The action begins during breakfast at Southfork. J.R. goes on and on and on about Euclid's Elements between bites of bacon. He starts in on isosceles triangles and how they relate to the oil business somehow, but Lucy has had enough. "'Pons asinorum'?" she says. "Talk English, J.R., what does that even mean?"
Sue Ellen chimes in: "It means, uh, 'Bridge of Asses', Lucy." Lucy then gives a cheeky (no pun intended) (actually yes, pun intended) grin and waggles her eyebrows suggestively.
PSYCHE! Ha ha haaaaa, sorry to kill your math boner, NERDS, but the titular triangle ain't about shapes. It's about love! Well, it's not about "love" either, really. Maybe it is about shapes? I'm not really sure, to tell you the truth. I guess it doesn't matter. All I know is that there is minimal Pam to be found herein, and even minimal-er Sue Ellen; in fact, this is a Ray Krebbs-centric episode. That sounds like a nightmare recipe for disaster, doesn't it? Under any other circumstances, you'd be right to be worried. But my friends, "Triangle" is 100% country fried awesome, because it features Kate fucking Mulgrew as local singing phenom Garnet McGee! This is some Calamity Janeway shit, and it has made my life.
The episode opens with one of Garnet's scintillating performances. Pam, Bobby, Lucy, and some doofus Lucy bought are in attendance because Garnet McGee is hot hot hot. They're all shocked to see Garnet stroll on over to Ray Krebbs when her set is over- Garnet and Ray? Really? No one knew, probably because Ray has been almost entirely absent for like the last ten episodes. Bobby, Lucy, and Doofus are excited to meet Garnet, but Pam plays it cool. She already knows Garnet, see, from their days together as a couple of poors. In fact, Pam tells Bobby that Garnet is nothing more than an opportunist. Why, she even lived with a songwriter once...just for the songs. She's gonna chew up poor ol' Ray and spit him out like a piece of gristle.
But not tonight! No, tonight Ray and Garnet engage in The Act of Lovemaking. Afterward, Garnet presses Ray for some info on Southfork, and he confides in her that Southfork means oh so very much to him. He's been there for almost 20 years, saved from a life of petty crimes and skinniness by Jock Ewing. Then he tells Garnet that he loves her, and she responds by asking if he'll always be poor. She ruminates on her own life of poorness and how she desperately desires to be done with it. "The wantin's like a disease," she says as she nuzzles his naugahyde belly despondently. This can only end well!
The next morning, Lucy tells everyone at the breakfast table about her dreams of becoming a singer. She asks J.R. for some help- after all, he's got connections in the Austin and Nashville music scenes, of course- and he promptly shuts that shit down. She gets no support from anyone, and her pleas of "But I want my life to be interesting!" fall on deaf ears. Actually, that's not true- everyone hears what she has to say, and they all respond with variations of "forget it," "you'll embarrass the family," "that's absurd," "absolutely not," "no," and "fucking NO." Maybe if she'd busted out the "But I got a lot of claps in the bar that time I was forced to sing by the guy who pretty much kidnapped me, remember? Oh no wait, you were all too goddamn busy celebrating my birthday without me!" it might have worked.
Ah, who am I kidding? These terrible people would never allow Lucy to have her own life and identity! But perhaps things will work out for Lucy after all (yeah right); she tells Ray, "It's not over...not until I say it is," and you guys, I think that glower means business.
That night, there's a party at Southfork for some reason and Ray has brought Garnet as his date. The men fawn over her, but Pam is having none of it. When the two women are left alone, Pam lays it on the line: "You'll use Ray until something better comes along!"
Garnet counters with "Didn't you?" and *sniff sniff* what's that smell? Is this another Ewing Barbecue? No, sorry, it's just the char-broiled scent of Pam getting burnt. Sorry Pam, you know I love you (although what in the Victorian era hell is that hair) but Garnet wins this round of the sass-off.
"Well played, McGee...well played."
J.R. finally gets a load- an eyeload, that is- of Garnet and is immediately smitten, or at least he's immediately turned on. He asks her to dance despite the fact that Ray has staked his claim. Ray looks on all peeved-like, but let's be real. Like I said, all the men at the party are fawning over her and no wonder! She's dressed like a giant baseball for fuck's sake.
Oh and for some reason Lucy is mad at Ray for dating Garnet? Poor Lucy. If there's one character on this show I'd expect to end up committing suicide just to escape her miserable life, it's her.
The next morning, Jock summons Ray into his office to ask about his life plans. Ray tells him he's simply waiting for the right moment to ask Garnet to marry him, and of course Jock makes this all about himself. What about Southfork? Will Ray leave because he'll be starting his own family? Ray's unsure about his future, but Jock's got a plan: he hands Ray a deed to some Southfork land, solely to ensure that he'll never want to leave. He actually says that, that he wants Ray to stay at Southfork forever. I don't know about you, but all of this "stay here forever and ever" shit that Jock and Miss Ellie keep spewing makes me think of one thing and one thing only.
I mean, right? Also, I know I am showing some A+ Photoshop skills there, you don't have to tell me about it.
J.R. takes Garnet to lunch and tries to woo her into some post-lunch coitus, but she is unimpressed...or, she's smart enough to know that she should play unimpressed. No one ever makes J.R. give chase for long, so to maximize her winnings when they eventually do the
That evening, we finally get an extended Garnet McGee performance and...holy shit, she's terrible!
