Friday, August 3, 2018

REVIEW: 'Wynonna Earp' - Wynonna and the Team Struggle to Mourn and Move On in 'Colder Weather'

Syfy's Wynonna Earp - Episode 3.03 "Colder Weather"

The team must come to terms with the consequences of their actions. Someone claiming to be from Black Badge Division arrives in Purgatory.

"Colder Weather" is all about the team grieving Dolls' death. Yes, there is still a threat from the revenants in town. But that's a story that is still connected to Dolls in a significant way. It's not like Bulshar is continuing his attack on the team knowing how broken they are after the death of one of their own. That definitely could have been the story the show pursued because it made it clear that Bulshar is a demon with a plan and has already made his power known to the team. And yet, it's much more emotionally rewarding to spend this episode just living with the team as they mourn Dolls. They are just trying to cope with him suddenly being gone. There's still so much they didn't know about him. They don't know whether or not to trust this stranger who comes into town claiming to be an old friend of Dolls from his days as a Black Badge experiment. They don't know what to do with his body. They are even still reckoning with the fact that Dolls knew he was dying and chose to keep it a secret from the rest of the team. He instead wanted to help them with their various investigations. And so, he was there to provide clarity and support when Wynonna was visiting her mother and Nicole was delving deeper into her own traumatic past. Sure, some of these relationships and actions largely happened offscreen. It's so meaningful to listen to Nicole talk about her bond with Dolls as two officers even though most of that wasn't actually seen onscreen all that much. It shows that everyone had such a unique relationship with him. He meant something to each of them as individuals. And now, Wynonna is angry that she wasn't able to protect the person she loved and Doc is upset that the last conversation they had was about being sent to Hell upon death. It's a difficult time for all of them. They are finding the best way to mourn and remember Dolls. But they are also tasked with figuring out how to move on. That's the most vital aspect of this episode as well. It's doing what's right to ensure that Dolls didn't die in vain. He needs to live on through their actions.

Of course, Wynonna doesn't want to face any of these hard decisions at all. Her heart is breaking because it simply doesn't make any sense that Dolls is dead. He died protecting the rest of the team. He sacrificed himself so that they could vanquish the speedster demon working for Bulshar. It was such a profound and heroic moment for him as a character. But it's shaking everyone to their cores. Wynonna is drinking even more than usual. Waverly is angry that not everyone seems to be mourning this loss. And Doc is still struggling with his own feelings towards his inevitable death and the punishment awaiting him in Hell. Wynonna wants to just push all of this aside and go into battle with Bulshar. And yet, the demon doesn't extend that courtesy to her. He is continuing to operate in the shadows. So instead, she lashes out at Jeremy. He knew what was going on with Dolls the entire time and didn't tell the team. They went into battle with him completely unaware that he could explode at any possible moment. Jeremy lied because it was what Dolls asked of him. He made his position on the subject clear but still honored Dolls' wishes. That proves him to be a loyal friend. But now, Dolls is dead and Wynonna is pissed. She tells Jeremy to pack up all of his things and leave town. He no longer has a place on this team because of the secret he chose to keep. But again, this is Wynonna just being angry at the world and taking the blame out on the people close to who instead of where it truly belongs. This hour is such an emotional journey for her because she has to accept that her going into battle on rage and probably dying is not what Dolls would want for her life at all.

All of that is orchestrated through the story with this mysterious newcomer to town. Now, Quinn's arrival could signal him as Dolls' replacement or a way to provide more answers as to what is going on with Black Badge. The show mysteriously had the team sign that blood pact only for the organization to just completely disappear. Dolls was the greatest connection to them. With him dead, all ties could be severed forever. That may not be a bad thing. And yet, they were also the ones keeping things quiet throughout the world about the various supernatural and demonic attacks. Without them, chaos could be allowed to reign throughout the planet. As such, it's easy to assume that the organization is still functioning somehow. They are still interested in Wynonna and company. They have just chosen to keep quiet for the time being. It's still very tenuous when Quinn shows up. Wynonna doesn't want to be welcoming to outsiders at this particular moment. But the two of them are kindred spirits who just want to mourn the loss of a great man. But they are also angry at the organization that did these horrific experiments on him in the first place. Quinn sees Jeremy as the enemy simply because he used to work for Black Badge. He doesn't see him through the understanding that he's part of the team. He just sees him as someone who needs to pay for allowing all of this chaos and destruction to happen. Wynonna is the one who has to talk Quinn off the ledge. He can't just take out his anger on Jeremy for not having any role in this. He replicated the formula but it was never going to be perfect for Dolls. As such, the best thing Quinn can do to honor his friend is find out what is going on with Black Badge and report back. And so, the show sends him off on a mission with the promise that he will return at some point with more answers.

