Cult Season 1 Review “Being Billy” — Are You a True Believer?

This week saw Cult premiering in its new time slot with ‘Being Billy’, in which Jeff learns that students have been reenacting scenes from ‘Cult’ — the show-within-the-show — on campus. This trend was partially begun by his brother Nate, who for a large part of this episode is a suspect in a murder that occurs after one of these (quite lame) Being Billy games.

As in the pilot, this third episode built on the real life cult-like activities taking place. Presumably it’s to make us question whether there is a real cult based around the show, something backed up by the actions of the girl who got close to Roger, the actor behind Billy Grimm, and the antagonist this week who made contact with the ‘true believers’.

To emphasis this, we had Skye picking apart the audio in an episode. A reference to ‘as in the beginning, so shall it be in the end’ somehow turned into Skye taking words from the start and ending of the episode — ‘true’ and ‘believe her’ — and speeding them up so they sounded like ‘true believer’. It was a bit of a stretch, and also highlighted a flaw in this series.

While I’m happy to accept that the crazy ‘Cult’ fans that we have seen so far are an unusual minority, this isn’t borne out by any evidence of there being a normal majority. Surely not all ‘Cult’ fans can be the creepy, possible-‘true believer’ types. So what are the normal fans doing? This is where Cult could really do with looking to real fandoms. On twitter, tumblr, livejournal, Facebook and forums (and possibly other places besides), fans of TV shows investigate clues, write out theories, and make audio and video clips.

In short, normal fans of television series do a lot of the sort of stuff that would benefit Jeff and Skye on Cult. Why aren’t they short cutting by checking out the ‘Cult’ tumblr tag to see what the fans have noticed?

There’s also no link yet between the ‘Cult’ show-within-the-show and the true believers. What is it about this show that makes people want to start a cult? The bits of the show-within-the-show that we have seen so far are interesting, but they hardly seem like enough to push people past fanfic and playful roleplaying into craziness. I can only assume that this is where the mysterious Steven Rae element of the show comes into play, but we haven’t learnt much about him yet other than that he exists and is, well, mysterious. Cult needs to start showing us what it is about this TV series that makes people so invested.

Are they being brainwashed? Skye’s theories about the term ‘true believer’ being sneaked into the episode would suggest this is a possibility, but why are most people not susceptible to it? Is this all a Matrix-like illusion? Or is it just a tiny minority of vulnerable people who want something to believe in so much that they are willing to cling to a random cult in a random CW television show? While I don’t expect a firm answer to these questions for a long while yet, we need to know that they are being considered.

What did you think about ‘Being Billy’? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!