Earlier this week, TNT’s Dallas made good on its promise to off one of the Ewings during the Season 3 finale, resulting in the series’ most explosive (too soon?) twist to date.
TVLine spoke with executive producer Cynthia Cidre about how the Ewings will deal with Christopher’s death, when we’ll finally learn the identity of Elena’s baby daddy and, of course, how John Ross’ long-lost sister will play into the events of Season 4 (assuming the show is renewed).
TVLINE | So, I have to ask… Why Christopher?
You know, we just always want to keep moving, like a shark. It’s like Woody Allen says in Annie Hall. We’ve established ourselves as a show that spins your head on your shoulders at the end of the season. We kept thinking, “We can’t do that,” and then, “Maybe we can,” and that went on for months. We actually shot a completely different ending [Where Christopher lives], partly to cover it up, but also because we had to make sure we could get away with it. It was expensive. … I hope it was OK, and I hope the fans can live with it. It opens up a lot of stories for Season 4, some really interesting new emotional things. We were sad to say goodbye to Jesse, but he totally understood. He knew these things happen on our show.
TVLINE | I know your plan is to jump six months ahead in Season 4. Does that mean we won’t see Christopher’s funeral, and that people will have moved on?
“Move on” is not what I would say. This is a massive tragedy in their lives. We made the choice of the six-month jump for several reasons. First, it’s exhausting to pick a season up a minute after the end of the last one. That really prevents you from coming up with fresh stories. The second reason is that Elena is pregnant, and we didn’t want to have her pregnant for the entire season. We needed that baby to be born, so that really sealed the deal. Believe me, the scars of that explosion are on everyone in every moment. It affects everything that’s going on. There’s no funeral, but there will be flashbacks to things like the funeral and the graveyard and the explosion.
TVLINE | When Elena does have that baby, who is it going to look like? It’s just Nicolas’ or John Ross’, right? There’s no secret third baby daddy?
[Laughs] There might be. I’d hate to spoil that for you.
TVLINE | How long into the run of Season 4 do you plan to reveal the father?
Oh, it’s going to be revealed in the first episode. I just finished it, so I know exactly what happens. And I have to say, I’m excited. If we don’t get picked up [for a fourth season], maybe I’ll just go ahead and publish our first two scripts.
TVLINE | Speaking of children, John Ross now has a long-lost sister out there. What’s your vision for her? How does she fit into this puzzle?
Well, let me first say that J.R. has many spawns out in the world, but this one is very different from the other spawns that exist. There is another secret involved in this that will be revealed in [the Season 4 premiere]. We didn’t want another son, because then he’d just be competing with John Ross. This is a different version of the J.R. personality. We’ll meet her in the first episode.
TVLINE | So much of the fun of the show came from watching John Ross butt heads with Christopher. Who will be his main adversary now?
If I said that, I would spoil something, so let me just tell you that there will be one. It’ll be a new character.
TVLINE | OK, let’s talk Judith, who I love. She stepped into a bigger role in the finale, so I’m wondering: Is there any chance she’ll become a series regular next season? I’d love to see her in those opening credits.
Me too! She’s the most delicious actor and human being, and we even call her “J.R.” on set for “Judith Ryland.” And we love watching her work with John Ross, which is why we put them together at the end of the finale. They definitely have a huge arc in Season 4, but a lot of it will have to do with our budget and how much we can afford.
TVLINE | You obviously haven’t cast John Ross’ sister yet, since you haven’t been picked up, but do you have an idea of the type of actress you’re looking for?
Well, we did cast her hand. We shot a quick scene where John Ross meets her, but you only see her hand. She had chipped nails and bracelets — it was a really cool hand. We decided to pull it, and that’s actually another reason we decided to jump six months. Had he met her in the finale, what the hell would he have done with her for six months that we wouldn’t have seen?
TVLINE | Lastly, Tracey popped back up in the finale, and I love me some Melinda Clarke. Do you have any plans to use her again?
Oh, yes. She has a big part coming up, though Melinda doesn’t know it yet. I thought she had nice chemistry with Bobby and she played well in our Crayon box. We like her and we definitely have stories for her.
Dallas fans, how do you feel about Christopher’s death now? Who do you think is the father of Elena’s baby? And who should play John Ross’ sister? Drop a comment with your thoughts and theories below.