Don’t judge a book by its cover.
Spoilers below for Stranger Things: Season 2.
Stranger Things: Season 2 newcomer Dacre Montgomery wants you to believe that his character Billy is more than the hot-headed bully we see him portray. In a recent interview with the young Australian actor, he was adamant about Billy not being just some one-dimensional character.
“I said to them (the Duffer Brothers), that I really want the audience to have something that they see in Billy that makes him more likable,” Montgomery told IGN during a group interview. “You want to see some of the background and later, in episode 8, with my dad, played by Will Chase, who’s amazing. You get to see why Billy is the way he is.”
Do we though? In my Episode 8 (“The Mind Flayer”) review, I go more in depth as to why Billy’s transition in that pivotal scene with his father is troublesome. Dacre insists on his character’s arc being a collaborative effort with the Duffer Brothers, which gave him the freedom to make suggestions about his character’s arc.
“You’re going to see this more multifaceted character that we see towards the end and that was definitely a discussion process with the Duffers,” Dacre said. “The scene with his (Billy’s) father touches upon a learned quality. I think that he’s adopted and it’s put a certain mean-streak in him and the way that he operates.”
This is intriguing insight from Montgomery about the Duffer Brothers’ style of writing and directing. You can tell he’s passionate about Billy, and he has the acting skills to pull off such a complex character, but there wasn’t enough of this development throughout the season to make him compelling. Perhaps the writers should have taken more of Montgomery’s advice?
Montgomery isn’t alone in his assessment of Billy. Joe Keery, who plays Steve, concurred with his on-screen enemy that the character of Billy is simply misunderstood.
“You feel like you’re so sure about Billy the whole time,” Keery said. “And then at the end, you’re like, it leaves you with this taste in your mouth, like hold on a second, maybe I don’t know this guy. And then the season’s over, leaving you with that cliffhanger.”
Maybe Keery and Montgomery are right, and Billy is simply the misunderstood outsider his dad treats like crap? It’s just hard for one scene to make all of that a reality, no matter how good the actor is. Either way, it will be interesting to see what happens to Billy in Season 2. That final glance he gives to his stepsister Max in the finale appears to be a sign of mutual respect. Did Billy do enough this season to warrant a redemption story in Season 3? Let us know what you think.
David Griffin still watches DuckTales in his pajamas with a cereal bowl in hand. He’s also the TV Editor for IGN. Say hi on Twitter.