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Photo: EPIX

Television

‘Billy the Kid’ episode 8 review: Converting a longstanding friend into a fierce enemy

The first season of Billy the Kid comes to a conclusion.

We have watched a young Henry McCarty grow into a man, but despite his maturation, people still think of him as the kid. Billy the Kid. The series that bears his name concludes its first season tonight and the first shots of the Lincoln County War ring out.

There isn’t any real suspense whether the protagonist switches sides because we know the history, but how the show gets there is key. For the most part, it plays out in a believable way as the episode continues the black and white portrayal of both camps. The inclusion of the Santa Fe ring is a nice call back to earlier and helps solidify the main gunslinger’s position. He has a complicated relationship with the secret organization and now he can fight against their influence while also having an opportunity for revenge moving forward.

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Speaking of the black and white portrayal, there’s only so many times you can be hit over the head that Murphy and his people are the bad guys of Billy the Kid. Whether it’s Jesse and the gang rampaging through the county and terrorizing farmers or Johnny Riley murdering his wife, it’s obvious they are not admirable people. Regarding the latter, it’s really poor writing to introduce one of the few female characters, depict her as only wanting to sleep with the lead, then kill her off the episode after. It could almost be insulting.

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Photo: EPIX

The series has done a good job of building the enigmatic John Tunstall. He’s able to earn the loyalty of the good guys through his desire to create a fairer system in the region but he’s only mentioned. “The Rampage” continues to keep up the aura of mystery by keeping his first appearance clouded in the shadows for as long as they can. But when we meet the English entrepreneur, it’s a little disappointing to learn his policies are more a result of sound business decisions than any altruistic behavior. At his heart, he’s still a capitalist so our hero is working for the lesser of evils rather than a benevolent boss.

“The Rampage” creates some noteworthy set up for the next season. It namechecks and teases Jose Chavez y Chavez, another famous Regulator that we’ll hopefully cross paths with soon. There is also a new love interest, and of course, the Lincoln County War, which would increase the notoriety of Billy the Kid. Nonetheless, these revelations fail to really drum up excitement for the future.  The first two are nice little minor threads but the third feels like a logical ending point rather than previewing the upcoming action ahead if the show is renewed.

The most compelling aspect is the relationship between Billy and Jesse. There are more parallels drawn between the two including their varying views on justice. Regardless of their differences, there is a mutual respect leaving the possibility of reconciliation. Jesse’s love for the other comes into focus again but Daniel Webber’s looks of disappointment and hurt bring emotional impact to their parting of ways.

The season one finale is uneven with its storytelling and decisions that has some appealing minor impending paths but nothing that really wows.

New episodes of Billy the Kid are released Sundays on EPIX.

billy the kid 8.1
‘Billy the Kid’ episode 8 review: Converting a longstanding friend into a fierce enemy
Billy the Kid E 8 review: The Rampage
The season one finale is uneven with its storytelling and decisions that has some appealing minor impending paths but nothing that really wows.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
"The Rampage" creates some noteworthy set up for the next season.
The most compelling aspect is the Billy/Jesse Evans relationship.
The inclusion of the Santa Fe ring is a nice call back to earlier and helps solidify Billy's position.
It could be insulting to introduce one of the few female characters, depict her as only wanting to sleep with the lead, then kill her off the episode after.
John Turnstall isn't as benevolent as the series wants you to believe.
Doesn't leave the viewer with the impactful cliffhanger good season finales often do.
5.5
Average

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