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Cult "Being Billy" Review: Wanna Play a Game?

Cult S01E03: “Being Billy”

Can we take a second to talk about that crazy chick calling the other, less-crazy chick a “poser?” That, my friends, was priceless. I’m pretty sure “poser” was a dated insult even back in my day, which only contributed to the weird edgy-but-not vibe Cult has going on. LOL, poser.  I’m pretty sure the last time I heard anyone utter that one out loud and with any kind of nonironic sincerity was at a Good Charlotte concert in ninth grade. 

Wow. Okay. I’m sorry. It just made me laugh. Cult always seems to manage one moment of unintentional humor per episode and that’s why I continue to love it in all of its dysfunctional glory. 

This week, the Nate/Jeff storyline stalled, but the goings-on behind the scenes at the Evil Bizzaro CW seemed to confirm an important point raised in last week’s glorious trainwreck of a second episode: Steven Rae really IS slipping secret signs and messages into episodes for obsessive fans/True Believers to find. This week, it was that same three-pronged symbol that fake Claudia Donovan enlarged for Jeff’s convenience and was subsequently (and conveniently) found behind the wallpaper at Dead Merriam’s place before it went BOOM. This raises a new question: coincidence, sloppy writing, or is Steve totally onto what Skye and Jeff are up to and totally just screwing with them? I’m crossing my fingers for option number three because those two are just begging to be messed with. I mean, they got lucky this time, but when Skye picked up the Nefarious-Looking External Hard Drive of Doom and Despair and just plugged it in, did anyone else just shake their head at the dum-dum duo’s inability to learn not to plug questionable hardware/load questionable software into anything near them ever? I was half expecting it to explode because why not? Making sense is entirely overrated. Crazypants Carey ran through a glass door and kept going. Jeff cut his hand in their struggle and we had to call off the whole chase so he could get a Band-Aid. Admittedly it was a big Band-Aid, but seriously, I don’t think this dude wants to taste victory bad enough. OR Carey’s crazy has turned her into a loony blonde Energizer Bunny of Kool-Aid chuggin’, party-girl murderin,’ starry-eyed True Believer noob. 

So Jeff lacks endurance and Skye is making a habit of asking painfully obvious nosy questions about the mysterious Steven Rae in what very well could be Skullcrusher Mountain in the heart of an alternate universe C-Dubs. Don’t come crying to me when you end up in the True Believer pedo-van, Skye. 

Nate continues to be elusive, with all signs initially pointing to him being behind some murder action at his old college, only to be redirected back at Crazy Carey by the end of “Being Billy.” There was some exposition about the Sefton brothers growing up after their parents died and Jeff essentially becoming a parent at eighteen and angsting because he thought he sucked at it and Nate angsting because he thought he was a giant screw-up who brought shame upon the family and spent his whole life looking for an elusive something that he apparently found in Cult. He also apparently performed a similar disappearing act on Jeff immediately after their parents kicked it, so even though he escaped the murderer label this time around, I’m still not entirely convinced that he’s totally innocent. Perhaps the strongest theory at the moment is that Nate went looking for his something, found it in the True Believers, and eventually realized that they were all out of their freaking minds. But, as Carey illustrated this week, one doesn’t simply knock on the clubhouse door and ask to come in. There are membership dues. And if Carey’s analysis of the secret messages hidden in fake Cult episodes is correct, True Believers don’t accept cash or credit. Payment is strictly in corpses. 

And then there’s Roger, fake Cult’s leading man. Alona Tal finally got to say more than five words as Marty, his co-star, and their apparent disdain for each other is beautiful, man. Can we please get some more Alona Tal action? Please? Roger’s fun and all, but Roger’s also kind of a smarmy dick. Let him serve as a cautionary tale for actors whose adoring fans seem to reside just beyond the line of sanity: When your number-one fan seems to have a serious inability to separate you from your character, you PROBABLY shouldn’t bang her on the set. I don’t care if she’s super-hot and super-slutty. Are super-crop-tops even “in” again? Or have we fallen through a time rift and landed in 1996? 


Did you follow
Cult to Fridays? What did you think of “Being Billy?”



Postcards from Crazy Town


– So, I get that the campus cops refused to help the poor innocent Being Billy kids on account of being burned by their pranks too many times, but shouldn’t the fact that whatsherface was killed in an apparent hit-and-run have drawn the attention of the city/state/higher-jurisdiction-of-your-choice cops? And shouldn’t anyone with half a brain cell be able to see the connection between the TV show, the creepy fans, and the death that seems to follow them EVERYWHERE?

– New Nate theories? Old Nate theories? Any Nate theories?

