Saturday, May 18, 2024

Emotional Depth and Missed Opportunities on Wynonna Earp

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Wynonna Earp Season 3, Episode 3 Review “Colder Weather”

After Dolls’ death last week, I came into this episode with mixed feelings. To be perfectly honest, I ended this episode in the exact same place. What Wynonna Earp does well shined through in “Colder Weather,” but so did the disappointments and missed opportunities.

OMG, what?

God, I love these three.

We open on Wynonna drinking to numb her grief as Nicole and Waverly watch out for her. When a revenant shows up, Wynonna’s too drunk to shoot him, so Waverly obliges and he runs off. For some reason, ‘Contessa’ is hanging out at Shorty’s turning tarot cards with Doc, talking about Dolls death and fate. She just wants Doc to say her name and, barring that, to meet his friends. Waverly and Nicole meet with the funeral director to talk about arrangements for Dolls’ death. Wynonna’s too raw to deal with it, so she goes out to shoot cans. Doc joins her and tries to make her laugh and comfort her. They decide to do right by Dolls before going to get Bulshar.

“You shot him right in the dick, that was really sweet.”—Wynonna

The team decides to plan a wake. Wynonna drinks, Waverly tries to plan and gets a bit manic, Doc throws a glass and storms out to get alcohol, Nicole keeps her cool and everyone together. Doc discovers Shorty’s has been broken into and the banana liqueur stolen (we see the serum was stolen as well). Doc runs into a man named Quinn who says he knew Dolls. Nicole opens up to Waverly about being a survivor of the Bulshar cult. She explains that Dolls helped her learn more about the massacres, which causes her to break down because she couldn’t save him. They find an envelope for Wynonna that Dolls left. Jeremy tells Wynonna that Dolls knew he was dying and, feeling betrayed, she kicks him off the team. Meanwhile, the revenants who stole Dolls’ serum inject themselves with it and it goes about as well as you’d expect.

“I’m sorry if it’s going to take me more than ten minutes to digest when I find out that my girlfriend is the only survivor of a supernatural massacre.”—Waverly

Quinn tells Doc and Wynonna that everyone on the squad he and Dolls belonged to is either dying or dead. Black Badge wanted to turn them into super soldiers. He’s the only exception as he had the wrong blood type. Wynonna tells him he can stay for the wake but then has to leave. Waverly wishes Nicole were normal and gets a bit existential. They see someone outside their window and when they go to check, Katalin (‘Contessa’) steals Waverly’s purse that had Dolls’ letter in it. Nedley supports Wynonna over her indecision about what to do with Dolls’ body. At the wake, Waverly asks for Doc’s help to get the letter back from Katalin. They leave while Wynonna and Quinn commiserate over being the ones left behind. Jeremy and Nicole discover the missing serum just in time for the jacked-up revenants to ruin the wake upstairs.

“Gone like the girl in Gone Girl, the movie and the book.”—Jeremy

Wynonna succeeds in killing the revenants with help from Nicole, Jeremy, and Quinn. Waverly asks Doc about Katalin, who he admits is his wife. When they meet with Katalin, Waverly demands the letter back and Katalin eventually relents. Nicole tries to both comfort Wynonna as well as confront her about the fact that everyone else is hurting too. Wynonna walks in on Quinn torturing Jeremy; he wants someone to pay for what happened to all his teammates and plans to steal the synthetic serum and storm BBD headquarters. Wynonna talks him down by admitting how much guilt she feels for all the death she feels responsible for. The best way to honor them, she says, is to live, not get revenge.

“This is a memorial dipsh*t, did you even bring a casserole?”—Wynonna

Wynonna gives Quinn Dolls’ dog tags as she warns him to not return to Purgatory. To prevent Black Badge from getting hold of Dolls’ body, Wynonna has him cremated then buries the box of ashes. Each member of the team takes turns putting something in his grave. Later that night, Waverly tells Wynonna she doesn’t have a plot in the Earp burial grounds and Wynonna responds with her usual level of irreverence. They’ll both be buried at the homestead together. Wynonna opens the letter from Dolls to find photographs that encourage her to keep going and keep fighting. Doc meets with Katalin, who tells him Wyatt looked for Doc until the day he died. She admits to having done “whatever it takes” to find Doc again once she had learned he wasn’t dead. The episode ends with them having sex.

