Wynonna and Doc find the painting of a Woman Scorned they were sent to find, and are horrified to learn it’s one of those modern abstracts that are just layers of white on white. She wants to Ocean’s 8 this shit but Doc knows this Ghost River Triangle joint isn’t exactly going to have Indiana Jones level protection so he just yoinks it off the wall and they walk right out with it, Wynonna tossing one last insult back at the mean teens as she goes.
When they go outside, they see a Celtic knot that represents sisters outside, bells toll and suddenly Wynonna is gone… again.
Doc doesn’t know it yet but she’s actually not gone, she’s just in a nunnery that is definitely haunted.
A nun welcomes her, knowing her name, and telling her she’s in the Sanctuary of the Scorned Woman. It’s a place for women who have lost their way to be cleansed of the judgement they have placed on themselves. That all sounds like too much self-reflection for Wynonna’s taste though so she asks to see Peacemaker instead. The nun splashes some holy water on the painting Wynonna gave her to reveal a woman in what I’ve now learned is a “gulch” even though this city girl would have just said “between two big cliffs.” The nun tells Wynonna that to get Peacemaker back, she has to bring her the woman in the painting.
Wynonna tries to just call to Peacemaker first, but she won’t come. The nun wants her to give up, to choose a life of peace, but Wynonna doesn’t want that. Once you see what’s causing the shadows you can’t go back into the cave and pretend everything’s fine. The monsters keep coming and Wynonna couldn’t live a normal life even if she wanted to. And why the fuck would she want to?
I loved this moment so much because it reminds me so much of how I feel when family members ask me to “give it a rest” when I’m talking about politics or human rights issues. I can’t “give it a rest” even if I wanted to. Once you’ve seen the monsters, once you’ve chosen to fight, you can’t just… stop caring. Stop fighting. At least, I can’t.
Not knowing that Wynonna is perfectly safe, Doc storms into the Glory Hole and threatens Amon. Amon says he doesn’t pick sides, but Doc says something not far off from my above point: “Noble men do not have the luxury of being neutral in times of war.”
Doc and Holt have a bit of a pissing contest, Holt lamenting the fact that women are in charge in this town, and questioning if either of them have the right to decide who gets a bullet and who doesn’t. He makes SOME good points but overall I feel like Cleo is going to be the one we have a better chance of pulling over to our side to win this war.
Back at the Homestead, Waverly tucks her best baby into a blanket and kisses her on the top of the head. As much as she wishes she didn’t have to, it’s nice to take care of Nicole for once instead of it being the other way around.
Waverly wants to talk about the engagement, but Nicole promises she wasn’t avoiding it because she doesn’t want to be engaged to Waverly. It was all this… stuff she can’t talk about. She did something terrible and she’s afraid of what Waverly will think when she finds out.
Jeremy comes to them with some ideas he found in a big creepy book that looks like it has a knocker and also might have been in Nicole’s nightmare. There’s a spell that could turn her into a demon dog, an exorcism that involves drowning her in salted holy water, and an antidote that could turn her intestines into snakes if they get the dosage wrong.
All in all not a ton of great options here but Nicole trusts her geniuses so chooses the snake soup option.
When Wynonna gets back, she sits with Nicole, who is now on the back porch getting some fresh air. They share a quiet moment where Wynonna does her best to talk to Nicole without making her spit frogs.
Wynonna looks at the state of her and says she wouldn’t blame Nicole if she didn’t want to be part of the family, but Nicole promises her she wants nothing more. She’s just afraid that once Waverly finds out what she did, she won’t want her anymore. And instead of just going through with a wedding and hiding the truth, she’s putting it off; she knows she wants to be honest with Waverly first, but she wasn’t ready to tell the truth yet. And now… she can’t.
Wynonna says she’s sure Waverly will understand, especially after spending 18 months not giving up. Nicole says she did kind of give up, and Wynonna realizes that the thing Nicole did that she can’t speak of is tied to getting them out of the Garden. Wynonna changes the subject to something that probably won’t make Nicole cough up some frog legs and tells her that Peacemaker rejected her. She shows Nicole the Scorned Woman she has to find and Nicole recognizes the rocks as Steve Gulch.
Random: After telling the story of the naked boulderers the gulch is named after, they decide there are no good men, and certainly no good Steves, and I find this hilarious because almost every male member of my family is named Steve. Including my dad, who loves this show, and I can’t wait to see what he thinks of this line.
Doc shows up just then, and Nicole’s frogginess intensifies, so she runs inside. More evidence for my theory that she is actually after Doc, specifically.
