This Wynonna Earp review contains spoilers.
Wynonna Earp Season 4, Episode 1
Hold onto your flasks, Earpers. For the next six weeks, new episodes of Wynonna Earp will be gracing our hearts and eyeballs. It’s almost too good to believe that, after almost two years, a time in which funding snafus and then COVID-19 temporary halted production, we have more of this wonderfully bonkers, ridiculously fun, and unabashedly sentimental story that centers found family, queer love, and women getting shit done to look forward to, but sometimes the universe gives you something good.
Given the long, long hiatus, you would be forgiven for not remembering everything that happened in Season 3 and, cleverly, this premiere doesn’t expect you to. While some of the dialogue refreshers can feel a bit crammed in there, given that the alternative would be showing a 15-minute recap at the beginning of the hour, it’s a necessary sacrifice. Basically, what you need to remember from Season 3 is this: half-angel Waverly got pulled into The Garden (of Eden), vampire gentleman Doc went after her. The curse is broken and therefore Wynonna no longer has Peacemaker. And, after drugging all of her family (save Waverly) in a misguided attempt to keep them safe from Bulshar, everyone in Purgatory disappeared save for Nedley. Got it? Good.
“On the Road Again” spends some time getting its characters into place for the episode’s main action. We quickly find out that Nicole, Jeremy, Kate, and the rest of Purgatory’s residents (whoever they are) were taken by either the government or private militia posing as government (this “distinction” hits different in the COVID-19 era). They were forced at gunpoint onto a train out of the Ghost River Triangle. Nicole hops off before they reach the border, but not before getting a high-stakes Tarot card reading from vampire Kate, who also gives her an assist off the train, as its doors are rigged to turn humans into french fries (not literally—I feel like I have to make that kind of thing clear with this show) should they try to open them.
Meanwhile, Wynonna and Nedley have gathered firepower and are heading back to the steps that lead to The Garden. We also quickly find out that Wynonna (still) can’t get into the Garden (I guess it’s good to double check?) and that Nedley retired for a reason. After getting bitten by some demon crabs that crawled out of Eden, Wynonna has to leave an injured Nedley in the loving (she makes omelettes!) care of Mercedes as she goes to investigate some Valdez leads she found in Dolls’ old files.
Because Nedley needs a rest and Mercedes can’t really be trusted, Wynonna is on this rescue mission alone, and you can tell it’s starting to shake her. Sure, she drugged her friends and family so she could go it alone, like she used to be more comfortable doing, but she soon realizes that she has grown to become accustomed to a team. When her truck gets a flat and Wynonna starts to lose faith in herself, she imagines what Doc and Waverly would say, obviously starting to understand just how much she needs backup both for emotional and logistical support.
It’s not Doc and Waverly that comes to Wynonna’s aid, but rather Nicole, who has caught up to Wynonna and wants to give her a piece of her mind—and a punch to the face. I love that Nicole, and therefore the show, doesn’t let Wynonna off the hook for the fact that she drugged her loved ones in the season finale. This is the kind of thing that happens all of the time in genre programming and that is treated as heroic, but it’s really, really not. Wynonna not only drugged them without their consent, she took their agency away from them. Frankly, Nicole lets her off easy.
Nicole’s unwillingness to let Wynonna get away with things is one of the best things about their odd couple dynamic, and I love that we see it centered yet again in the season premiere. Wynonna is a sarcastic, drinks a lot of the time, and isn’t always a team player. Meanwhile, Nicole is a straight-shooter who likes to have a plan, do things by the book, and keep lines of communication open and honest. They are two different kinds of leaders, and probably wouldn’t hang out in normal circumstances, but they both love Waverly more than anything in the world and that makes them family.
Following the “Valdez” clues Wynonna found in Dolls’ Black Badge files, Wynonna and Nicole continue on to an abandoned facility in nearby Monument, hoping they will find an alternate way into The Garden there. What they do find is Dr. Gloria Valdez’s gunslinging teen daughter and a whole lot of zombies. The zombies give the premiere a chance for the kind of stylish, oh-so-fun fight scene Wynonna Earp does so well, but they also feel like one obstacle too many. And did I mention the precarious grates? The facility has those to and, when Wynonna steps on one, she seems sure she’s marked for death. But Officer Haught has something to say about it. She knocks Wynonna off the grate and falls down the hole below instead, into darkness.
