Monthly Archives: March 2013

Things I wonder about the Next Life

There are several questions I wonder about regarding the next Life:
1) Does the resurrection of the body occur immediately or at the end of the world? (Scripture and Aquinas indicate the end of the world, though Matthew refers to it happening immediately, and most people seem to talk that way).

2) Is there “socialization” in Heaven? Meaning, do the Saints in Heaven get to “hang out” with each other or just sing God’s praises eternally like the Seraphim, or is it a mixture of both?
3) Is the situation in “Heaven” different from what will happen in the New Earth at the end of time? So maybe, for example, the souls in Heaven, as pure spirits, function like angels, but there would be more interpersonal communication in the Resurrection?
4) If there are levels of glory in Heaven, does that mean segregation? And wouldn’t that be a kind of punishment? Like, does the guy who just slipped in with a “Lord have mercy” while dying have to stay at the “bottom” of Heaven and never meet any of the great saints?
I’d hope to be able to talk to all these people when I get to Heaven:

General213 Close up
. . . And so on, and so forth, and what have you.
5) And I’ve always figured that in Heaven you get to see things like parts of the world you always wanted to visit, which is why international travel has never particularly interested me. Then I got to wondering about things like watching over people, and how deeply I wish I’d known Mary all my life, and how maybe I’ll get to go back and watch her life like a TV show in Heaven?
6) And that gets to TV shows, literature, etc.–would all that stuff have to be totally purged, or contrary to St. John of the Cross, do the saints in Heaven get to have imaginations? If so, does the imagination in Heaven have some level of “reality” to it?

Maybe like a Holodeck?

For example, when I was a little kid, I had this very vivid, realistic dream where I lived in an amazing mansion on the top of a mountain, and I had a pet lamb, and the house had all these different rooms. I had a really big bedroom, and next that bedroom were a series of toy rooms. I had one room that was all Masters of the Universe toys, set up in an amazing diorama. Another room was all GI Joes. Another room was all Transformers. “. . . And so on, and so forth, and what have you. ”
Something like this:

That dream always stuck with me, and over time, I figured it might have been a dream about Heaven. As an adult, if I had a lot of money to spend, I could make that dream come true thanks to the revival of those brands, as many of my peers have done. I’ve even been tempted to and done a bit of adult collecting, though I re-donated most of my collections and gave the rest to my kids, save for a few toys I’ve kept to myself. So I saw pictures recently for the upcoming Castle Greyskull in the Masters of the Universe Classics (MOTUC) line,

and I thought, “WOW! I *want* that!” And I resisted the temptations to covetousness, and I thought, “Well, if it’s at all something I’m supposed to have, maybe I’ll get it–or something better–in Heaven.”

As I contemplate my upcoming aortic surgery, and its risks, and the fact that I may very well be in my last days, I battle the “bucket list” issue: trying to enjoy what of this life I can in the fear that it will be completely lost, versus trying to achieve detachment so I can *get* to Heaven, versus wondering if some of the enjoyments we have in this life are still there, but better, in Heaven (so for example, maybe we can still watch TV shows we missed in Heaven?)


Pope Francis and the Third Secret of Fatima

Around the world, there have of course been many reactions to the election of Jorge Maria Cardinal Bergoglio as the 265th successor to St. Peter. He seems like a nice enough fellow, apparently very saintly in both his preaching and his manner of personal living.

Apparently, some people are saying he looks like Jeffrey Tambor, but I think he looks like Jonathan Pryce.

I’m a bit bummed that my preferred choices weren’t picked. I’m especially bummed that, when I heard “George” in Latin, I immediately thought they were referring to George Cardinal Pell, though at least I took comfort that in my “adopt-a-Cardinal” prayers for Cardinal Pell, I had been praying to St. George.

According to this Ikon, St. George has hair like me!

