The year is 1871. A 12-year-old boy and his Irish family struggle to survive amidst a rapidly-growing New York City. Enter William H. Bonney, Jr. (born Henry McCarty), or Billy for short; an inquisitive child who will grow into one of the most famous outlaws in American history.
But as the first episode of EPIX’s period western shows, Billy must first become caught up in his mother’s dream of joining the Westward Expansion. Newcomer Jonah Collier embodies this whip-smart, pensive pre-teen. Before long, he’s found his impoverished family a wagon master they can afford, and their journey begins.
His father, a sickly Patrick McCarty (The Witcher‘s Joey Batey), however, is far more reluctant to give up what little they have in the Big Apple to head out West. But head West they do; a decision that would change Billy – and American history – forever.
Such is the tale BILLY THE KID weaves; an epic romantic adventure series based on the life of famous Western outlaw Billy the Kid. Beginning with his humble Irish roots, EPIX’s Western will move from this childhood into Billy’s early days as a cowboy and gunslinger in the American frontier, to his pivotal role in the Lincoln County War and beyond – something fans of Paramount Network’s Yellowstone prequel, 1883, should appreciate.
Come for a Western, Stay for the Outlaws
Whether on purpose or out of necessity, the earliest throws of BILLY THE KID will feel familiar to 1883 fans. A young Billy holds tight to his beloved mother, Kathleen (Eileen O’Higgins), as they attempt their first river crossing on wagon. As much of their life floats down river, all seems lost. But even more horrors await on the other side of the rushing waters. The West is full of perils.
And yet the McCartys reach the Wild West far sooner than 1883‘s Dutton family. In place of external threats, much of young Billy the Kid‘s plight comes from a father who suffers from severe depression far before his society knew what depression was. Billy turns this plight into strength, however, as he’s forced to grow up fast.
And once tragedy strikes his family out West, Billy runs into town to examine firearms at the town’s arms dealer. As he picks up a revolver, BILLY THE KID cuts to the titular outlaw not as a boy, but as a young man.
In a desolate saloon, a still whip-smart Billy (series’ star Tom Blyth) outsmarts a bounty hunter. And as the credits roll, it becomes clear that BILLY THE KID will offer a glimpse into a far different side of America’s Westward Expansion than 1883.
‘BILLY THE KID’ Covers Unique Ground in America’s Westward Expansion
While 1883 focused on the hellish perils of the Oregon Trail, BILLY THE KID will highlight the arena of the gunslinger throughout America’s Wild West; including Billy’s pivotal role in the Lincoln County War.
Written by Vikings and The Tudors creator Michael Hirst and starring British actor Tom Blyth (The Gilded Age, Benediction) alongside Daniel Webber (The Dirt, Escape From Pretoria), BILLY THE KID brings an eight-episode season comprised of hour-long episodes based on the true tales of Billy the Kid (Blyth), also known as William H. Bonney.
As for Daniel Webber, The Dirt star gives life to another famous outlaw, Jesse Evans, leader of the Seven Rivers Gang. When he and Billy meet, Jesse has already embraced the life of an outlaw. Robbing stores and cattle rustling are the business of the Seven Rivers Gang, and Billy soon finds himself attracted to this wild and reckless young man of the same age.
With Jesse as his shadow self, Billy the Kid finds himself pulled into the darker side of life. Wild tales that still dominate the American West to this day would result. And the rest, as we know it, is history.