William’s Review – 3.06 “Billy”
I found this pretty great. I mean in that awful kind of way. Edgy gets a bad rap if it’s used for pure shock value. I felt this had purpose behind it. It’s not a subtle metaphor for domestic abuse, but is good at building up the horrifying aspect of it. Even to the point of the episode becoming a horror film towards the end of it. I thought Billy was sufficiently creepy and felt like a real threat. Him just saying he would intervene with the couple making out on the couch was actually pretty scary. They did a great job of showing why this guy would be in a fire prison hell dimension and I was pretty happy when Lilah emptied a clip into him.
So they’re really pushing that Angel Cordelia relationship. They’re interactions were pretty great. I loved the opening with the two of them. And I really like that Cordelia is training. She already is, but any excuse to make Cordelia feel more equal to our lead Angel in the show’s eyes or to be that female lead. Her breaking down in front of Angel about her being responsible for the terrible things Billy has done/will do was emotion and a nice personal moment between the two of them. I like how immediately both Angel and Cordelia jump to action. Seeing both Angel and Cordelia interact with Lilah separately was great. Both scenes added a lot. Angel immediately backing down from his threatening tone and Cordelia being sassy and having a “vicious bitch” off was equally satisfying. Also Cordelia drawing the central message of the episode was nice. It told you everything you need to know about what they were trying to say. It also gave a real threat to Billy. I love that Cordelia was one step ahead of Angel the whole time and they mine some nice comedy when Angel gets to Billy’s cousin after Cordelia. And can I just get a round of applause for Billy getting tasered in the crotch. It was definitely a cheer worthy moment.
Wesley was fascinating to me in this episode. It was a little annoying for them to push him having feelings for Fred without showing any hints previously, but I thought it was totally believable. I found the opening conversation between Wes and Cordelia interesting where they are arguing the merits of having a romantic relationship in their line of work. I liked Wes being the boss when all hands went on deck when they started picking up clues. It gave some urgency to the episode and gave it a nice forward momentum. Once Wes started to turn I was immediately put on edge. His calm demeanor as he shows both verbal and then physical violence towards Fred, was both emotional and terrifying. Once Fred is forced to knock both Gunn and Wes I finally got to breathe a sigh of relief. Wes’s reaction afterwards was an intriguing one (see favorite moment). I think you can read a lot into Wes’s character in this episode, but you can also get different interpretations of his character. Wes’s states that he doesn’t know what kind of man he is anymore. And Fred says that none of this was him and that he’s a good man. Who’s to really say? And I love that. It leaves you asking questions and leaves those two characters in a strained position.
Angel’s explanation that he had evolved past things like petty misogyny didn’t make a whole lot of sense. We’ve seen Angel be immature and emotional so I don’t think that explanation really fit.
Jumping straight from Fredless to Billy and putting Fred through the ringer once again felt a little exploitive, but mostly I found the performances great and I was genuinely terrified for her. I do hate that she does the typical horror film fall down and wait a while. Totally unnecessary.
They leave a lot of the Wesley aspects of the story purposefully vague. I like it that way, but it does leave you questioning the end and what does it mean for his character.
The last scene with Wes and Fred was fantastic. It’s rare that you get a scene with so many complex emotions floating about. Seeing Wes broken from his experience was sympathetic and heartbreaking. Left vague of whether this was something done to Wes or if it brought something out of him. I liked the implications that his prior abuse from his upbringing had something to do with his reactions. I thought it was also expertly shot. I loved the use of space and lightning in the scene. And of course the performances.
Challenging, edgy, risky. This worked for me more than it didn’t. Maybe not subtle, but effective non the less. I found myself emotionally invested with our characters even to the point of being on the edge of my seat with Fred. I was also blown away by some of the performances. Definitely a controversial episode, but one that stuck with me.
Score: 81 out of 100