“Wynonna Earp” Episode 401 Recap: Angel In Chains

:kicks down the door with a flourish: WE’RE BACK, BAYBEEEEEE!!!!

Hello! Hi! Hey there! And welcome back to Wynonna Earp recaps! It has been a MINUTE. And what better time for this chaos crew to return to us than in the middle of…well, 2020. The first half of this year has been an eternal night and Wynonna Earp just rode into town with a truckload of sun lamps to help us make it through the back half. I don’t even know if I remember how to write a Wynonna Earp recap, as evidenced by that ridiculous metaphor I just made, but I’m so excited to try.

Hopefully you spent the extra-long hiatus doing a full rewatch but in case you didn’t, here are some important things to remember that happened at the end of Season Three: Waverly kind of proposed to Nicole, Wynonna drugged Jeremy, Robin, and Nicole to keep them away from the Bulshar fight, Wynonna killed Bulshar, the door at the top of the sometimes invisible stairs opened up and vines stole Waverly, and Doc went in after her. When Wynonna got back to the homestead, her friends were gone and VALDEZ was scratched into the wall. All she had left was Randy Nedley.

The first shot of Season Four is of a barren snowy expanse with just a few stone structures looming. Surely that’s fine.

We quickly pivot to Wynonna in Shorty’s, going through some makeshift weapons and arming up. When she’s done, she flips her hair; Wynonna Earp is BACK.

Wynonna is back!

I guess the only turtleneck she had to cover up the Bulshar/Doc bites was from…a Barbarella cosplay? So shiny.

And then Nedley speaks for all of us when he says, “I feel like I’ve been standing here for two years.” And that’s just the first of many, many winks at the audience in this episode, which is basically just a 42 minute love letter to the Earpers who fought and campaigned and wrote and begged and FOUGHT for this show’s renewal.

Wynonna and Nedley head to the woods to find the stairs and are delighted to actually find them. Nedley gives her some words of encouragement and Wynonna climbs them and takes a leap for her baby girl…but lands on her back. She lets out a weak cry for her sister, which is echoed by a much louder scream from Waverly.

waverly in chains


When Wynonna gets up, she realizes the stairs have disappeared and is furious. (Funniest line read of the word “architecture” for 800, Alex.) And to make things worse, she’s got crabs. Demon crabs attack her and Nedley and they make it back to the Homestead, not unscathed. While Wynonna looks fruitlessly for a first aid kit, Nedley notices the VALDEZ scratched on the wall, and we get a little flashback showing us how it got there.

With Robin and Nicole still unconscious and some kind of agents closing in on the house, Jeremy is scratching VALDEZ into the wall with a knife because he couldn’t find a pen. The agents approach the door and Jeremy tries to hold them off by saying, “Gays only?” but they burst in and taser him.

When Nedley asks Wynonna what happened to her team, she confesses to drugging them, thinking she was keeping them safe, but now she’s worried it put them in more danger. Wynonna finds Bulshar’s/Julian’s ring on the ground and remembers Nicole wearing it and she realizes Waverly gave it to her. Nedley suggests maybe it was something even more serious than that.

wyonnna considers thering

Even the boomerang ring can’t find Waverly. :(

Wynonna makes a quiet plea for her favorite red hot chili pepper to be okay.

And then we find out that Nicole is…well, she’s not NOT okay, all things considered. She’s on a moving train to Bobo knows where, but hey she’s alive. Before even doing a sweep of the train car she wants OUT so she goes to open the door but it quickly pulled back.

Back at the Homestead, Wynonna finds these little explosives called “beaver blasters” (the most Canadian weapon ever) and flips them around and fumbles them like she did with Peacemaker oh so long ago. Her and Nedley are planning their next steps when they hear something in the kitchen. After a near miss with a thrown knife, they find Mercedes Gardner smiling back at them. She looks like she has made herself quite comfortable in the past few hours, and Wynonna can’t help but grab her by the fresh face to make sure it’s really her.

wynonna squishes mercedes' face

“Do you wanna build a snowman? Doesn’t have to be a snowman.”

