Friday, September 28, 2018

REVIEW: 'Wynonna Earp' - The Earp Sisters Face Bulshar to Break the Family Curse in 'Daddy Lessons' & 'War Paint'

Syfy's Wynonna Earp - Episodes 3.11 "Daddy Lessons" and 3.12 "War Paint"

Wynonna has a run in with the revenants that leads her to an unexpected revelation about the curse. Waverly meets an important figure from her past. Nicole tries to evacuate Purgatory, before it's too late. The Pledge Moon looms over Purgatory as Wynonna and Waverly must find a way to end the family curse before their demonic foe puts an end to the Earp line - and humanity - once and for all.

Last week Wynonna was truly questioning if she was the one destined to save all of humanity by defeating Bulshar. Waverly was the one actually taking over some of the responsibilities by being able to walk into the Garden of Eden and sit on the throne only designed for angels. It would kill her in the process. But it would be a heroic sacrifice because she would stop Bulshar's plans for enslaving all of humanity. And now, Wynonna's identity may be even more in question because the Earp curse is broken. It's not because of anything that she does though. She's not the reason why she is the last of Wyatt Earp's descendants to fight the revenants as they come back to life within the Ghost River Triangle. However, she has plenty of heroic moments throughout this two-hour finale event. She is still a fighter with a cause. She still values the skills she brings to the table even though she no longer has peacemaker and doesn't always comprehend everything that Bulshar is capable of doing. She's still the last line of defense for saving humanity. The stage is set for this final conflict. Wynonna wants to make the choice for Waverly by sending her far away from town. She doesn't want her sister to turn to stone. She deserves better than that. She should be happy with Nicole. That's the fate that she deserves. But instead, this action by Wynonna leads to Waverly being reunited with her father, Julian. That is a massive reveal that shows that the family dynamics are about to get even more complicated. Of course, they are all able to laugh about it as well. It just comes at a moment where all hope seems lost. When Kate is reading her cards, they are foretelling nothing but death. But fate starts to turn around. Bulshar may have unlocked the Garden and become mortal to enter it. He still has to face the Earp sisters though. Their bond is powerful and they are able to put up such a strong fight in order to defeat the greatest foe that has defined their lives for so long. The curse is broken. And now, they have to figure out what's next for their lives after this mission has been completed.

The biggest revelation of "Daddy Lessons" comes when Charlie learns that he is actually Julian the angel. Of course, the show has to properly set up that reveal. First, he has to be revived. It once again feels like nothing more than Waverly's growing powers from the ring. She is becoming stronger with each act that she does. She is learning how to use this ring to help her friends who need it the most. Doc has betrayed them all once more by killing Charlie. Reviving him is a great act that Waverly can do for Wynonna. She doesn't know how to tell her sister that her ex-boyfriend has been killed by another ex-boyfriend. They are too distracted to have that conversation as well. But they don't need to have it either. Charlie comes back to life. It's only when he's tasked with driving Waverly away that he comes to realize that he is more than what he appears to be. The Charlie identity wasn't just some big illusion either. It was a life he was genuinely living. People who recognize him as Julian - like Mama Earp, Bulshar and Bobo - simply never interacted with him before this finale. His only memories were coming to Purgatory and wanting to help people. He was only brought back to the Ghost River Triangle because Waverly left at the end of the second season. She brought him back. She didn't know that she did this. She is also able to help him recover these memories as Julian. He recalls being in love with Michelle. He left his post because of her. And now, one angel is dead and the door to the Garden of Eden is open. Bulshar can enter as soon as he completes this mission. And so, Julian absolutely has to step up as a powerful angel to defeat this demon. At first, it seems like it's going to be nothing but a convenient excuse to keep Waverly from having to make the ultimate sacrifice to save the human race. Instead, Julian would have the big heroic moment. But the show still has plenty of twists up its sleeves too.

However, the narrative also gets distracted a little bit by having Doc become addicted to Julian's blood. Angel blood happens to be more enticing than human blood. As such, Doc craves it. Regular humans are no longer enough to quench his thirst. He has had a divine meal and wants more of it. He essentially becomes a rabid animal. He grows feral and attacks anyone who stands in his way. He betrays Kate because she's not willing to help him with this mission. She doesn't understand how he can still be hungry. He just has no regard for the pain he is causing his friends. He just wants to drink this powerful substance once more. He is also able to smell it coming from Waverly now. That makes her a target of his too. That's absolutely terrifying. It presents one more reason for why no one on the team should trust Doc. He is no longer as reliable or charming as he once was. He has made grave mistakes that could cost him everything that he cares about. It's easy to understand the reasoning behind his choices. But he can't blame being possessed by a demon looking for a human body for killing Charlie. He did that himself. And now, he wants to do so again. He just doesn't know that Charlie is actually Julian. The angel knows how to wield the ring. That's where this story takes an interesting turn. This blast doesn't kill Doc. It just knocks him unconscious. It's enough for Waverly to cry over her friend. That seems to do something to him. After that point, he's right back to being his normal self. He's no longer acting like a vampire - which is probably a key clue for why he is able to chase Waverly through the Garden at the conclusion of the season. It's just jarring and makes it seem like his rampage was mostly just a plot point to delay the inevitable of what was being set up for the end game of Bulshar's plan.

