Friday, July 20, 2018

REVIEW: 'Wynonna Earp' - Wynonna and the Team Face Off with Sexy Vampires in 'Blood Red and Going Down'

Syfy's Wynonna Earp - Episode 3.01 "Blood Red and Going Down"

When a mysterious bus full of sexy strangers rolls into town, Wynonna must figure out why they're in Purgatory before the entire town falls under their spell.

Wynonna Earp is back for its third season! "Blood Red and Going Down" certainly feels like a return to basics premiere for the show. The second season dealt with a lot of significant changes to the characters and the storytelling. Wynonna and Doc had a baby together. Doc lost his immortality. Waverly discovered that she wasn't an Earp by blood. The story moved beyond the simple hunt for revenants and onto trying to end the Earp family curse to ensure that the next generation didn't have to continue the cycle. All of these stories are still vital and important to the show. But it's also just so fun and infectious to watch the opening sequence of this premiere. Wynonna is back to being a hard-drinking, wisecracking, kickass demon hunter. Those aspects were still heavily involved in the second season. But the show also had to reasonably cut back on the drinking and the amount of elaborate stunt work because both Wynonna and Melanie Scrofano were pregnant. It was still a very empowering and feminist story because Wynonna was still at the heart of the mission taking down demons while trying to save the world from a looming threat. She just also happened to be pregnant. And that pregnancy allowed things to resonate in an even more emotional way because it allowed the personal dynamics to deepen in some amazing ways. That's what makes it so fascinating to see where the story picks up this year. It has been four months since Bulshar was awoken and Wynonna gave birth to her daughter. So even though the team is unified and hunting down revenants, they are still dealing with the aftermath of those decisions. They don't know where Bulshar is or what he is currently planning. They know that the threat from him is immense and bound to be very dangerous. But they also understand that he's the one who first cursed the Earp family. And so, confronting him will hopefully lead to the curse being broken. Moreover, Wynonna and Doc are in such a tense place right now because Doc is essentially closing himself off after having to give his daughter away while Wynonna feels determined to train as much as possible just to inspire some kind of reaction from him. It's so hot and emotional watching them spar. But it's also clear that the connection is different because so much has changed for them in such a short period of time.

And then, vampires just wander into Purgatory and create chaos. That's just so absolutely delightful and fun. It's so enjoyable that the show keeps an episodic nature to its storytelling. Every episode deals with a specific supernatural threat that the team is currently dealing with. Yes, many of them are tied to the overarching story of the season and the series. But there is a clear focus on entertaining the audience in the moment and giving us pleasure with the various ways that the team works together. Plus, it's fun to see the show's interpretation of vampires. That's one kind of supernatural creature that the show hasn't depicted so far. And now, they roll into town on a stripper bus and walk around in purple smog. It's all absolutely ridiculous but so extremely delightful. These vampires are sexy as well. They are very much tailored to a very specific form of life. They look down on humanity for being so easy to manipulate. All it takes is a simple touch for humans to immediately fall in love with them and do whatever they want - even if that means they are to be fed upon. That's so strange and yet unexpected. These vampires don't walk around trying to hide their identities either. They have the confidence that whomever they touch will fall under their spell. Wynonna, Doc and Dolls are the only ones who seem immune to their charms. As such, it's mostly up to them in order to deal with this threat. But Waverly, Nicole and Jeremy get in on the action as well. Again, it's very much a story about the team coming together to deal with these threats in a swift way that has value for everyone.

Of course, the vampires don't actually put up much of a fight either. The threat is present that they are about to kill everyone in Purgatory whom the main characters care about. They are deadly creatures throughout this premiere. But most of the time, it's the audience seeing the aftermath of their destruction. We don't see the moment where they operate as the Cult of Bulshar and slaughter over a dozen people and place their bodies in a very specific pattern. That's a very sinister moment that is bound to have major repercussions as the season progresses. But mostly, the threat from the vampires comes from the huge ceremony they are planning where they intend on feasting on the people in town who have fallen under their spell. Sure, it's a very convenient way for everyone in Purgatory to get dressed up and look their best - except for Doc. This cast looks insanely good in black tie attire. It's also entirely believable that the show can go from a rough-and-tumble in a bar to this glamorous gala in the same episode. Plus, everyone is still allowed to kick a fair amount of ass. Dolls shows up with the stakes that can be used to kill the vampires. All it takes is them being struck once for them to poof into a cloud of purple smog. It's definitely a stylistic way to differentiate them from the rest of the demons the team has faced over the years. But again, the vampires don't really do any harm to the main characters. It never feels like any of them are actually in any danger. There is a moment where it seems like Sheriff Nedley could be a goner because the team missed one of the vampires. But Doc shows up just in the nick of time to save him. However, it's still a little lame that the vampire leader is just hiding under a tablecloth in the hopes to avoid this bloodbath. He does that even though he fears that Bulshar will punish him for not bringing him what he desires from this town - which is apparently the heirs of the many families that turned against him when he was first imprisoned by Wyatt Earp.

