We're almost at the end of the first season of Billy the Kid and I'm still endlessly fascinated with the way Epix is portraying the legendary outlaw. Despite the ongoing dangerous situations he keeps finding himself in, I keep rooting for Billy because you can tell he still has a moral compass. It noticeably pains him anytime he does something illegal so I keep wondering where this will go as he gets deeper into his life of crime. This latest episode was incredibly telling as he finds himself challenged like never before. Do you do what you know is right, or stick by your friends? It's a tough call, especially for Billy.
A new boss isn't who he seems
Episode 7, "At the House" has Billy reuniting with the Seven Rivers Gang to meet their newest employer, Mr. Murphy. Like Billy, Murphy is Irish, as are his partners, Riley and Dolan. Essentially, they explain that their job is simple -- an Englishman named John Tunstall has shown up in town, and it's affecting Murphy's business. He's been acquiring land and cattle and making deals with local farmers Murphy has contracts with. So it's Billy and the Seven Rivers' job to make sure that stops. It seems easy enough. At this point, Billy is the most expensive new gun on the payroll, having the most notorious reputation and he's going with it.
But it's important to note that Billy still isn't going "full outlaw." When Jesse and Pat Garrett try to intimidate the boy working at Tunstall's store in town, Billy sits back and watches, only intervening when Jesse pulls out his gun. It's interesting that for a young man with such a well-known reputation as a gunslinger, he really doesn't like to use his gun very often at all if he can help it. Even when he goes to intimidate a local farmer with Jesse and Garrett, he makes sure things don't get violent. He even speaks Spanish to the Mexican farmer, seemingly sympathetic when the man explains that Tunstall pays the farmers more money for their crops while Mr. Murphy cheats them. It's the first time Billy hears something might be amiss with his new employer and while his curiosity is peaked, he doesn't jump ship quite yet.
Billy has his doubts
While Billy seemed to enjoy being the most exciting hire for the new Murphy gig, he seems to really not enjoy being treated like a piece of property. Murphy throws lavish parties at what he calls "the house" which is full of all of his important friends -- the sheriff, a colonel from the nearby fort, and a local judge to name a few. Undoubtedly, this scene reminds Billy of his youth in Santa Fe and the corrupt system that did nothing after the murder of his childhood friend Carlos. He's even less impressed when Murphy's men force him to give a demonstration of his legendary shooting skills which, gets a little awkward for the guests when Billy gets a bit aggressive shooting the bottles they've hung up for him and then some.
Things really change for Billy when he, Pat, and Jesse head back to the Mexican farmer's house, Manuel Garcia, to force him to stop working with Tunstall after their first intervention proved ineffective. Poor Manuel tries to explain that he can't feed his family on what Murphy pays and that he refuses to stop selling his grains to Tunstall. He runs at them, angry at Jesse's threats, and Garrett shoots him dead, to Billy's horror. This is really a turning point for him. While Billy has definitely shot to kill before, he tries to do the right thing and he knows that things have gone too far. He's also had a love for the Mexican people ever since growing up with Carlos and learning Spanish working in that Santa Fe restaurant, which has been a steady build throughout the season. He spent time in Mexico and literally just went to rescue his friend from a Mexican jail so he's obviously horrified at the fact that his Seven Rivers friends are acting like the lives of all of these innocent Mexican farmers mean nothing at all.
Billy's first step in the right direction is showing up at Manuel's funeral. Initially, his widow is hysterical upon seeing him, but Billy gets the chance to meet a couple of Tunstall's men, two farmers named George Coe and Charlie Bowdre who have both signed on to fight what's going on in town with Murphy. Billy tells them that Garrett has been arrested for murdering Manuel but we all know it doesn't mean anything since Murphy has the law in his pocket. After all, despite sitting in a jail cell the sheriff gives Garrett some whiskey and cigars which I'm doubting the average murderer would be able to request. Charlie and George invite Billy to switch sides to fight the good fight with them alongside Mr. Tunstall, explaining that he really is a fair man who doesn't want to cheat the local people.
Billy is torn between sides
I kept wondering what was taking Billy so long to switch sides but had to remind myself that it had to be a process. Jesse Evans is one of his oldest friends, not to mention their gang is just straight-up dangerous. Unlike Billy, they love operating as the local thugs for Murphy's paycheck and rejoice at the delivery of booze as a reward for shooting Manuel Garcia. The wheels are turning in Billy's mind as he hears his longtime companions voice their racist opinions about the Mexican people needing to get in line and he knows what he has to do. Seems a bit obvious to stop by Tunstall's store in town, after all, literally anyone could see him. Maybe he thought he could play it off as an intimidation tactic? Either way, he demands an audience with the store clerk, but Tunstall still isn't in town so Billy rides off back to camp.
He gets cornered by Charlie who gives him a brief summary of how bad Mr. Murphy; Billy was already catching on. He invites him to meet with Mr. Tunstall's lawyer, Mr. McSween, who, as it turns out, originally came to town to work for Mr. Murphy. Billy was already curious but, if it was me, that definitely would have sealed the deal. He agrees to a secret visit with the lawyer, which they do under the cover of night later that day. First, they stop for a card game in town where Billy has his second awkward encounter with Riley's wife, Irene. He met her when she was a bit drunk at "the house" and she seemed to take a shine to him. She does the same at the card game and thankfully, Billy felt as awkward about it as I did. He dismisses her advances and leaves with Charlie... but wait! We've made time to introduce a new love interest for The Kid.
It's just a fleeting moment when Billy catches sight of a beautiful woman Charlie tells him is Senorita Dulcinea del Tobosco, from one of the wealthiest families in Mexico. She rides off in her carriage but it's clear we'll be seeing her again. We only get a few of these moments in the show but I love the side storylines of Billy being quite the ladies' man. He's a teenage outlaw in the Wild West, would you expect anything less?
The episode ends with Billy arriving at Alex McSween's and he explains that as soon as he started working for Mr. Murphy, he discovered he was a crook. Billy can definitely understand where he's coming from, the only question is what is he going to do about it? Does he have the guts to switch sides like McSween and go against his friends, especially Jesse who quite literally saved his life? We'll find out in the season finale!
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