Mind you, I may think she's terrible but clearly J.R. does not. Or maybe he does think she's terrible but not so much that he doesn't still want to get McGee in the McSack. Sadly, I am not privy to J.R.'s inner monologue, so I can only surmise. At any rate, over breakfast he sets a scheme in motion to get Ray out of the picture for a day or two by sending him to Odessa in pursuit of some amazing bull that's purportedly for sale.
Before he leaves town, Ray stops by Garnet's place; now that he's a landowner, he wants to get married right this second and he can't understand why she's not immediately excited to be his wife. She tries to explain that she's got shit to do: dreams to achieve, gigs to perform, her own life to live, etc, and she's giving him all she's capable of giving him right now. This gives Ray the sads, but not me! I love that one of the emerging themes in the series is that some women don't want to define themselves by their husbands or boyfriends. They are people! People with marginal talent maybe, but people nonetheless. Hooray for the late 70s!
J.R. is so super hot for Garnet that he's called her to his office at Ewing Oil to talk about a contract offer he's got for her. He'll use Ewing money to jumpstart her career- he's already booked studio time with a bigshot producer- in exchange for 25% of her earnings from all sources...and "exclusive use of her services" for as long as he wants. He basically wants to make her a country-croonin' hooker! But Garnet McGee is not outraged, nor is she offended. Remember, she's got that wantin' disease, and if sleeping with J.R. is the cure, then she'll do it. "Ten percent," she counters, and they smile deviously at each other. Game recognizes game, y'all!
(Meanwhile, in Odessa, Ray is just discovering that the bull deal was nothing but bull crap. He's been had! And so he heads back to Dallas...dun dun dunnnnnnn....)
Lucy shows up in J.R.'s office while he's "down in the labs" (awesome, I so want to see the Ewing Oil labs). She takes the opportunity to do a bit of snooping and reads the Garnet McGee contract that's just a-layin' there on his desk. We get a good long look at it, just in case we forgot the terms that were laid out 30 seconds prior.
When her uncle returns, Lucy pleads her case once more: won't he help her get a foot in the door of the music business? And once more, J.R. tells her no dice. Then she brings up the contract she just peeped; she doesn't want to blackmail him, but come on man, really won't he help her please? J.R. tells her that there's nothing untoward in that contract, so she can tell whomever she wants all about it...and besides, if she does tell, well then she'll be just like her mother: "a scheming, blackmailing little tramp." I'm pretty sure my face looked just like Lucy's when he busted out that little buttnugget of mean.
Sorry, I don't know what a "buttnugget" is...I certainly don't want to imply that J.R. took a dump at his desk
That evening, J.R. heads to Garnet's to collect his first installment of nookie. Oh, and remember that he's got a pregnant wife? Yeah, she's been in bed all day with a case of the baby barfs. Miss Ellie kind of tries to talk to her and Sue Ellen plays the "patient wife" card and they both obviously know that he's out cheating on her at that very moment and it's pretty depressing.
J.R. and Garnet enjoy some post-coital poker (as you do) and bond a bit over their mutual greed; she's greedy because she grew up with nothing, and he's greedy because he wants to be. Then J.R. tells her she needs to dump Ray, and he latches onto her neck to initiate nookie installment #2, and it's just the grossest thing. Garnet seems to have one of those stark "What the fuck is my life?" moments, but it quickly passes.
Ray has finally returned to Southfork and he's gearing up to head into town when Lucy shows up. Ah geez, you guys, she does the tiny sex goblin thing again. Lucy, no! I thought that was all behind us. Way, way behind us!
To his credit (and my relief), Ray begs off, reiterating that their tryst is over for good, that it was a mistake, blah blah blah. In her angry disappointment, Lucy blurts out the news about the contract and tells him that Garnet and J.R. and out there somewhere having a tryst of their own. An ominous piano plays and Ray storms out! Lucy starts yelling and shrieking about how she didn't mean to say anything and oh no disaster is imminent. Pam comes out to see what all the fuss is about, and Ray says that while Bobby may have taken Pam from him, J.R. ain't gonna take Garnet. It's so dramatic!
Ray speeds off into the night. Pam tells Bobby what's up and he speeds off after Ray.
But Bobby's not fast enough! Ray shows up at Casa de the Most Hideous Fucking Wallpaper Ever and punches J.R. He punches him in the face! He punches him in the face twice! He punches him in the face twice and then starts strangling him! Ray has lost it, you guys.
Bobby arrives before Ray can actually murder J.R., but man, Ray is done. He is sweaty and he's done!
He's fed up and totally tired of the Ewings using their Ewing money to buy whatever and whomever they want. "I'm clearin' out!" he says, and clear out he does. Ray clear out! Ray mad! Ray so mad he...he...
Bobby catches up with him outside and plays the "What about Jock?" card, and again, to Ray's credit (and my relief) he tells Bobby that he don't owe Jock shit. But then J.R. comes out and tells Ray he has to leave Southfork by morning, so Ray is all "Well if you want me to go, then I'm not goin'!" If J.R. wants Ray gone, he can try to get Jock to fire him. And so Southfork maintains its hold on another victim.
The next morning, it's a new day, because that's how time works. But also it's a new day in Ray's brain, you know, like with a fresh outlook or whatever. Holding his deed, he gazes out over his little chunk of land with pride. Lucy rides up and apologizes, and asks if they can be friends because she really doesn't have any. To make this sad moment even sadder, the camera pulls back and we see the land Ray has been looking at, the parcel given to him by Jock as a reward for 20 years of service. It's some dirt and a tree! So very generous. But no matter. Like everyone else, Ray will be here forever...and ever...and ever...