Favorite One Liner: “If we’re all destined to be here and we’re all going to die here…then we need to figure out how to be here, together.”—Waverly

I Gotta Say…

The cinematography and music for the opening shot was really beautifully done. Thus far this season, Wynonna Earp has showcased a more experimental approach to the emotionally poignant moments. I like it. I wouldn’t want it all the time, and thus far, the directors have made excellent choices and judicious use of the more artistic style. Like the more somber title music to fit with the mood this episode, for example.

Speaking of the mood this episode, how did it do handling the aftermath of Dolls’ death? Last week I admitted to finding the setup poorly seeded, the episode sloppily written, and the pacing rushed. Did this week slow down enough for me and provide a satisfying catharsis to the loss of one of the major characters? Yes and no.

Far and away the strongest element was each of the characters’ reactions to his death. They fit perfectly with both characterization and where each of them are in their journeys. Wynonna drinking too much and blaming/shutting out Jeremy is exactly what I’d expect from her. She drinks away guilt and shifts blame when she feels responsible. She finds cutting people off easier than opening up to them. And Jeremy was absolutely right when he told her he’s easier to blame than Dolls about not telling her Dolls’ knew he was dying.

I wish he got more chances to be serious instead of mostly comic relief. Also, I’m starting to be over the Doc stache.

Waverly hiding her emotion behind busy-ness, making food, and concern for Nicole fits, too. Of all the team, she’s the most likely to get a bit manic and crack jokes to alleviate tension. With how morose and drunk both Wynonna and Doc get, Waverly’s desire to lighten the mood showcases just how sensitive she is to the atmosphere in the room. Her impulse to diffuse a potentially dangerous situation with humor also likely stems from having grown up with an alcoholic, abusive father. As a reminder of Mama Earp’s infidelity to Papa Earp, she may very well have been a prime target of his wrath. Learning how to diffuse would have been a necessary survival skill, even as a child.

Speaking of which, Papa Earp was a horrible human for cutting Waverly out of the Earp family burial plot. Waverly’s had to deal with so many reminders that she doesn’t ‘really count’ as an Earp, that must have felt like yet another slap in the face. On the other hand, we did get a hint that Waverly’s true father and heritage hasn’t been dropped. I’d like the mystery of Waverly’s past solved, so Katalin dropping that hint got me to sit up straighter. I can’t wait to see where that goes.

As for Nicole, I’m glad she opened up to Waverly about her past so swiftly. After hiding Waverly’s DNA test last season—which I thought was out of character—seeing Nicole open up so soon gratified me. I was nervous they’d drag that out. And the context fit her character perfectly. When the team’s assembled, she becomes the emotional rock keeping everyone from drowning. I can see her stepping in to fill the void Dolls’ left behind as the voice of reason and stability, because she does that already. Yet, when she’s alone with Waverly, she breaks down, only to apologize and shift focus back to Dolls. She’s such a suffering empath, and it hurts so good to watch.

I also appreciated Nicole confronting Wynonna about her self-focused grief. Wynonna has a right to grieve, yes, but Nicole had a point. “You don’t get a monopoly over the grief we all feel.” Wynonna had been acting as if only her grief mattered when everyone else was mourning Dolls’ loss as well. I’m always here for more Nicole and Wynonna interactions, and this episode gave me plenty to enjoy. Including the opening scene with both Waverly and Nicole supporting Wynonna and hugging. Yay!

At the same time, certain aspects of the aftermath of Dolls’ death left me wanting. “We need to do right by Dolls first,” for example, is a nice sentiment for the characters to express, but I wish the writers themselves had abided by that philosophy when writing his death last week and not just when writing the aftermath. I’ll never feel satisfied with how poorly telegraphed and rushed Dolls’ death was in execution. Thus, hearing the characters’ desire to ‘do right by’ him felt like a slap in the face given how poorly the writers did by him.

Moreover, the continued assertion this episode that Dolls knew he was going to die doesn’t work well as hindsight. It sounds like shoring up weaknesses in the initial writing, and I’d much prefer they’d spent more time in the previous two episodes properly laying the groundwork. Proper foreshadowing and set up satisfy audiences far more than “Hey, he knew this was coming.” Well, guess what, we didn’t. And that means it’s going to hurt and no amount of asserting Dolls’ agency and knowledge in his own death (which wasn’t shown on screen) will dampen the feeling of betrayal.

