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Did Billy ever really have a chance with Penny?
July 28, 2008
2:01 am
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newfan
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New Whedon fan here.  Watched a bit of Angel before, but this really has me hooked.

The first time I watched this, I felt that it almost had the feel of a Greek tragedy -- the circumstances were just right (Hammer meeting Penny, Penny waiting for Billy at the laundromat having second thoughts about Hammer - but Billy not showing up) so that tragedy ensued.

Almost like Romeo and Juliet (the plan ALMOST worked, and things would've been great if Romeo had learned of the plan / not committed suicide, etc...)

However, the more I think about it, I think that Billy was doomed from the beginning.  Remember, as goofy and sort-of well meaning as he was in the beginning, he still had aspirations of joining the ELE and ruling the world.  Even though he had an aversion to killing or hurting children, his goal was still world domination.

During \"Brand New Day\" he talks about how Penny will learn about his true persona, and may cry -- but will be appeased with the keys to a \"shiny new Australia.\"  He imagines ruling the world with Penny at his side.  But is this really realistic?  Would Penny have really been convinced with power and riches?  I think it more likely that she would've been completely repulsed by him, and would've rejected him outright at that point.

Billy's only real chance with Penny would have been if he turned himself around -- to reject his evil ways, so to speak.  I feel that the turning point of the musical -- when you could rule out any possibility of a happy ending, was during \"So They Say\", when he's making his death ray.  In fact, Billy even references this himself -- there's no happy ending for him, despite his fantasizing duing Brand New Day.

The only real question was, what kind of unhappy ending would there be.  The ending that occurred of course, was both brilliant, and very poignant -- it made both Billy and the viewer long for what really never could have been.

July 28, 2008
5:52 am
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I've often thought that tragedies that come so close to turning out well (Romeo & Juliet is a prime example) are more heart-breaking than the ones that are completely hopeless from the beginning. They make you replay the story in your head to try to figure out at what point it went completely wrong and how it could have been fixed.

Anyway. I think Billy had a chance with Penny. Dr. Horrible did not. It's representative of how out of touch Billy is that the 'evil me' he dreams of to impress Penny would only repulse her. However, he's not a bad guy -- his evil schemes initially are mostly a way to empower himself. I do think if Penny, who sees good in everyone, works with the homeless, sings of how you can turn lives around, and apparently has some dark patches in her own past, might very well have taken on a socially awkward geek with serious self-esteem issues that were manifesting as dreams of supervillainry, if she'd caught it before those schemes hurt anyone. Of course, she'd be trying to nip said supervillain dreams in the bud.

Of course, I also think personally if Penny really had gotten together with Billy, his Dr. Horrible lab coat might have been in the trash before she ever found out. Something real in his life might have made his fantasies unnecessary.

July 28, 2008
8:47 pm
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I found it incredibly ironic that Dr. Horrible, who yearns for a new world order, falls into the same social trappings of wealth and power in order to impress the girl of this dreams.

He knows that the world is filled with \"filth and lies\" but fails to recognize that he himself had accepted the rules of the world from the get go.

His mind was so locked into achieving this \"means\" that he suffered from tunnel vision and failed to grab the opportunities when the \"ends\" strolled into his life.

A cautionary tale for the rest of us.

August 2, 2008
5:01 am
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Seems to me that what that shows is that his change-the-world idealism was a sham from the beginning, and just a rationalization for his actions.  He wants power, pure and simple, but since he's got scruples, he has to tell himself that his intentions are good, that the world needs him in charge.

We see this most clearly in \"I cannot believe my eyes\", where he spies on Captain Hammer and Penny being all lovey-dovey.  This makes him angry, of course.  And how does he express this anger?  By singing about the depravity of humankind, how the world is full of \"filth and lies\".

August 7, 2008
12:38 am
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baf said:

We see this most clearly in “I cannot believe my eyes”, where he spies on Captain Hammer and Penny being all lovey-dovey.  This makes him angry, of course.  And how does he express this anger?  By singing about the depravity of humankind, how the world is full of “filth and lies”.


