This Wynonna Earp review contains spoilers.
Wynonna Earp Season 3, Episode 3
In some ways, death is simple. It’s final; as Wynonna spits out in this episode, it’s forever; it is maybe the only things in existence that resists shades of grey. But the way those who are left behind deal with death? That‘s complicated. It’s messy and unpredictable. Sometimes, it’s silly and awkward, sometimes it’s sober and precise. Always, it’s heavy, all-encompassing, impossible to see past. Grief is a filter that coats all things, saturating the world and everything in it with its own, unique, terrible color.
Wynonna Earp has always taken emotional truth as one of its foundational tenets and never is it more accountable to that value than in the aftermath of Dolls’ death. There is little plot to be found in this episode because how could there be? Life may not stop when someone you love dies, but the lesser causes and effects do fade into background noise. There’s only one effect you can think about: the absence of the one you loved. For a little while, their death is the only cause that matters.
“Colder Weather” takes it time in checking in with all of its characters, post-death, and, while Dolls might not be there, his presence is felt in every frame of this episode. We learn about Dolls from others’ reactions to his absence. Their grief is as much about who he was as it is about who they are. Like Alice before him, though in a completely different way, there is now a Dolls-shaped hole in these characters’ lives.
Waverly’s grief takes the form of planning—she makes sandwiches and picks out coffins because, yes, she is a planner, but also because Dolls asked her to take care of Wynonna before he died. Waverly is honoring Dolls’ wish, and, in her caretaking, she is honoring the man he was. As we saw so clearly in the Season 3 premiere, Dolls was somehow, despite his trauma, the emotionally-stable adult here. He was the person Wynonna leaned on to be there, regardless of what was going on in her life.
Nicole’s grief manifests in guilt. “He was helping me and I couldn’t save him,” she cries to Waverly. “None of us could,” Waverly tells her, filling that caretaking role like Dolls would have, too. The episode focuses on Nicole and Dolls’ bond in the context of their shared identity as law enforcement. As people who chose this specific, institutional path of justice-seeker as a vocation, they got each other in a way no one else in their found family could. And when Wynonna needs some tough love, Nicole fills that role in a way that Dolls so often did, too. “You don’t get a monopoly on the grief we all feel,” she tells Wynonna, and Wynonna listens.
It’s Jeremy who gets the brunt of Wynonna’s anger following Dolls’ death. Wynonna can’t get Bulshar, she can’t slay death, so she’ll punish Jeremy instead, angry at him for keeping Dolls’ secret when he didn’t trust Wynonna with it, too. (Dolls knew she already had so many burdens. He didn’t want to put another weight on her already tired shoulders.) In Dolls’ death, we learn how much he trusted Jeremy. He trusted Jeremy not just with his life, but with his secrets. In losing Dolls, Jeremy lost his best friend, too. When Wynonna puts her arm around Jeremy at the funeral, she is acknowledging that.
And then there is Doc, who is plagued with the memory that the last thing he told Dolls was that they were all going to hell. We know from his conversation with Kate that he doesn’t believe that—he claims to know where Dolls ended up, and it isn’t hell—but his statement tastes of hope more than certainty. Death was never cheap, Doc tells Wynonna. He knows the weight of living and dying better than anyone. It’s a habit by now: mourning the dead. That doesn’t make it any easier, though. Just more familiar. He can use that familiarity to comfort Wynonna. It’s the thing he and Dolls shared, after all: loving this woman more than anything else in the world.
There’s a new face in town to mourn Dolls, as well: his former squadron member, Staff Sergeant Ramon Quinn, come to town to mourn the last of his friends taken out by Black Badge’s experimentations. His complicated appearance on the scene reminds me of the Firefly episode “The Message,” which saw Mal and Zoe’s soldier buddy shipping his corpse to them for a proper goodbye. Like Quinn, his motives are more complicated than that, but the relationship he calls on is not. Quinn has watched all of his buddies die. Dolls was the most stubborn, and therefore the last, but it is no easier for its inevitability.
“They were or are all dead.” “Isn’t that convenient?” “It’s not convenient. It sucks.”
In the end, Dolls’ family—the family he chose—celebrate his life as well as mourn it. They burn his body to ensure it will never again be used as currency, as Wynonna puts it. They say goodbye with one last message from their friend: Keep going. Keep fighting.
