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Can anyone explain the death of Billy Sole in Predator (1987)?

Why did he experience a sudden suicidal spasm, started to strike a knife across his chest and decided to face the predator without any meaningful defensive measure?

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According to the script he realized that death is inevitable and that is his destiny.

Billy stands at the foot of the bridge, knife raised, waiting, accepting his oncoming destiny.

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There are two theories. One is that Billy decided to go full native on Predator. He understood that they are the prey and for the rest of the pack to escape or regroup something needed to slow down the hunter. We don't know if he knew he would die in this fight or if he had hopes for winning.

The second theory is that he just went bonkers, hence self harm to numb the pain, and go berserk. And in this option there is no reason behind his doing. Just sheer fury.

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It was a rational challenge of blade-to-blade combat and/or hand-to-hand combat. Everything that happened up to here points to this. In fact, it won Predator’s acceptance of the invitation and later admiration (as a trophy).

I’m sorry, but it was not a suicidal spasm. He didn’t go bonkers, and he did not take his fate lying down. He did what he did for good reasons. So why am I saying this? If you are interested in reading this answer, please read it all because this will not be a “quick read”.

Billy is an expert man-tracker. That means, in addition to reading sign, he knows how to read a person’s state of mind by understanding what his target wants to accomplish, combined with their customs/culture. He “Gets into the mind of the quarry.” Why is this important? It’s important because Billy is the first to understand that they are out of their league, and that he will be unable to get completely into Predator’s mindset. He is the first to realize that they are dealing with something that is otherworldly, and in all likelihood, understood Predator the best up to the point of his death. Billy had his reasons for thinking that his challenge would be accepted.

Billy realized that projectile-firing weapons were ineffective, and neither was running away. His only alternative was to discard his rifle and literally make the fight of his life. Let’s recap the events that that lead to this conclusion:

  • They find the remains of [Captain?] Hopper’s Special Forces Alpha Detachment (presumably from 7th Special Forces Group which was stationed at Ft Bragg, NC at that time). They are making a last stand firing in all directions (something very troubling when you realize these are experienced jungle fighters). They don’t find them all and there are no tracks leading out. At this point we have a mystery, but this is the first data point in a trend.

  • Billy laughs at Hawkins’ joke about the girlfriend with the echo, then he stops laughing and looks upward with that classic “I’m being watched” look.

  • Billy looks troubled while touching his amulet or talisman. Mac comments that Billy has been acting squirrelly all morning. Billy says, while talking to Dutch, “There is something in those trees”. This is an indicator that the amulet has specific meaning to Billy. It’s also an indicator that Billy, being an expert man-tracker, has come to the correct conclusion that they are not tracking a man.

  • Hawkins is butchered in seconds, and his principal remains vanish with no tracks.

  • Blaine is killed instantly by an unknown weapon since his mortal wounds are highly unusual. The Detachment fires in a frenzy that was apparently ineffective – similar to Hopper’s Team. Billy, and the others, should notice that Blaine was the most heavily armed with that stylized six-barrel man-portable Gatling gun – and it was ineffective.

  • Additionally, Predator goes through the trouble of retrieving Blaine’s body. Billy comments that Predator is “Like a hunter”. It wants its trophy. Once again Billy is succeeding somewhat in getting into Predator’s mindset.

  • Mac says he saw it. Later he says he saw something. These are not references to people. Later he states that he fired with no chance that what he hit could have lived. And yet Mac’s attempt was ineffective.

  • Billy says “I’m scared Poncho”. When challenged that he is afraid of no man, Billy responds by saying: “There’s something out there waiting for us. And it ain’t no man. We’re all gonna die.” Billy has come to understand Predator enough to know that their methods of fighting – good as they are – are ineffective.

  • Anna states she saw Predator using the jungle like a chameleon. She later soliloquizes about her culture. Her people call this being the Demon Who Makes Trophies of Men. To a man-tracker, this would have significant meaning, since Anna now appears to be acting in good faith.

  • Billy makes his last stand. They come to a narrow bridge of sorts (a fallen tree over water). Billy knows that running will not work. He knows that bullets will not work. He is in a spot where there are no trees overhead, so Predator’s fight must be on the level. He is on a narrow path that will mostly nullify Predator’s agility. It will also force it to approach him on a very narrow path in full view where being a chameleon will not completely work. He correctly thinks that Predator cannot fly. So, this is the spot.

  • But Billy must make Predator choose to not simply cut him down like the rest. He needs to challenge Predator to blade-to-blade and/or hand-to-hand combat. How to do this? He discards his rifle. He realizes that his vest will just impede his ability to move, and it will be no defense. He discards it. He calls on the power of his beliefs/fathers/luck contained in his amulet. He wraps it around his weapon hand. Now it’s still around him, and in a position to guide his main weapon – his machete (or a very long knife). He issues the invitation (or challenge) by swiping the blade across his chest and drawing blood. The invitation works; Predator approaches him on the bridge. Billy’s death occurs off camera, but in my way of thinking, Billy’s yell was not panic – it was his final attack.

Billy had little to no chance of surviving. He knew that. But he went with his best chance: close combat. That he lost his gamble does not tarnish his rationality. Not that it helped Billy at all, but his efforts were well received in Predator’s perverted point of view. We see Billy later being processed into a trophy, giving Dutch enough time to construct his booby traps.

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