harrowing it’s suggested it could haunt those involved for the rest of their lives — and Adam burning his mother’s face off — which is presented as little more than a mischievous prank. On one hand, the scene knowingly (campily?) invokes the classic “horse head in the bed” sequence from THE GODFATHER. On the other, it demonstrates how far Andre is now willing to go to achieve his ends and ties into the underlying theme in this ep of how long straight hair on a female is viewed as more culturally acceptable and desirable than untamed Black hair.
Slight tangent: I don't know if anyone else here has seen the 2017 movie UNFORGETTABLE? It's one of those "... from hell!" thrillers. In this case, Rosario Dawson put up with her new husband's crazy ex-wife, Katherine Heigl. Katherine's never directly called out for racism, but there's a bit where after complaining that Rosario's not taking good enough care of her daughter's hair, she ends up cutting it short for revenge. A bit like MOMMIE DEAREST, when Joan cut Christina's hair because she thought she was being mocked. Anyway, to get to the point, UNFORGETTABLE came out a few years after Katherine got bad p.r. for being a diva, badmouthing previous roles, etc. If the moviemakers were trying to be in on the joke by having her play a bitch, they failed. The cast also included Cheryl Ladd as Katherine's mom, who sold the joke so well precisely because she appeared to not be selling it. Which brings us back to nu-DYNASTY, which really oughta just be a sitcom at this point.
 

James from London

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True, but this is a slightly different situation. One way or another, Nicolette's Alexis had to be replaced with another actress.
They could have opted for the more traditional car crash or mega explosion but I think it was more fun to do it this way.
Yes, it was. It's interesting that we go into that scene already knowing it's Nicolette Sheridan's last appearance and the character is going to be recast. I wonder how it might have played out if we didn't.
I remember that I confused him with Carlos Del Sol, or maybe I thought it was a surprise reveal that the Mexican friend of the family turned to out to be the mystery villain.
God, that would have been so shocking, like finding out Punk Anderson was in league with Angelica Nero.
It's because of the many real life celebrities in EMPIRE whom I didn't know or didn't recognize that I assumed that J. Poppa played himself.
The name sounds so poppalar it had to be real, but no, not even a wiki or IMDB link.
The fact/fiction lines on EMPIRE are really blurred. I have to do a lot of checking.
Hurry up, DALLAS III !
Amen, Amen, Amen.
is there any hope of perhaps a finale essay if or when you complete EMPIRE?
How nice of you to ask! Maybe. In the meantime, because Willie's EMPIRE-watching has overtaken mine (I feel like a proud parent), I'll probably post in reply to his posts on the other EMPIRE threads.
I don't know if anyone else here has seen the 2017 movie UNFORGETTABLE? It's one of those "... from hell!" thrillers. In this case, Rosario Dawson put up with her new husband's crazy ex-wife, Katherine Heigl. Katherine's never directly called out for racism, but there's a bit where after complaining that Rosario's not taking good enough care of her daughter's hair, she ends up cutting it short for revenge. A bit like MOMMIE DEAREST, when Joan cut Christina's hair because she thought she was being mocked. Anyway, to get to the point, UNFORGETTABLE came out a few years after Katherine got bad p.r. for being a diva, badmouthing previous roles, etc. If the moviemakers were trying to be in on the joke by having her play a bitch, they failed. The cast also included Cheryl Ladd as Katherine's mom, who sold the joke so well precisely because she appeared to not be selling it. Which brings us back to nu-DYNASTY, which really oughta just be a sitcom at this point.
Wow, very interesting -- lots of echoes and layers in there!
 

Willie Oleson

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God, that would have been so shocking, like finding out Punk Anderson was in league with Angelica Nero.
Or Chase's mama as head of the cartel. Although she never seemed that powerful. And I don't think that would have been possible because Angela was supposed to be the top dog in the valley, hence why she could blackmail the most dangerous woman in the world over something so trivial.
It was too big and fantastical to successfully intertwine it with the cosy valley soap, and I don't even remember what it was that the cartel wanted. Just like the Moldavian revolution was too big for Dynasty.
Even Knots' underground sci-fi conspiracy had to be written out - by Gary himself.
I think Michael Tyrone was the most realistic outlandish villain, until they added all the hocus-pocus. But I'm not sure if anything happened because of the hocus-pocus.
Maybe the Dallas fans don't like New Dallas' cartel because it makes more sense?

