Billy's new direction in life didn't last all that long.
His moving over to the side of right didn't prevent tragedy from striking on Billy the Kid Season 2 Episode 3.
And Billy's extreme sense of righteousness was sure to take him the rest of the way back to the wrong side of the law.
The problematic part about basing a TV series on historical events is that any viewer with Google can essentially predict the narrative.
Also, there was a reason that William Bonney never became Billy the Conflicted Middle-Aged Adult. This is a show with a historically built-in expiration date, unlike one built around a fictional character.
That's a shame because Tom Blyth's Billy is an enjoyably complex character who viewers got to watch grow up over the series' first season.
One thing Billy has been missing since his mother Kathleen's death from consumption on Billy the Kid Season 1 Episode 3 is an adult role model.
Enter John Tunstall, the English businessman who has given Billy a new lease on life this season.
Billy had been part of Jesse Evans' Seven Rivers Gang brought to Lincoln, New Mexico, to serve as muscle for Major Murphy's The House business.
Tunstall was proven to be a successful option to Murphy's usurious practices as the immigrant farmers and ranchers were happy to have an alternative.
As Tunstall thrived, The House slid, to the dismay of Murphy's secret backer, District Attorney Thomas Catron, part of the corrupt Santa Fe Ring.
Hence began a two-front assault against Tunstall, Catron in the courts, and Jesse's gang intimidating his buyers, the primarily Mexican farmers and ranchers.
These tactics offended Billy, causing him to join Tunstall's forces. They are at a massive disadvantage, Billy and a handful of farmers and ranchers who support what Tunstall has brought to the settlement versus a force of outlaw gunslingers who lack scruples.
Jesse is accustomed to skirting the law and doing whatever is necessary to give his side an edge. If he tweaks the nose of his long-time frenemy Billy, so much the better.
This was the episode when Jesse went too far, escalating tensions between the two sides, and the Lincoln County War went from a handful of skirmishes to a shooting war.
Although they were very different, Billy and Tunstall had bonded over drinks as they learned about each other's lives.
Tunstall was trying to please a demanding father. Billy was attempting to replace a weak-willed pa who left him far too soon. Tunstall quickly became the father figure Billy sought.
But it became apparent Tunstall wouldn't be long for this world when he proclaimed that he was always going to be there for Billy. Oops.
Tunstall was a kindly, community-oriented gentleman. He wasn't meant to be a general in a shooting war.
Twice, he had been up against the start of this war, and twice, he had tried to find another alternative. He didn't have the stomach that was necessary for it.
On Billy the Kid Season 2 Episode 2, after Billy's suggestion, he decided to spring Jesse and a handful of his gang from jail as a peace offering that Jesse refused.
This time out, rather than risk his men being killed defending his ranch, Tunstall moved his horses to a different farm ahead of a raid by the sheriff's posse (i.e., the Seven Rivers Gang).
He believed Sheriff Brady wouldn't chase after him to seize a half-dozen horses. Again, he made a wrong call.
However, Brady wasn't part of the posse, sending a couple of deputies blended in with Jesse's gang. Jesse was hellbent on chasing Tunstall's forces against the opposition of some of his subordinates.
As a precaution, Billy did send back a couple of riders to check for anyone following them. However, they didn't hang around long enough to observe the posse in pursuit.
That report gave everyone a false sense of security. Tunstall saw no problem with stopping so his men could hunt birds for lunch, even freeing Billy to participate.
Leaving Tunstall alone to watch over the horses definitely resulted in a sense of foreboding. Something terrible was about to happen.
Jesse's gang fell upon the bird hunters, but one shot by Billy sent them on retreat, unfortunately toward the unguarded Tunstall. He bravely faced the gang by himself and even attempted to pull his gun but ended up getting riddled by bullets before Billy could reach him.
Tunstall's brutal death was all it took to push Billy back over to the wrong side of the law.
It was debatable what the wrong side of the law would be with the corrupt justice system in New Mexico, thanks to the Santa Fe Ring.
Still, Billy threatening to kill everyone who shot Tunstall while standing over his body wasn't going to fly under any circumstances. That was no doubt why Dulcinea sent him away.
After that happened, there was nothing to keep Billy from returning from his outlaw ways. He did give McSwain his opportunity to accomplish something in the courts.
But, when that failed, he went back to horse rustling. And his shooting of two unarmed men couldn't have gone over well with his soldiers. That won't help them in the upcoming war.
Did you see Tunstall's murder coming?
Did you expect Billy to revert to his old ways after that?
Were you surprised that he shot Baker and Morin?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on X.