Have Gun - Will Travel

Season 2 Episode 17

The Taffeta Mayor

Aired Saturday 9:30 PM Jan 10, 1959 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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out of 10
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  • An interesting idea was spoiled, in my opinion, by a cop-out ending.

    It starts out well, with a nice variation on the opening scene. Confronted with a batch of bills, we see why Paladin so frequently hunts for work. He quickly spots an opportunity: a man running for mayor against a corrupt and dangerous incumbent.

    Alas, Paladin arrives too late. (Considering the era, it's surprising that this doesn't happen more often.) Being made forcefully aware of the corruption and violence John Kellaway was attempting to fight, Paladin elects to stick around and see what can be done.

    This is where it could have gotten interesting; there was no bar to women running for public office in Wyoming at the time, and Paladin manages to persuade Lucy Kellaway, John's widow, to continue her husband's fight. Unfortunately, it's made clear that Lucy considers politics a "man's job" and the only reason she runs is because no other man in town will risk it, and Paladin cannot, being a nonresident.

    Apparently most of the men of the town prefer a corrupt mayor to a woman mayor, so Paladin and Lucy make an intense, last-minute campaign of the town's women, urging them to exercise their right to vote. They do so to devastating effect, and Lucy is elected.

    We now learn what Paladin's actual plan was: not to replace the corrupt government with an honest one, but simply to make Lucy Kellaway a target, as her husband had been, and catch the bad guys in the act, the corrupt mayor getting killed in the process.

    This is where it became disappointing. Having fulfilled her husband's dream of ousting the opposition, Lucy has no intention of going further. (Surely her husband's dreams also included developing a stable, honest town government?) The message is clear: Ladies only get involved in "men's doings" in dire emergencies, and when the emergency is past, they quickly return to their proper place.

    It doesn't occur to Lucy or Paladin that the main bad guy is still alive, and the sheriff is still presumably in his pocket. What's to prevent the sheriff from letting Oakley out of jail the moment Paladin and Lucy leave town, and setting up a new puppet government? In that case, John Kellaway will still have died for nothing. It would have been more interesting if Paladin had persuaded her to hang in there for six months or a year, perhaps promising to come back and see if she's still of a mind to leave.