Do you miss Buffy The Vampire Slayer? Can’t get enough Supernatural (even though there are a million episodes of it by now)? Feel neither is Western enough for ya? Well then Wynonna Earp will be right up your beer-soaked alley.
Adapted by SyFy from the comic book series written by Beau Smith, this western / horror yarn has a shaky start but slowly finds its feet as a gunslinging delight.
What Is Wynonna Earp About?
The titular Wynonna Earp is the great-great-granddaughter of the legendary Wyatt Earp. He dispatched 77 criminals either by killing them himself or being responsible for their deaths by other hands.
Set in the town of Purgatory, but more widely in an area around the Canadian Rockies referred to as the ‘Ghost River Triangle’, these 77 criminals have been reincarnated as demons. Or ‘revenants’ in the show’s lingo.
They can only be sent back to hell if shot in the head by Peacemaker. That can only be wielded by the oldest descendant of Wyatt, currently Wynonna. But if the heir gets killed then all the revenants resurrect again when the next heir turns 27.
So far, so standard. The set-up allows for a good ‘monster of the week’ feel. But of course, the show is only going to get sold on the strength of its characters.
The wider cast includes Doc Holliday (Tim Rozon from Schitt's Creek), who has mysteriously survived these past 150 years trapped down a well.
Then there's Xavier Dolls, a special agent with the Black Badge division of the U.S. Marshalls, who is tasked with containing supernatural threats. And the younger Earp sister Waverley who is extremely knowledgeable about Wyatt Earp's history.
The Ghost River Triangle acts as a magical barrier. It keeps the Revenants in, but also allows the show to explore spooky forests, barren salt plains, frozen lakes, and dust-bitten streets. Wynonna Earp may be setting locked, but it varies itself well.
In truth, it takes rather a few episodes for the show to stop shouting its truncated shorthand at you. Episode 1 is an attitude-spitting hot mess. The episode screams ‘pilot’ because it races to get through all the exposition.
It simultaneously introduced Wynonna as a sassy force to be reckoned with so ham-fistedly that I began to worry about what I was in for. Wynonna Earp skipped town years ago and is only back because of her recently deceased Uncle.
Almost everyone in the town has a grudge against her for her past wild behaviour but this is just the script’s way of repeatedly hitting that character bio nail into the wood.
She drinks too much! She’s in your face about sex! She’s bad! But she has a good core! We have a female lead, people! Episode 2 settles down a little but still feels the need to plonk such groan-worthy lines.
Really it isn’t until around Episode 4 that we stop getting sandblasted with character sound bites and actually relax into the show’s tantalising premise.
Whilst most of the revenants that Wynonna has to return to hell are average criminal Joes, some are particularly magical or vicious. One can emerge from any reflection (for clever reasons later revealed) to kill anyone who has not obtained forgiveness from someone they wronged.
‘Jack’ is a master of knives (plenty of surgery yuck there) and general leader Bobo Del Ray (excellently threatening but also thoughtfully performed from Michael Eklund) has telekinesis that makes him virtually unstoppable.
Wynonna Earp Official Trailer
Is Wynonna Earp Worth Watching?
Whilst the bulk of the baddies are somewhat tone-deaf trailer trash, the capacity for the show to fill its monster of the week boots is well done.
Wynonna wisecracks, kicks ass, blasts with Peacemaker, and slowly grows as a character as the show progresses. ‘Make your peace’, she says with increasingly solemnity when besting a foe.
It is never quite clear how strong the revenants are supposed to be, and whether Wynonna’s fighting prowess is down to her suddenly inherited bloodline curse (like Buffy) or simply her own skills.
When freed from the shackles of dialling everything up to 200% to establish character, Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano) goes from over-compensating to questioning her own bloodlust in a well paced arc.
And whilst the revenant battling gives her purpose, reconnecting with her family is the welcome emotional core of the show. The series has some of its better moments when the two sisters get past the bluster to have the occasional real talk.