Well, what Billy's seeing isn't Captain Hammer and Penny being all lovey-dovey.  What he's seeing is Captain Hammer turning on the charm and bravado and all the other stuff he does to get away with being a major jerk, and he's getting away with it.  Again.  With Penny.  It's a matter of perspective--which is one of the key themes of the song.

Anyway, I agree with Bad Mare.  Billy's best chance with Penny would have been giving up on Dr. Horrible--and the tragedy, of course, is that he thinks its the other way around.

August 21, 2008
9:27 pm
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Bad Mare said:

Of course, I also think personally if Penny really had gotten together with Billy, his Dr. Horrible lab coat might have been in the trash before she ever found out. Something real in his life might have made his fantasies unnecessary.


I totally agree, i think that the reason Billy wantd to be evil was because in his life time he never had anything really good happen, and he never got the girls, or got appreciated by anyone, but if Penny would have become interested in him he might have seen some good inthe world through her and not wanted to rule it. Also i'm sure that Penny would have shown him how to try and do things the right way, becasue they both know that the world is wrong they and want to change it, they jsut both do it in different ways.

August 22, 2008
5:59 am
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I don't think Penny would convince Dr. Horrible to leave (meaning Billy to give up Dr. Horrible). Rather, I think Dr. H would continue to push the regime-change propaganda. She seemed willing to listen to a point; a possible open door for the concept.

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August 25, 2008
1:39 am
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I don't think Penny and Dr. Horrible would have gotten together for the simple reason that “Billy” (if that's his real name) is a villian, and Penny is totally not.
She's all about helping people and villians are about helping themselves.
She would have been horrified that “Billy” was Dr. Horrible and that would have driven her further into Capt. Hammer's arms. (Jack-ass that he is.)
The fact is this: Neither Horrible or Hammer really cared anything about Penny.
Horrible was more interested in ruling the world and being a Super Elite ELE Villian.
Hammer was more interested in dumping on Horrible because…well…that's what Heroes do. They stick it to the Bad Guys. He would screw (literally) Penny just because he knew how Horrible/”Billy” felt about her. (”And I get what you want.” - Hammer)

“Billy” would have had to keep his Dr. Horrible, Villian status hidden. You don't aspire to belong to the Evil League of Evil only to keep your Horrible-ness hidden.

Dr. Horrible is a Villian. A Villian with a video blog and crush on a sweet girl.

This is a really great origin story. From now on, we'll know the history of what happened between Dr Horrible and Capt Hammer and The Girl.

"Every tool is a weapon...if you hold it right." - Ani DiFranco
August 26, 2008
6:53 am
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I agree with the posters above who noted that Billy's chances with Penny were much better than Dr. Horrible's chances.

Her feelings about Billy were pretty clear through the entire story. There's a really sweet and seldom-commented upon moment towards the end of Act III where she's sitting in the laundromat, eating frozen yogurt and singing about her ambivalence towards Captain Hammer. A second, untouched cup of frozen yogurt rests on the counter in front of her, and she jumps at the sound of the door opening behind her until she sees that it isn't Billy. After Captain Hammer got on Penny's last nerve at the homeless shelter, she'd have dated Billy in a heartbeart.

But his secret identity as a super-villain would have been a hard sell for anybody, let alone a selfless, angelic social activist. His only realistic pitch (besides giving up on the whole super-villain career path entirely) would have been the one he outlined in passing in the song at the end of Act II:

\"She may cry, but her tears will dry when I hand her the keys to a shiny new Australia.\"

For Penny, \"a shiny new Australia\" might well be a fairer, juster one; and a fairer, juster world to go with it. Dr. Horrible's goals are nebulous, and his methods are unquestionably malevolent; but his intentions are, oddly, potentially benign.

It's the strangest courtship pitch since Richard III. . . but it could potentially have worked.  

August 26, 2008
1:06 pm
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I'd like to add one more thing:

As she lay dying, she saw \"Billy\" and, as the self-less, compassionate person she is, she asked him if he was alright.

