Wednesday's "Dallas" didn't center around blackmail or a barbecue -- though we did get two of the former and one of the latter -- but a newborn calf.
As Christopher confides to his father that he loves two women, and Bobby gives his best parental advice ("The choice is yours, but you've got to make one"), the background noise is a cow in labor. Soon we see Bobby elbow-deep in the pregnant cow, unable to turn the calf as its hoofs dig into its mother's uterus. The younger Ewing brother makes the call to cut the calf out: Better to save one than lose both.
That thread of parent-child tension spins throughout the "The Last Hurrah," with JR trying to eat his young and Bobby attempting to set his up for success by selling Southfork. While the birthing sequence results in a recognition by Christopher that he's glad he's adopted (just like that wee cow, which romps with its new mom), JR twirls his metaphorical mustache into a knot as he schemes to cut his son out of a deal to steal the ranch. Via blackmail, naturally.
John Ross, of course, is busy with his own blackmail shenanigans, playing puppeteer to Christopher's wife, Rebecca. She is doll-like and rather stiff, so this isn't difficult.
One wonders if perhaps that mother cow was begging for death, as the women on the show are generally as sketched out as stick figures. Sue Ellen is the one exception; while she was completely absent last week, her several scenes in episode four established her plans to run for governor. (Please, TNT, where are the Sue Ellen Gets My Vote T-shirts?) She also continues to punish JR for his bad ways. But poor Ann, Bobby's wife, who shuffles around Southfork sans plotline.
Brenda Strong gets less action in this role than she did as the dead narrator of "Desperate Housewives." John Ross' conquest/business partner, Marta, is at least a fun soap archetype -- the mentally unstable mistress -- but of course her time is limited. Until then, we raise a glass of champagne dosed with lithium to her. Wait, Marta already drank that cocktail.
Well, this is a party episode, with one final barbecue thrown as Bobby and Ann pack up to leave the ranch. (Ann needed something to do.) Next week promises a decent hangover, as the schemes seem to be picking up pace and the balance of power, and screen time, levels out between the parents and children.
Pictured: Linda Gray as Sue Ellen in "The Last Hurrah."