Back on the train, we find out that it’s Kate who pulled Nicole back from the train car door, and it’s because the last guy who tried that got crispier than crispy bacon. Kate tells Nicole about how Mercedes bailed as soon as she saw danger creeping in, and Nicole asks if Kate can help her by giving her a reading and telling her what to do next, how to find Waverly. Kate asks if she has anything of Waverly’s and when she realizes she doesn’t have the ring anymore, she says she does have something of Waverly’s: Her.

haught offers her own hand up

“I am, you know. Yours.”

Meanwhile Wynonna is literally Googling “Valdez” and only finding images of tankers that caused oil spills (which could be a clue TRULY WHO KNOWS) and Mercedes is giving her own version of the story Kate told, claiming Kate told her to save her own beautiful skin and leave her behind. Also, Wynonna jokes that they “totally boinked” and Mercedes doesn’t deny it so it’s canon no take backs. Mercedes thought she’d be safe at the Homestead with the heir, but Wynonna tells her that the curse was broken. She’s not the heir of anything anymore.

Mercedes makes a joke about Wynonna’s “hot mess files” and that sparks Nedley to tell Wynonna that he actually does have Dolls’ BBD files back at his office. He pulls out the box from inside the couch (claiming nobody ever uses it, another wink) and Wynonna goes through the files, information about Dolls’ fellow agents, mostly those who have died.

Wynonna reads files

Waverly is usually the one who does all the research. :( :(

She sees files for Lucado, Moreno…and Gloria Valdez.

On the train, Kate draws the first two cards for Nicole. The Empress, representing feminine power, and Death, which makes Nicole freak the freak out.

Nicole screams

Also me whenever I get my tarot read.

But Kate reassures her that it doesn’t necessarily mean literal death. It represents transition, a doorway. Nicole tries to convince Kate to come with her to save Waverly saying she can save Doc too, but Kate is realizing that her relationship with Doc was toxic and that she has to be on her own for a while. The last card is The Fool, which represents a journey, and Kate knows she needs to help Nicole on hers. So she uses her vampiric fortitude and opens the door for her Haught pal.

kate is a hero

Not the hero we deserve, but the hero we need.

She gets zapped and Nicole jumps, but Kate is strong and as soon as two men come in to check on the prisoners, Kate’s eyes glow and her teeth gold up and you know she’s going to be just fine.

kate's eyes glow

Hope we haven’t seen the last of this badass.

Wynonna learns from the files that Gloria Valdez was a scientist who may have information on the Garden, and they find a photo of a city Mercedes recognizes as Monument, so that’s where Wynonna will go next. The thing is, Nedley is too injured to join her and Mercedes is too…Mercedes.

mercedes smiles

Also for the record, she’s wearing Waverly’s jacket from 309, and honestly that shirt looks familiar, too.

So she has to go it alone. Nedley sends her off with a bunch of beaver blasters and a, “Nobody fucks with our family.”

We cut to the Garden, where a door opens and Doc enters in all his cowboy glory. The door locks closed behind him so he sets off to find the littlest Earp girl.

Waverly, still chained to a rock, hears him enter and starts calling for him, her chains tightening.

waverly still chained to the rock

A 2020 mood if I’ve ever seen one.

Doc starts pulling at the chains and even though they go down into a well, he pushes through his fear to save our angel. He pulls out a mass of flesh and branches that my friend Monica wisely pointed out could be what’s left of Jolene, which would explain why Waverly looked so defeated when she was being pulled into the Garden, saying she couldn’t fight anymore. And it DOES look like a very, very big version of the gross seeds Bulshar was shoving down people’s throats, and Bulshar is the one who turned Jolene into a tree. But anyway Doc saves Waverly and holds her and she’s not alone anymore.

Exactly 169 miles from Monument, Wynonna’s trusty truck quits on her and she slumps against it, feeling like she can’t do this alone. She tries to imagine what Doc and Waverly would say to her, with adorable impressions of two of her favorite people.

wynonna leans on her truck

LOOK AT THIS SHOT. :squeezes your face and points it at the screen: LOOK AT IT! SO PERFECT.

She thinks of Haught next and is surprised to hear how accurate her impression is before realizing it’s the real Nicole. Wynonna flings her arms open, wanting a hug from her sister’s maybe fiancée.

wynonna goes for a hug

I miss hugs.

