To me, Season Two started off slow. Gary #1 wasn’t the reunion I’d hpped for and now, it’s time for another reunion, with someone we’ve never heard of – Jenna
Backstory, I mean, Wade. I’ve never liked Jenna Wade. In theory, the idea of an old flame of Bobby’s makes sense. Bobby wouldn’t cheat, so I can see how narratively, only a ghost from his past could compete with Pam. However, I am a HUGE Morgan Fairchild fan and wish she’d come back in future episodes.
Still, Jenna’s origin story isn’t endearing. Even Sue Ellen, First Lady of Texas Golddiggers, LLC, says it’s remarkable how Jenna bounces from man to man. Her family was rich, then wasn’t and she was a mistress to Maynard Anderson, an energy department appointee. That’s where we meet Jenna – flouncing into bed with Maynard. When the wife catches her and Maynard and threatens them, she turns to Bobby for help. But not until J.R. gets involved.
In true Ewing style, the tip-toeing around Bobby’s past is hilarious. At breakfast, even Miss Ellie and Jock maneuver the big-mouthed Lucy out of the house and Bobby and J.R. head out rather than just saying “Jenna is an ex-girlfriend, Pam. You won’t need to worry about her until Season 8.”
Maynard calls J.R. for help with Jenna and crafty ol’ J.R. sets up a chance encounter between the old lovebirds Bobby and Jenna. Back at the ranch, Pam confronts Miss Ellie about who this Jenna character is. In a hilarious aside, Pam talks about how after breakfast, there’s not much to do on the ranch and she sees why Sue Ellen keeps busy with her luncheons.
Or, as we know it, her alcoholism. That can keep you busy.
Miss Ellie and Jock spill the beans – they all thought Jenna and Bobby would marry. Jock does mention Jenna had one good point – she wasn’t Digger’s daughter.
Jenna shows up outside the Ewing offices in a convertible, is delightfully flirty and is played by 80s icon, Morgan Fairchild! Jenna says she needs help and Bobby tells her to scoot over and he drives her car off to the park.
70s Culture Shock
As we’ll see in later seasons, Bobby is not truly the woke, often-shirtless man of my dreams. He never wants to Pam to work (which, if it were me, I’d settle in comfortably to ranch life and learn how to outdrink Sue Ellen). But to tell a little lady he’ll drive … well, that’s icky on a whole new level.
Jenna reminds Bobby he’s the one who introduced her to the “good life” — then tried to take it away by marrying her. This is the definition of “missing the point,” Jenna. However, she asks him if the “present Mrs. Ewing” (oooh, burn!) is safely tucked away on Southfork with the other women. Ouch!
The tension ratchets up as they start talking about her affair with Maynard. Maynard’s wife, quite reasonably, wants Jenna to give back the condo he bought for her. Bobby offers to pay her rent somewhere until she gets on her feet. She kisses him, but he doesn’t react.
Back at the office, Jenna calls to have him sign the lease on her new place – and it’s in her daughter Charlie’s school district! YAY! Instead of driving himself, Bobby gets a cab and then Ewing 4 pulls up … yep, he has missed Pam by milliseconds!
J.R. is overly friendly to Pam. He tries to make Pam jealous, but she plays it off masterfully. If Pam was more like that throughout the run of the show, I’d have liked her better.
Back at the ranch. Miss Ellie is needlepointing, and Pam is reading a magazine as they all discuss Bobby’s lateness. As she tries not to be drawn into the conversation, Pam starts really READING that magazine within an inch of its life.
Fashion Conscious Neckwear
These Ewing and their poor neckwear choices! J.R. sports a bicentennial-type tie that wasn’t cool in 1976, much less 1979. Jock is wearing another bolo tie, but this one isn’t as cool as some of his others.
I’m beginning to suspect the wardrobe department hated these actors and decided to sabotage them with poor neckwear options.
Miss Ellie pipes up, saying Jenna always causes trouble whenever she shows up and Pam reads harder. Sue Ellen chimes in that Jenna broke her daddy’s heart when she had that child. Perhaps she wasn’t living in the right school district?
The magazine begins to boil and disintegrate under Pam’s READING.
Lucy answers the phone and her smirk is pure Season One troublemaker. Pam tosses aside the shreds of her magazine and answers the phone. It must suck answering a phone connected to the wall, that you can’t take outside and get away from the brutal stares of your in-laws.
Pam pulls on her big girl panties and simply tells them Bobby’s delayed and they should eat.
