Previously on Wynonna Earp, knowing he was on death’s door, partner and friend Xavier Dolls used his last burst of fiery dragon energy to destroy Bulshar’s right hand man so that his family might live.
We open this week on one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard with some beautiful extreme close-ups of a tear falling from Wynonna’s eye onto Dolls’ dogtags, which she wears around her neck, and on her mouth as she takes a sip of whiskey to try to dry her tears. When we pan out, Wynonna is drunk in the forest, going full I Know What You Did Last Summer and screaming into the ether for Bulshar to come and get her.
Not too far away, Nicole and Waverly sit by a fire, keeping an ear on the heir but letting her grieve. Waverly is worried, but Nicole reassures her, and Waverly reasons that probably Bulshar doesn’t respond to taunting.
Someone does though, because soon they hear a rustle and run to help their drunken leader.
The someone wasn’t Bulshar, but a Revenant, who came just to see her in mourning, because as we’ve learned, too many stints in hell can burn up whatever is left of a person’s soul. She takes a swing at him but falls, and doesn’t have the energy to shoot him. Or maybe doesn’t have the will to live. Not that she wants to die, or kill herself, she’s just… so tired. And when you’re so emotionally exhausted that your soul feels heavy, doing absolutely nothing, even in the face of danger, is alarmingly tempting.
But luckily, despite her best efforts, Wynonna Earp isn’t an island off the coast of Greece, and her sister and her sister’s girlfriend swoop in and scare the Revenant off. Waverly says no one is allowed to be alone until they’re more in their right minds and have put Dolls to rest.
Also the opening credits are an acoustic cover of Tell That Devil and it HURT MY FEELINGS.
Eh hem. Anyway.
In Shorty’s, Doc finds his lovely vampire friend waiting for him. She heard about Dolls and she’s sorry about it. But also she wants to warn Doc about chasing Wynonna; he’ll be fighting for her the rest of his life, and how can he fight someone who isn’t even there? He calls her Countessa again and asks what she wants and she smirks and says she wants to meet his friends and y’all I like her more/faster than I even liked Doc when he first strolled into town.
But he tells her to shoo so she does, for now.
Waverly and Nicole are at the Homestead talking to a funeral director about caskets and his heteronormative/misogynist ass tries to tell them to start thinking about these things and discussing them with their husbands. Clearly no stranger to this, Nicole hardly misses a beat before taking Waverly’s hand and calling her baby, all while giving this guy a death stare for the ages.
Nicole says she wants a “sky burial” which involves vultures eating your remains and is somehow both the most hippie and most metal thing I’ve ever heard. Waverly says when (if?) she dies, she wants to be buried with Willa and Ward on the Earp family plot. Which is interesting. The way she says it, “Willa and Dad,” it’s like she’s speaking from a place that came before. She wants to be buried with the memory of her sister and father, not with the Willa who tried to kill her and her girlfriend, not the Ward Earp who is revealing himself little by little; the memory of a six-year-old’s daddy and big sister.
Speaking of Ward Earp was The Worst reveals, the asshat only bought plots for Mama and Wynonna. And while I suppose it’s possible he bought the plots sometime between when Wynonna was born and Waverly found them, broseph’s life was in danger literally all the time, so I think it’s more likely he just didn’t consider Waverly truly part of the family. To which I say guhfuckyaself.
Wynonna storms in and Waverly grabs her to try to get her to help them make these decisions, but Wynonna says death is forever so why is there a time limit on these decisions?
And it’s true, that everything seems both urgent and useless after someone dies. We have to hurry up and make the arrangements, make a photo board, plan what my parents horrifyingly called a “mercy meal” — and I know it’s part tradition, part keeping busy so you don’t go insane, but sometimes in the midst of all the hustle it can hit you that it all seems kind of… pointless. But when it comes down to it, it’s these little steps, ANY little steps, that help push you in the direction of mourning, and eventually of healing. Otherwise you could be treading in the Swamp of Sadness until it consumes you.
Wynonna goes outside for some target practice, one of the first activities she did with Dolls, maybe not accidentally. Doc goes out to meet her and she confesses that of all the loss she’s suffered in her life, this one is a real kick to the box — another reference to her early days with Dolls. (It’s how she described him in the pilot.)