And, was Richard Channing the Nicolas Trevino of the 80s?
I'll probably post in reply to his posts on the other EMPIRE threads.
I haven't posted that much, to be honest. Season 4 was quite unstopwatchable therefore it's mostly random thoughts about 3 or 4 episodes.
They are manufacturing my season 5 DVD as we speak, and it's all going to be 100% spoiler-free. I guess I should be thankful that everyone here has lost interest in FOX's glossy prime time soap.
 

James from London

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was Richard Channing the Nicolas Trevino of the 80s?
If Nicolas turns out to be the bastard son of Judith Ryland and Jock Ewing, then yes.
I haven't posted that much, to be honest.
Oh, sad news.
Season 4 was quite unstopwatchable
Oh, good news!!
I guess I should be thankful that everyone here has lost interest in FOX's glossy prime time soap.
Looks like Mexican cartels and hiphop soap operas are niche interests in Telly Talk Land.
 

James from London

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22 Sep 14: DALLAS: Endgame/Brave New World v. 14 Dec 16: EMPIRE: A Furnace for Your Foe

When I embarked on this chronological Soap Land rewatch thingy back in 2013, it was partly an experiment to see if I could put all my previously held opinions and preconceptions to one side and experience these series with an open mind, as if for the first time (although in some instances — THE YELLOW ROSE, EMERALD POINT, PAPER DOLLS, BLOOD AND OIL and EMPIRE — I was experiencing them for the first time). For the most part, I think I was successful — until about six episodes into the second season of New DYNASTY, when all goodwill and open-mindedness towards that particular series pretty much evaporated. Maybe it was too soon to revisit it or maybe New DYNASTY is just too flimsy a drama to begin with.

I guess the ideal way to experience a story, whether on screen or in a book, is as one does as a child: free of external influences, be they reviews, spoilers or any other form of hype or expectation. However, one of the unique pleasures of watching (and especially re-watching) long-form drama is the sense of history the keen-eyed viewer brings to it — one makes connections to past (and future) events that sometimes not even the programme-makers themselves were aware of. And doing something as ridiculous as re-watching all of Soap Land chronologically creates even more resonances: for instance, my enjoyment of the 1983/4 season was greatly enhanced by watching DYNASTY’s Peter de Vilbis alongside his cravat-wearing, cocaine-dealing Eurotrash counterpart on DALLAS, Naldo Marchetta, as well as comparing and contrasting the oh so ‘80s older woman/younger man affairs between Alexis and the studly Dex Dexter, and Sue Ellen and the near-virginal Peter Richards.

I bring all of this up because my original viewing of this week’s double bill of New DALLAS could not help but be “contaminated” by outside influences. As much as I try to swerve spoilers, it was impossible to avoid the last-minute promotional hype that promised “One Ewing will die!” before the end credits rolled. Here in the UK, EASTENDERS have used a similar gimmick on a couple of occasions and it’s worked brilliantly because the possibility that any character could expire at any moment had already been structured into the episodes themselves, and so the dramatic stakes were raised to a heart-pumping degree — but here, it just distracted from the storytelling. And in retrospect, of course, these episodes have also acquired another external significance. By accident rather than design, they have become the series finale of New DALLAS — and therefore the closing chapters of the entire Ewing-verse saga.

So will I be now able to watch these episodes afresh, free of all that extraneous baggage? (Spoiler alert: yes, I will. The whole thing is one giant thrill ride from beginning to end. It helps that my original memories of these eps are dim, as I may have had a few drinks during my first watch, and I've been too sad to revisit them since then due to the series' cancellation). Initially, I planned to re-watch ‘Endgame’ and ‘Brave New World’ as they had originally been constructed, as two separate episodes — but after realising that that would mean watching two more episodes of New DYNASTY alongside them, I changed my mind. Then I changed my mind again and decided to skip New DYNASTY altogether, allowing ending this eight-year experiment with a bang: the double-length series finale of DALLAS followed by the mid-season finale of EMPIRE!

Railroad cars are an uncommon sight on DALLAS, but a significant one — for it was while riding the rails that Jock Ewing and Digger Barnes first met, as depicted in DALLAS: The Early Years, and in now, in DALLAS: The Final Episodes, it’s how the Rylands, with Bobby’s help, meet the Mendez-Ochoa cartel’s ransom demands, enabling them to transport their entire shipment of drugs across the Mexican border in one fell swoop. In return, one hostage is returned. Like a kidnapped Miss Ellie and an asphyxiated Jill Bennett before her, Ann Ewing is discovered bound and gagged in the trunk of a car.