She saw that he was in distress and her dying words were: \"Don't worry. Capt. Hammer will save us.\"
That line in that scene always gets me. It's the most tragic line in the whole piece because it shows Dr. Horrible that no matter how he felt, \"Billy\" was going to be her \"buddy\", but never her \"boyfriend\".
As much of an ass as Capt. Hammer was, he was still a \"hero\" and \"The Good Guy\"...and the hero always gets...you know the rest.

"Every tool is a weapon...if you hold it right." - Ani DiFranco
August 28, 2008
1:07 am
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I agree with AmazonGirl that Penny's last line is telling - but not in the way she thinks.  To me, that last line defined exactly why Penny \"had to die\" in the story.  She bought into the philosophy that Dr. Horrible was fighting against.  She was a perpetuator of the myth that everything was \"just fine\" the way it was and her belief in Capt. Hammer as a hero (even though she was done with him romantically at that point) proved that she was easily beguiled and led to believe what others wanted her to believe.  I actually feel that Billy was the only one with truly sincere motives, even though his methods were derisive.  I don't think we ever knew enough about Penny's driving forces to know how sincere she was.  She may have come around to Billy's/Horrible's way of thinking - but only through the same means as she was persuaded to think that Hammer was a genuinely good guy - through media commentary and public opinion.  Just as she's starting to truly come around to her own way of thinking, she's mortally wounded and then reverts to spewing out the only fiction she knows.

Hee - but that's just my opinion:-)

http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=.....UZQuN547Gs

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September 3, 2008
10:02 pm
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Hm. I think Billy and Penny were perfect for each other. She could have persuaded him from his evil ways... he would have changed, slowly, for her, simply from seeing himself through her eyes. And at the end, she says that Captain Hammer would save \"us\" - she places herself and Billy in the same context, and Captain Hammer in a completely separate context, as the hero coming to the rescue of the normal people.

Also an interesting point: she saw Dr. Horrible with his weapons, heard him identify himself as Billy Buddy, recognized him - but dying, forgot that fact and sought only to reassure her friend that all would be well. 

September 26, 2008
11:14 am
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Someone above talked about how Dr. Horrible was/is a villain.  I've spoken about this in other threads.  Define \"Villain\".  Who exactly IS the villain? DH has done nothing to cause harm to anyone throughout the entire three acts \"Besides, there are kid in that park\". Unless you count his imagined squashing of CH at the end of Act2 (Brand New Day).  Even at the end he didn't kill CH.

On the other hand we have CH who purposly sets out to hurt Billy/DH by taking Penny from him because \"I get what you want\".  CH was also about to use the Death Ray, which is FAR from a heroic act. To me that is far more of a villainous act than anything DH did.  DH wants a new world order because the world he has lived in has been painful \"With my freeze ray I will stop the pain\" and generally one can presume he's been given nothing but the sharp end of the stick.

CH has obviously never had to deal with pain as is evidenced by his reaction \"Mama! Someone maternal!\" and so has no emotional coping skills.  Thus he is snide and a bully because his emotional growth was stunted by his lack of experience with any sort of pain. After all one has to experience pain in order to learn how to cope with it.

So, again, who is the REAL villain here?

September 26, 2008
2:21 pm
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Average, I'm not sure I agree. Penny wasn't on the opposite side as Doctor Horrible. Everything we've seen of her shows that she is a radical, just like Doctor Horrible…she's simply a benign radical. The thing that was fundamentally different between DH and Penny were their methods.

Anyways, on to the main topic. I think Billy and Penny were absolutely perfect for eachother, for the very reason I just said. Despite having very different methods, and being very different people, their fundamental vision was the same…they both wanted a better world, and deep down it was the same better world. He simply didn't believe that ideal world was possible, so he strived for the next best thing…a world ruled by him, that would never be as good as the ideal world, but still “better” than the mess they were currently in.