Wynonna doesn’t understand exactly what happened, how he died at all, since he seemed okay at first and then he just collapsed; it wasn’t like he burned up from his fireball. Doc isn’t sure either but all Doc knows is that if he hadn’t done what he did, they all would be dead. Xavier Pamela Dolls, without a doubt, saved them all.
Doc tells Wynonna gunslingers who died “with their boots on” were buried with special care, including putting whiskey on their grave, which Doc would then steal because “good liquor should never be wasted on the dead.” Wynonna tells Doc that Dolls was from Arizona, but she figures they were his chosen family, so they’ll bury him here in Purgatory.
Cut to a Bluntline bus (another little throwback) and a man with a star tattoo on his hand steps out.
Back inside, the team decides to have a wake. Waverly starts to list off types of sandwiches and panic-rambling and nervous giggling and it’s just so relatable. Also relatable is when she lashes out at Doc and accuses him of not caring enough, and he responds by throwing a glass across the room, smashing it.
Doc gets up and heads out to Shorty’s to get ready for the wake, pausing at the door as if he’s going to apologize to Waverly, but is unable to, so she just watches him go, also looking like she didn’t mean what she said.
After he’s gone, Wynonna asks what they do now — specifically, she asks Haught. Which surprises Nicole as much as anyone, to be addressed so respectfully, to be given any kind of authority, instead of the constant competition the two seem to be in. Nicole says she has a key to the motel room Dolls was living out of, so she and Waverly are going to go check it out. Wynonna makes an off-hand remark about not even knowing where Dolls was right now, and before Nicole can even finish explaining about the mandatory autopsy, Wynonna is out the door to stop it.
When Doc gets to Shorty’s, he finds it raided of banana liqueur and the drugs Rosita had been trying to make. He goes back upstairs to find Nick from Rookie Blue there, though he does not appear to be the thief. They end up in a standoff and Doc says the bar is closed for a wake but the mystery stranger seems to also be here to mourn Dolls.
Meanwhile, Waverly and Nicole go to Dolls’ motel room and Nicole tells Waverly that they bonded over their traumatic pasts and when Waverly looks up at her inquisitively, she tells the story of her ever-traveling parents leaving her with her aunt and uncle who went to a “festival” in the Ghost River Triangle and the man of shapes from the cliff came and killed everyone. Her parents told her everyone died in a forest fire, but she had nightmares — nightmares Waverly has heard — that didn’t gel with this explanation.
When Misandrist Mercedes and her long white hair had said the name Bulshar, the fog in her memory began to clear and Dolls was helping her figure things out by getting her files. She now remembers that she somehow got herself to the river and somebody (a tiny angel perhaps??) saved her. But she couldn’t save Dolls. Waverly comforts her and promises her that she’s safe and that NONE of this is her fault.
Waverly promises they can find out more if Nicole wants (and probably Waverly won’t hide the results from her :side-eye:) and as soon as they dry Nicole’s tears and get back to work, they find an envelope that says “To Wynonna. For when I’m gone.” And I’m a sucker for a note left behind so I was already a mess by this point.
Speaking of Wynonna, she bursts into Black Badge to stop the autopsy but Jeremy isn’t doing one; he knows why Dolls died. Dolls knew, too. Wynonna is FURIOUS that no one ever told her, so she tells Jeremy he’s dead to her and sends him packing. He looks terribly sad about it, but he doesn’t fight her.
The next stop of Wynonna’s rage tour is Shorty’s, where she finds Doc laughing it up with a man who is tied to the bar with twinkly lights. He introduces himself as Quinn and he says he worked at Black Badge with Dolls. He says that everyone BBD experimented on died, and that Dolls lasted longer than everyone else; Quinn is wearing the dog tags of all his fallen friends around his neck. He’s there to mourn Dolls because he saw Jeremy’s coded ad message.
And frankly I don’t like this guy despite his conventionally good looks, because he low-key blames Wynonna for Dolls sticking around Purgatory instead of trying to find a cure, which isn’t fair.
