Derek’s Review – 3.06 “Billy”

The Good:

This is a great episode for Cordelia. Particularly because she doesn’t have to be strong in the face of a man or Billy’s cruelty. Cordelia is on a woman mission the entire episode and she’s not overly emotional or aggressive. She’s very calm, very collected and doing this because it has to be done. The sass is off the charts in her interactions with Lilah but it’s not “bitch-off”. Cordelia is level-headed in explaining to Lilah why Billy must be taken care of and why she needs to do it. The fact that Cordelia does reach her and Lilah ends up being the one that kills Billy is a perfect end to the episode.

The Billy situation also brings out interesting things for Angel. Once he’s racked by guilt and deals with it by punching people in the face. It’s a healthier expression than last season because it’s coming from a place of altruism but it still shows he has so far to go. He though he jumps in and stops Cordelia from killing Billy, he is starting to understand she doesn’t need his protection as much he would hope.

I have a lot nuanced and mixed feelings about the Wesley stuff but I thought the final scene was very good. My reading on Wesley’s emotional reaction to being overtaken by Billy is he did confront something dark inside himself. There’s a real difference between the way Gunn begins to turn and Wesley does it. I don’t think Wesley is entirely taken over from Billy, I think something deep inside Wesley gets brought out into the open.

Wesley shows moments of casual sexism in this very episode. He praises Cordelia for training with Angel like she’s some kind of foolish girl who is finally taking responsibility. Wesley is a misogynist and that’s understandable and in line with his character. When Wesley’s background is taken into account how could be anything but and that’s why I think he reacts so strongly to Billy’s corruption. He doesn’t want to kill Fred of course he doesn’t, but there is a nugget of truth in what he says to her and that terrifies him.

The Bad:

There’s nothing really, I don’t like the Fred portion of this episode but I wouldn’t call it bad.

The Unknown:

I’m glad that they did feel the need to make Fred be quippy and aggressive when Wesley is pursuing her. It would imply that women can only be “bitches” to deal with aggressive men. I’m happy that she takes him out building a trap and it’s very Fred. The problem is that this happens at the very end. Fred is victimized the entire episode. She even falls down while be pursuing and stays there stricken on the floor for more time than could possibly deemed acceptable. I don’t want Fred to become Sarah Connor or anything but there’s a lingering nature to the Wesley stalking her that rubs me the wrong way.

It seems far too dragged out. The intention is to be scary or tense and both are achieved but it’s a little self-indulgent. It revels a bit too much in how horrifying it is for this little waif of woman being pursued by the psychotic man with an axe.

Gavin assaulting Lilah is horrific and brutal but it’s quick. In fact, it’s almost too quick. Gavin attacking Lilah should be just as scary as Wesley pursuing Fred but there is very little time spent on the Lilah thing. It’s more shock value than treated like anything terrible. I’m not saying it was the show’s intention but it’s almost as if they felt the audience couldn’t care about what Billy could do to men unless it was effecting the “good” girl.

Favorite Moment:

Cordelia explaining the worst part of getting the visions was incredibly effective. There’s definitely a misunderstanding when it comes to gendered violence that the worst part isn’t the psychical pain but the emotional toll. The fear and helplessness it causes has more lasting effects than the bruises. This one speech does everything to build Billy up as a legitimate threat and no women have to be victimized on screen.

Bottom Line:

I really do enjoy parts of this episode, but I can’t get fully behind the depiction of corrupted Wesley. I’m not sure how it could’ve been done better. It works as a piece of horror but it’s also the weakest part of the episode for me. It’s trying to make me uncomfortable and it does but it’s too self-c congratulatory. It’s trying so hard to be edgy and dark that it just feels juvenile.

65 out of 100

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