Sue Ellen Still Likes the Sauce

Sue Ellen ponders a new cocktail on midseason premiere of TNT's Dallas

Sue Ellen ponders a new cocktail on midseason premiere of TNT's Dallas

While Elaine Liner is in Scotland for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, I'm taking up her recapping mantle until she returns. Take a swig of after shave, kids, and let's get through this together.

The title of tonight's episode, "Denial, Anger, Acceptance," refers to three of the five stages of grief. Thanks to the actors' blank stares and unlined faces, I couldn't tell if anyone was actually grieving, but there sure was a lot of loss.

Most significantly, Bobby (Patrick Duffy) lost Southfork, which burned spectacularly during the April midseason finale. From what I can gather, that leaves a lot of folks homeless now, but that's a problem for another time.

 In desperation, Sue Ellen snatches up a bottle of after shave, finds the most important ingredient (sweet, sweet alcohol!) and pockets it.

Who set the fire? Was it Heather's (AnnaLynne McCord's) ex-husband Bo (Donny Boaz), as everyone assumes, who's now undergoing surgery to "put his spinal column back together?" (By the way, excellent scienc-ing, writers!) Or was it a soused Sue Ellen (Linda Gray), who's eyeing the pitcher of water in her hospital room like she wishes it were vodka? Only time — and some wavy, Lifetime movie-looking flashbacks — will tell.

While Southfork burned (with what I'm assuming was a highly flammable Sue Ellen inside), John Ross (Josh Henderson) was having what he thought were sexy times with both his wife Pamela (Julie Gonzalo) and his mistress Emma (Emma Bell). Before watching, a friend gave me a primer on who's-related-to-whom vs. who's-sleeping-with-whom. This, I have learned, is a case of both related-to and knocking-boots-with, as Emma is John Ross' cousin by marriage. But just when things start getting hot and heavy, Pamela passes out and begins vomiting white goo.

Seems the jilted wife wanted to exact a little revenge, so she downed a bunch of pills before slipping on her negligee and crashing the Omni Dallas suite. There are many references to a video Pam received of John Ross and Emma in bed, and everyone assumes it was Emma who pressed "send."

"She's crazy," my friend offered when Emma first popped onscreen. Really? This timid, washed-out blonde is the evil seductress, the homewrecker of the Ewings? Emma spends the majority of this episode looking spooked, whether it's when stepdad Bobby is forbidding her to return home or when wicked grandma Judith (Judith Light) is coaching her on how to "nurture the hurt, feed the hurt."

 Judith Light should have more screen time. Let's just rename this show Judy Does Dallas and set it in her Swiss Avenue brothel. I'd watch.

Ah, Judith Light. Elaine wasn't kidding when she said this scenery-chewer should have more screen time. In fact, let's just rename this show Judy Does Dallas and set it in her Swiss Avenue brothel. I'd watch.

Her best line this week is when she's scolding Ann (Brenda Strong) for not mothering Emma properly. "At least this time she didn't leave my granddaughter at the fair," Judith sniffs, shooting Ann a melting glare before protectively steering Emma away.

While sifting through the charred ruins, Bobby confronts his wife, Ann, about an illicit kiss shared between her and her ex, the wry and dry Harris Ryland (Mitch Pileggi). "Thank goodness you weren't in the house," Bobby says, before adding suspiciously, "Where were you?" The length of that pause before Ann answers is comically incriminating.

Maybe it's because I didn't see this smooch, but the whole confrontation felt like weak sauce. Oh well. Perhaps we'll grieve more for this fractured pair next week.

Meanwhile, sinister-seeming Nicolas (Juan Pablo Di Pace) is pacing around an abandoned warehouse, being sinister. Not kidding — even his voicemail greeting portends bad deeds. I'm still not entirely clear who he is, but the writers made sure to clue me into the fact that he's using Elena (Jordana Brewster). He's also lying to her, saying that her missing brother Drew (Kuno Becker) is almost certainly in Mexico when in fact he's right in front of Nicolas, confined to a room with a one-way mirror. That never ends well.

As John Ross is attempting to apologize to his wife with a sentimental gift — a melted plastic ring, which she promptly drops in the trash — and Heather's creepy little son is bringing his daddy a stuffed bull (there would have been cookies too, but the little bugger ate them all), Sue Ellen is wandering around the hospital gift shop in her waffle robe.

In desperation, she snatches up a bottle of after shave, finds the most important ingredient (sweet, sweet alcohol!) and pockets it before guiltily exiting the gift shop. Though she can't bring herself to down the bright blue liquid, the petty theft does prompt her to stroll down to the waiting room and confess her guilt. In a drunken stupor, she set fire to John Ross' wedding invitation.

Mystery solved, right?

Wrong. Turns out Drew snuck into John Ross' room, plugged in an evil air freshener, then spritzed the walls with what appeared to be alcohol. I'm going to assume this is what attracted Sue Ellen to the room (although she stopped short of licking the curtains), but setting that invite aflame certainly didn't help matters.

With Drew's usefulness now over, and as payback for some business with a drug cartel (sure, why not), he gets a gun to the temple. See? I told you Nicolas was bad news.

Linda Gray as Sue Ellen on TNT's Dallas
Sue Ellen: Still liking the booze. Photo courtesy of TNT
Judith Light on TNT's Dallas season 3
Judith Light: Still a scene stealer. Photo courtesy of TNT
Patrick Ewing and Jesse Metcalf in season 3 of TNT's Dallas
Southfork: Still burned down. Photo by Skip Bolen