Hello and welcome back to our favorite shitshow!! I can’t tell you how happy I am to be here again, especially since the back half of Supergirl was…tough to recap sometimes. I know Wynonna Earp will never do me dirty like that, so I’m full of hope and joy and I feel like a brand new person. This Season Three premiere was a cool breeze off the water after trudging through 100% humidity for months and miles and I feel refreshed and rejuvenated. I have a feeling I’m going to have a lot to say about this episode, so let’s get to it!
Some things to remember from last season before we dive in: Wynonna Earp and Doc had a baby named Alice Michelle who was shipped off to live with Gus for her own safety. Bulshar, the demon who cursed the Earps, was resurrected by his now-dead-again wives. Mama Earp was thought to be MIA but then we learned Wynonna knew where she was. Waverly may not be an Earp but she’s also not a Revenant and frankly it’s unclear exactly how she came to be Wynonna’s sister, but no blood test or origin reveal will change that fact, that they’re sisters. And one other thing we know for sure is Waverly loves Nicole, and Nicole loves her back.
We open this season with the one and only Wynonna Earp on a fucking MECHANICAL BULL. Beer in hand, magical hair flying, riding that bull like it’s what she was born to do. It’s peak Wynonna Earp. And also peak Wynonna Earp.
And then just to prove she’s still OUR Wynonna, she throws up, gets thrown out, then throws down with some Revenants outside.
Waverly and Nicole watch on from their sniper’s nest, teasing each other when Waverly takes the big gun, all in good fun.
Dolls joins Wynonna in kicking the band of Revenant’s asses and chases after the ones that ran away. Waverly nicks one and this time WayHaught’s playful banter turns into steamy smirks and they’re about to kiss…
When Wynonnus Interruptus yells at them to pay attention.
Just like old times.
Also just like old times, this episode is extremely quotable, so while I’ll try not to swipe from the dialogue too much, I have to give a special shout-out to “Welcome to the Dolls house” because it made me snort-laugh. Meanwhile in an adjacent alley, Jeremy leaps out and smacks a Revenant with a sandwich board sign as an alley-oop for Doc to throw some knives into, and all so Wynonna can Peacemaker the shit out of him. The four of them — Wynonna, Dolls, Doc, and Jeremy — walk out of the alley together, bummed they aren’t getting info about Bulshar from the Revenants but still a force to be reckoned with re: putting them down. It’s a very Scooby Gang moment but then just to remind us that the Earp gang is unique, Wynonna trips over the cast off sandwich board sign. Classic.
All in all this opening scene was pretty much everything I love about Wynonna Earp and the perfect way to return after what felt like an eternity-long hiatus.
But things are just getting started. Because across town, on traffic duty, Nedley encounters a party bus on the road into Purgatory. The bus pulls over and a pink sex fog precedes some sexy party people who get off the bus and put Nedley under their spell and have him calling them Master with the flick of a wrist.
Nedley looks up to the sky, lets the bright sun warm his face, and says that it’s about time they encountered some vampires in Purgatory. And the irony of that is not lost on me. I’m pretty particular about my vampire lore (#BuffyorBust) but this show doesn’t do anything the regular way and this episode was a damn romp so I’ll allow it.
Especially because… the next scene. The next scene!!! It’s morning, and Nicole and Waverly are in bed, sleepily coming to consciousness, teasing each other about Shea and Rosita, proving to everyone once and for all that they’ve talked about all of it and it’s all fine.
They kiss in the morning sunlight, together, happy, alive. Which is more than we can say for a lot of queer-lady couples on TV these days. (PS. Melanie Scrofano directed this scene, in case you wanted a reason to love it more.)
But then, Wynonnus Interruptus, leveling up for the new season, distracts Waverly from A WHOLE SEPARATE BUILDING. It’s impressive, truly. What Waverly notices is that Wynonna is up and training, and because she knows her sister, she knows she didn’t wake up at the crack of dawn, which means she’s been training all night. Nicole sends Waverly to check on her sister, understanding her concern, understanding that the Earp Sisters are VERY IMPORTANT TO ME DOT TUMBLR DOT COM.
And anyway, even if Waverly had stayed, Nicole would have had to leave in a few minutes anyway, because she got a call from Nedley to report for duty.
In the barn, Wynonna and Doc are sparring. Wynonna keeps trying to jab him into their old banter, but Doc isn’t really biting. In fact, the only thing he does say is, well, a little biting. A sadness hangs between them, and the tension is only broken by Waverly storming in wearing tiny pjs and a huge fur coat and demanding to know why they’re not sleeping.