To that end, and no offense intended to Cardinal Bergoglio, I was kind of glad they picked another “older” Pope–approximately the same age that Joseph Ratzinger was when he became Benedict XVI. As I noted when B16 retired, 8 years is about the average reign of a Pope, and only a few have served past the age of 85. It isn’t going to be that many years before we face another Conclave, and that’s a good thing for many reasons. Hopefully, younger guys like Raymond Burke and Charles Chaput (who isn’t even created Cardinal yet–I thought he had been) have a chance at the white hat. Also, even *if*, as many traditionalists fear, Francis turns out to be in line with typical priests of his generation, particularly since he’s a Jesuit, that should itself be a sign of hope for the Reform of the Reform: priests have been increasingly more tradition-minded since the eighties. So it may take time and patience, but it will only be a few decades before the young priests who are returning to traditional vestments and postures even in the Ordinary Form will show up at the College of Cardinals. Or the world may blow up before then. STOP WORRYING.

By the way, Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ, has had some leve of personal connection to both our past two Holy Fathers. He was one of Josef Ratzinger’s favored graduate students, and, as a Jesuit, he knows Cardinal Bergoglio (though I’m not sure how well). He’s been quoted as saying, “You’ll love him. The other Jesuits hate him. I’m ecstatic.” Fr. Dwight Longenecker has pointed out that while liturgical, theological and political “sonervatism” and “liberalism” often go hand-in-hand in the US, that is not the case in other cultures.

Now, Francis is kind of cool looked at by himself. He appears as a modern equivalent of Monsiegnor Bienvenu in _Les Miserables_. Indeed, his first words as Pope were the Spanish (or Italian?) equivalent of “Bienvenu”! That said, there have been a *lot* of bishops like this. They may be few and far between, but they aren’t unheard of. Let’s recall that a couple American archbishops have sold their formal residences and moved into cathedral rectories or diocesan seminaries to pay off legal debts left by their predecessors.

That’s what really irks me about a lot of the coverage on Francis (BTW, he’s not “Francis I” because he’s the only one–however, after 36 years of “JPII” and “B16”, F1 as an acronym seems natural).
B16 was, as someone put it, the “best dressed Pope” we’ve had in years. While it may impress a lot of people to have a Vicar of Christ who dresses “humbly”, it also hurts a lot of Catholics to see Popes, or bishops, acting beneath the dignity of their offices–where it counts. Even Hugo’s Msgr. Bienvenu (who is based upon the real life bishop, and is probably about as historical an account as most pre-1850’s historical documents and biographies) dressed formally for Mass. And the thing about Cardinal Bergoglio/Pope Francis is *we don’t know*. He’s technically not even officially Pope yet.

Nevertheless, Cardinal Ratzinger was known before his papacy for shunning some of the elitist trappings Cardinals are known for. He would walk and take buses and trains, too. He was known for hanging out at local establishments around St. Peter’s, and early in *his* papacy people wondered if he might shun the Popemobile or be a pain in the neck to Vatican security.
Never was this Facebook meme more appropriate:

The Chattering Classes keep insisting that Cardinal Bergoglio’s behaviors indicate we “finally have a Pope of the people!” This implies that a humble theologian who only served at the Vatican out of obedience and never wanted anything more than to be back in Germany with his beloved brother, who was known for hanging out at local pubs and cafes, was *not* a “Pope of the people.”

As Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla, OCDS, slept in a broom closet. He was known for opening the doors to the poor every morning and inviting them in to share his meals. Here he is on a fishing trip while a cardinal (note his brown scapular).