On the surface, it seems that Penny sees only the good, and Billy only sees the bad…but that's not it at all. He may talk about all the filth in the world, but it's precisely because he sees people's potential for good. You can't be disappointed if you don't have expectations to begin with. So then, Billy's fundamental drive is even more like Penny's. He wants, desperately, to believe “the world is growing wise,” which is exactly why he's drawn to Penny in the first place. She is his ideal world of compassion, kindness, and altruism.

But unfortunately, he was so afraid to believe in what she stood for, that he ran from her ideals, despite them being the very reason for Dr. Horrible to exist at all. Sometimes, when what you want isn't real for you, and you conjure up lies to comfort you for now, you begin to believe the lies. So that when what you wanted begins to come true, you fight against it…the irony just never stops.

Here's the thing that Billy/DH did wrong: He let his pride get in the way. If he had gone to the homeless shelter as her old \"Billy buddy\", looking out for Penny, being a good friend, you would have to pry Penny off of him with a crowbar. He would have absolutely gotten the girl, and lived (reasonably) happily ever after.

She clearly had feelings for Billy. And once Captain Hammer revealed himself to her as an arrogant, self-serving jerk, she would have run straight into Billy's arms.

But he let his pride get in the way. He was more concerned with getting back at Captain Hammer than doing what was right for Penny. He had a right to not want Penny to date Captain Hammer, but his reasons were all about himself. If he had thought “She shouldn't be dating Captain Hammer because he will mistreat her,” and done something to look out for her, everything would have been okay. If he had swallowed his pride and told Penny the truth about the courier van, and why she shouldn't be dating Captain Hammer because the guy was a tool, things would have been fine. Instead, his thoughts were “She shouldn't be dating Captain Hammer because I want her,” which was entirely selfish.

So I do think the 2 of them had a chance, if only Billy hadn't been so prideful.

September 27, 2008
10:30 am
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Billy didn't trust people. He didn't believe they could do things right. That's why he thought he needed to rule it… to make people do things right because they wouldn't unless they were forced to do it.

The only way I could see the relationship work is if Dr. H (as Dr. H) managed to place Penny in control without her realizing she and everyone were manipulated into that situation. As someone who wants to serve people instead of rule them, she would have been a very charismatic leader… possibly more than Capt. H.

CH put some muscle behind her. ( Um… That didn't sound right… but I have a dirty mind anyway.) Yet, it only served himself. (I'm not helping to sway my dirty mind with that.) She was no more in control than she was on her own.

With Dr. H pulling the strings to keep her in control, good would be done through her, by the people. People wouldn't know whether or not they were being forced to do anything (as Penny would object immediately if she felt she was doing that).

Still, it would be a delicate house of cards. One misstep and Penny would find out and get as far away from Dr. H/Billy as she could for being made into something she loathed.

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September 28, 2008
9:33 am
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Yes.

When Doctor Horrible wondered “Why did she talk to me, now?” during the wonderflonium heist coupled, in that same Act when she agreed for social (potentially revolutionary) change there is a glimmer of a real connection between the two characters.  Both possess a deeply shared desire for change.

Penny was interested in having a new ruling class installed (Wondeflonium heist).  Also, it may not have been pure coincidence that she talked to him right at the moment he was applying for the ELE.  Could there have been an unexplored part of Penny, a dark side?  One that tolerates lawful evil?  “The means may justify the ends…?”

CH defends the status quo, which sickens DH.  Penny does not condone the status quo, not at all and may have gone along for a ride for social revolution.

In the final act Doctor Horrible is genuine in his calls for social change to be included in a new world order. 

A new world order of anarchy.  Anarchy is the absence of rule:  so no Captain Hammer supported regime could control society.  Anarchy would have negated Doctor Horrible to “rule the world.”  Although, that's a change from his original position in Act I.  Perhaps, the character has developed.

As far as handing “Penny the keys to a shiny new Australia”, that's just because he would do anything for her.  A Doctor Horrible led revoltion guided by Penny would have been the optimal mix for society in the comic. (But, again he needed her caring hand.)