As the remaining hostage, Emma Ryland does what previous Soap Land captives Leslie Carrington and Abby Cunningham did back in the ‘80s — she flirts with the prettiest and most innocent-seeming of her captors, Fernando, as a way of plotting her escape. It’s a risky move, and with no Dex Dexter to come to her rescue when her plan inevitably backfires, or even a Laura Avery to slap her across the face and call her a slut, she soon finds herself back in the clutches of Luis: “Poor Fernando, he has no idea you’ve been playing him the whole time.” He then does to her what Lucy Ewing and Maggie Gioberti's kidnappers did to them: he rapes her. Whereas we only discovered what had happened to Lucy and Maggie after they were back home, we’re left in little doubt about Luis’ intentions ahead of time, yet the matter is handled discreetly: the slam of a door, some urgent music and a fade to black tell us all we need to know. Throughout the two episodes, the word rape is never used. Judith’s later line to John Ross is as close as we get: “I know something happened to Emma when she was held prisoner by those animals … I have seen the distant look that comes into the eyes of my girls at my establishment when they have been with violent and sadistic men.”

Minor trend of the week #1: Brothers competing for their father’s approval — possibly the soapiest trope of them all — transposed to an entirely new context. On DALLAS, Nicolas and Luis have already been established as quasi-sibling rivals competing for the approval of their dysfunctional father figure, cartel leader Orestes Mendez-Ochoa, aka El Pozolero — in other words, they're a Mexican drug cartel version of JR, Bobby and Jock. John Ross and Nicolas come up with entirely separate strategies to rescue Emma from the kill house, but each serves to fan the flames of Luis and Nicolas’s rivalry. Enlisting the aid of Judith Ryland (as well as backup support from Agent Tatangelo’s illegal black ops crew), John Ross secures a face to face meeting with Luis at the kill house where he offers to buy back all the assets of Ewing Global from the cartel in exchange for Emma’s freedom. As part of his sales pitch, John Ross plays on Luis’ insecurities by comparing him to Nicolas: “He wears $5,000 suits, drives a $100,000 car. He’s got a penthouse in Dallas while you — you’re here in this shit hole, doing all the dirty work … Nicolas gets all the glory and I think you’re the one who deserves it. You’re an under-appreciated asset. I know what that’s like. In my family, I gotta do all the difficult things, things my cousin Christopher doesn’t have the stomach for. Yet Christopher still gets to be the golden boy — reaping the benefits of what I do and never having to pay the price.” (This jibe about his cousin acquires a tragic irony in retrospect as Christopher will end the episode paying the ultimate price.)

Just as John Ross’s plan to save Emma is motivated, at least in part, by self-interest (“It’s laughable — you pretending you’re trying to save her for some noble reason when we both know the deal you’ve been working on is using Nasir’s loan to steal back Ewing Global,” sneers Pamela) so too is Nicolas’s. He agrees to lead the CIA to Orestes and the rest of the cartel in exchange for immunity from prosecution. To this end, he persuades the reclusive Orestes that they must meet with Luis in-person to strategise their next move.

As Nicolas is picked up by a bunch of cartel henchmen in an underground parking garage before being taken to the kill house, the authorities track him from a distance. The scene at Southfork where various CIA agents, Rylands and Ewings watch on CCTV as Nicolas vanishes in a scramble of mini-vans (“We’ve lost visual contact — I can’t tell what van he’s in!”) is pure cinema.

By the time Orestes and Nicolas arrive at the kill house, Luis has done the deal with John Ross and Emma has been set free. John Ross, however, remains behind, held at gunpoint. As Orestes addresses Luis and Nicolas, the theme of sibling rivalry resurfaces. “You are both like sons to me,” he tells them, “two very different sons with very different skills. In the past, those skills have complemented each other. That’s no longer the case.” This resonates with what Jock wrote to JR and Bobby in his will thirty-three years earlier: “It’s been my cherished hope that one day the two of you might run Ewing Oil as a team. That was my hope. Ewing Oil can only have one man at the helm — and that’s got to be the man that wants it the most.”

