This recap of Billy the Kid season 1, episode 8, “The Rampage”, contains spoilers, including a discussion of Billy the Kid’s ending.
Is this a finale? It certainly doesn’t feel like one. After a penultimate episode that seemed to set the stage for a forthcoming conflict, “The Rampage” instead opens with Billy once again deliberating about his future, weighing up his loyalty to his current employer, Murphy, and a potential new ally in Tunstall. Tunstall’s lawyer, McSween, makes an explicit connection to the Rings that we left behind with Ash Upson, and later that night, Billy discusses the matter with Jesse, who only seems to care about how much he’s being paid, not who’s paying him. A letter from Pat Garrett, who is being trained up as a lawman and jokes to Billy that he might one day pursue him, is the only real hint — and even then only for those in the know — that we’re approaching the end of Billy Antrim’s life.
Billy the Kid season 1, episode 8 recap
Billy mulls things over while the script essentially makes his choice for him. Murphy wants Billy and the gang to forcibly eject poor farmers from his land. Mrs Riley hates her husband so much she begs Billy to take her away and exhibits obvious terror at the prospect of remaining with her man. Taking matters into her own hands, she plants a kiss on Billy’s lips, which is witnessed, and when Riley confronts her about it she shoots him and he shoots her back. He’s wounded, she’s dead. It’d be impossible for the protagonist of any show to take the side of these people.
To hammer the point home, Jesse and co.’s attempts to relocate the farmers are simply massacres.
So, Billy goes to see Tunstall at Bowdre’s farm. While he does so, Jesse and his men continue to butcher women and children, and laugh and joke about it afterward. Tunstall, who can’t pay as much as Murphy, doesn’t have much of a pitch aside from his promise to petition the governor for Billy’s exoneration, but he doesn’t need one. There’s right, and there’s wrong.
McSween can’t get any traction with the sheriff. There’s no real evidence against Murphy, and he even begins pushing the idea that it was Tunstall who was responsible for the killings. With Murphy’s connections to the Santa Fe Ring, there’s no way that this conflict can be resolved in court. But Murphy already has sharpshooters and is hiring even more, so Tunstall needs a secret weapon to give his side the advantage. And at that moment, in walks Billy the Kid, ready to go to work.
To Billy’s credit, he rides back to Jesse and the gang to tell them in person that he’s switching sides. And while Jesse isn’t happy about it, he tells the others to allow Billy to ride away, claiming their time will come soon enough. And I’m sure it will, though obviously not in this season, which bows out with a real whimper.
You can stream Billy the Kid season 1, episode 8, “The Rampage” exclusively on Epix. Do you have any thoughts on Billy the Kid’s ending? Let us know in the comments.