But she gets a fist to the face instead. Nicole is SO mad at her for counting her out before she could prove herself in the boss battle and Wynonna tries to brush it off as ancient history but it was literally yesterday. Wynonna says that you had to be special to get into the garden, and that Nicole isn’t a bisexual angel or an undead gunslinger.

And I think it’s important that Wynonna said “bisexual angel” here. Because no one has said bisexual out loud on the show about Waverly yet, even though Dominique Provost-Chalkley has said it plenty off-screen. Because the only times her sexuality was referenced specifically was a) Willa, who grew up in isolation and then in a cult and also didn’t know Waverly at all, b) Mercedes, who doesn’t know Waverly all that well either, c) Alternate Reality Waverly who didn’t really know what was happening to her feelings, all she knew was that she was into the redhead in the barn with her, d) Mama Earp who certainly didn’t take the time to sit down with Waverly and discuss the nuances of her sexuality. So it’s nice to have someone say bisexual, and if it couldn’t be Waverly (she’s a little busy), it had to be Wynonna. It’s of course something they’ve talked about, it’s of course something her sister would know. I know it’s such a small moment but it felt important and I enjoyed it.

And anyway, Nicole is pissed that Wynonna would even say that. Wynonna doesn’t get to decide who matters here, who would or would not have been able to go after Waverly. Wynonna begs for forgiveness but Haught just rolls her eyes. Wynonna tells them that finding another door into the Garden might be their only shot of getting Waverly back. Nicole remembers her tarot reading and agrees to go with Wynonna, but she’ll be the one calling the shots.

nicole sternly tells wynonna what's waht

Who’s your daddy?

Nicole says all Wynonna has to do is wield her magic gun and Wynonna is too nervous to piss Haught off again so she zips her lips about her distinct lack of Peacemaker.

Up in the Garden, Waverly and Doc are having a hard time finding a way out, but they do find Julian’s throne. Waverly inherently knows it’s her birthright and wants to sit on it, but Doc stops her and she snaps out of it. They decide to leave the chair-that-could-turn-Waverly-to-stone in their wake and instead go down into a bunker of sorts, where they find a man covered in blood and looking a little worse for wear.

waverly looks concerned

“Why do you look like you’ve been entering a sequence of numbers every 108 minutes for years?”

The man rambles about keeping “it” fed with fresh human blood and when Waverly asks how they can get home, he says there’s only one way out and lops his own head off. Doc tells Waverly to use her powers to bring him back to life so they can ask him more questions but she doesn’t have her Speak with Dead spell prepared so instead they buy themselves some time by squeezing his blood into the stone machine that’s whirring angrily.

When Haught and Wynonna get to Monument, Nicole is getting furiouser and furiouser as more pieces of what Wynonna has and has not told her fall into place.

nicole is mad and behind the wheel

Nicole has had enough and I am living for it.

While they’re sneaking into the Black Badge facility, Wynonna points out that there’s something Nicole hasn’t technically told HER yet, and asks about the ring situation.

nicole and wynonna discuss thering

Take your time answering, it’s not like we’ve spent the past two years debating as a fandom whether or not it was even a proposal or anything.

Nicole admits that Waverly proposed, and says she didn’t get to answer because of a little thing called Wynonna Interruptus. (Yet another wink.) Nicole won’t tell Wynonna her answer before she tells Waverly, and also they’re being shot at, so they’ll have to table that conversation.

Up in the Garden, after a little bit of a vamp out situation while squeezing the dead body, Waverly finds Doc sitting by the fire, having collected himself. He’s feeling all turned around, also he’s not even sure if he made this fire. Waverly says she wants to rest in a way that makes me feel like probably they shouldn’t close their eyes.

waverly looks tired

“Stay awake, don’t rest your head.”

Doc wants to atone first but Waverly says they’ve all done bad things. She says they’re going to get back to them. Them. Haught and Earp. Nicole and Wynonna. Right? They’re starting to forget. Doc falls asleep to the sound of Waverly trying to hold onto what Nicole looks like.