This proves to be an episode about answers and clarity as well. No, there isn't any new information given as to what's going on with Black Badge, Bulshar or Mama Earp. But Nicole does open up to Waverly about her own traumatic past and its connection to the Cult of Bulshar. In the premiere, she had a sneaking suspicion that she was somehow a survivor of the kind of horrific ritual that the team discovered. That showed that she had perhaps repressed that memory for some reason. And now, she has full clarity on the subject. She is able to tell Waverly about going on a trip with relatives in the Ghost River Triangle and being the only survivor of a mass murder that was soon covered up. She was told that it was simply a fire. And yet, that never explained the nightmares she has had ever since. Waverly understands that there has been this past that has haunted Nicole to this day. But this discovery also makes her seriously question the point of life. She is now seeing the inevitability of death. She has to have a serious conversation with all of her loved ones about what she wants to happen to her body after she dies. Nicole has a quick but brutal answer to that question. She wants to be fed to vultures in order to be returned to nature. Meanwhile, Waverly doesn't even have a spot reserved for her in the Earp family plot. That just further makes her feel alienated and isolated. And now, Nicole is telling her that it may not be a coincidence that she chose to come to work in Purgatory. It may have been a part of an elaborate plan in order to get her exactly where she needed to be when Bulshar arose. All of that is surrounded in mystery and makes Waverly fear that there is no free will. And yet, it's so meaningful and emotional when Nicole is able to calm her down by once again professing her love and saying that every day is special because of the connection they have.

Dolls doesn't want the team to stop living just because he is dead. Throughout this entire hour, there's the mystery of whatever he left behind in a letter for Wynonna. When Waverly is finally able to give it to her sister, it's just a simple picture of the team enjoying a night out together. It's a reminder to Wynonna that she needs to keep living. She just can't drink her sorrows away because of this tragedy. She still has people who need her love and support. They still need her to stop the revenants and Bulshar. She has to be the one to break the Earp family curse so that the future is better for the next generation. This hour forces everyone to think about the future. Right now, Wynonna is content with the idea that she and Waverly will be buried next to each other on the homestead. That's the fate that comforts them. It's an honor they give to Dolls as well. Sure, they also have to burn his body to ensure that Black Badge never comes to collect it to run even more experiments on him. They wish to save him from that trauma in death. They are doing everything in their power to honor him as best they can. It's absolutely beautiful. And in the end, the message is received fully. This team needs to band together and keep on living. Part of that is fighting the various demons still loose in this world. The other part is actually having fun and experiencing life. Dolls wants everyone to find their happiness. It won't be a rejection of him if the team moves on with their lives. He takes comfort in knowing that they will still be going on wild and crazy adventures while leaning on each other for love and support even more.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Colder Weather" was written by Emily Andras and directed by Ron Murphy.
  • In my review of the premiere, I noted that it was strange that Katherine Barrell was still listed as a guest star even though Nicole is such a vital component of the show. And now, the show features an updated title sequence. Yes, it takes on a more mournful tone to be respectful of what has just happened. But it also features Barrell in the credits to show that there will at least be some stability in the cast moving forward.
  • Doc also reveals to Waverly that Contessa is his wife. That's a shocking development. Of course, it's also a plot point that the show has done before. As such, that allows Waverly to have the amusing reaction of wondering who doesn't have a secret wife amongst her group of friends. And yet, the show has to handle Doc's secret wife differently than Nicole's secret wife who was basically just a small presence.
  • Contessa has also moved into the Gardner house. That is yet another house secluded from the rest of the world where a lot of supernatural things occur. She is mostly just reading her cards and sensing things about the characters. She understands that Waverly is definitely something powerful. But it's also key to point out that Doc and Contessa have sex at the end of the hour which is bound to complicate things.
  • Nedley's reaction to Dolls' death is so unexpected and yet completely profound. The two of them had to learn how to work together over the years. Nedley is never a consistent member of the team. But he provides ample support whenever it is necessary. And here, he is guarding Dolls' body until Wynonna and the team know what to do with it. He knows that that is important. He doesn't want anyone to be distracted by what could happen to Dolls on that slab in the office.
  • The revenants break into Shorty's and steal the drug that Jeremy created for Dolls. When they take it, they suddenly rage out which makes them violent opponents to face. It's so rude of them to interrupt the wake at the bar too. But this break-in also has to serve as evidence that it's too easy to get inside Shorty's with Jeremy not even realizing that the drugs are gone for a long time.