Billy the Kid season 1, episode 6 recap – “Fate”

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: May 16, 2022 (Last updated: January 18, 2024)
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Billy the Kid season 1, episode 6 recap - "Fate"


“Fate” is an unconvincing episode with a weak script that expects us to buy into drama that feels unearned.

This recap of Billy the Kid season 1, episode 6, “Fate”, contains spoilers.

Until now, Epix’s Billy the Kid hasn’t really leaned too much on its real-life history to do the dramatic heavy lifting. It has mostly worked on its own terms, and while some familiarity with the story of the titular character has meant that certain names and anecdotes have carried a little more weight, that’s more or less the extent of it. I was thinking about this in “Fate”, since in its cold open Billy, quite by chance, meets Pat Garrett, the man who will eventually kill him. And the introduction has a sense of clanging significance as if we’re all supposed to sharply inhale at the utterance of the name. It might have been a cool moment if I didn’t have to Google Pat and double-check his significance.

Billy the Kid season 1, episode 6 recap

“Fate”, then, has a double meaning as a title. Billy’s fate is in question, sure, but when Pat leads him back to Jesse Evans, whose gang he’s riding with, that’s the word he uses too: “Fate must have brought us back together.” It’s hard to square Billy suddenly deciding to ride with Jesse and agree to rustle John Chisum’s cattle, especially given how they left things in the previous episode. That moment didn’t ring with any truth, and neither does this one. It makes you wonder why the show keeps coming back to these two.

Billy and Jesse have a brief conversation about Barbara, and that seems to be it. All is forgiven. Admittedly Jesse’s compatriots, especially Bob Olinger, don’t take to Billy, but a drunken fistfight irons that issue out. We’re still supposed to be buying into the idea of Billy as a good man forced to make bad decisions, but it’s not so easy to sell that idea when he’s acting like a bit of a lout. Later, when Chisum’s cowboys lay an ambush for the gang that results in Billy mortally wounding a man, the victim says, outright, “Why do you have to rob and kill people like me?” Subtle!

Billy’s intention, he keeps saying, isn’t to kill anyone. When discussing his current notoriety with Pat, he says he doesn’t care about being famous, much less famous for murder. And yet he kills people every episode without much provocation. He executed Don Ortiz last week, so his unwillingness to kill a cowboy here doesn’t quite sit right. As it happens, the script makes it easy by having the guy try to shoot Billy in the back. Killing in self-defense he’s perfectly okay with. But it’s still difficult to know what the show is really trying to say here. It just seems confused; torn between making us sympathize with the protagonist but also having him look cool by dropping a man with every shot he fires.

When the Seven Rivers Gang’s exploits make the papers, Billy is deeply saddened to hear himself described as a lawless desperado. But what was he expecting? At one point he literally plays a small violin, almost daring us to laugh. The gang needs to move on, so it’s just as well that an old associate of Jesse’s named Frank Baker arrives just in time with a job offer. He proposes they travel to Lincoln County, which is still pretty lawless, and enter the employ of Lawrence Murphy, a well-to-do businessman who needs a private army to scare competitors away from his interests. He’s willing to pay a particularly high price for the notorious William H. Bonney, which Jesse isn’t thrilled about. But Billy wants to embrace his status. If people require his services now, they’re going to have to pay for them, and Jesse can either take that or leave it.

Once again, though, the script takes the matter out of Billy’s hands. A Mexican kid named Guillermo arrives at the ranch — just how secret is this secret hideout? — looking for Billy. He has a message from Segura, who has been jailed in Chihuahua for the murder of Don Ortiz. He needs Billy’s help before he’s hung in three days’ time. So, while the rest of the Seven Rivers Gang heads for Lincoln County, Billy rides out to help his friend, with a new moniker given to him by Pat — Billy the Kid.

Billy springs Segura from jail in about five minutes, and there’s another extremely heavy-handed moment where, when Billy repeatedly opens fire on one of the guards, the muzzle flash from his gun illuminates the wanted poster on the wall of the dark jail. “You are different,” concludes Segura, after mentioning a little earlier that he seemed it. But it doesn’t seem to dissuade him too much. He and Billy are able to escape, but with the law looking for them, they’re forced to part ways. They assure each other that they’ll always be brothers, despite having only just met. Relationships do seem to blossom quickly in the Wild West, don’t they?

You can check out Billy the Kid season 1, episode 6, “Fate”, exclusively on Epix.

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