J.R. and Kimberly Cryder concoct a scandalous surprise for Sue Ellen. To Bobby's relief, Lisa Alden can't be found, apparently cancelling the trial. Clayton finds comfort from a supportive Laurel, while Miss Ellie walks into the shock of her life.
Miss Ellie retreats into a drunken rage after she spies Clayton and Laurel together for a second time. Disillusioned and hurt, Ellie seeks comfort in silence, bewildering Clayton. J.R. and Kimberly's scheme to rid themselves of Sue Ellen backfires.
J.R. sets his sights on the beautiful and innocent Laurel Ellis. Clayton's arrest for murder provides J.R. with ammunition to lure Laurel into his stable of conquests. In their effort to win back Ewing Oil, Kay introduces Bobby to a powerful Senator.
J.R. revels in his power when he uncovers evidence that could extricate Clayton from the charge of murdering David Shulton. Holding the key to Clayton's freedom, J.R. decides to use the information to his own advantage.
Murder charges are filed as the families of Southfork are torn apart over the shooting of J.R. by his furious wife, Sue Ellen. Cliff finally comes face to face with Pam, as Bobby wrestles with his feelings about his ex-wife.
Cliff Barnes, resolving to get out of the oil business, offers Barnes-Wentworth to Bobby and Ewing Oil. Clayton Farlow, immersed in the running of Southfork, also offers to sell his oil refineries to Bobby.
While J.R. is imprisoned on a torturous chain gang, his long time nemesis, Cliff Barnes, joins Bobby as a new partner in Ewing Oil. Clayton suspects foul play when the river that runs across Southfork mysteriously dries up.