Like “Msgr. Welcome”, Woytyla was uncomfortable with being called “Bishop” or any of the higher ranks he was promoted to. He preferred that his parishioners, students and friends call him “Uncle.” When he was first appointed as auxiliary bishop of Krakow, he assured his friends “Uncle will remain Uncle.” He was known for various athletic activities, particularly skiing.
One of my favorite stories I read in a biography when I was in high school concerned a skiing trip Wojtyla took with a bunch of priests. Since he preferred to be called “Uncle” (not sure if there’s some other Polish tradition attached there I’m unaware of), or “Father Wojtyla,” that’s how he was addressed by other priests.
Ordained a bishop at 38, created cardinal at 47, and elected Pope at 58, and very athletic and healthy until the ravages of papacy and Parkinson’s took their toll, Cardinal Woytyla came off to those who knew him as an ordinary young pastor.
Thus, on this particular ski trip, since most of the other clergy called him “Wujek” (“Uncle”), a particular grumpy and authoritarian old Monsignor kept ordering this “young priest” around: “Fr. Karol, get me a cup of coffee,” that sort of thing. All weekend long, Wojtyla humbly and happily served this old vicar hand and foot. Every time the old man raised his voice, the other priests would hesitate, expecting the reaction most Cardinals would give to such treatment. Finally, on the last day of the trip, one of the priests gently informed the Monsignor that the “young priest” he was bossing around was the Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow. He had the reaction one would expect from such a humiliation, but Bl. JPII never once grumbled, raised his voice or pulled rank on him.

So it really annoys me to hear and read all this garbage about how Cardinal Bergoglio is more humble and more down to earth and more like a “true disciple of Christ” than any of his predecessors.

Indeed, all of this brings with a huge caution. Much has been made of the alleged “Prophecy of St. Malachy,” a text of dubious provenance that seems to describe each Pope. The prophecy is allegedly “validated” by the fact that a church in Rome (I think St. Paul’s outside the Walls) has little cameos of the Popes, with the alleged prophecy’s nicknames for them, and there is only one space left–for Pope Francis. Even if the St. Malachy “prophecies” are true, and there’s a lot of evidence they aren’t, the prophecies technically say that “Peter the Roman” (presumably Francis) will be a great leader who will guide the Church through a time of crisis–and then Rome will be destroyed. The prophecy does not necessarily imply the End of the World, just the end of Rome. It also doesn’t say “Peter the Roman” will be an anti-Pope–though the “St. Malachy” text gets conflated with a lot of other alleged “prophecies” about end times Popes and anti-popes. Coded “messages are hard enough to decypher, but they become especially open-ended when people try to mix them all together.

In 2000, Pope John Paul finally revealed the Third Secret of Fatima, via the controversial Cardinal Sodano. Now, I’m not a big fan of conspiracy theories that say this wasn’t the “real” or “complete” Secret, particularly based upon claims spread by some sources that otherwise have little credibility, who insist on their own word that Sr. Lucia or somebody else said it wasn’t the “real” secret. However, after the prophecy was revealed and decribed, I wondered if they were jumping the gun a bit (so to speak) in insisting that it had been fully fulfilled.

After all, the Pope in the prophecy *dies*.

In the *only* two Vatican-approved apocalyptic prophecies about the Pope–Fatima and John Bosco (and when the Fatima announcement came out, people immediately pointed to the similarities to John Bosco’s dream), the Pope is shot and killed. JPII was not shot and killed. He was shot and lived. B16 seemed to fulfill some prophecies by his actions, his symbolism, and how JPII and Sr. Lucia died within a month of each other, but the similarities between Bergoglio and Wojtyla are uncanny. Wojtyla also shunned Vatican security when he was first elected. He tried to be a “Pope of the People” (he certainly was) and live as Pope the way he did as Archbishop for 3 years–until he was shot. *After* he was shot, he took on more of the trappings of the Papacy (and, some say, got more “conservative” when he read the Secret of Fatima, realized it was true and about him, etc.).

I always expected Pope Benedict to be assassinated given the animosity towards him, his statements about Islam, and his position vis-a-vis these approved prophecies, but Pope Francis’s similarities to JPII make me think we will one day be praying to St. Francis, Pope and Martyr.

Who *killed* JR?