Jock’s words set in motion a year-long battle between his sons and now Orestes’s speech does the same — but compressed into one scene and with even higher stakes: only one of his “sons” is getting out of here alive, and that’s going to be the one who can prove himself most useful. Nicolas argues his case first. “The money I generated has kept your empire funded,” he reminds Orestes. “I’ve done this quietly with intelligence and self-discipline that puts nothing at risk … Luis, on the other hand, has taken American hostages!” Luis points out that kidnapping Ann and Emma has resulted in the cartel getting all their drugs across the border, while the deal he has just made with John Ross means they have “sold off all of Ewing Global at once — for more money than you were asking for. Don Orestes, I have proven that I can do business better than him.” Luis then recalls John Ross’s earlier complaint about Christopher when he says to Nicolas, “The difference between us ... is that you don’t have the stomach to do the difficult things. I do.” To illustrate this, he puts a gun to John Ross’s head. “The fact that you’re so eager to kill an American proves my point,” argues Nicolas. “Don Orestes, to get what you want, you need a businessman by your side, not a criminal.” This prompts a brilliant line from Orestes: “You have become confused about who we are, Nicolas. We are not businessmen who commit crimes. We are criminals who do business. But this confusion is not your fault. It’s mine. I coddled you. I never asked you to get your hands dirty.” Here, Orestes is echoing what Lucious Lyon told his sons a couple of months ago: “I coddled y’all, let y’all breathe rarified air and live behind giant gates and drive in limos. Biggest mistake of my life cos it made y’all soft.”

“Murder is a wonderful bonding experience, Nicolas,” Orestes continues. “It proves to me that you are truly committed to our future together.” Realising he is being asked to demonstrate his loyalty by killing John Ross, Nicolas asks Luis for his gun. Reluctantly, Luis hands it over. “You don’t have the balls,” sneers John Ross. Nicolas reacts by pushing John Ross violently across the room. “This piece of shit violated the one true love of my life!” he shouts. “He got her drunk and degraded her!” He then moves close to John Ross, pressing the gun to his chin. “Drop when I say drop,” he whispers. We then hear the sound of another gun being cocked — the one Luis is now pointing at the back of Nicolas’s head. “Enough talk, Nicolas,” he says. “Time for somebody to die.” And that’s how ‘Endgame,' the first half of this double-bill, concludes: Luis pointing a gun at Nicolas’s head while Nicolas is pointing a gun at John Ross’s. It is, quite literally, a Mexican standoff.

Whereas DALLAS’s sibling showdown plays out in a squalid criminal hideout, EMPIRE’s occurs in a polar opposite environment: a large office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Business has been at a standstill for the Ewings since the cartel acquired their company and now that Tariq has secured a thirty-day freeze on all of Empire’s assets, the same has happened to the Lyons. This prompts Lucious, accompanied by Thirsty, to walk straight into the enemy camp, i.e., the FBI (just as John Ross entered the kill house in Mexico). “You want me? Here I am,” he tells Tariq in front of a room of his colleagues, holding out his wrists to be cuffed. “You sent errand boys with calculators to take food out of the mouths of my employees’ children. I think I know what you want, but you’re going about it like a coward,” he continues. “What I want is justice,” Tariq replies. Lucious reaches into his inside pocket, causing the assembled FBI agents to reach for their holsters. “Wow, fear of Black people, huh?” mutters Thirsty — but unlike on DALLAS, this isn’t about to turn into a gun battle. Rather than a weapon, Lucious pulls out a police badge and holds it up for Tariq to see. “This belonged to our father,” he explains. Cue confused reactions and whispers from the other agents: “His father?” “They’re related?” “Oh, he never told y’all — Agent Cousins never told y’all that we’re brothers,” says Lucious, feigning surprise. (Until this moment, I hadn’t realised that Tariq had been keeping his blood tie to Lucious a secret from the FBI — just as it never registered with me that Sue Ellen was unaware of JR’s cancer until the moment she found out about it in ‘Hurt’ — but in neither case does it detract from the impact of the scene.) “Our father was a Philadelphia cop,” Lucious continues, looking at Tariq. “He was a good man. He made one mistake and he was murdered for that and that mistake was you, his bastard son, but as he died in a Philadelphia street, he made me promise to look after my brother. But he never told me your name. I know you wanted to own something that belonged to our father.” As he presses the badge into Tariq’s hand, he adds, “This ain’t what brothers do.”

Minor trend of the week #2: Mothers and sons dealing with each other’s addictions. When Ann returns to Southfork from her kidnapping ordeal, Sue Ellen asks if there’s anything she needs and she unthinkingly demands a large glass of booze. With everything else going on, Sue Ellen’s discomfort as she hovers over the drinks cabinet goes unnoticed, except by John Ross. “I got this, Mama,” he assures her, taking over the pouring of the drink. In a subsequent (deleted) scene, Sue Ellen makes a major concession to her son. “I was lying to myself about my drinking,” she tells him. “Although I disagree with the reason you had me hospitalised, you were right.” But although Sue Ellen appears to have forgiven and forgotten, it turns out she’s still not above a bit of score-settling. When she and Bobby eventually block John Ross from taking over Ewing Global, she tells him that “Bobby and me thought that this was for your own good — just like you did for me with the psychiatric hold.”

