Wynonna Earp can wear many faces: comedy, high paced western adventure, love story for the ages. With a title like ‘Afraid’, it’s no surprise horror is the face it wears here. With a chilling episode, we meet our big bad for the season.
After her welcome home greeting last week, Wynonna’s taken to her local black ops government site with the best homey treatment: black hood, still in her PJs, and dragged into an interrogation room. But she’s met not with a brooding government military type, but a Naomi who’s a lot more bumbling and nervous than one would expect from a BBD Director. Even a Deputy Assistant Director.
Jeremy joins the interrogation/re-employment interview. Wynonna’s so happy to see him she wraps him a hug right away, but he pretends they’ll nothing more than work acquaintances. Wynonna plays along with his lie. She’s Wynonna Arp, employee of the month for February and not a famed demon slayer.
Somewhere else, a person in shadow drips their blood onto a picture of Wynonna on top a pile of stones. A chained up creature starts screeching and breaks free of its binding.
Meanwhile, Waverly is all prepped and pumped for a presentation with the team. If only the team were there. Wynonna obviously is MIA and so is Doc. Rachel is there, taking up Wynonna’s mantle of interrupting Nicole and Waverly. She’s also ‘borrowed’ Wynonna’s jacket. She hangs around long enough for a hi and bye, but does promise to keep an eye out for Wynonna’s ‘gun-sword’. Nicole’s sorry no one else is there for Waverly’s powerpoint, but Waverly isn’t about to waste an empty house.
Back at Black Badge, it becomes clear the new blood isn’t cut from demon hunting cloth. They’re mostly volunteers from other government branches who had no idea what they were getting into. Naomi used to be in fisheries. The worst thing she had to deal with was an employee getting food poisoning and now her people are dying to literal hell spawns. With one look at Jeremy, Wynonna knows no one at this new Black Badge was equipped for this. For now, they’re observing the demons like its a giant controlled study.
Jeremy offers Wynonna a tour so they can get in a private conversation. Wynonna finds a rock in her pocket, which she assumes is for tracking her and tosses it back to the guard. Jeremy takes her to an unmonitored corner. Jeremy begs for Wynonna’s help. These people are just regular folks in over their heads. The guard who got Wynonna’s ‘surveillance’ rock doesn’t seem to know what it is. He tosses it aside when he goes for a smoke and then something tosses his head aside.
At the Glory Hole (still a great name for a demon bar), Doc’s collecting his spoils and enjoying a drink. The owner offers him a drink of their ‘special blend’ i.e. blood. Their working relationship is strained, Doc on his guard and the owner dancing around the edge of flirtation and threatening. He promises more blood, once the booze keep coming in.
Rachel has her own meeting with local teen Billy. The two clearly have a case of puppy love and are doing their own dance around each other. Rachel at first pulling away when Billy leans in for a kiss, but later when she proposes meeting at his place, he dodges the idea.
Back at the homestead, Waverly and Nicole are delightfully recovering from morning actives in the middle of the kitchen. Their bubble of bliss only lasts so long before the weight of Nicole’s time alone returns to her eyes. The mention of the missing peacemaker reminds her that’s just another thing she didn’t find in the past 18 months.
Waverly’s quick to remind her she’s amazing, but the words don’t seem to quite get through. The conversation turns to another topic, that of a certain question that was never properly answered and will go unanswered a little longer because Rachel pulls a ‘Wynonna interruptus’ by walking in on the pair. She thinks they might find their ‘gun-sword’ at a junkyard.
Wynonna, meanwhile, is getting kitted out. She doesn’t say yet that she lost Peacemaker, but does take ‘Anthoni’, a new toy whipped up by Jeremy. Anthoni being code for really big gun. The important mission BBD needs her for is a guard for a supply run. She isn’t down for being the guard on a delivery mission until Jeremy mentions the magic word: alcohol. Oh and the food and medicine for the town are important too. But also the booze.
Team Wayhaught plus Valdez are out at the junkyard owned by Rachel’s ‘friend’ Billy. Rachel darts off on her own as soon as they get there. Waverly makes a joke about the teenager not wanting to be seen with her gay aunts. Speaking of not seen, she doesn’t seem to notice the horrifying creature inches from her face when she peeks into a shed. Neither does Nicole. The junkyard owner, Billy’s mom, stops them from poking around.