It's much more relevant and compelling to see how the revenants are reacting to the impending apocalypse. They cannot leave Purgatory. Nicole and Nedley are forcing the entire town to evacuate. It may not be enough to save them considering Bulshar wants to enslave all of humanity. There is no place they can go to be safe. It's just safer for them far away from this conflict. It ensures that everyone left behind is completely aware of the stakes of this grand plan. The revenants are now willing to pledge their lives to Bulshar if it means salvation. They don't want to be on the losing side of this conflict. They are willing to offer Wynonna as a sacrifice. And yet, they also realize that Bulshar is the common enemy they should have all been fighting against. He was the demon who created the curse in the first place. He has the power to break it. Sure, it's a last minute twist for Wynonna to realize that Bulshar cannot touch her. If that were to happen, then there would be consequences of some kind. However, the show never really explores what those consequences would be. It's just important to know that there is always a cost to practicing these powers. Julian says it when he saves Nicole's life. And now, it's clear when it comes to the Earp curse. Wynonna is able to rally the revenants. They are working as a team. She opens up the homestead to them. They are able to fight side by side. It's actually empowering. Sure, they are fighting against an army of faceless and unimportant soldiers. But it's still absolutely terrifying. It seems like Wynonna is about to be killed. Julian sacrifices himself to save her. That's a moving moment. It means that Waverly has lost her father right after meeting him. He does so knowing that Bulshar cannot succeed with his plan. And yet, retrieving Wynonna's blood is all it takes to break the curse. It makes Bulshar mortal once more. It also provides a sense of peace to the revenants. They are finally able to move on with their lives. They are no longer trapped in the same cycle. They just happen to disappear the moment that Wynonna needs an army to eliminate her vulnerable foe.

So instead, it really is up to Wynonna and Waverly to save the world. They just happen to be at a disadvantage because Wynonna cannot see the stairs that lead to the Garden. She doesn't have that designation. All she has is the sword left behind by Julian. Even then, Bulshar proves to be a more capable fighter. It's Wynonna fighting against the demon that cursed the world at the very beginning. The snake is showing his true colors once more. He is a viper ready to strike at a moment's notice in any unexpected way. But Waverly also has power. No, she no longer has the ring. She has given that to Nicole not knowing if they will survive this upcoming conflict. She gifts it to her while professing her love. It is essentially a proposal with it being infuriating that they are interrupted before Nicole can say yes. She accepts the ring though. She is carrying it now. But Waverly still has powers as a half angel. She is able to declare that Wynonna is a warrior worthy of fighting for this righteous cause. So, she once again has the designation of being the protector the world needs right now. After that, she is able to see the stairs. Plus, peacemaker has transformed into a flaming sword. That's a cool visual that creates a different action sequence for the show. It's also one that proves just how far these characters are willing to go to save those they love. Wynonna didn't trust anyone else going on this final adventure with them in the case that it ended badly. But in the end, Doc shows up in the nick of time to suck the venom out of Wynonna's neck after she kills Bulshar. He saves her life. It's just tragic because there are forces within the Garden of Eden that want Waverly. They won't let her leave. She is taken through the door. It seems like this is it for her on Earth. She is saying goodbye forever. It's so emotional and brutal to watch. But it's not the end. Doc is somehow able to go in after her. Furthermore, Wynonna is once again armed and ready for a fight. She may not know what adventure is waiting for her next. But she knows that she will do whatever it takes to rescue her sister and protect their family.

"Daddy Lessons" - B
"War Paint" - A

Some more thoughts:
  • "Daddy Lessons" was written by Shelley Scarrow and directed by Paolo Barzman.
  • "War Paint" was written by Emily Andras and directed by Paolo Barzman.
  • Bobo is trying to get everyone in the lab to listen to him. He wants to warn them about what's coming with Bulshar. And yet, the only one willing to listen is Bulshar. As such, he finds himself indebted to the demon he has long been fighting against. That's tragic. It just makes him reach out to Waverly to free him from this pain so that he isn't saved when the curse is broken. He wants to find the peace that comes from after all of this torture is finally over. In the end, he is given that too.
  • It was a cheap cliffhanger to have Mercedes mysteriously taken by someone only to show up as a willing participant in Bulshar's organization. She has actually become his wife. That's a reveal that somewhat feels underserved. And yet, she remains loyal to the Earp family because of all that they've done for her. It's also then amusing when she meets Kate, the woman who has been crashing at the Gardner family home all season long. They do seem to get along though.
  • For awhile, it seems like Jeremy and Robin are just tangential to the rest of the story happening throughout these two hours. Jeremy is mostly just working on an anti-venom that can be used to camouflage the team when they go in for this final conflict with Bulshar. It's very helpful. But time is better served focusing on Jeremy and Robin's relationship. They truly know each other now and have really come to depend on the other for support.
  • After Waverly and Doc go into the Garden, the stairs just vanish. Peacemaker seems gone as well. In fact, Wynonna returns home to find that none of her family are where they are suppose to be. Purgatory appears as nothing but a ghost town. But she at least still has Sheriff Nedley as an ally. That's an amusing final punchline to close the season with. It's still badass watching the two of them cock their guns and head out to figure out what exactly is going on.
  • Syfy has already renewed Wynonna Earp for a fourth season. This finale operates with that certainty as well. The creative team sensed that this wasn't the end for their story even though this is the hour that breaks the curse that has defined the show's premise for three seasons now. Moreover, it would be shocking if the cable network eventually cancels the show without warning the writers of it being a possibility. The passionate fan base has ensured that a final season announcement would come when the series feels like it should be wrapping up. Of course, that doesn't feel like it will happen any time soon either. I'm hoping for many more adventures with this motley crew.