Unfortunately, Doctor Horrible will be a flawed protagonist  as we see the start of Doctor Horrible (and end of Billy) at the end of the final act.  He is matched by an at least equally flawed (Or I would say worse) antagonist — Captain Hammer. 

In this simple world, lawful good (Captain Hammer) is on the wrong side and parallels the Sheriff of Nottingham, only worse.  Captain Hammer is vain and self-absorbed.  Penny is just good, period and may be netural on the subject of chaos vs lawfulness.  DH has potential to be chaotic evil or lawful evil — depending on if he is guided by a “Caring Hand” or not. 

Note, too, Penny was increasingly turned off by the fakeness of Captain Hammer.  In fact, Captain Hammer was only interested in her as a way to get to DH.  She was a pawn that Captain Hammer used. 

When the Death Ray dropped — it was clearly damaged (note the different, erratic lighting on it).  Next, DH attempted to warn CH, but CH was (as usual) self-absorbed and instead fired the defective weapon which backfired and killed Penny. 

DH is lawful.  He was not only against killing children or old people — and appalled by Moists' suggestion, but was not in it for himself (”It's not about making money, it's about taking money.”)  To analyze DH as a typical self-interested or reckless “villain” is to overlook key material that was actually presented. 

September 28, 2008
10:21 am
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\"Lawful Evil\"?

Don't you mean chaotic good? Breaking the law to achieve a better world? (\"We're all making better worlds.\")

(Never cared for the D&D good-evil, lawful-chaotic stuff. The idea of neutral anything or anything neutral or true neutral couldn't exist with their standard. As with all things good and evil, a good explanation as to why a character felt it was part of their... well... character allowed a player to do whatever they pleased regardless. It was a sham. Back when Paladins had to follow a code of honor and valor [as well as lawful-good alignment] or they would lose their paladin status, someone playing a paladin character once tried to flee from battle. When asked for an explanation, he stated: \"If discretion is the better part of valor and fear is the better part of discretion, then I valiantly flee in terror.\")

Back to the topic at hand. Penny would be \"lawful good\" for abiding by the rules to make a better world. DH would be \"chaotic good\" for consciously and purposely breaking the rules to make a better world. CH would be \"evil\" for being self-serving in all actions. Since his rule set the rules (by the allowance of the people who idolized the man), it is uncertain whether he would be considered lawful or chaotic. I'm leaning strongly towards chaotic since his consideration of what was best for others never seemed to enter the picture... a lack of \"moral\" limits, but he could appear lawful since he is abiding by the rules... as he makes them up.

As things go, \"lawful\" and \"chaotic\" people rarely get along. Penny as lawful might have mistaken CH's attitude towards the rules (which he set as he went along) for being lawful as well, until she realizes later that he's just making it all up as he goes with little care about others. That same disgust with CH's willingness to hurt people could carry over to DH's willingness to cause terror regardless of his purpose.

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September 28, 2008
11:58 am
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I'm not a big fan of the D&D character, either.  However comics have to explode attributes.  So the character framework is still handy in analysis.

Good Neutral Evil

Chaotic Lawful

Don't think I missed one, but it's possible.

A chaotic good label might apply to Penny:  Where do we ever see Penny conflicted between good and adherence to rule?  Therefore, there is little to say she is lawful good or chaotic good. We saw a petition which could imply a lawful nature and I can accept its signa, for nowl.  But it is a weak indicator of lawfulness.

As far as Doctor Horrible is concerned — yes, he *can* be chaotic good.  And that would be in Penny's “Caring Hands” that he would be able to use his ability to go outside of the establishment to cause change, when neccesary — something she is unable to do.  That would be their bond.

Maybe it's not his chaotic nature that's at stake in the first episode, but rather his good or evil alignment.  Doctor Horrible seems to be chaotic in that sense.  Penny's death seals the deal as he keeps company with his old ELE crew.

However, Doctor Horrible seems lawful enough as in adhering to conventions -- avoiding combat with children and the aged. 