At BBD, Wynonna meets the driver on her supply run, a charming fellow who calls Purgatory a shithole. While he may not be wrong, only people from Purgatory get to call it a shithole so Wynonna’s offended. She finds another rock in her pocket, this time Jeremy confirms it isn’t BBD’s doing. She’s been around this enough to suspect it’s supernatural and sends a picture to Waverly for research.
Waverly and Nicole are pretending they want a sword for a Halloween costume when Wynonna calls. When she steps out to talk, Billy’s mom Margo has some ominous things to say to Nicole about it ‘being time to deliver’. Waverly doesn’t recognise the glyph on the rock and unfortunately, she doesn’t turn around because if she had she’d see the same glyph branded on a wood sign behind her. Rachel sneaks around back to see her not boyfriend. He’s not thrilled to her see there and messages get mixed when he asks her to leave. She storms off to find Nicole and Waverly, asking to leave.
Back with newly reinstated BBD agent Wynonna, their truck rolls over a spike trap. The driver bails instantly convinced its ‘demon shit’. The only thing supernatural she finds in the truck is her baby daddy stealing the supplies for the Glory Hole. They aren’t thrilled about the allegiances the others have made and things come to a head when Doc blames her for losing Peacemaker. He still tries to take the alcohol so Wynonna handcuffs herself to the supplies. Being Wynonna, she doesn’t have the keys. Despite a moment of sexual tension between them, Doc leaves for tools to get her out.
While waiting for him, she finds another stone in her pocket and is very freaked out at this point. Especially when she hears footsteps and chains on top of the truck. The creature attacks her. Good news, it breaks the handcuffs. Bad news, it breaks Anthoni.
At the junkyard, Billy’s mom threatens Rachel if he doesn’t end things with her. She promises to ‘reap’ her if he doesn’t. He goes to Rachel to do just that but when she finds a branded rock in the pocket of her jacket (Wynonna’s jacket) he starts panicking.
In the house, Waverly’s researching the symbol. She discovers it’s a cattle brand belonging to the Clantons, a family with a long feud with the Earps who were part of the gunfight at OK Corral. Billy pulls out a knife, a swiss army knife Rachel had given him earlier, making her scream and sending Nicole and Waverly running to them.
Wynonna manages to escape the creature, only to run into a magic barrier created by stone piles similar to the one from the beginning of the episode. She’s terrified by more than just the creature itself, but by the hatred she can see in it. Following her screams, Doc finds her, but he can’t see the creature. Taking one of his guns, she guides his shots, but the bullets only it slow down. Doc breaks a stone pile to break the barrier allowing them both to run.
Billy, thinking Rachel is the target, is erratic. When he mentions his family, Waverly realises he’s a Clanton. Doing some self-dental work, he pulls a tooth with deep roots from his mouth offering himself to break the mark. It takes Nicole and Waverly to hold Rachel back. The creature stops its assault on Wynonna. Billy explains he used his one ‘covenant’ to save Rachel from the Reaper. He also drops the bomb that the new Sheriff Holt and Magistrate Cleo are his siblings and his mother isn’t going to stop coming after them. He leaves Rachel with a kiss and a goodbye that feels very final.
With the threat over for now, the team regroups and take stock of what they know. The Clantons are in town running the place, and their hatred of the Earps runs deep. The Reaper was after Wynonna, which was why only she could see it, and they have no idea how to stop it since Billy used his one get out of jail free card.
Rachel’s pissed Billy’s heroic moment wasn’t even about saving her and they don’t have a plan to return the favour and save him. The others assure her they will help him when they know more. She still storms off. For now the others let her cool off on their own because they still need the rest of their team back. The only way they can think off to get Jeremy back is to tell BBD the truth and hope they trust them. Wynonna’s willing to beg so you know she’s serious.
At the Clanton’s Billy is in chains. He begs his mother to give up the old ways, but she’s steadfast. She says she isn’t going to kill Rachel, Billy is. The reaper approaches Billy and we hear his screams as his mother goes inside. Holt and Cleo are there for family dinner. The siblings weakly try to defend their brother, but their mother’s authority is absolute. She presses into a wound on Cleo’s hand, chastising her for setting the reaper on Wynonna. Holt calls the Reaper ‘Uncle Ike’ as if their family dynamic wasn’t messed up enough.
