Watch out, Southfork: There's a new Pamela Barnes in Dallas.
On the Season 1 finale of the TNT reboot, it was revealed that Christopher Ewing's estranged wife and baby mama was not actually soft-spoken small town girl Rebecca Sutter, but Pamela Rebecca Barnes, the daughter of longtime Ewing family rival Cliff Barnes (Ken Kercheval).
"What I love about this year is that she is real. She is not pretending. She is who she says she is," Julie Gonzalo tells TVGuide.com of her character. "You really get to understand where she's coming from and why she does the things she does."
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Rebecca's real identity came as a surprise to fans, but not to Gonzalo, who learned of Rebecca's real identity, as well as the subsequent external and internal changes coming, while promoting the first season. Gonzalo says the transition from seemingly innocent Rebecca Sutter to conniving Rebecca Barnes was done episode-by-episode. "There were never any Clifsf Notes," Gonzalo says. "I couldn't, as an actor, be more blessed to be able to have such diversity."
Sure enough, on the two-hour Season 2 premiere (Monday at 9/8c on TNT), just four weeks have passed since her true lineage was revealed and Rebecca is wasting no time following her father's orders to try to get a stake in Ewing Energies. "You can definitely expect for her to own up to who she is and to take what is hers," Gonzalo says. "She's a very smart girl. She's a lawyer. She's not going to be messed around with."
However, that doesn't mean there won't be an internal struggle between following her strict instructions and following her heart, as she clearly still holds a candle for Christopher (Jesse Metcalfe). "She truly is her father's daughter, and she wants to make him proud," Gonzalo says. "There is a huge struggle to continue to please her father when she doesn't always agree with him. She's becoming a mother. There's definitely a sensitivity that's growing inside of her."
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The twins she is expecting with Christopher will not only complicate Rebecca's lingering feelings for her ex, but also complicate their power struggle in a brewing custody battle. "Rebecca didn't lie about that. She's in love with Christopher. She's having babies with Christopher," she says. "I think that she needs to deal with Christopher being in a relationship with Elena and knowing that things probably won't ever be the same, ever. What I do like about her is the fact that there's a level of honesty within that she reveals later on. She's very, very strong. You can't underestimate her."
But while Rebecca's heart may still beat for Christopher, look for her to strike up a romantic — or at least physical — relationship with John Ross (Josh Henderson) this season. "She pretty much realizes how they're both cut from the same cloth," Gonzalo says. "They do definitely see eye-to-eye on a lot of goals. Another thing is they're both trying to make their fathers proud. It is kind of a dynamic duo."
But will two of the show's least trustworthy characters be able to trust each other? "You see that fight throughout the season, about whether they can or not," she says. "But also there is a huge vulnerable side to both of them. You can see that it's not just all a hard shell."
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Adds Gonzalo: "There's this side of John Ross that you kind of root for. And I'm hoping that you do see the same for Pamela."
Although Gonzalo knows this new take-charge Rebecca will be a bit of an adjustment for fans, she is eager to show that her Barnes is far from just a clear-cut adversary for the Ewing family. "I can't see her as a villain. I can't see her as anything mean or vengeful. There are so many layers to her. She's so vulnerable and she's such a little girl inside and she does reveal a lot of that," Gonzalo says. "That's the beauty of being honest with the audience this year. You will get to see a little bit of the back story and you will get to see a little bit of why she is doing what she's doing."
Dallas' two-hour premiere airs Monday at 9/8c on TNT.