Previously on Wynonna Earp, Bulshar rose, Mama Earp showed up (in a prison, here all along), vampires came and went, and the Earp sisters were in a car accident that left Waverly being dragged off by a stranger and Wynonna’s fate unknown.
We learn Wynonna’s fate right away, as she wakes up with her sister’s name on her lips, shivering from the cold, moaning in pain…oh and also she’s hanging from a cliff.
She closes her eyes, giving in to the cold and the pain, when she hears her mother’s voice. She sees a vision of Mama Earp standing at the top of the cliff, yelling at her to snap out of it, to stay sexy and not die on the side of a cliff. Not-the-Mama reminds her that Wynonna knows the rules of survival, she taught them to her herself, so Wynonna goes over them. One, don’t pick up the phone, you know they’re only calling ’cause they’re drunk and alone. Oh wait no sorry those are the New Rules. One, don’t panic. Two, assess the situation calmly. Wynonna looks up and think she can climb 20 feet, but as soon as she puts pressure on her arm, she realizes it’s dislocated. Not-the-Mama reminds her that Waverly is counting on her, and Wynonna goes full Faith-mode and relocates her own shoulder.
Speaking of Waverly, she’s hanging out in a cabin in the woods.
A really yucky Revenant who has definitely spent too much time alone hops into the cabin and tells Waverly that the trees are moving around and the animals are scared so they’re fleeing. He’s had to trap humans for food instead, and he’s acquired a taste for it. Also he has stolen his last victim’s voice and uses it with a terrifying glee.
Down on the cliffside, Wynonna can’t quite reach her gun. Not-the-Mama tells her to leave it, but Wynonna points out that it’s kind of her ~whole thing. (From the point forward I’m going to call Not-the-Mama just Mama because typing all those hyphens is exhausting but know that at no point in this episode is Mama Earp actually here, it’s all just Wynonna projecting.) As Wynonna is trying to work up the courage to leave Peacemaker behind, Mama reminds her of a time she tried to get out of gym class. Wynonna remembers coming home to find her mother staring at the oven with a shotgun in her hand, but Mama remembers telling her she’s a Gibson and that means she’s strong.
Mama says that fear will be what kills her, so Wynonna starts to climb.
Back in Cannibal Cabin, Waverly gets a text from a worried Nicole, and gets stressed that people will come looking for his newest capture, so despite Waverly’s attempts to charm and distracts, he steals Waverly’s voice, Ursula-style, and Vanessa’s Nicole by using Waverly’s voice to convince her everything’s okay.
Wynonna makes it to the top and sees the truck turned over and uses the boost of adrenaline to run to see if her sister is still inside. She sees Waverly’s bloody shawl and the drag-marks and knows she has to go after her baby girl. Mama tells her to stay calm and chill out but Wynonna snaps that unlike her mother, she doesn’t’ leave Waverly behind, ever. (Which is definitely her being defensive because that’s one of the things she carries guilt over, right? One of the reasons she’s so desperate to not do leave her? Because she did. She moved to Greece and left Waverly behind to feel slightly crazy for researching this curse no one would talk to her about.)
But Wynonna does take the chill out part of her mother’s advice and moves on to Rule 3, which is to take inventory. She puts on a coat and picks up a tire iron and takes a swig of whiskey and gets ready to head out. Mama guides her but really it’s her own instincts, and we’re reminded of that when Mama and Wynonna tuck their hair behind their ear at the same time. Wynonna sees so much of herself in her mother, so much of her mother in herself.
At the office formerly known as the Black Badge Division, Jeremy has determined that the Bulshar cult victims didn’t actually die simultaneously, but seconds from each other. So they think they’re maybe looking for The Flash. Nicole, her newly found and presumably fuzzy memories on her mind, asks if they felt any pain.
But the truth is, Jeremy can’t know for sure. He imagines it all happened very fast. Nicole and Dolls police it out for a bit and make a plan to give the Earp sisters some time before diving back in with them. Nicole leaves and Jeremy asks Dolls to confide in him, because he can tell something is wrong. Dolls snaps at him, saying he’s fine and that he’s going to get Doc, but pauses before he leaves to make a Harry Potter reference to put Jeremy at ease.
While wandering through the woods, following Waverly’s trail, Wynonna asks Mama why it was her she took camping, not Willa or Waverly. Now of course, this is only what Wynonna’s in-shock brain can surmise, but she says Willa was Ward’s, Waverly was everyone else’s, but Wynonna was Michelle’s. Wynonna regrets spending that whole trip on her GameBoy, now that she knows it was the last real time she would spend with her mother.
Mama asks where Wynonna’s team is, and we see Wynonna’s fear rearing its head again as Mama tells her that it’s dangerous to rely on others. Wynonna lashes out at her mother, asking her why she left, saying she needed her mother, and Mama lashes back saying, “Alice doesn’t?”
