In its heyday, Dynasty was one of the most popular shows on television. Aside from viewing parties at colleges nationwide, the series spawned hundreds of products and a short-lived spin-off (The Colbys). The nation was fascinated with rich people and, even more, loved to see them have lots of outrageous problems.
Dynasty is a primetime soap opera that revolves primarily around the wealthy Carrington family. As the series begins, oil baron Blake Carrington (John Forsythe) has fallen in love with his secretary Krystle (Linda Evens) and the two marry. Blake’s adult daughter Fallon (Pamela Sue Martin, later Emma Samms) resents her while his gay son Steven (Al Corley, later Jack Coleman) has lots of problems of his own. The series began in 1981 but really took off once Blake’s infamous ex-wife, Alexis (Joan Collins), showed up. Over the years many characters came and went but the show continued to focus on the rich but troubled family.
Other ongoing characters are played by Gordon Thomson, John James, Michael Nader, Heather Locklear, Pamela Bellwood, Diahann Carroll, Catherine Oxenberg, Lee Bergere, Leann Hunley, Kathleen Beller, Geoffrey Scott, Christopher Cazenove, Terri Garber, Wayne Northrop, Al Corley, Ted McGinley, Michael Praed, Lloyd Bochner, Peter Mark Richman, and Paul Burke.
The opulent soap opera was in the Nelson top ten for most of its nine year run, reaching number one in 1984. Viewers eventually started to grow tired of the outrageous plots and ratings began to fall significantly in season seven. That led to the series’ high budget being cut for the show’s final season. Evens left midway through the year (her character went into a coma), Collins was only contracted for 13 episodes, and writers tried to shift the series to have a less glamorous tone. The change in plotlines weren’t enough and the show was cancelled.
On May 11, 1989, ABC aired the last episode of Dynasty, titled “Catch 22.” In prior episodes, the body of Alexis’ lover from many years ago, Roger Grimes, was found in a lake on the Carrington estate. Fallon was troubled by nightmares from her childhood, and after meeting her mother and friend Sgt. Zorelli at the estate’s old cottage, remembers what she’d repressed. Years ago, Alexis was having an affair with Roger. He wanted to leave and she begged to go with him. He became angry, began beating her, and knocked her unconscious. Young Fallon saw her hurt mother, picked up a gun and killed him. Blake’s father arrived afterwards, convinced her it was a bad dream and hid Roger’s body deep in a cave in the icy lake.
Part of the cave also contained art treasure that had been rescued from the Nazis and hidden years earlier by Blake’s and Dex’s fathers. Dex, who is still in love with Alexis, had a brief affair with Sable Colby. She becomes pregnant and decides that she wants to bring the child up by herself. He’s not happy. Blake is framed for a murder by Police Captain Handler and a mysterious group who want to find the Nazi treasure.
How did this mess end? Well…
After bringing Fallon back to the mansion, Blake and Alexis speak privately. By the end of the tender conversation, she’s blackmailing him for half of the plundered treasure. After all, it was community property while they were married,, she reasons. If he doesn’t give it to her, she’ll make the whole thing public, publicly embarrassing his family name. Meanwhile Jeff Colby and Dex give Zorelli a ride back to his car and enlist his help to uncover information on crooked Captain Handler.
Fallon dreams of the lullaby that she’s heard young Krystina sing. She remembers that the lullaby comes from a music box that was part of the Nazi treasure. Later, Fallon asks Krystina to show her the secret place where she found the music box.
In a minor (and distracting) storyline, Krystle’s niece, Sammy Jo, is working to help found a new teen center. In the process, she becomes attracted to hunky Tanner McBride — only to learn that he’s about to become a Catholic priest. She tells him that she loves him and he’s conflicted about what he should do. Ultimately, he decides to be with her.
Later, Alexis offers to give up her claim for half of the Nazi treasure if Sable Colby will withdraw her lawsuit against Colbyco. Because of her genuine affection for Blake, Sable agrees.
Krystina leads Fallon into a secret tunnel passage and to the hidden treasure, unaware that thug Dennis Grimes (Roger’s ex-con son) has followed them. Grimes takes Fallon and Krystina hostage inside the tunnel.
He starts to force himself on Fallon while Krystina must look on. Fallon pleads with him and manages to get his gun. Enraged, he comes at her and she shoots him, causing part of the tunnel to collapse and trapping them all. While the girls try to dig themselves out, we see Grimes start to wake up behind them.
Meanwhile, Handler privately meets with the scheme’s mysterious female mastermind but we can’t see her face. Shortly afterward, Handler and several police officers raid Blake’s mansion. He tells Blake that he has found the treasure and Grimes has taken Fallon and Krystina hostage to ensure his cooperation.
Dex has gone to bury the hatchet with Alexis and she skewers him over his affair with Sable, her worst enemy. Shortly afterward, Sable, her daughter Monica, and Alexis and her son Adam soon meet on the second floor of the hotel to sign the papers to end Sable’s lawsuit.
Dex arrives very upset and announces that he’s going to be a father, whether Sable likes it or not. Adam finds it all too funny and insults him one too many times. Dex punches Adam and, enraged, Adam lunges back at him. Dex falls into Alexis and they end up breaking through the second-floor railing and falling below. The other three look down in horror.
Back at the mansion, Blake and Jeff overpower Handler and lead him out of the house with a concealed gun. Zorelli arrives and tries to alert the other cops about Handler. During the brief confusion, Handler breaks free and grabs another officer’s gun. Blake and Handler fire at one another and are both shot. Jeff screams at the police and servants to get help as the camera pulls back, leaving Blake shot and bleeding on the mansion stairs.
The last episode had already been shot when the series was cancelled so the show ended with these unresolved cliffhangers. Forsythe later said, “The way we were cut off was a disgrace.”
If the series had continued, Alexis and Dex probably wouldn’t have survived the fall as Nader and Collins had announced that they were leaving the series. It’s rumored that Diahann Carroll would have returned as Dominique, Blake’s half sister. Though she’d been out of the picture for awhile, she’s mentioned several times in the final episodes. Though it doesn’t sound like her voice, it’s possible that she could have been the mysterious female mastermind. Why she would want to hurt Blake is anyone’s guess.
As to the show’s cliffhangers, viewers would finally get some onscreen answers in 1991, in a two-part and moderately-budgeted event called Dynasty: The Reunion. Many of the older and newer castmembers returned but many of the events of the show’s past are ignored. While the reunion didn’t directly resolve the show’s final cliffhangers, we do learn that everything seemed to work out okay.
Krystle comes out of her coma and returns home to Denver. Blake recovered from his wounds but still went to prison for three years. He’s finally released, once the courts realize he was set up by Handler. The “Consortium” is revealed to be the organization behind the whole thing and they now want to see Blake eliminated and ruined.
Fallon and Krystina got out of the cave safely, though we aren’t told exactly how. Sammy Jo is modeling again and dating her boss so apparently Tucker gave up on the priesthood for nothing.
Alexis survived the hotel fall by apparently landing on Dex. An overheard conversation notes that her ex-husband “didn’t fare all that well,” leaving Dex’s fate somewhat open-ended. Nader didn’t appear in the reunion and was reportedly upset that he wasn’t invited back.
At the time, it was hoped that the reunion might open the door for a new series but it was neither a critical nor ratings success. Nevertheless, it was nice that viewers were finally treated to a happy ending for Blake and Krystle.
If you care to watch, here’s the last episode in its entirety…