The next day she swims as hard as she reads. Bobby says she is a sound sleeper and didn’t even wake when he came to bed. Clue-less, Bobby. Just as Bobby’s open robe and smile have gotten him out of the doghouse, the outdoor phone rings and it’s Jenna. Maynard’s trying to run her out of town and she wants to have lunch.
Bobby saves the situation by doing the smartest thing he’s done all episode and invites Pam to go with him to lunch. The two rivals finally meet at Charlie’s school. Bobby is pretty inconsiderate, telling Jenna he’ll open any doors for Jenna that Maynard’s wife closes. Charlie hands Pam her favorite doll, so THAT won’t come back to haunt everyone later.
J.R. and Maynard meet for a liquid lunch. Maynard wants the Jenna problem gone, but he still wants Jenna, so he’s none too pleased with J.R.’s scheme to hook her back up with Bobby. Jock comes in for lunch and berates Maynard for being caught and tells him that in his day, they handled their women a little bit differently.
I’m beginning to understand why the wardrobe people may have hated these people.
J.R. stops by Jenna’s apartment. Even though she hasn’t unpacked yet, the drinks (and drink cart) are ready to go. In Texas, the booze always gets unpacked first. J.R. flirts and Jenna calls him out for trying to use her to break up Bobby and Pam. He laughs and says she is holding the high card – Charlie. Could it be? Is Charlie … Bobby’s daughter?!?!
Jenna and Bobby meet at the same park again. Now they’re having a picnic. Jenna says she may need to leave Dallas. She hints around about Charlie’s parentage. Bobby says he asked about that a long time ago – but she never gave him a straight answer.
That night, Pam wakes up to no Bobby in bed. Downstairs, he’s having a beer. Actually, he’s popping open a second one. Pam is ready to confront things and Bobby doesn’t want to. He gets testy when Pam brings up Charlie and Jenna. Pam kisses him, but doesn’t get the reaction she hoped for.
Bobby goes back to his beer and Charlie’s doll, which means … Bobby having a midnight tea party?
Next morning, Jenna’s on her way out of her apartment and Bobby is there as she opens the door. Jenna asks for a ride into town – her car’s in the shop, and she needs some new things for Charlie. THIS will end well.
Pam and Bobby were supposed to have lunch with Cliff … only Bobby doesn’t show. Cliff tells Pam his news. “I’m gonna run for the state senate. Glen Cochrane died. That’s uh, probably the first decent thing he’s done for the taxpayers and that leaves the race for his seat wide open.” Ouch, Cliff! What did Glen Cochrane ever do to you?
Cliff runs off to “make calls.” Shortest lunch ever. Of course, he runs into Bobby and Jenna – with a shit ton of packages. Cliff introduces himself and throws some total (and well-deserved) shade at Bobby.
Pam rides a horse around the front yard until Bobby tears up the driveway at mach three. Does he think he’s Digger?
The fireworks explode in one of Bobby and Pam’s best fights ever. She says she can handle it if Charlie IS Bobby’s kid. Bobby peels off and I know he’s going to hit a gate or something.
Miss Ellie comes out and sees Pam with the horse. She gives Pam some great advice about how she had to take a horse whip to Jock to make him do right by her. So, the Ewings like it kinky! After Miss Ellie’s pep talk, Pam heads to Jenna’s for a 70s showdown!
Jenna, just out of the shower, opens the door for Bobby. THIS will look good when Pam shows up. Jenna goes to dry her hair and Bobby keeps drinking and looks in on Charlie. He comes back and writes out a check. Like brother, like brother apparently – first J.R. tries to pay off Valene, now Bobby’s paying off Jenna.
In the Southfork kitchen, Jock tries to sneak a cigarette and J.R. comes in. It’s hilarious to think Jock thought he could simply wave away the smoke so Miss Ellie wouldn’t smell it. Jock is wise to J.R.’s plan to use Jenna to break up Bobby and Pam, but J.R. says Jock has to stop fighting Bobby’s battles.
Finally, Pam gets to Jenna’s. Pam insists she’s not going to make a scene and wake Charlie. So, she makes a scene and wakes Charlie. Pam screamingly demands an answer on Charlie’s paternity. Jenna finally admits it’s not Bobby’s kid. Bobby stalks off after signing the lease over in Jenna’s name. Jenna tells Pam J.R. was behind it all.
Capice Moment – Bobby waits outside. He tells Pam he loves Pam more than anything and so all is forgiven. They kiss.
Overall, I give this two Charlie dolls out of five … not a great episode, but of all the Jenna Wades, Morgan Fairchild is my fave.
See you on the ranch next week!