We learn that it’s been 19 weeks since the Season 2 finale, and no sign of Bulshar since, though none of them are foolish enough to believe it’s the last they’ve seen of him. Doc leaves to open Shorty’s, which he owns now, leaving the Earp girls to chat. Wynonna says that Doc has been distant, and training with him is the only time they spend together, which is one of the reasons she does it so often. All she can do is keep on keeping on. Waverly assures her that Doc loves her, that they all love her.
Nicole comes in and interrupts their convo (eliciting a joke about the tables being turned) and says it’s all hands on deck, leading the girls to Pussywillows. Waverly reminisces about how their mom used to be in a rodeo show here, before it was Pussywillows.
Before we can get too much more information on that fun fact, Nedley comes out in a neckerchief, insisting that “they” didn’t do this before walking off in a daze. The girls are confused but press on, going inside to find a metric fuckton of dead bodies.
Officer Haught is on the scene, and says it seems like they all died simultaneously by a serrated blade, but there’s no weapon in sight. Plus, based on drag patterns in the blood, it’s clear some of these bodies were positioned in a specific way.
Nicole tells the Earp girls what she learned from the files Dolls gave her, that there’s something called the Cult of Bulshar that Black Badge had been investigating since the 1920s.
While they process the information, Waverly inspects some of the bodies and finds a strange symbol carved into the torso of one of the bodies… a symbol that is not unlike the way some of the bodies are arranged on the floor. She calls Nicole over to see it but as soon as she sees it, she panics. It’s that visceral, animalistic panic, the kind that your body does before your brain catches up. It’s instinctual, it’s instant, and it’s very interesting.
Wynonna chases a shadowy figure out of Pussywillows and finds he left a bloody handprint on an old poster of Mama Earp’s rodeo show so she shouts that she has to go and high-tails it out of there.
Waverly ushers her girlfriend into the bathroom and while Nicole is in the stall catching her breath, Waverly wonders out loud why everyone is acting so wonky today. Her monologue is interrupted by a glamazon who we know to be the head vampire but Waverly thinks might be a survivor of the massacre. Waverly Earp, being the Brave Little Toaster she is, looks up the two feet to meet this woman’s eyes and speaks to her in a reassuring voice, imploring her not to be scared.
But then the vamp puts a spell on sweet Waverly and suddenly she becomes a heart-eyes emoji and calls the vamp (who Nicole tells us is named Petra) beautiful — then notices she doesn’t have a reflection. It’s one of those subtle moments that Dominique Provost-Chalkley adds this little special something to that makes it really stand out. Super cute.
Now, I’m not entirely sure how Petra glamoured Nicole, but there was a period of time during Waverly’s speech where the camera was facing the mirror so maybe Petra slipped in and through the stall to get her? It’s truly not important, just something I noticed.
Over at Shorty’s, Doc finds Jeremy tweaking Dolls’ dragon drugs while dancing to One Direction and while they’re talking about Doc maybe having male postpartum depression, the pink sex fog comes down the stairs, so they run up to see what’s happening. They find a bunch of bitten patrons and next thing we know, Doc is tied up and dragged off and Jeremy is whammied by a vamp. The camera pans to one lady vamp who seems to be overseeing at least part of this operation…
Wynonna meanwhile heads off to find Mama Earp. But she’s not off sitting by a tree — in fact, I’m starting to wonder if that was just a figment of Mama’s imagination — because she’s in prison. Wynonna tries to ask her about Bulshar but she is… a little out of it. She’s talking about voices and shouting into the ether that her daughters are off limits, hardly acknowledging Wynonna’s presence at all.
Wynonna is pissed and tries to talk to the warden about her mother — she never used to hear voices before, for example — but he brushes her off, saying Gus has power of attorney, and he turns to straight-up insulting her when Dolls comes in and calls Wynonna his partner and gets Mama Earp’s heavily redacted files. We learn that Mama was arrested when the girls were small for reasons unknown and they were made to tell Waverly that Mama left of her own volition. Which feels… like a bad choice, Ward. It’s been a long time since I minored in psychology but I feel like “Mama made a mistake and now is paying the consequences” would have a better effect on a wee child than “Mama didn’t feel like being your Mama anymore so she left without telling you why or ever contacting you again.” But I don’t have kids, what do I know.
After Wynonna leaves Dolls to drive home in her own truck, the vampires swoop in around Dolls and tell him they came to watch “the show” aka Bulshar’s takeover. Which I imagine won’t involve hugs and puppies.
Hey remember how Doc was lassoed away? Well when he comes to, he’s tied to a stripper pole in the party bus. The girl from before with the gold face jewelry is tormenting him, saying that THE Doc Holliday would be a good addition to their vampire horde (vampire brood?) but first she wants to make sure it’s really him. And for some reason she decides the best way to do this is to electrocute the heck out of him.