On EMPIRE, it’s the son, Jamal, who has the addiction and the mama, Cookie, who is trying to deal with it. As they did for John Ross, Cookie’s familial concerns collide with her own self-interests. She has already committed Jamal to perform at this week’s All-Important Event, the People’s Ball (a fundraising PR thingy for Andre’s campaign), but is concerned about his medication problem. Despite his insistence that “I’m completely off the pills,” she orders him to hand over all the drugs he has stashed in his apartment, which she then empties down the sink. Later, when he should be backstage getting ready to perform, she finds him curled up on his couch, sick with withdrawal. He begs her to give him some medication so he can get on stage: “If I don’t get there, Lucious wins.” This leads to the memorable sight of Cookie, in her glitzy party dress, dismantling her son’s waste disposal unit (“My daddy was a plumber,” she says by way of explanation) to retrieve sufficient pills to get him through the show. He subsequently gives a knock-out performance at the ball, but when he comes off stage, he finds himself confronted with a waiting ambulance and a fait accompli. “You’re going to rehab,” Cookie insists. “Ma, please don’t do this to me right now,” he pleads. Then Lucious appears from nowhere and gently declares, “It’s time, son.” Despite his appalling behaviour earlier in the ep when he encouraged Jamal to kill himself, Lucious’s voice still carries the weight of paternal authority and so Jamal tearfully complies.

Minor theme of the week #3: Unlikely alliances between young(ish) men and older women — John Ross and his ex-mistress’s grandmother on DALLAS, and Lucious and his ex-wife’s boyfriend’s mother on EMPIRE. (Admittedly, I’m not sure if there’s that much of an age gap between Lucious and Diana.) While John Ross and Judith’s first meeting as co-conspirators takes place in the back of her limo, Lucious and Diana’s takes place in the very Hitchcockian setting of a Ferris wheel (also a meeting place for John Ross and his pre-Bum private eye Clyde in an early episode of New DALLAS). While John Ross and Judith’s scenes are charged with a certain sexual frisson — as he climbs into her car, she fondles his ass then coquettishly requests that he sit close to her (“the company of a young man always makes me feel better”) — it’s more of a class tension that fuels Lucious and Diana’s exchanges. “Lady, don’t ever try to read me,” he warns her. “I would never — I read books, not graffiti,” she assures him regally.

As a thank you for rescuing Emma, Judith makes John Ross a gift of the compromising dress and photos she and Harris used as part of their botched attempt to frame him on an underage sex charge earlier in the season. She also asks a couple of things in return: a request (“I want you to be a friend to Emma”) and a favour (“I want you to find out everything Harris was up to with the CIA.”) Diana has a similar proposition for Lucious. In return for him dissuading a journalist from publishing a story about Angelo’s past that could cost him the election, she promises to bust up Angelo’s romance with Cookie: “I know my son’s hot buttons and if I press them, she’ll be incinerated.”

Whereas John Ross and Judith end DALLAS as a formidable double act — he helps get her appointed to the Texas Railroad Commission and together they promise to make life as difficult as possible for Bobby — Lucious and Diana are bitter enemies by the conclusion of this week’s EMPIRE. After Lucious has fulfilled his part of their bargain, Diana informs him that she changed her mind about getting rid of Cookie after realising she is an asset to her son’s campaign: “She resonates with the voters. She humanises Angelo and lends some street cred.” Lucious waits until almost the end of the episode before exacting his revenge. While Angelo, Cookie and Diana are celebrating the success of the People’s Ball, he unleashes the journalist he had previously silenced. “What do you remember about the evening of October 5th, 1988?” the writer asks Andre before alleging that he “drunk drove into a lake, saving himself while leaving a poor innocent girl to drown.” As sordid backstories go, this sounds like a cross between Ted Kennedy at Chappaquiddick and Pierce Lawton aboard the Daedalus the night his pregnant fiancee drowned in mysterious circumstances. Diana is furious. “You’re as wretched as they say you are!” she seethes at Lucious.

