Not straying from its true nature, Dallas was filled with drama and backstabbing Monday night. But I’m going to sidestep all of that and focus on the biggest part of the episode: the fact that it was Larry Hagman’s last.
I’ve been speculating how they would write out J.R. and I was not expecting it to happen the way it did. Knowing that yesterday was the last time Hagman would appear in the series, I figured that the writers would have something happen to J.R. off-screen next week. Not only was “The Furious and the Fast” Hagman’s final instalment, but coincidentally, it was J.R.’s as well.
I only recently jumped on the Dallas bandwagon, but it’s already hard to imagine Dallas without J.R. I’m fighting back tears writing this review, just thinking of how Hagman’s final scene played out. Even though I expected the character to be written out in next week’s episode, I think the writers did the right thing by doing it this way.
J.R. and John Ross haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, but in Monday’s final scene, J.R. reminded John Ross of how much he truly meant to him. Even though John Ross thought he had failed in taking control of Ewing Energies, and that J.R. had called to lecture him, that simply wasn’t the case. Instead, the father and son engaged in a very rare, moving, loving conversation. J.R.’s final words to his son were perfect: “The son shouldn’t pay for the sins of the father … Just remember I’m proud of you. You’re my son.”
J.R’s suggestion that his son shouldn’t have to pay for his mistakes made it seem like he had sacrificed his life so his son wouldn’t suffer, like he knew something was going to happen to him and wanted to tell his son that nothing could change how he felt about him. It was so emotional and both men had tears in their eyes. Then, after that brief, tender moment, gun shots were heard. J.R.’s murder wasn’t seen on screen, but the timing and John Ross’s reaction both suggested that J.R. was indeed fatally shot last night.
When questioned by U.K.’s Metro about how J.R. would be written out, Patrick Duffy, who pays Bobby, responded: “They’re not playing any tricks – J.R. isn’t suddenly going to disappear into the sunset. The character of J.R. dies. There’s no way the character could come back because the only person who could play him was Larry.” And that’s what happened. There were no tricks. J.R. was shot and killed, and John Ross was on the phone to hear the tragedy take place. When he shouted “Dad!”, it was almost unbearable to watch, yet I couldn’t take my eyes away. They were wide open, horrified.
Although many people were surprised to hear of Hagman’s passing in November, those closest to him had expected it, just not so soon. Hagman was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and began experiencing complications from the chemotherapy last July. It seems clear now that as his health slowly depreciated, Dallas began developing a back-up plan, an easy way to cut J.R. from the show at short notice.
During last night’s episode, many Dallas fans took to Twitter to say their goodbyes to Hagman and his fan-favourite character, the infamous J.R. One fan tweeted, “I LOVED Larry Hagman/JR and always will. #RememberingJR.” Another tried to get a trend going: “Fans…show some luv and help trend #rememberingJR in honor of a one of a kind and talented actor!” The Twitter account for J.R.’s character was also posting farewell messages, including, “John Ross, I love you, tip to tail. Don’t [feel] like you need to fill my shoes. Fill your own.’”
Even though J.R. may not be there physically in upcoming episodes, Duffy said that his presence is still very much there. “Every character on the show had an intense relationship with J.R. and all of them are unresolved,” he told Metro. “So there are lots of storylines to come from that.”
This week’s emotional ending set the stage for next week’s instalment, during which Dallas honours J.R. Ewing at his funeral. That is sure to be tearful as well.
Rest in peace, J.R. and Larry Hagman.
The funeral for J.R. airs Monday, March 11 at 9 p.m. ET, on Bravo/TNT.