Wynonna accuses her of abandoning her, and just like that she’s gone. It reminds me of the recurring nightmare I had as a kid, where I was on a roller coaster with my mother, but for some reason, in this nightmare, someone had to be driving the roller coaster like it was a car. And inevitably, at the scariest point in the ride, when the strobe lights were flashing and the skeletons were popping up and the car was going the fastest, I would look in the driver’s seat and my mother had just…vanished.
At Shorty’s, Dolls finds Doc and they fight about Alice, about hell, about the point of doing good if the end is the same anyway. But Dolls says they’re not the same, him and Doc. Dolls will do the right thing, regardless of what’s waiting for him after death.
Nicole comes across a hunter near the woods who tells her about the pickup truck crash he saw and Nicole blanches as she realizes whose truck it must be.
They split up, and the hunter follows a voice to the cabin, but Waverly’s voice is too gone to warn him not to step into the cabin and he gets Ghost Ship’d (DEEP CUT it means he got…well, cut deeply…in the throat) and she gets put in a cage while the Revenant…eats him? :shudder:
Doc goes to BBD to find Jeremy and they fight a bit about Dolls’ drugs but before they come to a conclusion, Nicole texts them to ask for help, so Doc runs off with an earpiece Jeremy gave him.
Wynonna finds her sister in the cabin and there’s a much-needed moment of levity while the girls perform a half-mime show, Waverly silently trying to guide Wynonna through the booby traps in the cabin.
Outside, Haught and Doc work together and find Waverly’s shawl, and Nicole worries that Waverly is out there somewhere, cold, tears in her eyes, afraid to worry about anything worse.
Doc says one of “our girls” – OUR GIRLS – got dragged and one walked so he follows the path Wynonna took.
Wynonna can’t get Waverly out of her cage, so Waverly decides that now is the time to silently demand why Wynonna kept the Mama information from her. Wynonna tries to explain but Waverly is so hurt and sad.
But, as soon as Wynonna says she’s going out to fight the Revenant, Waverly reaches for her. Because she’s hurt but she still loves her sister.
Wynonna leaves and says she’ll be back in an mmmbop.
Dolls goes to Jeremy for his dragon drugs, and Jeremy warns him about the side effects but Dolls says it’s his body, his choice, and takes them with him anyway. .
Wynonna goes out to fight the Revenant, and finds that invoking Bulshar’s name spooks him. She runs into the forest and catches him in his own trap, but then gets strung up by her ankles. Luckily Haught and Doc were approaching at that moment, and are relieved to find her alive. Also relieved is Waverly, who finally has her voice back.
Dolls finds them and is happy they’re okay. Nicole wraps Waverly up but good.
But Waverly has to talk to her sister, so once again Nicole lets her go. Waverly asks how long she’s known and Wynonna says always. Waverly heart breaks all over again.
Waverly has heard enough, so she asks Dolls to help her walk to his truck (her leg is busted) and he does.
Nicole assures Wynonna they can get through whatever it is that Waverly is upset about, which is a huge act of kindness coming from her, because Nicole and Wynonna don’t always see eye to eye. Speaking of acts of kindness, Nicole is also going to repel down the cliff to get Peacemaker, because redheads do it better (her words.)
Waverly is sobbing into Dolls’ chest when he starts to sound like he’s in pain and his eyes flash. He tells Waverly Wynonna will need her more than ever soon, and Waverly looks at him with fear in her eyes, wondering what on earth he could mean by that.
Just then, Bulshar’s army man shows up and cuts Nicole’s rope. Wynonna catches it just in time, but it’s her arm strength vs gravity and she’s slipping fast. Doc tries to fight the guy but he turns into a lot of bats?? Or just like…geometric patterns that move like a lot of bats? It’s unclear. But Mr. Parallelogram tells Dolls (who was shooting at him) no mortal weapons can kill him. He points out that with Wynonna and (now, after hobbling over) Waverly holding Nicole up by the rope, he could easily flap flap over there and take all three out at once. Dolls assesses the situation and knows what he has to do. He grabs the man, and dragon breaths him, forming a big ball of fiery death and obliterates Bulshar’s buddy.
Bulshar slow claps from the sidelines and Wynonna goes after him but Doc yells her name before she can shoot him, and in a blink he’s gone.
Wynonna runs back to her friends who are standing around Dolls, who apparently collapsed. Nicole can’t get a pulse, so Wynonna says he needs his drugs, but Waverly knows that won’t help him now.
Dolls is gone.
Wynonna sits with Dolls’ body. Waverly tries to get her to get somewhere warm but Wynonna snaps at her; he hates the woods. She doesn’t want to leave him there alone.
It reminded me of when I was leaving my grandfather’s funeral, just this past March. We had the service in the funeral home, so it was two long days of the wake and the service, and at the end of the day of the service, when we were leaving the funeral home for the last time, I found myself lingering back, even after I said what was supposed to be my final goodbyes. Little by little, my family filed out, but I found myself stalling, looking at Papa, unable to will my feet to move. My older cousin came up to me then and said what I had been feeling without knowing how to say it: “It feels like he should be coming with us.” And that was exactly it. I didn’t want to leave him. I didn’t want to leave him there alone.