OK, so TNT’s _Dallas_ leaves us with the mystery of “Who killed JR?” hoping that it will be as much a success as “Who shot JR?” was 33 years ago. It may all tie together, in that JR was shot by Christopher’s biological mother, Kristin Shepard, Sue Ellen’s sister. Indeed, while we saw JR’s second wife Cally Harper Ewing and his longtime mistress Mandy Winger, I was really surprised there was not a single direct reference to Kristin.

The 1980 finale was masterfully done. Besides being a ratings triumph and pop culture phenomenon, it set several precedents. Trying to keep the solution a secret, the producers did not tell *anyone* who the real shooter was. They filmed every one of the suspects shooting him: including Jock and Miss Ellie! I remember reading somewhere that Barbara bel Geddes took great delight in the scene. _Dallas_ built up over a season what _Murder She Wrote_ does in a half an hour. JR drove away Gary. He tried to drill on Southfork. When that wasn’t successful, he mortgaged the ranch to pay for oil leases in Southeast Asia because the other members of the Lonestar Cartel wouldn’t chip in on an international deal. He nearly lost the ranch when those wells didn’t come in, forcing a heartbroken Ellie to approve drilling on Southfork till the SE Asian fields came through. When the wells hit it big, the cartel tried to get back in, and JR refused. Meanwhile, Bobby kept trying to either get some respect at Ewing Oil or get permission to start his own company. Jock, after JR’s mortgaging the ranch fiasco, claimed to give Bobby more power, but JR still overrode him. Bobby discovered some old wells that had been closed for decades but could make a profit with modern technology, so he reopened them. Cliff Barnes found out that his father, and his father’s heirs, retained rights to royalties on some of those wells, and claimed his rights. JR shut the wells down.
When JR found out that there was going to be a revolution in Southeast Asia, he went back to the cartel and “let them in” on the deal so he could free up cash for other projects. Vaughan Leland, the banker who did the loan to begin with, mortgaged everything to get in on the deal. Then the revolution happened, and the wells were nationalized. Vaughan Leland lost everything, as did a few members of the Cartel. Seth Stone committed suicide. In parallel stories, JR also triple-crossed his henchman of the season, ambitious young lawyer Alan Beam, and his mistress, Kristin Shepard. When Bobby found out JR knowingly conned the Cartel and Vaughan Leland, Jock backed JR, saying the Cartel members knew “bidness” is risky, and that Leland deserved it. Jock also backed JR on shutting down the wells that the Barneses had rights to. Bobby said he was sick of both of them, and he and Pam left Southfork, breaking Ellie’s heart. Oh, and then there was Sue Ellen, whom JR once described as a “drunk, a tramp and an unfit mother.” She was going to leave him for rich rodeo cowboy Dusty Farlow, but Dusty had gone missing after a plan crash, and
Sue Ellen saw no way out of her abusive marriage except a gun. There were a lot of suspects, and the only ones with alibis were Bobby and Pam, whom the viewers saw driving away while JR was being shot.

This time, since it wasn’t planned, it was more _Law & Order_ than _Murder, She Wrote_: a sudden and unsuspected act of seemingly senseless violence.

JR was actually shot several times: 1) on a hunting trip in the first season; 2) by Kristin in the infamous season 3 finale; 3) by mercenary BD Calhoun in Season 9; 4) by Sue Ellen in the 10th season finale; 5) by Peter Ellington in _War of the Ewings_. Bobby was also shot by Katherine Wentworth in the 1984 cliffhanger, in a similar scene to the 1980 one, because Katherine thought he *was* J.R. Hence, in the promotions for TNT’s new series, they showed a scene where Ann holds a gun on JR, and he says, “Bullets don’t have much of an effect on me.” This time, they did.