Back in the motel room, Waverly wonders aloud why there’s only a letter for Wynonna, but then interrupts herself to say she knows why. It’s heartbreaking really; she always feels left out. Her parents forgot her birthday, her sister left her alone in Purgatory for years, she’s not in line to be the Earp heir like the rest of her family, her father didn’t get her a burial plot… now this? All she’s ever wanted was the positive attention her family wasn’t giving her — how else do you end up the most liked person in town when your family has such a bad reputation? — so this is just another blow. But in truth, she does know why Wynonna was the only one Dolls left something for.
Waverly is also still processing Nicole’s story, but Nicole doesn’t want her pity. Waverly isn’t feeling pity though, so much as panic. It’s clear to her now that Nicole ending up back in Purgatory wasn’t an accident, but what does that mean? Does it mean we’re all on some pre-written path and don’t have any say in the outcome? Nicole calms her down with a kiss and assures her they’ll be fine as long as they have each other.
While they’re in the middle of promising each other they won’t die anytime soon, they see someone walk by the window… but they’re three floors up. So they run out and the mystery figure steals Waverly’s purse and says, “Call me Katalin” before disappearing. The name sends Waverly’s research senses tingling but surely it can’t be…
But they can’t be late for the wake, so they run back to Shorty’s. Technically it doesn’t seem like they completed their one task of finding Dolls an outfit to wear to be buried in but spoiler alert, that ends up being moot.
Wynonna goes to the morgue to see Dolls, and Nedley is there keeping watch. He reflects on their rocky start and how he grew to really respect Dolls and honestly just him being there, alone, broke my whole entire heart.
During the wake, everyone toasts to Dolls and pass around the many, many sandwiches and share stories and laugh and hold each other and truly celebrate Dolls’ life and what he meant to all of them.
Doc compliments Waverly’s sandwiches and honestly that would have been enough of an apology for Waverly, I think, but he’s grown a lot as a man so he also explicitly apologizes for his anger outburst.
He tells her that one reason he’s been so stoic is because he’s been thinking about his last conversation with Dolls and in retrospect he feels bad for telling a dying man he was going to hell. Waverly comforts Doc, and then tells him about her stolen bag and Katalin. He knows where she is and she is not surprised so they agree to go on a secret mission and they sneak out the basement.
Quinn is drunk and even more of a jerk, blaming Wynonna more for Dolls’ death as if she doesn’t blame herself enough already. Quinn rambles about BBD putting a lot of money into Dolls and that all his other friends’ graves are unmarked, and suddenly Wynonna knows exactly what decision she needs to make.
The wake is then interrupted by some Revenants who are drunk off banana liqueur and going full apeshit (dragonshit?) after taking some of the failed samples of the BBD drugs. Fighting ensues, and Wynonna has a little fight back in her. She even has energy to make quips and cute winks.
On the way to the Gardner house, Doc tells Waverly what she already knows, that this Katalin character is Doc’s wife from… well, from before. Inside, the vampiress is not surprised to see them and is calmly flipping tarot cards. Waverly is SO sassy and Katalin just smirks up at her.
Sizing Waverly up, Katalin flips a card. Temperance, the angel card. (ANGEL THEORY: ACTIVATE) What’s interesting too, is that since this is the Mary-El Tarot deck the Temperance card is depicted with a lion commanding the waves. Temperance is all about balance; light and dark, life and death. So a beast of the land amongst the water works, too. Katalin says the card is upside down and says it means Waverly lacks long-term vision. It also means, according to the internet, that an imbalance in your life might be leading you off-track.
Waverly, full to the brim with the fury of the small, tries to flip the table, but fails miserably. In her frustration, she swipes all the tarot cards off the table, and maybe it’s my imagination, but it sounded to me like the music did a little extra tinkling at that moment. Waverly demands the envelope back and tells Katalin and Doc that even if they have no say in what happens next, even if they’ll all die eventually, the best they can do is learn how to live and work together.
Doc follows Waverly out and Katalin murmurs about Waverly being “something” and stares at the Temperance card like it’s showing her something new.