Wynonna and Nicole are still kind of fighting but still manage to team up to stop the person shooting at them. Nicole snarks again about being drugged by her best friend, and Wynonna can’t even quip back because she’s touched. She’s never had a best friend before. Nicole can’t even be annoyed with her anymore, because she meant it. Wynonna IS her best friend.

nicole smiles at wynonna despite herself

“I couldn’t hate you this much if I didn’t love you more.”

Nicole and Wynonna quickly learn that the person shooting at them had been a teenage girl holding Valdez’s ID badge. As soon as she comes to, she meets them sass for sass and Nicole proves once again she’s not as good with teenage girls as she thinks she is. They eventually get it out of her that Gloria Valdez is her mother, but she doesn’t know where her mother is. Since Wynonna knows a thing or two about moms bailing, Valdez introduces herself as Rachel and agrees to help them find the information they’re looking for.

valdez agrees to help

Hello Little Valdez! Pleasure to finally meet you!

After an unknown amount of time passes, Waverly leaves the still-sleeping Doc and wanders off on her own. The whirring stone machine wants more blood but the body they bled is “jerky” now (not a great sign re: the passing of time.) so she gives it a little of her own blood, hoping a little angel blood will go a long way. As soon as she does that, lily pads appear in the water and she hears a voice whisper her name. She follows the voice through a door, all by her lonesome.

In the Black Badge building, Wynonna, Nicole, and Rachel are bonding about how Dolls saved them all and it’s clear she’s been through some shit but is a tough cookie.

wee valdez smiles

Adorable little cheese!!

Eventually they get to a point where Rachel tells them they have to be quiet going forward, a foreign concept to Wynonna.

wynonna doesn't know how to be quiet

What is this “quiet” you speak of?

Through her door, Waverly finds a bag and some books on a pedestal. Carved into the stone is, “Choose one, choose wisely,” and there are four books there: Wynonna Earp, Doc Holliday, Waverly Gibson, and Nicole Haught. Which is interesting, that it says Waverly Gibson but not John Henry Holliday, which makes me wonder if these names are how Waverly thinks of these people vs their legal names according to whatever Powers that Be. Anyway, we don’t get to see what book(s) she picks before she heads off again.

waverly looks at the books

She decided awfully fast. I would still be standing there.

The BBD trio find a lab of bodies and realize that Black Badge gassed their own employees, and Rachel says she doesn’t see her mom among the bodies. Wynonna, ignoring Rachel’s orders, throws a beaver blaster to try to get in the lab, and the scientists all wake up and start lumbering toward them. Zombies.

wynonna nicole and rachel meet zombies

Ruh roh.

They start running and shooting and Wynonna “Sure Yeah I Have Peacemaker” Earp asks why Rachel failed to mentioned the LIVING DEAD and Rachel says that she needed their help and was afraid they wouldn’t help her if they knew there were zombies. How was she supposed to know they were from Canada’s answer to Sunnydale?

The girls get separated while fighting like champs (Rachel swinging around a baseball bad with deadly precision that would make Harley Quinn proud) and Wynonna accidentally steps on a gate that Rachel specifically warned her about. Nicole says it’s her turn to save the day and shoves Wynonna out of the way, falling down the hole herself. Wynonna screams after her that if Nicole dies she’ll kill her, a threat I’ve yelled at my friends before, and even though she’s trying to quip, you can see desperation in her voice. She’s never had a best friend before, and she’s not ready to lose her.

wynonna looks distraught

Not to mention how much it would hurt her baby sister.

Back in the Garden, Doc wakes up and realizes there are trees and flowers blooming and thinks perhaps his angel companion has something to do with it. He hears someone calling out so he heads toward the sound and is surprised to find Nicole Haught with a season one french braid saying, “Hello!” like a freshly activated Westworld host, a friendly smile on her face but no recognition in her eyes. Oh, and also no clothes.

naked nicole smiles

Doesn’t look like anything to me.

The end! We did it! We’re back! It’s happening! They really hit the ground running and having 312 and 401 in the same day, I can confirm that they really did pick up right where they left off. They might have had to take a 2-year hiatus, but they didn’t lose any of the energy, heart, or magic. And it feels SO good to be back. Even if everything feels a little desperate and scary with our friends all so far from each other in space and time.

