Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Wynonna Earp is the WLW Telenovela We’ve been Asking For

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Wynonna Earp Season 2, Episode 10, “I See a Darkness”

The one that’s a telenovela in the best possible way. Near deaths! A secret wife! A secret twin sister! Amnesia! This episode has it all. The only thing it’s missing is a secret love child, and that’s only because everyone knows that baby Earp is (probably) Doc’s lovechild!

I love family get togethers to kick demon butt.

Seriously, though. Words cannot express how delighted I was by everything in this episode. I laughed. I cried. I screamed “What the deuce?!” multiple times. All in all, a top shelf episode of Wynonna Earp.

OMG, what?

The episode opens with Mercedes attacking Nicole, whom she mistakenly believes has the third seal. Waverly busts in, quoting Ripley from Alien and busting out her sweet escrima moves. In the ensuing fight, Mercedes realizes they don’t have the rings after all, but not before biting, and poisoning, Nicole. Wynonna asks a favor of Nedley while at the hospital visiting a faceless Mercedes. She hears Waverly in the hall as Nicole is rushed in; she’s not breathing. Waverly recognizes one of the nurses as Greta, Mattie Perley’s (the white witch known as the Blacksmith from S1) twin sister. She then lets slip that Rosita’s a revenant and tells Wynonna and Dolls the Widow Mercedes was looking for the third seal. When Waverly goes to get air, Dolls tells Wynonna Nicole only has 2-3 hours to live. Wynonna demands they find a cure, whatever it takes.

“Neither of us knows where the third seal is, Mercedes, but we are available for nose jobs.”—Waverly

Outside the hospital, Waverly runs into the Widow Beth, who promises an anti-venom in exchange for the third seal. Nicole asks Wynonna to pull the plug should she succumb to the venom because Waverly would forgive her. Wynonna agrees. Waverly and Nicole exchange apologies. Nicole confesses that she loves Waverly more than anyone just before the doctor induces a coma. Team Earp discuss Jeremy creating a cure. Dolls goes to get more venom from the Order, and Wynonna to find a test subject, with Doc’s help of course.

“No matter what happens, I need you to know that I have never loved anyone the way that I love you.”—Nicole, to Waverly

Doc plays poker with a revenant named Stevie who seems awfully keen to go into the Shorty’s basement. Wynonna interrupts. Doc’s no longer quite so amenable to helping her take down the Black Widows as he was last week now that he’s mortal, but agrees once he hears Nicole is dying. The widow Beth taunts Waverly, who then runs into Nedley asking for the key to Nicole’s place so he can pick up her cat, Calamity Jane. He informs her he spoke to Nicole’s next of kin. Waverly finds out what this means when she returns to Nicole’s hospital room and meets Shay, Nicole’s wife.

“If you’re trying to pass for normal human, maybe don’t jump women in broad daylight.”— Waverly, to the Widow Beth

Dolls confronts the Order to get more venom, but they’ve already burned the Widows’ victims, including Juan Carlo. Ewan offers to take care of unborn baby Earp and returns the plate weapon as an act of faith so Team Earp can take out the Widows. At the hospital, Shay and Waverly exchange awkward pleasantries. Shay explains that she and Nicole had a whirlwind Vegas wedding that cooled off. Meanwhile, Wynonna confronts Rosita at Shorty’s and ‘finds’ a test subject for Jeremy’s anti-venom experiments. Dolls picks up Waverly at the hospital. Jeremy feels super guilty for testing the anti-venom on Rosita.

“Every step is like an adventure in discomfort. Miracle of life my *ss.”—Wynonna

At Nicole’s apartment, Doc major side-eyes Wynonna using Rosita as a test subject for the anti-venom; just because she can’t die from it doesn’t mean she can’t feel the pain. He then finds blood that leads them to Calamity Jane, and the realization that Mercedes must have kidnapped Nedley when he came to pick up the cat. Mercedes, meanwhile, tortures Nedley for information on the seal while he uses the only weapon available to him: a big fat load of sarcasm. At BBD, Waverly stops Jeremy’s experiments on Rosita and explains the deal the Widow Beth offered. Dolls tells her to take the deal and blame it on him, only he doesn’t know where the seal is. He then offers himself up as a test subject instead of Rosita.

