Everything seems to have been pretty peaceful on Southfork in the years since we last checked in on the Ewing clan. This doesn't last, of course. Bobby, whose been running things with his wife Ann, finds out he has cancer, but doesn't want to tell anybody until he's had a chance to dramatically clutch at his abdomen in pain a few times. His adopted son Christopher returns home looking for investors to fund his new alternative fuel project. When the investors shy away, Bobby decides to give him the money by selling Southfork. Like these people don't just have jillions of dollars at the ready. He aims to sell Southfork to a conservancy that will keep the land pristine, just like his mama wanted. His nephew, John Ross, has other ideas. Weaselly ideas. He and his girlfriend Elena sneak around and discover a huge amount of oil on the Ewing property, but Bobby forbids their drilling it.
John Ross goes fussing to his daddy about it. This is J.R. Ewing himself, once Dallas's foremost oil baron and ladies' man, now sitting unresponsive and alone in a (very fancy) nursing home. He's roused from his coma-like depression upon hearing Junior's news. He puts on his thinking cap – his cowboy hat – and starts coming up with ways to get Southfork back for himself. This involves all manner of shady double-dealings.
Meanwhile, Christopher is getting ready to marry his fiancée Rebecca. She seems sweet, but girl has some crazy eyes on her. Disappointingly, fisticuffs do not break out at the wedding, even though there's plenty of bad blood between Christopher and John Ross. It turns out Elena and Christopher were once engaged, but Christopher broke up with Elena via a shitty email. Except he didn't! So maybe it was John Ross who really sent the email so he could have Elena for himself! Except he didn't! It's the dullest subplot of the episode.
Christopher begs his father not to sell Southfork. For one thing, it's the family's heritage! For another thing, his new methane extraction process is totally causing earthquakes and killing people in China. Oops. Also? Sue Ellen Ewing looks amazing. Stay tuned for the full weecap.
Welcome back to Southfork Ranch, everybody! Hidden among the trees, a crew drills for oil. A computer beeps out a warning and a woman with long black hair wakes up and starts shouting at them to pull the drill. "Wake up, John Ross!" A young man pops up in his cot and everyone goes running over to the drill. Crude oil geysers out and rains down on everyone as they gaze skyward, their mouths agape. After everybody gets their stomachs pumped, the woman asks John Ross how he's going to tell Bobby. Apparently, nobody's ever been allowed to drill on Southfork. John Ross isn't worried, though, because he's cocky like that.
Elsewhere, Bobby is getting the news from his doctor that he has a gastrointestinal stromal tumor. Bobby reminds his doctor not to tell anyone, because he knows doctor-patient confidentiality is kind of an iffy prospect on TV. He'll tell his family himself after his son gets married in a couple of days so that his whole impending death drama doesn't bring everybody's mood down.
Cue the opening credits. The music, the imagery, even the lettering pay homage to the original. I didn't think I had any attachment to the original, only vaguely remembering it, but I may have clapped and giggled a little here.
Nostalgia's over. Bobby's son Christopher tries to talk some investors into funding his quest for alternative fuels. In this case, it's methane, which he demonstrates by setting a frozen chunk of it on fire over their country club lunch. (As an aside, I am shocked to discover Jesse Metcalfe is 33. He looks like he's barely out of high school.) The investors offer him a crap deal, which he doesn't take, saying, "I ain't a virgin, but I ain't a whore, either." A young lady in a sexy tennis outfit saunters up to him, speaking French, and drags him off to the women's locker room for some tonsil hockey. Or, as they say in France, le hockey du tonsil. They act like they don't know each other, but she's actually his fiancée Rebecca and she's not actually French. Seems kind of rude of her to have interrupted his meeting, seeing as how she couldn't have known it was over. Also, her bra is totally wrong for tennis.
Back at the ranch, Bobby and wife Ann let us know that there's some triangle-shaped history between John Ross, Christopher and Elena. Bobby also proposes the two of them go on a cruise together, even though he hates traveling. He wants his tumor to see the world.
Meanwhile, John Ross and Elena (his drilling partner from the previous scene) celebrate at a bar with their wildcatting buddies. John Ross seems like a pretty great guy, offering to treat his workers and their families to a weekend trip. It doesn't last. He sneaks off to hand a wad of cash to some guy, saying, "That's for not telling my uncle about drilling on Southfork." The guy says, "Betting against J.R.'s son would have been like betting against the Dallas Cowboys -- downright unpatriotic." John Ross gets a call and goes out into the alley to meet some unseen co-conspirator in a fancy red car.