– There seems to be a serious misunderstanding regarding the sorts of things crazed fans like the fake Cult’s crazed fans obsess over. Replaying sound clips? Sure. Replaying them BACKWARDS? Not so much. Splicing intro and exit dialogue together? Maaaaybe? It just seems like a lot of work unless you know that it’s already there... which could be the point of Steven Rae’s subliminal messages. Subliminal messages to lead you to more subliminal messages? This is the worst scavenger hunt ever. 

– Any dumb Jeff moments this week? My frustration mostly concerned Skye and her insistence on asking her creepy coworkers really obvious questions about their creepy boss. You in danger, girl. Probably.

Comments (38)
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mh.. I somehow think that Kelly is behind all of this...that she is the TRUE leader...?
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I like your thinking... I hope it's not true though!
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I don't think the deaths are that obvious. Nate's a junky gone missing, Merriam supposedly didn't even watch the show and the third's a hit and run. Frankly, I've seen the weird things and I still wonder what's big enough to warrant all this killing and... believing.

But I do have a Nate theory: he went missing for a while 10 years ago, around the time Skye's dad was writing a story. He found something and was looking for it ever since, until he found Cult. I really want to find out what it's all about but not sure if I can be bothered to watch the whole season/series to do it.
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"When your number-one fan seems to have a serious inability to separate you from your character, you PROBABLY shouldn’t bang her on the set"

But it makes sense considering that she is trying to prove a point here : that the actor is his character deep down and that just like Billy he wants to be followed and adored. There are many silly things in this episode but sometimes it feels like you're looking for incoherences where they're none. Same thing for the hard drive they plug-in. Sure it sounds dangerous to plug-in a mysterious device you don't know who it belongs to but the human mind loves mystery and one can hardly resist to discover what a mysterious hard-drive contains. It's like Colin Farrell answering a random phone in the street in Phone Game. He shouldn't, but it's too hard to resist the curiosity.

As for the very stupid moment of the episode I wouldn't mention the "poser" insult (I actually heard that not that long ago) but the scene right after. Jumping throught a window (or let's say crashing into one) instead of using the door (which couldn't have been that far...) is ALWAYS dumb and the fact that breaking the window apparently gave her the power to disappear, even though there is no place to hide around, is just equally dumb.
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Was anybody else excited to see Spencer Locke as Ms. Crazy? I don't think she has reached mainstream fanboy love yet, but she has in my eyes! Hope she returns!
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According to my own rules, this show has one more chance...but it is so DUMB!!!
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It is one of those shows that's bad but but enjoyablely bad, as someone else said total cheese-fest.
The whole hidden messages thing is fun to watch, and I bet there are hidden messages in the 'real' show but can anybody be arsed to go look for them?
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I'm hoping this show can keep it's numbers up and at least punch out a full season. Although there are some barely watchable moments (the chick waltzing through that window somehow for one) this was a fairly decent episode and I'm still as hooked as I was in episode one. However, If i here "hey, these things just snap right off" one more time without any sort of context as to where this line has come from I'm going to go loco.
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This is one of the most clever shows that I've ever watched what with its hidden messages disguised as jangled sounds in the real show as well as the fake show. More people shouldn't be understating this show's ability to entertain through inventive ways.
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Have you found any hidden messages of sound?? I have found some hidden visual messages but am not sure where to start looking for sound, and don't want to start if they don't exist :)
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most clever show >_> I'm not sure about that! not bad show though!
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I said one of the most clever shows, not the cleverest.
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While I was hoping for more than the trainwreck this show has been, it still manages to be a rather entertaining and watchable trainwreck. More than I can say for something like Revolution, which just puts me to sleep with how bad it is.
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I agree wholeheartedly. It's not a great show. I was hoping for more too. But it's definitely entertaining.
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So the whole show is just gonna be about this one cult? I mean it would be better if it was like a case of the week thing or something.

I hope Matt Davis and the actress who play Skye land another show because they are both great
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Seriously, that much audio work! I still say that the show within the show would be a winner. Who asked them to make a lousy show around a successful show? The concept is interesting I agree but the execution is, well you already said how it is. I am watching it but I am not feeling it. I am not even thinking it. All I know that image of 2 very great characters are digging their own graves. Good acting is waste on this story.

A college girl ran through glass without getting a single scratch on her face and the stronger guy just pass by get a deep cut! I cried because I banged my head so hard on the table.
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The "sounds in reverse" thing is plausible... you can sometimes tell when a sound effect is some backwards speech. So it's not that hard to imagine that people obsessed with the show and looking for clues would figure that out.