Wynonna’s vulnerability is delivered with weight without being too melodramatic. Scrofano’s strong performance is a very consistent delight once the show finds its groove. Her dialogue goes from wince-worthy to genuinely funny, which has everything do with Scrofano imbuing the character with much-needed self-doubt.
Despite a multitude of plot holes and threats raised as extremely important only to be dropped again, Wynonna Earp’s genre mashup has plenty of fun and intrigue.
Doc Holliday’s booze-swilling, revenge-seeking, southern drawl is a delight in every scene even if his ‘double agent’ to and fro gets a bit tiresome. And while Black Badge agent Dolls (Shamier Anderson) is bland to the point of invisibility in the first half he livens up considerably as his connection with Wynonna strengthens.
I left Season 1 of Wynonna Earp sold and itching to watch Season 2 with a very strong suspicion that it will build well on these foundations. Make your peace, as this is a show that will shoot you down.
Words by Michael Record
How Many Seasons Of Wynonna Earp?
Wynonna Earp has a total of four seasons with 49 episodes. The show originally premiered in April 2016 and concluded in April 2021.
Season 1: Discovery and Destiny
The first season introduces viewers to the town of Purgatory and the Earp curse. The main theme revolves around Wynonna's reluctant acceptance of her destiny as the heir who must return revenants to Hell using Peacemaker.
The season is largely about setting up the world and its rules, along with the introduction of the main characters.
Season 2: Evolution and Identity
In the second season, the theme shifts toward evolution and identity. Each character undergoes significant growth or change. Wynonna must deal with new threats and responsibilities, including her unexpected pregnancy.
Waverly grapples with her own identity, questioning her lineage and her relationship with Nicole. The season delves deeper into the complexities of being an Earp and what that legacy entails.
Season 3: Mythology and Family Legacy
The third season of Wynonna Earp broadens the scope of the show by exploring the mythology surrounding the Earp family and the curse.
It introduces the concept of “Bulshar,” the demon who cursed the Earp family and looks into the history and folklore behind the curse.
The season delves deeper into the idea of family legacy, not only for the Earps but also for other characters like Doc Holliday.
Season 4: Closure and New Beginnings
The final season serves as a culmination of the themes and story arcs introduced in previous seasons. Characters are brought full circle, and major plot points are resolved.
The season deals with themes of sacrifice, closure, and new beginnings as it provides a satisfying end to the series while leaving room for potential future explorations.
Who Created Wynonna Earp?
The television series Wynonna Earp was created by Emily Andras. It is based on the comic book series of the same name by Beau Smith.
The show premiered on the Syfy channel in the United States and is now available on Netflix.
Emily Andras served as the showrunner and was heavily involved in the writing and production of the series. Her vision for the show, coupled with its source material, led to a unique blend of Western, supernatural, and modern themes.
Andras is known for her strong focus on character development, inclusivity, and nuanced portrayals of relationships, which are all elements that have been highly praised in Wynonna Earp.
Wynonna Earp Cast
Melanie Scrofano as Wynonna Earp, a great-great-granddaughter of Wyatt Earp, who wields the power of Wyatt's “Peacemaker” handgun.
Shamier Anderson as Deputy Marshal Xavier Dolls, a special agent with the Black Badge division of the United States Marshals Service.
Tim Rozon as Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp's famed partner, cursed with eternal health by the Stone Witch who cured his tuberculosis.
Dominique Provost-Chalkley as Waverly Earp, Wynonna's younger half-sister, who was fathered by an angel named Julian and inherited supernatural powers from him.
Katherine Barrell as Officer Nicole Haught, deputy sheriff of Ghost River County who becomes Waverly's girlfriend and collaborates with Black Badge.
Natalie Krill as Willa Earp, Wynonna and Waverly's older sister, also able to wield the power of Wyatt's “Peacemaker”.
Tamara Duarte as Rosita Bustillos, a revenant and Doc's girlfriend with advanced degrees in biochemistry and engineering whom he recruits to assist the team.
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