Captain Hammer “Hates the homeless.”  And didn't have time for Doctor Horrible's warnings about the Death Ray [which later killed Penny].  That's a little reckless, perhaps, but is personality treat revealing, since he had captured Doctor Horrible at that point. 

Captain Hammer seemed offended when embraced when a homeless man.

 An evil label for CH does make sense, excellent point.  But he must be lawful enough to be relied upon by the current regime as a guardian against chaos.

September 30, 2008
10:54 pm
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The alignment method is (or was... I hear there's a new thing out there that changed a lot of the \"rules\" if you could call them that) a combination of Chaotic, Neutral and Lawful with Evil, Neutral and Good. \"True Neutral\" was Neutral with Neutral. The many interpretations of True Neutral end up with just another name for one of the other non-neutral alignment. The interpretations of anything with Neutral or Neutral with anything also end up being just another non-neutral alignment.

Chaotic means one makes the willing choice to bend/break the rules. Lawful means one makes the willing choice to follow a code or laws or rules. Evil means one is self-serving only. Good tends to mean one is altruistic, but as well all know, altruism cannot possibly exist in the definition given for it. Rather, Good has to mean serving to benefit everyone (including oneself or, else, what good would we be to others if we're not good to ourselves?), which can lead to some interesting decisions to that end. It's all muddy waters (who I may have mentioned is from around these here parts, BTW -- if you know Blues, you know Muddy Waters).

When someone calls themselves Neutral, they cannot possibly be Neutral. By obeying the law or not at one's whim is still Chaotic. By helping yourself so you can continue to help others is still Good. By helping others to ultimately increase your standing somehow is still Evil. There cannot be any Neutral.

Whether or not Penny was conflicted internally between law-abiding and bending the rules does not change her ultimate choice to stay within the lines. That is what makes a character Lawful; the final choice after weighing the options.

CH set the standard for what was allowed and not (by the allowance of the people who worshiped him). He could bend any rule he wished and the people would love it anyway. (\"Did you notice that he threw you in the garbage?\") I don't think that someone following their own rules without regard to other people (since they'll just agree anyway) is considered Lawful, but as these things go, he could be seen as Lawful from the outside, but the lack of intent to stay within the social rules (by using what rules he can to his advantage and discarding the rest if it doesn't serve what he wants) must make him Chaotic.

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November 11, 2008
9:02 am
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I definitely agree with the notion that Billy could have gotten with Penny, and it would have worked out. Unfortunately, there was the whole problem with Billy being Dr. Horrible, and Captain Hammer being his nemesis.

You can see from Act I that Penny and Billy were interested in the same thing, social change. After Captain Hammer jumped in there and swept her off her feet, \"My Eyes\" is Billy lamenting this, and you can tell he knows Penny wouldn't like Dr. Horrible, \"And the dark is everywhere but Penny doesn't seem to care that soon the dark in me is all that will remain\" But he fears soon he'll succumb completely to that persona. At the laundromat, in Act II, after \"Penny's Song\", you can see her and Billy lean towards each other, almost as if they were about to kiss, until Penny snaps her head away and mentions Captain Hammer. It is Brand New Day where Dr. Horrible takes control, brought on by Billy's anger for Captain Hammer, and it's almost like a dialogue in some parts. Billy says \"She may cry,\" but Dr. Horrible retorts \"But her tears will dry, when I hand her the keys to a shiny new Australia\" Billy just didn't want to look like a failure, but Dr. Horrible wanted world domination.

It is during \"So They Say\" in Act III that it seems Billy's become resigned to his fate, knowing he can't actually have any happiness with Penny, \"There's no happy end, so they say, not for me anyway\" In fact, he forgets completely about her through most of \"Slipping\" until Billy pipes in, grateful for the fact that she won't see him being evil, something Dr. Horrible doesn't care about. It's during \"Everything You Ever\" where the naive, idealistic Billy dies, while Dr. Horrible takes over completely, finally gaining his true goal.

Anyway, yeah, Billy would have been well with her, but the fact that he seemed to have an alternate personality of a super villain, and a jerkass archnemesis kept him from that happiness.

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