Tom Blyth riding a horse as Billy the Kid in Epix series

'Billy the Kid' Season 1 Finale Recap: Billy Chooses His Side in the Lincoln County War


The season finale of Billy the Kid has finally arrived on Epix and we've gone on quite the journey with the young outlaw. Over eight episodes, we've seen him go from a young boy in New York City to a teenage orphan on the run, to a hired gun in the notorious Lincoln County War. I wasn't sure what to expect with this story but it's clear Billy's tale is far from over. He finally decides what side of history he wants to be on and I was happy to see that, for now, it was the right side.

A new opportunity

Episode 8 "The Rampage" opens with Billy still talking to Tunstall's lawyer Mr. McSween. We have another full-circle moment when he asks Billy if he's ever heard of 'The Rings." Yes, it's the same group of powerful people in Santa Fe Billy learned about from his journalist friend Mr. Upson. It didn't make any sense to Billy that people could just get away with murdering his friend Carlos, but Upson told him these people are incredibly well connected. So, it's not great news that Mr. Murphy flies in that same circle. Like Upson and Billy years ago, Tunstall is trying to challenge these men who are not only operating illegally but literally cheating innocent townspeople for their own personal gain. It's an easy mission to get on board with and seems like a no-brainer for Billy who is most likely just contemplating how to get out of his current predicament.

To be honest, I've spent this entire season wondering how it was going to be explained that Billy's future killer went from being a friend to a foe. That got cleared up when Billy receives a letter from Pat Garrett. Murphy had his contacts send Garrett away to avoid jail time (for the murder of farmer Manuel Garcia) and he was being trained to become a lawman as a result. He even jokes that maybe one day he'll be coming for Billy. Nicely played, Garrett. Billy's got a lot of conflicting feelings going on in terms of Jesse and the gang and everything they're doing for Murphy. To be honest, he really hasn't been doing much to earn his paycheck aside from a couple of intimidation visits but no one really seems to notice. He finally takes a stand when Riley and Dolan tell the gang that they have a job for them. A group of farmers is still fighting against their Murphy contracts and as a result, they have found some Santa Fe businessmen to take over their land. Their job is to kick them off the property by any means necessary and really send a message that Murphy is in charge.

This is too much for Billy and he tells Jesse he won't be joining at "the house" party that night. When Jesse asks him why, he tells him he doesn't feel like it. Fair enough. Again, it's almost hilarious to me no one is noticing that the most expensive hire for this job isn't actually showing up to work. But I guess it makes sense because Murphy is so self-involved, that he probably wouldn't dream anyone on his inside circle would double-cross him. Poor Billy, we have another uncomfortable moment with Riley's wife Irene. She drunkenly tells Billy that she hates her husband and wants him to take her somewhere. He's clearly sympathetic but refuses, knowing that would just cause more trouble, so she says she understands and kisses him before leaving the house. Oops. It's a room full of people so it's not surprising that Riley saw this exchange so he chases after his wife outside. They have a heated exchange and honestly, it's no wonder the poor woman hates the man. He's horrible to her, calling her names and accusing her of throwing herself at every man in town. She pulls her gun on him, shooting him in the shoulder and he shoots her dead. Yet another unfortunate event that keeps pulling Billy in the direction of Tunstall because it's quickly established nothing will happen to Riley, who was acting in "self-defense."


The war begins

As Jesse and the gang ride off to clear out all the protesting farmers, Billy goes with Charlie to finally meet Tunstall in person at his farm. Things really take a turn for the worst, and it's hard not to imagine what could have happened if Billy had been there. Could he have stopped things from getting as bad as they did? Jesse and the boys shoot every last farmer they come across, killing men, women and children who come in their way. One of them even rapes a woman before finally shooting her too. It's really terrible to watch, yet it's understandable that these events really shaped the beginnings of the Lincoln County War. While his friends are mercilessly killing people, Billy takes in everything Tunstall has to say and really seems to find him trustworthy. He's an Englishman and an outsider, which Billy can relate to. He's also one of the few people willing to stand up for what is right, which is something that Billy also feels strongly about.

I don't think Billy was expecting Tunstall to not only offer him a job but also to tell him that in exchange for his services, he'd be willing to write to the Governor for an official pardon for all of Billy's past crimes. That's huge. Billy has long struggled with trying to become the man his mother believed he could be and it seemed that for a while, he felt like that dream was impossible. Suddenly there's a kind and trustworthy man in front of him who is offering to change his fate. Who says no to that? While Billy contemplates his next move, it seems pretty clear whose side he's on when he returns to camp and sees his pals celebrating the day they just had ravaging through the local farms. Jesse seems to have no issues with the fact that they just killed 14 innocent people and doesn't understand why Billy is even questioning him about it, to begin with.

Billy chooses his side

As if he didn't have enough going on, Billy gets the courage to introduce himself to the lovely Senorita Dulcinea del Tobosco. Turns out she knows exactly who he is and invites him to see her again sometime after he stops her in the street. It's a brief meeting but honestly, it makes me glad Billy has something nice to look forward to with all the chaos surrounding Murphy and Tunstall. If we get a second season hopefully we have a fun new love story to follow along with.

In a completely unsurprising turn of events, the Sheriff tells McSween he'll "look into" his claims against Murphy having anything to do with all of the farmer murders. Murphy's men deny he had any knowledge and since McSween technically doesn't have any proof, things don't look good. Charlie, McSween, Tunstall, George, and more gather together to discuss a game plan. They finally have realized that the law is not on their side and that it might take some bloodshed in order to bring down Murphy once and for all. The fact that Murphy is friends with the head of the Santa Fe court doesn't really give anyone hope that their lawsuit against his criminal activity will actually get anywhere. Luckily, Billy shows up at the meeting and tells Tunstall he's ready to get to work. The fact that they have the best gun in town on their side is definitely a plus.


The episode ends with Billy returning to the Seven Rivers camp to tell everyone he is leaving Murphy's service to work for Tunstall. It's an incredibly risky move considering the ruthless nature of the gang members and how volatile they have proven to be if provoked. As expected, many of them pull out their guns, calling him a traitor and threatening that he won't be able to leave. But Jesse steps in. After everything they've been through together, he allows Billy to ride off safely but notes that their time to bring down The Kid will come. So Billy made the right choice, but what does this mean for his friendship with Jesse? He tells him he hopes they can be friends again after this war is played out but that feels unlikely. Based on history, we know that Jesse survives the pending Lincoln County War and eventually disappears, but the question of how things play out with him and Billy remains to be seen.

At this point, no news has been shared in terms of a second season, but there is so much more to Billy's story that needs to be told. We'll provide updates on future episodes as we learn more!

READ MORE: Who Played the Best Billy the Kid?

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