BUT... the whole first/last words thing? Really? That was stretching it a bit.
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That's what I mean by this/that much. They should go slow with it, step by step than it might felt acceptable and exciting.
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Luckily I was nowhere near a table to bang my head, otherwise I'd be in your place. I still feel your pain though!
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Lucky you. :)
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The show had much potential. I really like the mystery stuff (Who is Steven Rae? True Believers etc) but i think the acting is very uneven and the writing really cheesy.
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Embrace the cheese. The show improves quite a bit if you just take it for the crazy cheese-fest it is and not the serious edgy thriller it thinks it is.
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This show had potential, yet IMO is becoming more and more boring each episode. I'm very disappointed in the writers.
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I've actually been liking the show so far, and I thought that this episode did a great job of establishing at least one way that this show will its serialized aspect, in that we basically had a case-of-the-week. While I have to say that this was one of the most bizarre cases-of-the-weeks I have ever seen on television, what happened in this episode was, when you think about it, an open and shut murder mystery complete with multiple suspects, and one of those suspects was revealed as being the killer. What impressed me, though, was how tightly woven this case was woven into the larger story, to the extent that it took me a while to realize it for the stand-alone mystery that it was.

Because of the nature of having the real show intermingled with scenes from the fake show, Cult has a way of making everything seem connected yet separate at the same time, like you are watching two show that are faint and eerie echoes of each other. And this makes it somewhat difficult to pick out the individual, standalone stories in each episode. At the moment, this is mostly true because we're only three episodes in, and in the first two episodes the show really didn't need a case-of-the-week or anything like that, since the "let's find Nate" storyline had more than enough momentum to carry both those episodes on its own. But still, this is the first time that it has taken me three fourths of an episode to realize that I have actually been watching a case-of-the-week the entire time, no matter how bizarre these other shows have been in the past. I personally think this is a great thing, since it allows the show to feel more like one cohesive unit, even when it diverges completely from the main storyline.

The other cool thing about the nature of this show is that the characters can comment on different aspects of the fake Cult, and these same aspects can then appear in the real Cult. In this episode, Skye pointed out some music that appeared during one of the scenes on the audition tape, and said that it was composed of mixed sounds, and wasn't actually made from instruments. This meant that some of those individual sounds could be warped versions of secret messages on the show, messages that could be uncovered if you messed with them with some handy-dandy software. Doing this she was able to uncover the message "kill for us." I happened to notice that a little later in this episode the soundtrack employed a song in the real show, which sounded very similar to the song from the fake show that they picked apart. I wouldn't be all that surprised if they put a message into this second mass of distorted sounds, a message for us, the people watching the real Cult. And quite a few of the other commenters have pointed out that there was a distorted sound over the "Executive Producer Steven Rae" card at the end. Now I personally don't have any of that cool sound software that could mess with the various sounds in this show to see if they have any hidden messages, but if one of you does have that capability I'd be interested to know what those messages are.

One thing that I have discovered is that if you Google "Steven Rae," the first thing that comes up is his tumblr page, which says that he is the creator of a little show called Cult. It mostly contains a bunch of disturbing, weird, and sometimes cute pictures, some wallpapers from the fake show, a askbox where you can ask the man anything, and a bunch of places where it lists all the new people show have joined. Interestingly enough, I've been googling Steven Rae since the pilot, and it was only after the second episode that I was able to find this. So I'm pretty sure that this was done by a fan, and isn't an official tie-in to the show, but it's still pretty cool that there's stuff like that out there. Though it would be very strange and unfortunate if this show actually spawned a cult like the one on the show, one where you break the law to be initiated. But I really don't see that happening. Because no matter how many cute yet creepy pictures of sheep on a farm, placed right next to black-and-white pictures of old people sitting next to coffins, you place on the internet, or hidden messages you insert in the actual show about a show that has hidden messages (wouldn't it be funny if the real show had messages like "don't kill for us, seriously, please don't kill for us" or "free hugs" or something like that?), it takes a special kind of crazy to form a cult around a show that is constantly making fun of the cult on the show.

I also like the way that the show doesn't have a single story per episode, with all of its characters having something to do with that story, or all of them having to tackle the same problem or question. Instead, Cult is a tapestry where its different characters actually do different things. And while many of these things operate on similar themes, a number of these stories are part of longer arcs, which are so far independent of the action happening around them. An obvious example of this is the Roger and cult girl storyline, which I'm guessing is a way for the cult to slowly initiate Roger into the cult. One of the more interesting things this show can do is have the cult try and turn Roger into his character of Billy Grimm. As he said in this episode, he plays plays his character by finding that part of him that is Billy Grimm. And I'm guessing, what with that sexy/creepy business on set and him being given that knife, that the cult girl is trying to draw that part of him out into the open, to make it take over his identity more and more.