As I say, my memories of the New DALLAS finale are vague and this time around, two particular scenes made me gasp out loud in surprise. In the first, John Ross finds Pamela in bed with Soap Land’s first naughty little Arab boy since Rashid Ahmed, Nasir Ali. “I’m getting the business, John Ross,” she gloats. “Nasir’s giving me the loan to buy the shares from the Treasury … You’re out of the game … Everything I gave up for you, I’m getting back. And this is only the beginning.” “You’re right,” John Ross concedes. “You’re right back to being that same whore my cousin married.” In the second, Elena shoots Nicolas after realising he murdered Drew — once in the shoulder, once in the leg, and once more for luck as he disappears into the penthouse elevator.

Minor trend of the week #4: Fathers and sons and death and murder. While Orestes wants Nicolas to prove himself worthy of being his son by killing John Ross on DALLAS, Lucious tells Jamal that he’d prefer him to commit suicide than publicly perform another of the songs that depict him (Lucious) as a lousy husband and father (“If you planning on doing some of them trash ass, airing out the family laundry or something, you’d be better off taking a handful of them damn pills all at once and take a permanent dirt nap and I’ll see you in the next lifetime”). Ultimately, however, it is the sons who kill — or plan to kill — their fathers. Nicolas has Orestes and Luis executed in prison (“All your enemies in Mexico are now with God, señor,” his henchman informs him) while the mid-season finale of EMPIRE (not to mention this eight-year voyage through the history of Soap Land) concludes with Andre informing loose cannon Shyne that it is “time to kill my father,” before breaking the fourth wall and staring chillingly down the camera lens.

‘Brave New World’ may not have been intended as the DALLAS series finale, but the way JR’s memory is evoked throughout it feels like a very fitting tribute to Soap Land’s most legendary character. We hear his voice during an elevator scene as John Ross collapses in tears and plays an old voice mail in which JR tells him he’s proud of him. We see his image when Sue Ellen and Bobby, in their last ever scene, gaze up at his portrait. “I miss him,” says Bobby. “Me too,” Sue Ellen replies, “but I think I finally feel free of him.” And the very final moments of the series consist of John Ross reading a confidential file (a Red File, naturally) about JR’s secret daughter, pouring himself a glass of JR Ewing Bourbon, making a toast (“Thank you, Daddy”) and then laughing a wicked little chuckle which, as the screen fades to black, merges with the sound of JR’s own evil laughter.

The dead also make their presence felt one last time on EMPIRE. “I need you to let me go, Rhonda,” Andre tells his theoretically departed wife during an ethereally romantic beach scene. Before wading into the sea and disappearing for all eternity (or until the producers change their minds and decide to bring her back), Rhonda tells Andre that he is “the smartest and most devoted and most ruthless of the Lyon sons.” “I’m the most ruthless,” he agrees (echoing John Ross’s final boast to Bobby and Sue Ellen: “I am not just like my father — I’m worse”). And in a similar way to Bum telling John Ross that JR is “still saving your ass from beyond the grave” in DALLAS’s final scene, Rhonda’s parting gift to Andre is a crucial piece of advice regarding his new girlfriend Nessa: “Make her the biggest star — then you’ll control the music and then you’ll have all the power.” But even the dead want something in return, and Rhonda has one more item to add to her husband’s To-Do list: “Promise me that you’ll destroy that bitch that murdered me and killed our baby.”

Obviously, I wish DALLAS had never been cancelled, but if it’s a choice between the series stopping abruptly and the kind of too-tidy endings we got on FALCON CREST, BLOOD AND OIL and DYNASTY: The Reunion, then I choose the former. There are enough tantalising loose ends left dangling — JR’s daughter, Pamela’s declaration of war against the Ewings, John Ross and Judith’s unholy alliance, Elena’s pregnancy, Tracey Lawton’s return, Christopher’s shocking murder (at the hands of Nicolas?) — for one to imagine the Ewing saga endlessly unfolding in some alternate universe.

And this week’s Top 2 are …

1 (1) DALLAS
2 (2) EMPIRE
 
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Willie Oleson

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allowing ending this eight-year experiment with a bang: the double-length series finale of DALLAS followed by the mid-season finale of EMPIRE!
It's been an epic journey, from classic prime time soap to reunion movies to modern prime time soap. The many similar details in the various soap episodes are simply mind-blowing.

John Ross finds Pamela in bed with Soap Land’s first naughty little Arab boy since Rashid Ahmed, Nasir Ali. “I’m getting the business, John Ross,” she gloats.
A great moment, so dirty and cold-blooded.

Final trend of the week.

Enjoy the rest of EMPIRE, James. There's a lot of great stuff waiting for you (and I know that because of this very versus thread, so, thanks for that too!).
 
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