“What are you a witch? A pokemon? You think this is my first demon rodeo? You know we had an actual demon rodeo?”—Nedley

Mercedes continues to torture Nedley for information; Nedley continues to snark (never change Nedley). At the hospital, Shay says Nicole truly loves Waverly. Unwilling to say goodbye since Nicole is close to death, Waverly leaves to find Greta, Mattie’s sister, aka “The Iron Witch”. Greta agrees to help, but for a price. Waverly agrees to anything, and the spell Greta casts leads Waverly to Doc’s ring, hidden in Nedley’s mug. Doc and Wynonna flirt track Nedley and the Widow Mercedes to an abandoned barn. They kick the crap out of her, then take her prisoner to extract venom directly from her glands. Wynonna jaunts over to the hospital with the anti-venom to discover Nicole is already better. She realizes Waverly must have done something and questions her. Cut to the Widow Beth with the ring walking into what looks to be the burned out church, ready to resurrect her husband.

“My tracking skills are quite virile.”—Doc

While Greta finds Waverly at Shorty’s to exact her payment (the marzaniok demon in the trophy), Dolls shows Wynonna the ‘weapon’ the Order returned to them. At Shorty’s, Doc tries to stop Greta’s spell, but disappears when he touches the trophy. Meanwhile, Wynonna disappears just before she can tell Dolls how to use the plate as a weapon. Greta tells Waverly she made Wynonna disappear. As Waverly screams for Wynonna. Jeremy busts in, asking her who “Wynonna” is. Waverly can’t remember, and the two leave to plan a wedding. The episode ends with Doc once again trapped in the well.

Favorite One Liner: “Kill ‘em hard, Wynonna. Town’s had enough of this sh*t.”—Nedley

I Gotta Say…

This feels more like the Wynonna Earp I adore. Last week’s episode was a bit rough around the edges, but this week’s was dynamite. Snark, fast paced action balanced with emotional heft, excellent fight choreography set to suspenseful music, meaningful character interactions. This is Wynonna Earp at it’s finest. It honestly might be one of my top five episodes of all time.

I dig the Johnny Cash reference—“We got married in a fever”, the first line of the Johhny Cash/June Carter duet “Jackson”—John Callaghan included in the episode. Especially since the title itself is a Johnny Cash song. I suddenly feel the need for a WayHaught (or Waynaught) vid set to “I see a Darkness” stat. There were a few other nerdy easter eggs sprinkled in the episode, as well, and I loved every one.

On the acting front, Meghan Heffern is killing it as the Widow Beth. The level of creepy bubbliness she embodies reminds me of Aquamarine from Steven Universe in the best possible way. Dani Kind continues to impress me with her depth and range; it takes a lot of skill to evoke that much rage without it turning melodramatic, and she nailed it.

While we’re on the topic of acting prowess, Melanie Scrofano’s scene talking to comatose Mercedes. Top shelf, man, top shelf. She’s simultaneously fierce mama bear and hero with a chip on her shoulder. It’s beautiful to see a female protagonist given such an emotionally meaty and nuanced part to embody.

How can it not be with all the Earp Sisters feels and sexy, sexy (and earned) WayHaught drama? Bonus points for epic baby bump.

Also, Haught dayum. Nicole may have been in a coma much of the episode, but her brief scenes with Waverly touched me in my core, and Kat Barrell knocked it out of the park. Of course Nicole would say that the DNA test matters, because she’s a Suffering Empath who puts others emotional needs before her own. Likewise, Waverly’s heartfelt apologies and dismissal of Nicole’s lie stems from the same place. They’re both so concerned about the other’s emotional well-being, and I just want them to be happy.

Nicole’s confession of love, echoed later in the episode by Shay, is both a lovely confession on its own and a subtle hint at what’s to come with Shay. For a part of Nicole’s backstory that comes completely out of nowhere, the writers did an excellent job setting it up just enough that I accepted it at face value. Nicole has been pretty quiet about her life, family, and history. A secret shotgun Vegas wedding might be the stuff of telenovelas, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of place. In fact, I kind of loved the weirdly understated melodrama of it all. (Yes, that sounds like a contradiction, but it works, doesn’t it?)

Speaking of telenovela style reveals that didn’t feel out of place at all, Mattie Perley has a twin sister! She was honestly pretty awesome as an unexpected antagonist, and I hope she sticks around. I was sad to see Mattie go and would love to have another Perley sister on the show again.

And lets not forget the telenovela-style memory wipe/amnesia! God, I love this show so much. Only Wynonna Earp can serve up so much melodrama while maintaining a sense of gravity and levity alongside it. When I call it a telenovela, I mean that as a compliment. I grew up watching them with my mom, who speaks fluent Spanish and would help translate for me while I used them to learn Spanish for school. So trust me, this is a good thing.

I’m so glad Nedley got so much screen time. He’s a gift.

