Spoiler alert! If you haven’t watched Dallas’ season finale and intend to, stop reading now. If you just want to know who killed J.R. Ewing, continue…
Our full recap of the two-hour season 2 finale is on the way (UPDATE: it’s live!), but here’s the twist that will become a part of TV history: The Ewings and Pamela Barnes succeeded in pinning J.R.’s murder in Mexico on her father, Cliff, by planting a replica of J.R.’s stolen belt buckle in Cliff’s safe deposit box and the murder weapon — Cliff’s gun — in the trunk of his car. Of course, Pamela, Christopher, and John Ross all believed Cliff was guilty at the time, but it turns out Bobby knew he wasn’t. Later, at J.R.’s grave (“The only deal he ever lost,” his tombstone reads), Christopher and John Ross forced Bobby to read the letter from J.R. that Bobby had received after J.R.’s death: “Bobby, doctors say I’ve only got a few days left,” it began. “Damn cancer.” J.R. was dying and didn’t tell anyone because he detested pity. To protect the family from Cliff, he wanted to help end the Ewing/Barnes feud once and for all. He knew Cliff went to Mexico every year for a marlin fishing tournament. J.R. had asked Bum, his right-hand man, to steal Cliff’s gun. The letter referenced a time when J.R. had framed Bobby as the one who’d borrowed their daddy’s favorite shotgun by putting extra shells in Bobby’s room. J.R.’s masterpiece was framing Cliff for murder.
Bobby broke down reading the letter, so Christopher continued: J.R. hoped Bobby knew that his love for him outweighed his jealousy. “Goodbye, baby brother; I guess I’ll be duck huntin’ with daddy. I’ll tell him I was the one who borrowed his gun,” J.R. wrote. If you weren’t tearing up then, Josh Henderson’s broken delivery of John Ross’s response definitely got you: “I’m sorry, I’m confused. Who shot my father, Uncle Bobby?” he asked. “I shot your father, John Ross,” Bum confessed. We flashed back to Bum entering J.R.’s hotel room in Mexico. J.R. only had a few days left to live and asked Bum to do it. J.R.’s final act was one of love for his family and his son, Bum told John Ross.
As John Ross walked toward Bum, you weren’t sure if he was going to punch him or hug him. “The only person that could take down J.R. was J.R.,” John Ross said. And he held out his hand to Bum. Tissue, please! That is a fitting ending for J.R. Ewing.
Bobby handed J.R.’s letter ti John Ross and gave him a moment alone at his father’s grave: “Thank you, daddy, for watching over us. I love you,” he said.
Read our full recap to find out why we went from loving John Ross in that scene to loving to hate John Ross in the finale’s final moment. (Okay, we’ll tell you: He’s married to Pamela Barnes, who loves him, but is screwing Emma Ryland, who gave him some of her father’s papers. Like father, like son.)
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