Billy the Kid had a rough upbringing beginning with his father dying shortly after the McCartys made it out West. It seems tragedy can’t stop following the soon to be outlaw because in “Antrim,” he loses even more people close to him.
As the episode’s title indicates, we dive deeper into Henry Antrim. He turns out to be even more of a disappointment that Kathleen loses faith in him. He’s incompetent at mining, doesn’t want to work, and when you think he can’t go any lower, he tries stealing from the family’s secret savings. The character serves his purpose by making Billy grow up sooner and search out ways to support his mother and brother. By contrast, it also reinforces the close bond between the McCartys.
There are other elements that aren’t Antrim related that have a larger impact on the series. Jesse Evans (Daniel Webber) is introduced in a big brother role providing advice and job opportunities for our young protagonist. It’s an appealing approach taken here since the two will eventually be on opposite sides of the Lincoln County War. Taking a page out of many enthralling superhero stories, the pair start off as friends and colleagues before eventually turning into bitter adversaries.
Furthermore, through Jesse’s influence, we receive the origin story of Billy the Kid. Evans is the bad influence that turns the youngster to questionable activities. It begins with horse theft as a source of extra cash and to stick it to a wealthy rancher but as times become more trying, it escalates to armed robbery. As we know from history, it doesn’t stop there.
The biggest turning point is the deaths of brother and mom. The latter hurts even more when it occurs so soon after they free themselves from Antrim. The final scenes between mother and son are so melancholy and emotional and there is a connection between actors Eileen O’Higgins and Tom Blyth.
The loss of his mother untethers Billy from his moral compass. Even though he begins turning to crime, it was always with a noble purpose behind it; a type of Robin Hood quality. Now that he’s on his own, he acts more out of desperation and self-interest. It’s that final nudge into his destiny as a desperado. Also, who can he really trust now? Jesse proves to be unreliable and a loose cannon during their laundromat heist.
Ash Upson could be that person but he’s too preoccupied with exposing the Santa Fe Ring. Plus, their association only is a hinderance to the future William H. Bonney since the journalist has made some powerful enemies. Whenever the youngster needs a break, the Santa Fe Ring associates make matters worse. It’s a shame we don’t receive more information on the secret society and only hear annoying self-righteous lectures from Upson.
“Antrim” has powerful acting from Eileen O’Higgins and Tom Blyth with the death of Kathleen. It also begins Billy’s life of crime which are the more alluring aspects of the infamous western gunfighter.
New episodes of Billy the Kid are released Sundays on Epix.
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