What we know:
1) JR was in Abu Dhabi, both signing oil leases for Ewing Energies *and* trying to track down information on Pam.
2) *WHY* was JR looking for Pam, whom he hated? When he left town, Bobby’s wife Ann was still on trial. Did he want Bobby to have a contingency? Knowing that the Ewings were in for a major fight with Cliff, did he somehow think that Pam would side with them against her brother after 26 years? OR did this have something to do with Christopher’s paternity?
3) JR left Abu Dhabi early but told John Ross he was still there. He secretly went to Mexico, apparently trying to track down “dirt” on Harris Ryland, for his “master plan.” He met a “lady”–someone sophisticated–at a bar, then returned to his hotel, to which he was followed by his killer.
4) He left Sue Ellen a letter asking to go out on a date (producers claim they’d hoped to reunite JR and Sue Ellen for a third marriage; I really never thought they had long term plans for JR since Hagman’s health was so bad, and if anything I’d still like to see Sue Ellen bring out that blackmail movie she made about her & JR when she left in 1989). So he planned to return, at least *before* he left town.
5) By the time he made it to Mexico, he expected to die. He left a package for everyone, delivered by his henchman “Bum”. Bum explains to everyone what JR was up to and how he set some plans in motion. He gives John Ross and Bobby special things JR left them.
6) John Ross gets a box containing a gun and a letter. The letter says to expect Harris Ryland and Cliff Barnes to team up against the Ewings, and that the box contains what he needs to stop them (I’m presuming it’s not the gun, *unless* the gun is some kind of evidence).
7) Bobby gets the letter, has a very disturbed reaction, and suddenly insists on talking to Bum alone. He tells Bum to bribe whomever it is necessary to bribe to ensure the world thinks JR’s death is a random robbery-murder as the police already presume, that the Ewings will take care of the real killer. Then he goes to JR’s room, has a drink of JR’s bourbon and branch, cries, and commends his brother for a masterful plan.

I just read that the “actual” piece of paper merely described the reactions Bobby was supposed to have, but Duffy convinced the producers to tell him what the fictional letter was supposed to say so he could act it right. Apparently, the letter says who the real killer is. However, since the main spoiler we’ve been given about JR’s funeral is that there will be a revelation about someone’s parentage–assuming that wasn’t a complete red herring–I think it all ties together.

Now, it would be a masterful stroke and bring the whole saga to a nice wrap-up if Pam killed JR, but why so suddenly after 26 years of absence, and what does all this have to do with Ryland? Bobby’s reaction showed that he wanted to keep the contents of the letter from the rest of the family–why is that? Perhaps because it relates to Christopher’s paternity? Again, why was JR looking for Pam? The clues are all so vague as to go in a number of interesting directions, but I *hope* the writers handle this well. They say it will all be wrapped up by the end of the season, and the killer will be revealed in episode 15 on April 29. If it goes in one of the directions I suspect, it really should be a masterpiece.

JR’s Masterpiece?

Often, uncontrollable behind-the-scenes events can be the death of a TV series. The 2007-08 season was devastated by the Writers’ Strike, for example, and some series never recovered. Sometimes, writers can craft necessary changes into compelling storylines that seem like they were always planned. Gillian Anderson’s pregnancy during season 2 of _The X-Files_ led to Scully’s abduction on the show and established a great deal of the show’s “mythology,” as well as the introduction of recurring villain Alex Krycek. On _Dallas_, a last-minute decision by CBS to add several episodes to add a few more episodes to Season 3 led to ratings gold with the infamous “Who Shot JR?” storyline, which was a last-minute change but seemed like the whole season had built up to it, and the ramifications of that story–particulary the birth of Christopher Ewing–are arguably being felt today. Indeed, one of the reasons fans spent 20 years hoping for a revival was to resolve the question of whether Bobby and Pam’s adopted son Christopher is actually JR’s biological son.

Woman swapping among the Ewing’s happened long before the current John Ross-Elena-Christopher-Pamela Rebecca and back again quadrangle. While it was established early in the series through Holly Harwood and Katherine Wentworth that Bobby had a policy against sleeping with any woman who’d been with JR, Bobby later married April Stevens, the ex-wife of his cousin Jack and an ex-lover of JR. Bobby may have fathered Charlie Wade, the daughter of his first true love Jenna (played by Morgan Fairchild, Francine Tucker, and finally Priscilla Presley), a question revisited each time Jenna came back to town, but each time she was settled as the child of Naldo Marchetta (Daniel Pilon), the Italian count Jenna married and divorced. Jenna ended up marrying Ray Krebbs, Bobby’s half-brother, but only after a brief fling with Bobby produced a child, Lucas, whom Ray adopted. Prior to the series, Pam had been Ray’s girlfriend, and Jenna had been Bobby’s. Bobby married Pam, and Ray married Jenna. No mention of Jenna has been made in the TNT series.

Jenna 1

Jenna 2

Jenna 3

Rewatching parts of Season 2 recently, I started to wonder, based upon some clues in the show, if maybe Lucy was JR’s daughter–I think I’d had this thought before. This would explain why JR treats her *like* a daughter. It would explain why he drove Gary off, why Valene hates him so much, and why when she ran off with Lucy, JR hired “good ol’ boys” to retrieve the baby and threaten Valene’s life if she ever came back to Dallas. I searched to see if anyone else had the same theory, and it turned out this was actually in the “Series Bible” and the novels that were published in the series’ heyday based upon it: JR either seduced or raped Valene early in her relationship with Gary.

Meanwhile, around the time John Ross Ewing III was conceived, Sue Ellen had an affair with Cliff Barnes, but she also had an implied fling with Ray Krebbs. After the baby was born, a blood test confirmed he was not Cliff’s child, but there was never any question of whether he was actually Ray’s.

Another interesting fan speculation concerns the fact that, back in the 1930s, the triangle of Willard “Digger” Barnes, Eleanor “Miss Ellie” Southworth and John Ross “Jock” Ewing ended in the “horse whip” marriage of Jock and Ellie–while Ellie was pregnant with “Junior.” Some have speculated that, in the greatest of all ironies, J.R. might actually be the biological son of the foolish old drunk he always despised. This would, among other things, explain why Jock always felt emotionally distant from “Junior.”

I bring all this up because, way back in December, when spoilers began leaking about the funeral of JR Ewing, which aired this evening on TNT, one was that the funeral episode would bring a revelation about some character’s “true parentage.” Some suggested something out of left field, like new villain Harris Ryland being actually a Ewing (or, given some of the clues in tonight’s episode, is he a Barnes?). Some have suggested it might pertain to one of the above longstanding questions (Christopher finds out he’s JR’s; John Ross finds out he’s NOT JR’s; Lucy finds out she’s JR’s. . . . ). However, the only overt statement of paternity is that the writers have reminded us, a third time, that John Ross is JR’s “from tip to tail.” Well, they assured us very strongly all through the first season that “Rebecca Sutter” was NOT Pamela Rebecca Cooper (Barnes), in spite of the fact that she looked so much like Pam and so many clues indicated that she was.

I honestly don’t think John Ross will be “taken away from” JR, but I do think they plan to do something with Christopher. A few weeks ago, Jesse Metcalfe (Christopher) gave an interview saying how JR’s death would tie into the question of “what happened to Pam”–and tonight’s episode made it clear that this is the case. OTOH, Victoria Principal gave an interview recently where she insisted, again, she has no intention of returning to the show. This time, she said that since Bobby & Pam were supposed to be “Romeo & Juliet”, they had to have a tragic ending, and as far as she’s concerned, Pam died, and _Dallas_ ended, when the car blew up at the end of the 1987 season. She says she’s not responsible for what the producers did afterwards. The producers–fearing a repeat of what happened when they “killed off” Bobby in 1985, and Patrick Duffy decided to return–had Pam survive the crash, only severely burned, and JR helped her to leave town, putting her personal fortune in trust to Christopher and leaving divorce papers behind for Bobby. Lorimar launched a national contest for a VP lookalike and cast Margaret Michaels for the post-plastic surgery Pam, whom Bobby and Cliff (then close friends in spite of the current series’ backtracking of the Barnes-Ewing feud) tracked down at the clinic she was living in. Pam told Bobby she never wanted to see him again, and her doctor came in and said, “Why didn’t you tell him you’re dying?” A year later, Michaels returned for a story arc as “Jeannie,” a Pam lookalike who moves to Dallas and catches Bobby’s attention.