However, the vampires do introduce the idea that Bulshar has a cult of followers who have been working for the past century even though their leader has been caged. And now, he is free and ready to pick up the work that he started all those years ago. That's ominous. But it also introduces a fascinating character pairing between Nicole and Dolls. It's clear right away that Nicole is affected deeply by the slaughter that has occurred at Pussy Willows. She then gets distracted by being enamored by the vampires. But the premiere still returns to this crime scene and explaining why it is making Natalie question her own backstory. She understands that the bodies were placed in a specific pattern for a reason. She knows that the cult was sending a message. It's clear all of this is being done for a reason despite the horror and brutality involved. There were no survivors of this attack. And yet, Nicole also has the understanding that this isn't the first time the cult was done a ritual like this. In fact, she has the files from Black Badge that detail this as a pattern that the team should be very aware of moving forward. That proves that she has access to these files. Yes, she is able to share that Dolls gave them to her. He is there beside her continuing the investigation of these murders. But the audience should also be aware that there is more going on with Nicole. She understands that she has a personal attachment to this cult in some way. That's an intriguing tease that is just dropped at the end of the premiere. It's also a pretty satisfying twist. It would be so lame and lackluster if she kept the truth from the Earp sisters about being in the cult before she came to Purgatory. But it's surprising because she doesn't remember her time there even though she understands that she is associated with the cult in some way - possibly as a survivor of one of these horrific acts of violence.

And finally, there is the proper introduction of Mama Earp. That too was a stunning and surprising tease at the end of the second season. Wynonna had just given birth and had sent her baby away to live outside the Ghost River Triangle. Then, she went straight to her mother knowing that she had previously mentioned Bulshar. It meant this new season was bound to provide more answers as to what happened to this family in their past. So much has been done and said about Ward and Willa Earp. Wynonna ultimately killed both of them. But before this moment, Michelle Earp had just run away from the family. There was no more explanation than that. Then, it became clear that Wynonna had always known where her mother had gone and was probably keeping the truth from Waverly. And now, it's revealed that Michelle is actually locked up as a criminal and mental health patient. Wynonna doesn't know what her mother did in order to demand such a sentence. She is only aware that her mother hears voices. In the past, she had previously mentioned the name Bulshar. And now, Wynonna knows its significance. Of course, Michelle is also quick to point out that Bulshar cursed the Earp family and not hers. She wants to be separated from that association even though she's pleading with the voices to stay away from her daughters. It's just a small tease of her in this premiere. But it's enough to whet everyone's appetite. It also comes with Dolls telling Wynonna that she needs to tell Waverly the truth. This team can't operate if there are secrets amongst them. But before Wynonna can really explain things to her sister, they are run off the road with Waverly being kidnapped by a mysterious figure. That too is a very perilous and ominous tease for the next episode.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Blood Red and Going Down" was written by Emily Andras and directed by Paolo Barzman.
  • I heard great things about Wynonna Earp throughout its first two seasons and felt compelled to catch up before the third one started. All of the recommendations of it were correct. It's great. However, I don't understand why Katherine Barrell and Varun Saranga are still listed as guest stars. Nicole and Jeremy are integral members of the team. They appear in basically every episode. Them not being series regulars keeps me worried that they are expendable when I hope they shouldn't be.
  • What are everyone's thoughts on Jeremy's new facial hair this season? At first glance, I would say it's a pure vanity move to try and get Doc to notice him more. It doesn't quite belong even though it's impressive. It also just pales in comparison to what Doc has pulled off for three seasons now. That is a very stunning mustache from Tim Rozon.
  • Doc also spends the premiere getting tortured by a vampire who also knew him in his past life with Wyatt. She apparently is one of the women that he slept with in those days. There is enough of a spark for the two of them to remember each other. But it also just feels like a story to keep Doc busy and distracted so that he can't help take down the gang of vampires at the party. Of course, Contessa also feels like a character who will continue to appear this season.
  • It wasn't Wynonna's decision to keep the truth about Michelle from Waverly. Instead, it was something that Ward decided a couple of months before the attack on the homestead that killed him. As such, Wynonna could conveniently justify her lying for all of the years. And yet, Waverly will still be right to feel personally betrayed by her sister because she spent a lifetime speculating on what her mother was doing.
  • It's also mentioned here that Wynonna doesn't have power of attorney regarding her mother. As such, she isn't entitled to be updated on her condition in this facility. It takes Dolls showing up with his authority to even get her files. And yet, that moment also name drops Gus after she just disappeared completely from the story last season. Does that mean she's bound to return soon as well and create even more family reunions?