So even though it’s not the same, I understood Wynonna in this moment. The somewhat irrational feeling that walking away would be abandoning him, even though you know he’s already gone. The strange disconnect that comes from looking at a person’s body, a body that you once hugged and held, and yet knowing the person you hugged and held is not there. It can be a jarring experience even if you didn’t experience the physical and emotional trauma of having to scale a rockface, save your sister, and save your sister’s girlfriend that very same day.
Wynonna tries to say the facts out loud, they wouldn’t have been able to fight Bulshar’s bud, and Dolls saved them. So how is it fair that he’s gone? Wynonna’s vision of Mama comes back, and speaks at the same time as Waverly, saying he’s at peace now. And I think that’s important. When Not-the-Mama was being meanest to her, she parroted Wynonna herself, but when she was being kind, she parroted Waverly. The meanest parts of Wynonna’s brain sound like her mama, the nicest sound like her baby girl.
Tears run down Wynonna’s face as she tries to find some solace in Dolls’ passing. No more pain, no more drugs, no more demons. And she knows it’s time to let him go.
Dolls dying is upsetting for a lot of reasons. Narratively, it will break everyone’s heart. Our friends have lost a buddy, a mentor, a partner. It will be interesting though difficult to watch everyone move through that in the coming weeks.
Outside the narrative, it sucks to lose positive POC representation on the show, especially such a prominent, respected figure. Similar to how, too often, women are “fridged” to progress a man’s story, black people are often sacrificed to save white people. And similar to how “bury your gays” is a trope because losing queer characters to advance straight characters’ plots often instantly and noticeably reduces the representation by half, the same often happens when people of color are killed off shows. And in this political landscape, with the news being one horror story after another, it’s especially hard to watch a black person die on TV, so it was a hard blow to watch Dolls die, even though he wasn’t murdered. Especially for people who don’t go online for bonus content for the shows they want to learn that Shamier worked with the creative team to decide on this departure for his character.
But if you’re reading this recap, you are not a casual viewer of TV, so if you’re looking for light in the darkness, I hope you find it knowing that the show has been met with criticism about its characters of color, and/or lack thereof, and the creative team involved has never backed down from answering questions about this openly and honestly. I hope you find hope in reading the interviews with Shamier and Emily, and watch panels Emily has been on where she talks about diversity and her plans and hopes for increasing it in the show. Because just like the pain Lexa’s death was compounded by the way the creators talked about it before, during, and after, I think you could find comfort (if you want it) in the way the Wynonna Earp folks are talking about Dolls. One of my favorite things Shamier said in his interview was that Dolls, knowing he was dying, had agency over his own body. He chose the way he went out, just like Shamier helped choose how his character left the show.
I believe that having some context will help you understand intent. Because I think intent is important, and I think understanding why someone made a decision can help you figure out if you want to trust them in the future. And of course we have to continue having these conversations and holding the show we love accountable if, say, at the end of the season, things aren’t looking any better than they do now. But I do think that all of these discussions have earned them good faith. The representation we in the queer community have found in Waverly and Nicole has been some of the best we’ve ever had, and the care with which those characters are handled is comforting and truly a relief after all we’ve been through. But we have to hold the show to the same standards when it comes to POC representation as we do LGBTQ+ representation, or else we don’t truly stand for equality. To quote Malala Yousafzai, “We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.”
And again, if you still feel this is a dealbreaker for you, that is valid and your decision to make. I’m not trying to discount any anger or pain anyone is feeling, and I’m not trying to make excuses or change your mind, I’m just arming you with all the information I have while you’re here. So hopefully that’s how this reads.
If you’ve read my Supergirl recaps of this past season, you’ll know I have no issue calling out an ethos problem when I see one, and I can only speak for myself when I say that I don’t think it’s going to be a pattern we see on the show. One thing Heather has taught me is that there’s room in a relationship with a show (just like in a relationship with a person) to be like, “Hey, I love you, but this thing you did hurt me/my friends/a community of people and here’s why.” And so I do think it’s important to acknowledge that Dolls’ death hurt a lot of people, especially people of color who saw themselves represented in him.
Because of all the discussions mentioned before, I’m apt to trust that this is not a symptom of a larger issue, and that we won’t see something like this happen again. It’s like Wynonna keeping the Mama secret from Waverly. She had her reasons and Wynonna surely didn’t intentionally hurt Waverly, but Waverly was still hurt. Waverly still loves her sister, that’s not going to change, not because of one choice. But they have to talk this out, and both sides have to understand where the other is coming from. Specifically, the person who did the hurting has to listen to the one who was hurt. And while what’s done is done, Wynonna has to realize, seeing how this ended up hurting her sister more than she ever planned, that she can’t do something like this again without risking losing Waverly’s trust forever.
I’m sure this will not be the last conversation we have about Dolls, since he sacrificed himself to save Nicole, Wynonna, and Waverly, and he was an integral part of the team, so his loss will surely be felt throughout the rest of the season. If you’re going with me on this journey, I’ll see you next week. In the meantime, I’ll be here in the comments if you want to talk, vent, share, or just be together.