This Wynonna Earp review contains spoilers.
Wynonna Earp Season 4, Episode 3
In last week’s review, I commented that the episode could have been a (great) season finale. It follows, then, that this week’s episode, “Look at Them Beans,” would have the vibes of a season premiere, which it totally does. New setting! New characters! And new problems for Team Earp to deal with. (That last one is not getting an exclamation point.)
Setting doesn’t just refer to a story’s location, but also a story’s time. Therefore, time jumps are effectively ways of switching up a TV show’s setting in some major, abrupt ways. While the episodic plot in “Look at Them Beans” is a bit cursory, it does serve as a fun, quick vehicle to introduce us to this new setting and the new characters and problems that come with it. When Wynonna is arrested for the murder of Nedley (yeah, I immediately refused to accept Nedley’s death as a reality), the Earp sisters and Doc are thrust into Purgatory’s new and not-improved power structure. Luckily, Wynonna has a half-demon cellmate named Casey to explain to us what has been going on the past 18 months. Apparently, after the Ghost River Triangle evacuation for the “forest fires,” the people moved out and the demons moved in. The townspeople were allowed to come back home, should they choose, to a new normal that involves a demon-driven sham of a town government (some bro replaced Nicole as sheriff) and a local forest crawling with monsters.
When TV shows employ a time jump, it also generally means separating the characters into two groups: “audience surrogates” and “mysteries to be solved.” The “audience surrogate” characters are the ones who have had the rug pulled out from under them too. In Wynonna Earp, we get three “audience surrogate” characters: Doc, Waverly, and Wynonna. (Interestingly, for different reasons, Nedley kind of falls into this category too.) The “mysteries to be solved” are the characters we know and love whose experience of the missing time is not only dissimilar to us, but that we don’t have any direct narrative insight into—in other words, they might tell us what they have been up to, but we haven’t experienced it alongside them. In Wynonna Earp, these characters are Nicole and Jeremy, along with supporting characters like Mercedes and Rachel.
Some of the best parts of “Look at Them Beans” come in starting to dig into the mystery of what happened to Nicole during the 18 months we missed. She may have the love of her life back, but that doesn’t mean she’s OK—far from it, in fact. She obviously went through some shit since we last saw her and has many signs of PTSD. Even though she may have her family back and the safety and support that comes with it, part of her is still stuck in those difficult months when it was up to her to take care of the Homestead and Rachel, all without knowing if she would ever see Waverly, Doc, or Wynonna again.
It also can’t be understated how the perceived death of Nedley, who has been a father to Nicole, would have also impacted Nicole’s mental health during this time. While we viewers know that Nedley is probably OK (and somewhere in that Sasquatch) from the get-go, Nicole has no such assurances. She has been asked to grieve her father figure without her main support system, all while fighting monsters on the daily (and I haven’t even mentioned the skunk juice).
In the (brilliantly-directed) best scene of the episode, we get to see Waverly, Doc, and Nicole save Nedley from the clutches of the furry monster he has been turned into all through Wynonna’s perspective. Wynonna watches as her family does what they do best: show up for one another, using whatever tools they have lying around. (This time, it’s a super soaker, a t-shirt gun, and some rope.) It’s fucking hilarious, delightful in its silliness, but it is also incredibly moving at the same time. This is the moment when Wynonna realizes that she is home and she and her family is safe. When she tells Nedley that he survived, she’s telling herself that too. It’s the moment she can let go of the breath she has been holding since Waverly was pulled into The Garden, or maybe even before that. Nicole, on the other hand, is still holding her breath. She’s still in survival mode. She’s still carrying the weight of her world on her shoulders, not yet ready to trust that she can truly let go and let others’ carry it for a while. Because, when she lets go, she’s going to have to feel a lot of stuff that she hasn’t been able to let herself feel. It’s going to messy and it’s going to be painful and, hopefully, there will be some healing on the other side. (You know there will be. This is Wynonna Earp.)
The other main “mystery to be solved” character I have yet to mention is Jeremy, who we get the briefest of glimpses of when Chrissy Nedley is leaving the Ghost River Triangle. Jeremy is stationed at the checkpoint, in uniform, presumable back working for Black Badge in some capacity. Nicole seems to have written him off as any kind of reliable ally, but it’s hard to believe Jeremy doesn’t have some kind of larger plan for helping Team Earp in action here. Given that Wynonna is snatched by military-types in the final moments of the episode, Jeremy might understand a threat to Team Earp that we have yet to. Or maybe, given that Chrissy gave him the scoop on his friends’ return to Purgatory, he was the one who gave the order to bring Wynonna in? Either way, I miss Jeremy. I hope we dive into his mystery sooner rather than later.
Seriously. What the fig, Chrissy Nedley?
Martina Ortiz-Luis is killing it as Rachel. I’m glad to have her as part of the ongoing cast. The scene that sees Wynonna thanking Rachel for taking care of Nicole while they were gone and Rachel thanking Wynonna for noticing was an episode highlight.
I hope Casey sticks around too.
While the introduction of the new Purgatory is only somewhat successful (partially because I never had a great grasp on how the old Purgatory actually operated past the Homestead, the bar, and the police department), the introduction of demon club Glory Hole rocks. Doc has serious chemistry with the proprietor of the club (played by Lost Girl‘s Noam Jenkins), stirring up that always-lingering question regarding the nature of Doc’s relationship with Wyatt Earp. (They were in love, right?)
Mercedes is working at the Glory Hole, pretending to be a demon. Never change, Mercedes.
Wynonna is trying to keep the fact that she no longer has Peacemaker on the dl, presumably because she assumes that it keeps the demons somewhat afraid of her. Personally, I think Wynonna has the potential to be terrifying whether she has Peacemaker or not, though it makes sense that she would presume so much of her power lies not in herself, but in the gun/Curse.
It’s interesting that Wynonna, Doc, and Waverly were all gone for the same period of time, even though Wynonna was in The Garden for a far shorter period of time. This suggests that it’s not that The Garden has a different temporal pace, but rather that the wormhole or portal or whatever that brings people back from The Garden to The Ghost River Triangle has something to do with the temporal distortion. I don’t know. Time dilution and/or travel makes my brain hurt!
It is interesting, however, that both The 100 and Wynonna Earp have some time dilution going on this season. (Although, I am assuming that it will be way less important in Wynonna Earp, but who knows?) The Magicians also had this as part of their setting, as Fillory had a different temporal pace than Earth. It’s particularly interesting to see this kind of time travel/time dilution storylines during this period of pandemic and general societal upheaval where time has seemed to slow down with the changing of our status quos. It’s honestly highly relatable and a little cathartic to see our TV characters go through something similar. It’s like, “Oh, you looked away for a second and your whole world changed? Same.”
This also makes me wonder not only where, but when Eve ended up. As in, how much time has passed for her in whatever intersection of time-place she ended up in? We better hope she didn’t end up in our past. That is the time travel equivalent of a head start.
This episode was directed by Melanie Scrofano, and she did an amazing job. That is two full-time jobs she pulled off exquisitely in the production of this episode.
Wynonna’s hair always looks so good.
I, um, had to Google “bush party,” even though I grew up in a rural area where this was the main kind of high school party. But we just called them “parties.” Now I am learning about Ontario slang.
Kate hasn’t come back.
What happened to Robin?! Finish the sentence, Nicole! Is his mysterious absence related to why Jeremy is working for Black Badge again?
“Vacation is over, assholes. It is time… for a Holliday.”
I want some of Waverly’s vegan chili.