Next week, the fight to get Waverly back continues, and it looks like it might be harder than just finding her.

Pages: 1 2See entire article on one page

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!

Valerie Anne

Just a TV-loving, Twitter-addicted nerd who loves reading, watching, and writing about stories. One part Kara Danvers, two parts Waverly Earp, a dash of Cosima and an extra helping of my own brand of weirdo.

Valerie has written 559 articles for us.


  1. Yessss. Make all the ridiculous metaphors you want Valerie, I am here for this show and these recaps! I love that this show is over the top. I love that it’s on later so they get to curse a lot. I love that Nicole and Wynonna are BEST! FRIENDS! That was maybe my favorite moment of the episode?? It was definitely a hand to the heart moment for me.

  2. i do not remember the lead up to plausibility for Nicole/Wynonna being best friends, and i feel like it’s not that safe to be Wynonna’s person, but ok, this handbasket is headed somewhere…

    • I feel that aside from their usual jokiness together in the field, they’ve made a point of episode x07 (1×07, 2×07, 3×07) being the Nicole/Wynonna buddy episode. Wynonna is definitely her friend and I don’t think Nicole gets out much besides, so she’s probably best of a small group.

      S1 They’re drinking at the sheriff’s station and talking about who Waverly should be dating.
      S2 They’re retracing Wynonna’s steps at Pussywillows and being drunk.
      S3 They’re dealing with that idiot councilwoman and having Golden Girls trivia and there’s the gnome.

      Dedicating 1/12 of the season, each time, to the BROTP.

    • Besides all the 07 eps Andrew Zimmer mentioned, Nicole is who Wynonna trusted to arrange for Alice Michelle leaving, so that’s some huge trust that can’t be discounted. I think it’s also pretty clear in the last two eps of Season 3. There’s this one scene in particular that comes to mind with Wynonna and Nicole sitting on the curb and assessing the situation, and there’s a comfort there that they didn’t have in the beginning. While the friend pickins are slim, I think they have a really special sisters-by-“marriage” type of bond.

    • i would like to blame virus times, but really i just have trouble keeping track of Wynonna’s plot. super appreciate the comments above, you folks are on it! i mean, 7s, my goodness…

      on another show i’d have to stop watching until i knew Sheriff Haught was ok cause i still think bestfriending WE is risky for a mortal, but this show has been good about plu.

  3. Glad to have you and your magnificent metaphors and captions back, Valerie Anne.

    For those keeping count, there were at least three F-bombs this episode.

    I for one cannot wait to see what happens next, and for the eventual Wynonna Earp spinoff – the misadventures of one Alice Michelle and Katie Haught.

  4. I like that you mention how it feels icky with our friends all so far from each other. That’s pretty much how I feel in the world right now. The episode felt like it was bringing all of us back together in some ways. I love Kate and Nicole. I want to see them together more. They bring out love. And they really live their passions. I’m glad they had that moment before Haught pulled a Fried Green Tomatoes train jump.
    I’m so glad these recaps are back!

    • Kate and Nicole being together reminded me of the little scene when Kate was patching Nicole up; I love that all the characters have independent relationships with each other, they’re not all via Wynonna.

  5. Welcome back, y’all. It’s been the longest two centuries of my life…

    What a whirlwind episode! I switched off at one point, and just enjoyed WynHaught’s incessant banter. Same for Wave/Doc support group.

    Can’t wait for the other shoe to drop (Zombies, BBD and ominous books)!

    Missed your WE recaps, Valerie Anne! #EarpersDelight

  6. Was I the only one DYING (in the best way possible) at all the Nicole Haught daddy kink references???

    I was giddy and cheering the entire way through the return of this wonderful, magical, gift of a show.

    Sooo glad it’s back and so glad your recaps are too!!

  7. We got WynHaught right out the gate! That alone was worth waiting a bazillion years for. I could watch and listen to these two banter and snark at each other all day. Soooo glad this show is back. It looks like it’s going to be a bonkers season and I am READY.

Contribute to the conversation...

Yay! You've decided to leave a comment. That's fantastic. Please keep in mind that comments are moderated by the guidelines laid out in our comment policy. Let's have a personal and meaningful conversation and thanks for stopping by!