Since Larry Hagman inconveniently died last fall, J.R. Ewing, his signature character, also had to die.”J.R.’s Masterpiece” is the episode that depicts that aftermath of that lamentable but unsurprising event that will shake “Dallas” to its core.
Some spoilers follow.
It looks as if J.R. was killed by some rancid mugger in a fifth rate motel room in Neuvo Larado, a place where most Texas oil men would not be caught dead in (so to speak) unless they were making a deal with one of the cartels. It seems that kind of deal would stretch beyond even J.R.’s capability for perfidy, if only because dealing with such people can often be fatal for the honest, conniving, double dealing man of bidness.
The tone of the episode was set with the opening sequence, much more solemn than the usual one, with ole J.R. for some reason smiling and then turning and walking into the light. This can only happen if the Devil had decided that J.R. was too dangerous to be allowed in the infernal regions.
There is a wake at the Dallas Petroleum Club, attended by real life Dallas movers and shaker such as the mayor and the owners of the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Mavs. Some of what happens is pretty surreal, such as Sue Ellen and several of J.R.’s old girl friends swapping stories and drinking a toast to the biggest, baddest, sexiest scoundrel they ever knew. Cliff Barnes shows up to laugh uproariously and show is disrespect. The affair ends in a drunken fist fight.
Apparently Ole J.R. was a veteran, because he got a flag on his casket and a guard of honor. If the folks want to do a series “J.R.: The Vietnam Years” it would be a hoot. Everybody had a nice story to tell about the most evil man in Texas, which was fitting.
Now, of course, having been told that ole J.R. died a punk’s death, one can be forgiven for thinking that there has to be more to it than that. And one would be right. J.R.’s Masterpiece appears to be an attempt to mend his evil ways, find Pam Barnes, expose some kind of plot against the Ewings, and eventually go down on bended knee to Sue Ellen and beg forgiveness.
Bobby, now the undisputed patriarch, has come to the realization that the reason he could always do the right thing was because his big brother was always around to do the evil thing when necessary. Now J.R. is gone, murdered most foully. Now Bobby will have to learn to do evil for the greater good, which is the defense and the enhancement of the House Ewing.
Let J.R.’s Funeral Games begin.