Elswhere in the episode, we get to see where Waverly and Doc ended up after going through that gate and it’s not super homey… at least not initially. The barren snowscape has no food or water to speak of, only looming obelisks and stone doorways that cast long, ominous shadows. Oh, and a throne (Julian’s throne), that Waverly seems like she kinda sorta wants to sit in?
Waverly and Doc aren’t the only characters in the Garden. They meet a former Black Badger driven crazy by his time there. He doesn’t give Waverly and Doc much of an explanation of what he’s doing there, other than that they need to pour human blood down a hole or something bad will happen, before he uses some supersized shears to chop off his own head. The situation is all very Desmond in The Bunker. Waverly and Doc have one teeny, tiny problem: neither of them are what you might strictly call “human.”
Another side effect of staying in The Garden? The longer you stay there, the more it messes with your memory. Waverly and Doc go from reminiscing about the dark deeds they’ve committed in the past to having trouble remembering the people they love most over the course of one scene. They can’t remember how long they’ve been in The Garden and we don’t actually know how much time they’ve been in there either. When Dolls falls asleep, Waverly wanders back into the bunker and feeds it some half-angel blood, “the good stuff.” It more than does the trick. Trees grow. Flowers blossom. Something deep inside the bunker whispers Waverly’s name.
The bunker also gives Waverly a choice. We see books with four different character names on them: Wynonna Earp, Waverly Earp, Nicole Haught, and Doc Holliday. It seems like Waverly chooses the book marked “Nicole” before venturing deeper into the bunker, towards that whispering voice. That leaves Doc all alone for now and means he’s the only one home when a very naked Nicole Haught appears in the bunker, chipper and only somewhat confused. She doesn’t seem to remember how she got there or even perhaps who Doc is? Was this the effect of Waverly potentially choosing Nicole’s book? Is it a result of Nicole falling down the grate? Could it have been a gate to The Garden? The Season 4 premiere leaves us with some great questions, and the promise of a new episode next week to start answering them. What a feeling.
“You almost done? I feel like I’ve been standing here for two years.” Brilliant.
Is Kate going to come back? This show has an unfortunate pattern of writing out and/or de-centering its characters of color.
Wynonna Earp manages to both lean into the “Girl Chained to the Train Tracks” trope with Waverly and also subvert its problematic aspects at the exact same time.
Reader, that taser was not set to tickle.
Petition to have the characters of Wynonna Earp continue to use pads as bandages for the rest of its existence? This show normalizes parts of womanhood, from pregnancy to periods, like no other. Every time, it feels like a radical revelation.
“Well, that’s a felony.” Nedley’s response to hearing that Wynonna drugged her friends. Yes, yes it is.
Generally, we see dude characters doing the whole “I take away characters consent in the name of protection” shtick. I hope Wynonna Earp continues to push back against this really fucked up decision Wynonna made in the Season 3 finale, and we see Wynonna realize how much of a hurtful mistake this was.
What is time passes differently in The Garden and Waverly and Doc have been in there for the time it took for Wynonna Earp to come back after the Season 3 finale???
It was Jeremy, he of the former Black Badge employment, who scratched “Valdez” into Wynonna’s staircase. Like normal, Jeremy seems to know more than he is letting on. Why didn’t he tell Wynonna about “Valdez” before? Sadly, this is all we see of Jeremy in this premiere, which is probably an intentional choice to preserve some of the mystery of this premiere.
“Do you have anything of hers?” *Nicole looks for and realizes she doesn’t have Waverly’s wing, but offers Kate her hand instead. “Yeah… me.”
“This is Eden? It’s not the way they wrote it up.” I love Doc Holliday.
“You came?” “Of course.” I also love the Doc/Waverly dynamic. Get you a show that doesn’t just give your complex dynamics between the “traditional” relationships, like romantic partners or family members, but between all of its characters.
“You don’t get the judge of who matters and who doesn’t.” Nicole makes Wynonna better. Not sure if I believe they are best friends, though.
Calgary’s really beautiful.
What was Julian protecting The Garden from if not Bulshar? And are there more of those demon crab things? Asking for a friend.
“It is my birthright. My legacy.” Is Wynonna getting brainwashed by The Garden?
“Is that a yes?” “Like I would tell you first.” Still waiting on an answer to Waverly’s proposal…
“These guys did not find a great work-life balance.” Relatable.