Miss Ellie plans the annual Ewing Barbecue to celebrate Jock's return from South America. Lucy invites Mitch to the party but is annoyed when he neglects her. Ray gets drunk and embarrasses Donna. Miss Ellie gets a shocking phone call.
Jock's death has a devastating effect on J.R. and Bobby has to cover for himself as well as his brother in running Ewing Oil. J.R. is unable to deal even with the simplest of business demands in his grief.
J.R., behind the scenes, gets a job offer for Cliff to get him out of Southfork so he can make a move to rekindle his relationship with Sue Ellen. Ray is caught with another woman by Donna and Lucy confronts Evelyn about Mitch.
J.R. has Ray arrested during one of his binges then shows up at jail and persuades a distraught Ray to sign over his ten voting shares in Ewing Oil. Cliff discovers J.R.'s plot to get him a phony job with Olco Industries.
J.R. returns to Southfork where the family is celebrating Christopher's adoption which serves to depress him further as he realizes he may be a long way from having his own son back. Ray cleans up his act and starts to put his life back together.
Katherine looks for J.R.'s help because Cliff has taken over Wentworth Tool and Dye. Donna uncovers a secret in the pasts of the Ewings and Culvers while Clayton does some investigating to find out if Cliff is good for Sue Ellen.
Bobby Ewing's worst fears are realized when Farraday is murdered but a much worse blackmailer takes his place, his brother, J.R. With copies of Christopher's adoption records in his possession, J.R. realizes that he is probably the real father and now he can force Bobby to do his will so that Pam will never find out.
Miss Ellie makes a decision on the book Donna is working on and comes to accept that Jock has died. The police recruit Bobby's help in setting up a plan to catch Farraday's killers and Cliff is fired by his mother for embezzlement.
Cliff is devastated by Sue Ellen's return to J.R. and when Afton visits him she makes a shocking discovery. Bobby comes clean and reveals Christopher's true parentage to Pam. Clayton makes a return to Southfork and Lucy admits to a terrible secret.
J.R. is the focus of everyone's wrath at Southfork. J.R. is blamed by the other Ewings, as well as Afton and Rebecca, for driving Cliff to suicide. Bobby has his own reasons for being furious with J.R. after being blackmailed by him over Christopher.
The Oil Baron's Ball opens up a new era for Miss Ellie. Sue Ellen is shocked when Dusty shows up at the Southern Cross while she is there visiting Clayton. Lucy decides she must get on with her life and put the past behind her.
With Jock's will pitting them against each other, J.R. and Bobby prepare to do battle to prove who is the best man and entitled to Ewing Oil. Miss Ellie is in the middle as her two sons square off and Ray is happy that he is now on par financially with...
Oilmen boycott JR's wedding to Sue Ellen as they are all up in arms over his variance to pump oil at full capacity. Meanwhile, JR rubs Cliffs nose in the fact that he's re-marrying Sue Ellen by inviting him to the wedding. Other guests include Clayton Farlow, who tries to help console Miss Ellie over the fight between JR and Bobby. In an effort to fight JR's variance, the state of Texas is willing to create a different oil commission, but only if Donna will serve on the committee.
Cliff goes nuts at JR & Sue Ellen's dance, resulting in half the wedding party taking an unscheduled dip in the pool. Afton later admits to Cliff her part in his securing the purchase of his oil refinery from Gil Thurman and Bobby reveals his knowledge of JR being behind Harwood Oil.
Holly Harwood entertains thoughts of getting JR out of her company and Bobby into her bed at the same time. The Texas Energy Commission deliberates on JR's variance, as he pulls a move that threatens the entire Texas oil community, which shows up at the Ewing annual barbecue like an old-fashioned Texas showdown.
Having decided to contest Jock's will, Miss Ellie meets with resistance from JR, Bobby, and Harve Smithfield, who must defend the will and recommends someone else to her. Donna meets with resistance from the Texas Energy Commission when she stands her ground about JR's variance.