The metamorphosis of Billy the Kid continued in this season finale.
On Billy the Kid Season 1 Episode 8, the former Billy McCarty made the fateful choice that moved him from outlaw to legend.
Whether he is becoming a hero depends on the viewer’s perspective.
So what separated Billy from the others he had been riding with in the 7 RIvers Gang? His life experience.
Thanks to his sainted mother, Kathleen, Billy grew up a good religious boy who values the importance of hard work.
He also grew up a member of the hardscrabble poor, worrying about where his next meal would come from.
Hardscrabble poor, just like those immigrant farmers trying to scratch a living out of the New Mexican soil. Billy could relate to their struggle and was sympathetic toward them, unlike the other, more mercenary gang members.
Recently, Billy had reluctantly accepted the outlaw label society had applied to him and was cashing in on that notoriety by working as Murphy’s “henchman,” as he so distastefully described himself.
So how can he, in good conscience, drive these poor farmers off their lands for doing the same thing, for switching from Murphy to Tunstall in search of a living wage?
Also, remember that Billy has a special place in his heart for the Mexican people he grew up with.
In addition, Billy is the only member of the gang who remotely can be considered educated now that Pat Garrett has been relocated to be hidden in another part of the territory.
As an aside, it was revealed how Pat became the sheriff who would play a unique role in Billy’s life not too far down the road.
Where’s the logic in allowing a murderer to be trained as a lawman to avoid jail time? That’s like the judges who enable young defendants to join the military to avoid prison.
Anyway, unlike those with whom he has been running, Billy is a thinker. And like many young adults, he has been carefully gathering information before deciding what side he should be on.
The only problem was that the 7 Rivers Gang wracked up a much higher body count among farmer families while Billy hemmed and hawed.
Billy knew what kind of men he worked for in Murphy and his lieutenants Riley and Dolan — slimy ones.
Riley shot and killed his wife, Irene, for having the gall to be unhappy in her marriage (and for being a bad shot). Billy was uncomfortable that Irene kept hitting on him but felt she deserved better than to be left dead in the dust.
Billy finally met Englishman John Tunstall, who was much more of a solid citizen, upfront about his ambitions but willing to give those he dealt with a fair shake.
Billy also learned that the Santa Fe Ring he had dealt with previously was but one of these secretive organizations and that other rings were protecting Murphy.
So Tunstall and his associates wouldn’t win in the courts or government, which had been corrupted by the rings.
Meeting Billy for the first time, Tunstall offered him something that meant more to him than money, a chance to clear his name, as he promised to intercede with the governor if Billy switched teams.
It was a simple decision for Billy. Who would be a more upstanding ally: Charlie Bowdre or Bob Olinger, who raped a farmer’s wife before killing her?
Billy tried to get Jesse to see the light. He did. But Jesse never has been a big-picture thinker.
Like most of the gang, Jesse only was concerned with who was paying him this week. Morality had little place in his world. Instead, it was might makes right.
Contrarily, Billy treated his gun as a tool. It was a way to protect his family from a harsh world.
His proficiency with a gun also was what got him in trouble and caused his infamy to grow. And there was no social media back then for Billy to explain that most of his killings were in self-defense. It was impossible to get people to unsee a wanted poster back then.
Also, Billy was a follower, mostly of Jesse, who, it has been established, was hardly a criminal mastermind. Thanks to Jesse, Billy first got in trouble and was still in trouble.
It took too long, but Billy’s decision to switch sides had to be among his earliest wise adult decisions. He would be on the right side of history, if only for a short time.
What was hilarious was that he took time out from making this monumental decision to introduce himself to Dulcinea.
Dulcinea knew he was more than just a criminally handsome, polite gringo. And despite his outlaw status, she still agreed to see him again— that defined chutzpah on both sides.
Give Billy credit for riding into the gang’s camp to announce his change of sides. And, for once, Jesse did the right thing letting him ride away in peace … for now.
Sadly, although history can undoubtedly tell us of Billy’s fate, Epix hasn’t yet done so, as there hasn’t been a decision announced on a second season.
Although Billy isn’t far from his tragic end, there’s enough material for another season.
To follow Billy’s evolution, watch Billy the Kid online.
Did Billy make the right choice?
Why did it take him so long?
Do you want a second season?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.