Dolls doesn’t leave Wynonna a note, but photos he took, and it’s the perfect goodbye. The saddest photos aren’t the ones of your missing loved one. They are the ones your missing loved ones took because the thing you miss the most is not their memory, you still have that, it’s how they saw the world and how they saw you. In Wynonna, Dolls saw a fierce, complicated, beautiful woman. That’s the person he wants her to continue to be.
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“So what are we supposed to do?” Waverly asks her big sister. “Live,” Wynonna tells her. It’s the only choice we have in the face of death and, if we’re lucky like Dolls was, we’ll see that choice and that life as a blessing.
Life doesn’t stop just because you’re grieving… and neither do Revenants. In subplot news, some mischevious Revenants steal the last of Jeremy’s homemade Dolls serum. It trumps them up, but Wynonna and company take them down.
“Not the prick I was looking for, but a prick nonetheless.” “That’s what my first wife said.”
“I’m too tired to kill you.” Grief is exhausting, y’all. Wynonna is sick of grieving people: her father, Shorty, Willa.
What about that beautiful opening, featuring Wynonna’s tears and Beth Whitney’s “Raven”?
“I’m sorry.” “That is not for you to apologize for.” Doc doesn’t want Kate’s apologies for the death of someone she never knew.
“You might as well stop chasing that girl. You’ll competing with a ghost for the rest of your days. It never ends well.” Is Contessa speaking from experience? Later, she tells Doc: “He also never stopped looking for you. Spent thousands. Hired trackers. Ultimately, it broke his heart.” What exactly went on between Wyatt and Doc? This is one of my most burning, lingering questions for this show.
“We always did have terrible timing.” “No, we were just terrible.”
The funeral director assuming Nicole and Waverly have husbands and them just going all in on the lesbian reveal.
Waverly doesn’t have a spot in the family plot. Her dad didn’t purchase one for her. He was such a dick.
“The thing about death is it’s forever. So there’s plenty of time. All the time in the world.” — Wynonna
“Love, sometimes you get and sometimes you get got.” — Doc
“Is that enough feeling for you?” You know things are tense when anyone snaps at Waverly.
“I’ve seen monks with more shit.” “Yeah, well, Dolls was an enigmatic dude.” I can’t believe he still lived in that hotel.
Nicole drops the secret of her own traumatic past! She attended a music festival in the Ghost River Triangle with aunt and uncle when she was younger. She was the only survivor of the brutal Cult of Bulshar massacre.
“For years, my parents told me everyone had died in a forest fire and, somehow, I escaped…” Bless you, Nicole.
“Back for more banana liquer?” “Generous, but baffling offer.”
“Do you think this was easy for me?” “I don’t care.” Someone hug Jeremy!
“I will never forgive you for this.” “I get it. It’s easier to blame me than the dead dragon, right?”
Don’t cut the twinkle lights! They’re beautiful!
“I kind of thought you were normal.” — Waverly, saying what we are all thinking to Nicole.
“Which means none of us has free will over any of our lives and we’re all gonna die anyway, so what’s the point?” “The point is I love you and, if that’s my destiny, then I am pretty damn stoked.” <3
“Yeah, Lonnie got eaten by vampires.” — Nedley
“You know, I used to think Deputy Marshall Dolls was [an asshole], too, but, more and more I see, protecting the world maybe that requires a bit of selfishness.” Nedley was so wise.
Is Waverly part angel? Is that a thing?
“I’m a vampire, not an asshole.” — Kate
“I just wanted an invitation.” “Well then like a few selfies and slide into my DMs like a normal person.”
“If we’re all destined to be here and we’re all gonna die here, then we need to learn how to be here together.” — Waverly
Kate compares Waverly to Wyatt. It’s fascinating and so relatable that Kate, trying to reconnect with Doc and his deal after so much time apart, is trying to organize and understand this modern world in the context of the old one.
“[Black Badge] did stuff to me too, you know.” Dude, what are Jeremy’s powers? He has powers, right?
If it is 20 below out, Waverly and Wynonna should be wearing hats.
“Neither of us is ending up in there. You seen the view from the graveyard? I’m not spending eternity facing my old high school.”
“You’re my favorite person in the whole wide world, baby girl, and once we’ve defeated Bulshar you’re stuck with me forever.”
“No teeth, Kate.” Doc finally gives the Contessa (aka his wife?!) what she wanted: he calls her by her name.