"We didn't have a Plan B, on purpose," said Cidre. "We just knew that we had Larry, so let's use him, let's enjoy him, and if something happens, we'll scramble and fix it. I had great faith in the writers' room. We knew the day might come and what we would do then: Figure it out."

That day came in late November when she got a call from Duffy. "He told me, 'Larry's in the hospital and it isn't good. He's saying goodbye.' In 24 hours we had fixed one of the scripts. We had two more scripts that had to be adjusted, and then this episode we're shooting now, the Goodbye Episode."

Roughly 85 percent of the season's story line remains intact, she said, supplemented by the death of J.R. and the mystery surrounding it: Who Killed J.R.?

"The mystery has all the machinations of a great J.R. business deal, as opposed to a whodunit," said Duffy. "Cynthia constructed a really interesting plot, of which I know Bobby's portion" â¿¿ including whodunit â¿¿ "but I don't know other stuff."

"We all know, up to a point," Gray said. "But they've got secret pages that we've not seen."

"I hope that we have come up with something really wonderful and enticing," said Cidre, "and by the time you're done watching episode 208, which I call the Funeral Episode, I hope you're saying, 'Omigod, I didn't see that coming, and I can't wait to watch the rest of the season.'"

The mystery, she said, will continue through episode 15, "with a giant, delightful, delicious climax in the season finale."

To get there, shooting continues until April on the Dallas set, where, even two months after Hagman's passing, "I'm lonely because my best friend isn't there to play with," Duffy said. "I was with him from 1978 until his final hours in the hospital. But I have no regrets. Every day I think of him and smile."

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