EPISODE REVIEW: Lady for a Night
The Young Riders, Season 1 Episode 15
Spoiler Alert! The review below contains spoilers, so if you’d like to watch the episode first, check out episode 15 of season 1, currently available at:
The Young Riders’ writers consistently do a great job of telling their tales, but this week, I watched “Lady for a Night,” and the story struck me as especially compelling. It makes sense that, during the course of the series, there would be at least one plot (well, besides hiding-as-a-boy and attracted-to-Kid) where Lou’s being a girl creates unique complications. Typically the gang solves some crime or rights some wrong, but this time, the crime is perpetrated by the seemingly charming man Lou finds herself attracted to.
To further dissect the story, alone in another town, Lou’s seemingly simple foray out for an evening in a dress was her “testing the waters.” She’d been living a decidedly unfeminine life, posing as a boy but watching with envy as other girls get to dress and act like ladies. She finally decided to try it for herself. The handsome Tyler responding to her as he did no doubt validated her effort: she was indeed a lady. At the risk of over-identifying, I have been where Lou is. The first time a handsome guy paid attention to me, I felt just like Lou, and probably for the same reason: validation. However, also like Lou, it soon became painfully obvious that the man you want is not always the one you need. In fact, pursuing such a man could prove quite destructive.
At the risk of over-thinking, Lou’s dilemma with Tyler personifies the discussion Lou has with Emma about relationships. Lou confides to Emma that she’s frightened by Tyler’s feelings for her, and yet she likes it, too. Lou is at a loss for what to do next, and Emma (quite unhelpfully) says that Lou must decide for herself. This starts to ring true when Lou hears that Tyler lied to Sam. Lou chooses to keep quiet about what she knows, opting instead to go confront Tyler. Sadly, he turns on her. He not only chooses his life of crime over any feelings he has for her, but he tries to use her own feelings for him against her. “You won’t shoot me,” he taunts confidently. “You like me too much.” And it’s true, she does like him – but she chooses to end the relationship and save herself. However, the pain of her choice (Tyler’s death, representing the finality of her decision) shows on her face. It’s as if, in the moments after he died, her whole attempt at being a lady – in fact, a woman – was a mistake in the way it all ended so badly. Happily, Lou seems to have made peace with it by the episode’s end.
A big part of Lou’s peace likely came from Emma acknowledging Lou as a girl. Emma revealed that she had known Lou’s secret, but she waited until Lou gave some sign (in this case, buying the dress, even if she did hide it) that she was ready to share it. In her disguise, Lou had been forced to relate to everyone as something she wasn’t, so it’s important that she’d now have Emma to relate to not only as a fellow woman but as a mentor and friend, both good to have when braving uncharted territory. It’s also significant that Emma wanted the other riders to be “introduced” to Lou in the dress. This gave the guys a more complete picture of who Lou is, and as the people who know her best (who happen to be members of the opposite sex) their subsequent approval was critical. At first, Lou only dared to wear the dress away from home, as if the two lives, rider and woman, could not coexist. In the end, Lou appreciated that Kid accepted her as both, even if he’d only physically seen one side.
It’s debatable what kind of feelings Tyler really had for Lou, but in the moment he realizes that it’s her dressed as a boy and snooping through his room, his reaction is an appropriate mix of surprise and hurt. Lou’s not the first person to ever want to reinvent herself; maybe Tyler had seen Lou as his chance to make a fresh start with some innocent young thing? Given his penchant for slapping prostitutes around, it’s believable that he’s a man very driven by emotion. Clearly, meeting the real Lou, and knowing that she had seen the real Tyler, shattered any delusions either of them had about the relationship and sent Tyler’s passion back to his customary anger.
On a completely shallow side note, Roger Rees reminds me of some deadly combination of Pierce Brosnan and George Harrison, and in my book it’s *very* easy to see how Lou could fall hard for such a man.
So inspired was I by this episode (and by Roger Rees’ face 😉 ) that I made a wallpaper using screencaps from this ep. It’s currently the 2nd wallpaper on this page: