From the special title sequence created for this episode to the mystery that still remains surrounding who shot J.R., what he dug up on Harris, and why he was looking for Pam, this was an episode designed to honor Larry Hagman in his signature role and ask viewers to keep watching the show without him. For me, the producers succeeded. (They had me at John Ross having sex with Emma in the backseat of a car.) Let's dig in.
We opened with Bobby, Christopher, John Ross, and Sue Ellen flying into Mexico in a helicopter. John Ross was confused -- he thought his father had phoned him from Abu Dhabi. But police said customs records showed J.R. had arrived in Mexico two nights prior with the purpose of "quail hunting." A female sergeant took them to a hotel room far beneath J.R.’s usual standards where they saw a chalk outline with a blood pool where J.R.'s heart would have been. She suggested J.R. had come to town to do business with a cartel or was simply killed during a robbery because he was a rich tourist. There was no ID on the body. They’d only found his cell phone under the bed.
John Ross asked to be taken to J.R.’s body, and they were led to a crowded morgue also below your NCIS standards. From Sue Ellen’s and John Ross’ reactions when the body bag was unzipped, we knew it was true -- J.R. Ewing was dead. Christopher hugged Sue Ellen while Bobby just stood there stoically. The show’s opening credits began and it was an appropriately reverent take on the theme song, like something off the JFK soundtrack. By the time the final image of J.R. faded, I’d teared up. You? They deserve another look. Watch them (and read what producers had to say about the change, and how they pieced together J.R.'s phone call to John Ross in last week's episode) here.
Bobby didn’t stay silent for long. After he pressured the authorities for an answer as to when he’d be able to take J.R.’s body home, he got in John Ross’ face and asked him why J.R. was in Mexico and what John Ross had brought into their lives now. John Ross told Bobby that all he knows is that J.R. said this would be his masterpiece, and then he heard gunshots.
At the police station, their good friend Carlos -- clearly the man in charge -- showed up and told everyone to return to Dallas. A teary-eyed John Ross didn’t want to leave his father, but Carlos promised he wouldn’t leave J.R.’s side until he figured out why he’d been in Mexico and said he’d personally escort J.R. home. It was nice that they took the time to linger on John Ross’ painstricken face.
Back at Southfork, Harris arrived to find Emma wearing a cowboy hat. He asked her to come home with him and said he’d “let” her see Ann as much as she wanted. But she wouldn’t budge. Ann came out outside and kindly asked Harris to leave. That went over well. Then Drew appeared and made sure Harris saw that he had a gun on him. Emma ran inside, and Harris left Ann with these words: “Tell your husband that he has no idea what he’s started.” It’s tough to storm off in a Lamborghini, Harris: You have to wait for the door to come down.
Everyone returned from Mexico, and Bobby quickly got to work on funeral and memorial plans because he knew if anything went wrong, J.R. would haunt him. You wanted to laugh, but too soon, right? Gary didn’t know how to feel -- he spent his life hating J.R., but now he’s gone. Sue Ellen didn’t either -- she expected this to happen for 30 years, and now it has. She went to check on John Ross, who was searching J.R.’s room for clues to who killed his father. “Half the people in this phonebook wanted to,” Sue Ellen said helpfully. Maybe it was just a petty thief, and that was one of the many ironies of J.R.'s life, she said. It best not be, Sue Ellen, I thought. And REALLY? She wanted to keep working on Gary to get the oil turned back on? John Ross couldn’t believe that either. “Are you kidding me? My father’s barely cold, and you’re talkin’ about already going to seduce his brother? Could you at least pretend to mourn him for five minutes, for my sake?” he shouted. He stormed off, and Sue Ellen took out the letter J.R. had sent her. She still couldn’t open it. But man, the booze in J.R.’s engraved bottle was starting to look real good. FORESHADOWING.
NEXT: A toast to J.R.