Death took many forms during the episode before the season finale, “Family Business,” from laugh-out-loud funny to metaphorical.
Tommy Sutter was responsible for the former, threatening his fake sister Rebecca with a bullet while twisting the head of a stuffed monkey she'd just gotten for her unborn twins. Whether that came from a moment of improvised genius or a scriptwriter with a good sense of humor, a villain lamely trying to kill a toy is high camp of the finest order.
The rest of the episode works toward the more weighty possibility of Bobby's death, with the oil heir on bed rest after a brain aneurysm. Continuing his role as the Grim Reaper's stand-in, brother J.R. appears when Bobby is at his weakest. Employing the sitcom convention of balancing the serious with the silly, Ann shoos J.R. from her husband's room with the admonition that she'll shoot him if he doesn't leave Bobby alone: “And since you have no heart, it'll be somewhere more vital.”
Many more symbolic deaths occur throughout, with sober Sue Ellen sniffing wine and considering killing her gubernatorial run, and John Ross pursuing drilling on Southfork — sideways, from a neighbor's property, but spoiling the land nonetheless. And cousins John Ross and Christopher bury their rivalry and join forces for a new Ewing Energies company.
Death has actual traction, however, after Rebecca, against the acoustic urgency of Johnny Cash's “The Man Who Comes Around" -- the first popular song to be used on “Dallas” 2012 — retrieves a gun from a safety deposit box. In a tussle with Tommy, it is fired, and the stuffed monkey spared earlier gets splattered with blood. We are left to assume that's foreshadowing, and the in-utero twins are dead. But that's just cliffhanger No. 1.
As Johnny croons “hear the trumpets, hear the pipers/one hundred million angels singing,” Bobby has another seizure and is rushed from Southfork to the hospital. But season one isn't dead just yet: We still have the finale next week.
Pictured: Bobby (Patrick Duffy) talks with son Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe) in the “Dallas” episode called “Family Business.”