Similarly, finally hearing Dolls’ backstory with Black Badge stings. Not least of which because this is likely the last we’ll ever hear of it. I would have loved to see everything Quinn explained fully explored on screen with Dolls’ present. An exposition dump from the mouth of a brand-new character we have no reason to have an emotional attachment to instead of Dolls failed to ameliorate the frustration. All I can think of hearing about Dolls’ past is how big of a missed opportunity it all is. So much wasted potential in everything Quinn told us. It’s such a shame.

I said it last week and I’ll say it again, Dolls deserved better.

RIP once again Dolls.

To add salt to the wound, we have Katalin. Objectively, she’s interesting and I want to know more about her. Did Doc finding her hanging out randomly at Shorty’s flipping tarot cards feel kind of weird? Yes. Prior to the reveal of her relationship with Doc, I had so many questions. Why would she stick around to flirt with the guy who shot at her and has zero reason to want her around for what we knew and why is she giving him dating advice? Why does she care? While the show finally answered those questions with the revelation that she’s his secret wife (I’m with Waverly on this, what is it with this show and secret wives??), it still seems strange.

However, she’s got an air of mystery about her that I like, and I thoroughly enjoy seeing her and Waverly play off each other. I also love that she all but confirmed Doc was in love with Wyatt with her remark about assuming Waverly was the reason Doc stuck around and then the further remark that Doc’s ‘death’ broke Wyatt’s heart. Bisexual Doc Holliday confirmed.

At the same time, her jumping into bed with Doc by the end of the episode only increases the sense that she’s a replacement for Dolls, especially when it comes to the Doc-Wynonna-Dolls love triangle. Only this time, the person of color is an alternate love interest for Doc instead of for Dolls. I guess she’s a replacement for Rosita, then, too. (Are we ever going to hear anything from her again?)

Look, maybe I’m still a bit bitter. I’ll admit I’m not pleased with how the show handled Dolls’ exit. Yet even without Dolls’ departure, I’d argue Katalin/Doc felt rushed. The sheer chemistry of Doc/Wynonna in the premiere had me squirming on my couch. Especially tinged with the undertone of grief from Alice’s departure. It was hot and the tension was so thick you could cut it with Wynonna’s razor-sharp throwing dagger. To undercut that with Doc jumping into bed with another woman without preamble or hesitation left me cold. Even the explanation that she was his wife feels like a handwave to jumpstart a new love triangle. I’d much preferred if they left Katalin/Doc to simmer a bit longer. Not only would it have worked better as a love-triangle, it would have avoided the implication that representation is interchangeable.

Right now, it definitely feels like ‘out with one love interest of color, in with the new.’ And that’s not a great look.

I dig her parasol, though, and those leather gloves.

It’s really disappointing for a show that does emotional depth so well. Because when Wynonna Earp is on point, it’s mighty fine storytelling. When it comes to nuanced psychologies and depicting layers of guilt, grief, and love, few other shows can touch it. The Earp sisters’ dynamic is one of the most compelling on screen, and Wynonna’s internal life keeps me coming back for more. Same goes for Waverly and Nicole. There’s so much to them as individual characters, and the show does right by them. (Have I mentioned how much anticipation I have for Nicole’s backstory? I’m so hype.) I just wish it had done right by Dolls, too.

I see you, Andras

  • Why did Doc change his pronunciation from “Contessa” to “Countessa”?
  • The joke about it being too PC to call a Mexican standoff a Mexican standoff was weird and didn’t fit tonally.
  • Gotta love the good-natured annoyance behind Waverly’s, “Does anyone around here not have a secret wife?”
  • Wynonna and Jeremy hugging at Dolls’ grave was sweet.
  • I love Nedley. I’m so glad he got the chance to have Wynonna’s back. What a good.
  • “You’re my favorite person in the whole wide world baby girl. And once we’ve defeated Bulshar, you’re stuck with me. Forever.” I have so many feelings about this. So many.

Tune in next week for “No Cure for Crazy,” and to be honest, the promo didn’t give me a good idea what it’s about. A new guy is in town and Nicole plays ring toss?

Images Courtesy of SyFy

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