Back at Shorty’s, Wynonna reaches across the bar for a beer Nicole just poured but Haught stops her. She gives Wynonna some tough love and says the heir needs to get her head out of her ass; she’s not the only one grieving right now. She reaches across the bar and holds her hand, just like she did Waverly’s during Shorty’s funeral, and says she gets it. Anger is easier than sadness. Hot-button rage is easier than heart-wrenching pain. Wynonna looks up at her with a helplessness she doesn’t show very often and confesses what she said to Jeremy; she knows it wasn’t fair, she knows Jeremy is mourning his mentor. So Haught sends her off to fix it.
In the hallway leading up to the Black Badge office, Wynonna is practicing her apology but instead of seeing Jeremy stapling up boxes, she finds Quinn stapling up Jeremy. Quinn is unstable, his eyes rimmed red and full of tears, a gun to Jeremy’s head, and Wynonna talks him down. She rattles off the names of those she’s lost and everyone has a trail of ghosts, and an Arya Stark list of enemies.
Quinn looks at her desperately and asks what he’s supposed to do, and it’s a question she’s asked herself plenty of times, but now Wynonna knows the answer. It’s all they CAN do now. “Live.”
Quinn puts down the gun and cuts Jeremy free. Wynonna sends him off to destroy their blood contracts, and gives him Dolls’ dog tags so he can be with his friends.
Wynonna goes back to the morgue and this time Jeremy is standing watch. Wynonna knows Quinn was right about Black Badge coming back for Dolls’ body, so she knows she has to do what she can to prevent his body from becoming currency.
We cut to Wynonna carrying the tiny box of Dolls’ ashes to the hole they’ve dug on the Homestead property. Her friends, her family, stands around and the saddest song ever plays as they each put a special something in Dolls’ grave and everyone cries, including me.
Doc even puts a bottle of bourbon in the ground, where he can’t steal it back. And Wynonna leaves her key necklace hanging on the gravestone that reads, “He died with his boots on.”
It’s really fucking sad, y’all.
After, the Earp sisters sit by the campfire, yet another throwback to the second episode of the series, and yet not the last. They talk about death and dying, and Waverly tells her that she doesn’t have a spot in the Earp plot but Wynonna shrugs it off; she never had any intention of being buried with Ward and Willa. She says in eighty years her and Waverly will be buried right next to each other right here on the Homestead. (And jokes that Waverly can’t ask if Nicole can come.) Wynonna says Waverly is her favorite person and there’s no way she could bear being away from her again, not even in death.
Waverly gives Wynonna the envelope Dolls left for her, and Wynonna opens it..
Inside is a picture of all of them at a restaurant. Wynonna knows exactly what this message from Dolls means. “Keep going. Keep fighting.”
And seeing this group all together, and Waverly’s beaming face as she’s next to her girl, Wynonna adds that FINE Nicole can be buried with them. But worry not, Nicole wants to be eaten by vultures. The envelope had one more photo in it; it’s a well-worn picture of just Wynonna, which is our final throwback to the second episode of the series, when Wynonna gave Dolls shit for only having a picture of a crater caused by a Tomahawk Missile in his wallet.
Doc’s post-funeral destination is the Gardner house, where Katalin is playing a dangerous game of fireside tarot reading.
They talk about Wyatt and strip down and she cryptically says she’ll do “whatever it takes” and he calls her Kate and frankly her nose isn’t very big at all but hell am I curious about her whole deal.
Overall I think this episode perfectly encapsulates the range of human emotions in times of mourning. The sadness that pierces you and cuts you in a way you know will leave a scar. The guilt about the last conversation you had, or the conversations you didn’t have. The other emotions the tidal wave of grief washes up with it. The necessity of remembering the happy memories, the totality of the time you spent with them; not letting the person you lost become only the moment you lost them. And most importantly the reminder that despite the world-shattering feelings ricocheting around inside, the show, as they say, must go on. Just because Wynonna would rather lie on the forest floor, she can’t, because there are still demons to fight. There are still curses to break. Sisters to love. So even though it’s harder than ever, and the knowledge that the pain will never fully go away can be overwhelming, you cannot give up.
Keep going. Keep fighting.