Back to good character moments. Waverly’s emotional breakdown in the hospital was one of the best acted scenes of the episode. Dominique Provost-Chalkley serves up a heaping slice of feels. Her begging for them to act like they’re winning for once, then freaking out about breaking Jeremy’s mug felt so raw and real. “What if he can’t fix it, Wynonna?” just about killed me. We all know it isn’t about the mug, yet we all have experienced what it’s like to project while we’re grieving and in shock. The littlest things become conduits for our pain, like a transformers mug.

As far as the overarching plot, this was such a good way to do an ‘impossible choices’ situation. Waverly’s willingness to trade the ring for Nicole’s life instead of wait on a cure from Wynonna is of those times that a tired trope for straight couples is refreshed/subversive when applied to a queer couple. Waverly fighting to save Nicole’s life functions as a cipher for her fighting for their right to exist as a couple. And yet, the show doesn’t make it overtly about that. The result is a story that both normalizes the love they share and Waverly’s desperate exchange to save her lover’s life—a common trope for straight romance—and challenges the idea that queer women must die for Drama™.

That’s not to downplay the theme of difficult choices reflected in almost every character’s arc this episode. The plot played out as a series of Sophie’s choice/Catch-22 situations of which Waverly’s was one. But that’s part of the beauty of it. It’s both one among many ‘impossible’ choices characters had to make and a choice that thumbs its nose at Hollywood’s recent spate of queer female character deaths. At the same time, it also reflects the struggle queer women have in fighting for their right to exist and be taken seriously. Yet, it does so without going to the other extremes of either sanitizing/infantilizing their story or overdramatizing it. It has the appropriate emotional weight for what it is.

The final blow was the Gift of the Magi-esque reveal that Waverly’s deal with the Iron Witch wasn’t necessary. It works so well as a plot device here. The outcome (Clootie coming back) could be reasonably predicted, but the route to get there this episode was a magnificent, emotional, heartbreaking rid because of the multiple Catch-22 scenarios.

While Nicole being bitten is the precipitating event, one could argue the tangled web of Sophie’s choices starts with Wynonna. Her “whatever it takes’ mentality at the beginning drives Dolls to urge Waverly to take the deal with Beth. That same mentality also leads Wynonna to being willing to subject Rosita to physical torture to save Nicole’s life. Her choice affects Jeremy, who must then live with his own choice to go along. There’s never a straightforward ‘way out’. Everyone is making what they believe to be the best, or shall I say least terrible, choice based on the options available to them. That still doesn’t make them good choices. They’re reasonable choices under the circumstances, but they’re also choices that hurt people and have real, negative consequences for the characters and their relationships.

I just love how tangled up everything is. This is one of the best executions of “no good choices” I’ve seen in a long while. The best part is, the show didn’t have to tout itself as specifically addressing that in universe to draw attention to how Clever™ and Nuanced™ it was being (unlike another show I watch). They told the story and let the audience come to it’s own conclusions; this episode did a hell of a lot of showing and did very little telling, and it paid off big time.

The only part that confuses me is why Wynonna now wants to keep Clootie from rising. Last week, she was all about resurrecting Clootie and killing him. She delivered a whole speech to Doc about it, and he agreed to help her, which is why he gave her his ring. Her desire to protect the ring and his initial standoffishness about helping her don’t fit neatly with last week’s characterizations. Still, it isn’t a big deal. If I didn’t overlook a beat somewhere that would explain this, I can chalk it up to last week’s episode being a bit rough overall.

I will end with how much I love Nedley. He’s the dad friend who is sometimes awkward about life choices, but always loving and supportive. I adore his sass, and he had some of the best one liners this episode, hands down. But his steadfast belief in Wynonna even after all the trouble she caused in her youth? That’s heart.

I see you, Andras Callaghan

  • 3 women fighting, and not over a guy, bless this show
  • I see that Alien reference
  • Waverly saying komodo dragons are cool to make Jeremy feel better even when she’s losing the love of her life just kills me.
  • I see that mug pun, and I 100% endorse it.
  • Jeremy’s Silence of the Lambs joke, A+
  • Waverly got so many hugs this episode, and I’m so glad. She needed them.
Give Waverly all the hugs.

Tune in next week for Emily Andras being a troll with the title, “Gone as a Girl Can Get”. There will be Black Widows and demons and Wynonna no longer being pregnant?! But the real question is, WHO IS GETTING MARRIED?? If it’s Waverly and Champ, I might die. But I’m here for a WayHaught wedding!

Oh, and thanks to Kori for the review title! It’s perfect.

Images Courtesy of SyFy

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