Doc realizes based on her line of attack that probably he knows her. Now, I imagine years in a well combined with elaborate face chains would make someone a little hard to recognize at first, but he’s starting to catch on. He calls her Contessa (or Countessa?) which is clearly correct because she knocks him out again and calls him an asshole.
I like her.
Wynonna arrives back at the homestead to see the pink sex fog oozing out of the barn and while she hopes it’s a pop-up Rihanna concert, it’s in fact a vamp that she immediately vanquishes. She runs into the house to warn her fam but finds the Gay Glam Squad looking pretty ambivalent to her news, and in fact Jeremy is even bummed. They try to tell Wynonna that she has to come to the vampire party, but when she doesn’t seem stoked, Nicole knocks Wynonna out. Waverly says they can just dress her up and deliver her in the coffin the vampire so kindly left for them.
When they get to the party, Waverly and Nicole walk arm in arm, talking crazy while also saying they love each other. Because no altered state will come between them; no alternate universe, no vampire love curse, nothing.
And since they’re both super smart, while they’re talking, they start to fight through the veil. Waverly says it’ll be weird seeing Nicole be a victim, and Nicole agrees, saying she’s not a victim she’s a survivor. Then she says something interesting: that she’s THE survivor. The glamour flickers as they’re separated when Waverly is taken into the VIP area especially for the Original Families of Purgatory.
Meanwhile, downstairs, Dolls opens the coffin to let Wynonna out, and she looks drop dead gorgeous.
Dolls excitedly shows her a vampire kit from the black badge that gives us an important bit of these vampires’ lore: kill the vampire, kill the glamour(s) they cast. So they have a quick stake-making montage until Wynonna is ready to barrel into the party through a window and tell the main vampire to eat a dick. Eat a dick! She said that! To the head vampire! Fuck, I love this show.
Because her priorities are always in order, the first thing Wynonna yells (after the thing about eating a dick) is to ask her sister who her favorite vampire is. Glamoured Waverly is more than happy to rave about Petra again so Dolls shoots Petra in all her shiny-fanny-packed glory, snapping Waverly and Nicole out of it, and giving Haught the wherewithal to throw Peacemaker back to its rightful owner.
Fighting ensues, and in the mayhem, Nicole gets re-charmed, but Waverly goes all NOT MY GIRLFRIEND YOU BITCH on the vamp and Nicole is quickly back on the right side of things.
Outside, Doc escapes his stripper pole and runs into Contessa, who is distracted by the cut on his hand before telling him it’s safer if he stays put. But as soon as she leaves, he super does not stay put. As they have a final showdown before Contessa runs off into the darkness, we learn that she “came back” for him — and I don’t think she meant just now.
Then Doc rolls into the party just in time to kill the last vampire
Just kidding, it’s not the last vampire. There’s one more, the dude who seemed to be the mouthpiece for the group. Instead of dusting this guy though, they decide to send him back to Bulshar as a big ol’ fuck you.
When he does report back to Bulshar, we see a dude who looks like the Man in Black from Westworld aka looks like a real asshole. The man Wynonna saw in Pussywillows appears to be Bulshar’s right-hand man and he shoves some weird ball of something that looks like a bezoar but maybe has the opposite effect down vampy’s throat.
With the vampires dealt with, Wynonna goes to see Doc at the bar. They have a moment together, where the toast to their success and to Alice. That music plays — you know the one — and it builds up and up and then they kiss and a sexy beat drops and I won’t lie to you, I got chills.
The gang (minus Nicole) comes to the bar for some breakfast takeout and talk about what a crazy day/night they had and how weird it was the Doc, Dolls, and Wynonna were all immune to the sex fog. Dolls tells Wynonna that she has something to tell her baby sister so sends the Earp girls on their way and goes to check on Nicole, who is back at the crime scene at Pussywillows.
Nicole has been thinking about all this, about her reaction to the symbol, everything, and admits to Dolls that she thinks she might be a survivor of the Cult of Bulshar.
Wynonna does as Dolls asked and drives Waverly home. She gets as far as telling Waverly her news is about Mama and giving her a prison badge when they get into a HORRIBLE CAR ACCIDENT that sends them FLYING in SLOW MOTION through the air and flipping the truck entirely. Waverly is dragged out of the wreckage by an unseen being, bleeding terribly, screaming her sister’s name.
How’s THAT for a season premiere? I loved this episode so much, I feel like it was everything I was hoping for and more. It had some nods to Buffy but was very clearly Not Buffy. It had all our friends, and some potential new ones. It had WayHaught moments and Earp sister moments, it answered some questions and gave us more to wonder about, and of course, left us on one hell of a cliffhanger.
I’ll see you back at Autostraddle dot com again later this week to update you on the “bonus content” that will be airing on Friday with the official airing of 301 in its regular timeslot (including new credits!!) and then back next week for 302! Let’s talk theories in the comments in the meantime!