As the soap opera of election season swells, I have a suggestion for Mitt Romney: Hire Sue Ellen Ewing as your running mate. Seriously, the woman is a master of manipulative diplomacy.
For example: Sue Ellen wants her son's girlfriend Elena to give John Ross oil. Elena demurs, opting to keep herself free of Ewing family politics. So Sue Ellen takes a two-pronged approach over lunch, first letting Elena know the consequences could be dire if John Ross doesn't receive help, then appealing to her business sense.
“I want my son to succeed. ... Elena, when the day comes you have to choose between your child and anybody else, I hope you choose wisely,” Sue Ellen says, signing the check. “And as the sole investor in your growing enterprise, I hope you always make the wise choice.” She smiles — a good manipulator always does — and leaves. You can almost hear James Carville whispering in his Southern drawl, “It's the economy, stupid,” as the scene ends, and it's clear what Elena will do.
A less-successful student of negotiation is Marta, who lures John Ross to her hotel room for help in shaking off evil businessman Vicente Cano (Carlos Bernard) and his murderous posse. Poor Marta ends up splayed on the roof of a car, broken, bloody and quite dead.
Well, we were getting a bit overcrowded with evildoers. Vicente has stepped up his presence, so somebody had to get pushed out of a high-rise hotel. He's the kind of over-the-top character that is the stuff of drinking games, where viewers have to take a shot (of bourbon, naturally, the “Dallas” beverage of choice) every time he uses a metaphor. This episode, “Collateral Damage,” finds him weaving a tale of a Venezuelan dance to parallel his realization that John Ross keeps clumsily sidestepping questions of why he has yet to produce oil. “I can spot a good dancer when I see one, Mr. Ewing,” he says, pouring wine. “And you are not a good dancer.”
And yes, “Dallas” has gone global — Cliff Barnes' assistant is from Iraq, for example, and this is a show that historically has been pretty white — but in a way that doesn't feel forced or self-conscious. Hispanics represent 38.1 percent of Texas' entire population, according to the latest census, and this fact isn't just represented in the Ewing's maid. Si, Elena's mom Carmen Ramos (Marlene Forte) is the family's housekeeper, but the range of representation widens from there. Elena is a scientist, Marta (aka Victoria Martinez) is your basic bad guy, Vicente is an upper-level crime boss, and there's the seemingly benevolent del Sol patriarch we saw in an earlier episode.
Elena's character could get a bit meatier, as she's defined largely by the desire John Ross and Christopher have for her, though the latter may be returning to his estranged wife Rebecca. In one of the episode's more humorous sequences, and involving our first paternity test for “Dallas” 2012, Christopher finds out the he's not just the father of Rebecca's baby but of her babies. When it was just one kid, Christopher was unimpressed; the reveal of twins caused him to rush, teary-eyed, to his wife and hold her hand. Get ready for a third child, as “Dallas” may just have baby fever; a child from Anne's past (and womb) will likely present him/herself soon.
WWSED? What Would Sue Ellen do? Whatever it is, let's hope J.R. is involved. He was mostly absent this week, and I missed him.