This is definitely one of the most interesting arcs that the show has given us so far, even though it is a tad unrealistic. I can't recall if anything about Roger's past work has been said on this show, but I imagine that he's probably had some similar roles on other shows in the past, and may have even had a few parts in movies. Which means that at some point he must have run across some crazy fans in the past, who have had a bit too much trouble disassociating him from the parts he's played. And no matter how hot these fans may be, and how willing they are to have sex with him, he will have learned sooner or later that no amount of hotness or sex is worth the disastrous consequences of such a relationship, As MaryAnn pointed pointed out in the review, when a fan has difficulty keeping you separate from your character, you probably shouldn't have sex with her on the set. Especially when the character you play happens to be a creepy and murderous cult leader, and especially when the set in question happens to be a creepy dungeon/slaughtering floor type place which was used for a scene where you used a traumatic childhood experience of being locked for two days in a warehouse to stay in character.

And if this wasn't the only indication that his super fan is bad news, there was also the fact that she showed genuine resentment toward Marty for the things her character, and not her, does to Billy on the show. Which is bad enough considering the actor is blameless, especially on this show where the actors have no input on what their lines should be, but what is more disturbing is that the animosity she feels is toward the FBI agents/"good guy" on the show, because she treats the serial killer/mastermind of a criminal empire/"bad guy" on the show. Seriously Roger, you're presumably a rich and somewhat famous actor. If you're looking to have sex with young and attractive people who aren't into you for your personality, then at least go for the ones who are attracted by your money or your fame, and not by the fact that the character you currently play is a twisted, and probably psychopathic, serial killer.

Anyway, I'm really looking forward the the next episode. And while this show will probably be cancelled soon, unfortunately, I'll enjoy it while it lasts. I wish there were more shows this inventive on television.
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I'm with you. (Numerous) weaknesses aside, I'm actually enjoying the show for how different it is. It takes a lot of risks, and unfortunately, a lot of those decisions aren't working out so great, but I'm entertained. it's fun.

I really liked the case of the week aspect fitting seamlessly into the larger story too. I know I've complained about cases of the week over at Supernatural, but a lot of that stems from how the show can only ever operate in case-of-the-week or main-story mode and it rarely manages to make the two gel. As a result, the cases of the week tend to feel like filler. This didn't feel like filler at all, even if we ultimately didn't make a lot of progress on the larger story. It still felt relevant and important.
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I know the ratings are terrible and it will be canceled and apparently no one likes this show, but it is becoming a must-watch for me. I am super into it because it is unlike everything else on TV....
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(...) because it is unlike everything else on TV(...)

Like - bad? ;)
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it's not that bad .... it is unique in a way, at least they are trying to engage ppl with the hidden messages and stuff... I like it somehow.
I just want to know if Billy, the actor is really a bad guy, which I'm really hoping for, or it's about that RAE producer... or are they 1 person...
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I didn't find anything interesting about this show yet, the only reason I'm still watching it is to see a "Tbag moment" but nothing yet >_>

well after watching this ep, I rewinded it 2 the start and the first word was Jeff's saying "Just" and the before the end credits, it was the blond saying "me"
so "just me" is a hidden message. hmmm if the first word should be Billy's then it it "not" and the message says "not me"
2 messages: just me; meaning that it's only me idiot watching this show ... and not me; God i'm turning to a cult fan which is not me at all .. both messages say quit watching this show!
and before the end credit ... did u hear the voice at the back? if only I got a sound editing program to slow it down or playing it backward!!!

so stupid hearing me saying this looool
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I found some fun hidden messages! Looking for more now...
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omg you are awesome. During this episode I got lots of urges to try some of that weird backwards stuff with this show, wondering if they were clever enough to do it to their own show instead of just the show inside the show but I don't want to bother actually looking for it. If you find anything, please share :) The creepiest thing for me is all this talk of STEVEN RAE and then right when the show fades and the end credits start "EXECUTIVE PRODUCER STEVEN RAE" flashes on the screen. It took me a lot of googling to find out that this is fictional but it's an awesome play on the audience. That Steven Rae, messing with the fake show and the real show...
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i m still wondering if the sound when the producer names appears could be some hidden message. To lazy to try to edit that sound though
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STEVEN RAE is not for real @@ hahahaha that is something! I think I'm just going to keep watching it for a little more... will see what will happen :)
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I hope the whole season isn't just about Nate trying to be found by his brother. That's getting old and needs to be solved so the whole Cult thing gets more upfront.
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There was a noise over the executive producer Steven Rae card at the end, it sounded slow...
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Gotta go back and look for that...
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