Margo, calling herself the Clanton heir, reminds Cleo and Holt she and she alone decides when they’ll move on the Earps. Just as suddenly as her vitriol began, it’s over and she sits down for their meal. Their ‘grace’ is less about thanks and more the promise of their continued hate and vengeance for their ancestors.
Wynonna crashes into Black Badge, laying her cards on the table. She’s Earp, Wynonna Earp, the best demon hunter Black Badge has. She doesn’t have Peacemaker, but she does have her team. She needs her nerd back. She’s going to take back the Black Badge offices in Purgatory and she and her team are going to take down demons. As scared as Naomi may be of demons she’s more scared of her bosses, but with Jeremy’s vote of confidence, she chooses to trust them.
Meanwhile, Nicole goes to the Clantons. Margo gave her ‘something’ to get Waverly and the others back. A jar with hair and other strange assortments. Nicole gives it back. They got themselves out of the garden, not because of anything Margo did. Margo just chuckles and uncaps the jar, a swarm like insects flooding out and going into Nicole!
Well, that’s one way to introduce a villain. Mam is imposing and unsettling every moment she’s one screen, especially with her family. The contrast between Cleo and Holt’s presence last episode and here only make their Mam that much more imposing. They were both charismatically intimidating in ‘Look in them Bean’, especially Cleo who’s personality took up so much space. Yet here they both wither under their mother’s presence. It adds layers to how they run Purgatory, with the public hangings and ‘for freedom’ competitions. Impose their power where they can because they have no power at home.
If you thought the Earps with the dead father, evil sister, and absentee mother had family issues, that doesn’t even touch using your own family as supernatural hitmen. The Reaper was a terrifyingly unstoppable force that was absolutely sold because of the sheer terror in Wynonna. We’ve seen her up against horrifying creatures before but never with that kind of terror. Maybe she instinctually understood the Clanton-Earp feud fueled this creature’s anger.
Margo as the Clanton heir is such a good foil for Wynonna. At every turn, we’ve seen Wynonna fighting against her ‘heir’ title. She never wanted it, especially because it only seemed to bring pain to those closest to her. Those moments when she did embrace it, it was to protect the people she loved. Wynonna maybe be closed off, hiding her emotions under layers of snark, but she loves deeply and will do anything for those she calls her own (see her literally fighting her way to heaven/maybe hell to get her sister back).
Already Margo is the opposite of that. She holds her heir title over her family, using it to impose her power. One woman clinging to her ancestors’ legacy so tight its hurting her children. The other who’s was ready to fling aside her family’s legacy the second it was thrust onto her, yet still carried out her duty as heir because it was hers and broke the whole damn curse so Earp after her would have to carry that weight.
It was only last episode we had a chili cook-off with a phallic logo on a giant banner and everyone’s aprons, kombucha filled water guns, and Wynonna hogtied as she watched her family stumble around the snow to the tune of ‘Here by your side’. Yet there isn’t tonal whiplash when we get to ‘Afraid’ with its downright chilling introduction to season’s big bad and a sense of dread and the unease that pervaded the episode. Such is the duality of Wynonna Earp that it’s able to make you cry laughing one moment and steal your breath away the next.
To close on a lighter note, its nothing short of adorable that Nicole, Waverly, and Wynonna are basically co-parenting Rachel. There’s the obviously deep bond between Nicole and Rachel, who supported each other the past 18 months. Waverly has fully embraced her and Nicole as the ‘sexy gay aunts’, and there’s something to be said that for all times Rachel has walked in on them, there’s never been shame or shock, just amusement and the mild annoyance. Wynonna, meanwhile, sees a kindred spirit in this troubled teen who’s already been screwed over by the world too many times. She can relate and probably does understand Rachel in a way Nicole or Waverly don’t. The found family trope only gets better.
The Best of Earpisms
- In between the first and second scenes at BBD, Chinese take out appears on the table. They got Wynonna food, which is already an improvement on the old BBD.
- “You don’t ask Cate Blanchette to be a background extra, you make her Carol.” – once again Wynonna Earp knowing how to play to its audience with its references.
- “…I’m going as She-Ra,” “Oh my god, I would die.” – see the previous point.
Images courtesy of Syfy