On a side note, the much-touted guest stars were as disappointing, by and large, as they’ve been previously. Gary had a couple lines. Ray and Lucy had a couple lines. Mandy and Cally (who was supposed to drop a major bombshell) had one scene. Cliff had a dramatic scene leading to a brawl that he wasn’t involved in, but at least seemed more like the classic obnoxious, crude Cliff Barnes we know than the Jeremy Wendell-type figure he’s been thus far in this new series.

“Hey! I hated him so much I didn’t even *come* to the funeral. Besides, don’t you remember that my mother was richer than him to begin with, and that’s why she couldn’t marry him back in the sixties?”

Once again, there was not even a mention of JR’s son James, grandson Jimmy, or of JR’s unnamed son by Cally. I read that Sasha Mitchell, who played James Beaumont on _Dallas_ and later Patrick Duffy’s character’s nephew on _Step by Step_, was offered a spot in the funeral show but declined (apparently he and Duffy do not get along regarding the circumstances of his departure from the latter show). We got more story out of the cameos from real life Dallas cameos Mark Cuban, and Jerry Jones than from the established characters!

“Bobby, would you like to join the panel on _Shark Tank_?”

Nonetheless, I felt the scenes involving Ray and Gary provided two subtle, if unintentional, allusions to two previous funerals that did not occur in the TNT series’ continuity. Bobby isn’t as ready to dance on JR’s grave as Gary and Ray are, so he spurns both of them. Bobby’s funeral during the 1985-86 “dream season” provided the opportunity for one of JR’s most famous zingers. Ray and Gary try to approach JR in brother sympathy, and JR snaps, “I had one brother, and he’s dead. No one can take his place, least of all either of you.” Of course, that all turned out to be a dream, but I took it as an allusion and parallel statement of JR and Bobby’s special bond in spite of their rivalry. Interestingly, that would be Ted Shackelford’s second-to-last appearance in the original series (the other being in the “world with no JR” in the series finale). The producers of _Knots Landing_ were not happy with the “It was all a dream” solution, since it screwed up their storylines, so _Knots Landing_ continued to exist in the same reality as Pam’s dream, and stopped doing crossovers.

He’s dead, Jim–or is he?

Prior to Bobby’s funeral, Gary’s last appearance was for the reading of Jock’s will in 1982, so Gary’s return last week was technically Ted Shackelford’s first “in continuity” appearance as Gary Ewing in 30 years.

The call no sibling wants to get: from now on, you only exist in your sister-in-law’s dream.

The other interesting allusion was to 1996’s _JR Returns_. We know the producers of the new series are ignoring the 1996 and 1998 reunion movies, but in _JR Returns_, J.R. fakes his death to activate a “small” trust fund Jock set up for John Ross–it was just a start up investment in a fledgling computer company in 1981 but is now worth billions. The characters come to Dallas to attend JR’s funeral, and he makes a grand Tom Sawyer-like entrance. So, tonight, Ray alluded to imagining this whole thing to be one of JR’s schemes, and expecting him to pop up.

It was a very emotional episode, and Patrick Duffy, Linda Gray and Josh Henderson delivered some powerful acting (though it’s clear they weren’t entirely acting: the three were truly best friends in real life, and Henderson and the younger cast members had all developed a strong mentor relationship with Hagman).