When Nicole gets inside, Waverly and Jeremy are hard at work on the potion, but Nicole, dead-eyed again, grabs the pot and dumps it into the sink. She grabs a knife from the knife drawer and heads out again.
In the barn, Wynonna is still lamenting Peacemaker not coming to her, and Doc laments his violent legacy. But Nicole interrupts this pity party by throwing a knife; grazing Wynonna, but possibly aiming at Doc, who once again stands between them.
Wynonna and Doc tackle Nicole, a sight Waverly is confused to see when she comes in. Wynonna bonks her and Nicole comes to, horrified about what she just tried to do. And not one person believes for a second that it was Nicole. As soon as she looks at them with regret in her eyes, they all un-tense and Wynonna starts a rousing speech about storming the Clanton ranch. Their mutual trust is deep and unwavering.
While Wynonna is giving her speech, Doc finds Nicole’s gasoline-soaked clothes and realize the call is coming from inside the Homestead; which explains why Doc didn’t see any extra footprints.
Realizing this is much more sinister than expelling amphibians, Wynonna is readier than ever to attack, but Waverly begs her to try Plan A before jumping to Plan Murder.
They have to find the Scorned Woman and at least do everything they can to try to get Peacemaker back before taking on the Clantons; especially if they have magic this powerful. Wynonna agrees but only if Waverly ties Nicole up first, which apparently won’t be the first time. Wanky.
And while she is tying her up, afraid Waverly isn’t tying it tight enough, Nicole says they should get their bedroom handcuffs instead…
But as soon as Waverly is out of the room, Nicole gives Jeremy a pointed look and Jeremy immediately starts to protest a silent instruction.
While all this is going on, Rachel is still ignoring phone calls from her Sexy Gay Aunts and instead is trying to call Billy, but following his ring tone only leads her to what she thinks is an empty barn… but we can see something she can’t: Billy the Reaper lurking behind her.
Waverly is up in her bedroom finding her pink fluffy handcuffs when Nicole comes in. She gets eye to eye with Waverly and says, with no hesitation, “I love you, Waverly Earp.”
She wants Waverly to remember that, no matter what happens next. It’s not a goodbye… it’s a pre-emptive apology. And then she cuffs Waverly to the bed.
She leaves with purpose, afraid to take a second look lest she change her mind, Waverly calling after her. Jeremy checks in looking guilty, big spooky spell book in hand, also tossing Waverly an apology for what’s about to happen.
Nicole and Jeremy storm into Shorty’s and Nicole knows she has to do this fast before Waverly or Wynonna can find her and stop her. Or before she loses her nerve. Just in case, she tells Nedley what she wanted to say days ago, that she’s sorry she didn’t save him, that she didn’t find him, that she gave up and let everyone down. But she has an idea to fix it. And she just needs Nedley to kill her.
Wynonna and Doc go out to Steve Gulch, hoping it won’t be too hard to find the woman they seek. And luckily, as if their approach made her appear, there is a woman waiting for them. And as she turns around, we’re all surprised to see that it’s none other than our girl Rosita.
And she. looks. great.
Waverly manages to get herself out of the handcuffs eventually and runs to Shorty’s, where the sight she sees causes her head to spin and her vision to blur and sounds to be muffled and chaotic. She sees Nedley in a wolfskin hat reading from the spooky book, and Jeremy standing over some kind of makeshift tub contraption full of ice water, inside which is her girlfriend, unmoving beneath the surface.
Jeremy looks directly at her — and directly at us — and says, “I know how this looks, but I’m asking you to trust us.”
And the thing is, I do. There was never a moment I thought this was truly the end of Nicole Haught. This show has bent over backwards to prove it cares about the community and its queer characters, so even if I wasn’t active in the fandom, even if I didn’t know that Noelle Carbone wrote both this episode and The Lexa Pledge, I wouldn’t be worried that Nicole was dead. I’m worried about plenty else, mind you; but just in the context of the show. That’s how I feel at the end of every episode. But I’m not worried about being disrespected by this show as a queer person.
And the thing is, if we were in a place where the scales were balanced and we were ready to have queer characters written off shows by way of death (we’re not), this would be how I would want it to go down. Not struck by a bullet not intended for them (which I can think of literally three instances of off the top of my head), not knocked off a balcony during a fight that doesn’t involve them, not beaten to death for no reason. Nicole is choosing this, sacrificing herself, to atone for a mistake that she made, to save the people that she loves.
Also not for nothing but if she did die, she also wouldn’t be cutting the LGBTQ+ representation down by 50-100%, which can’t be said for most of the shows I have alluded to, and plenty I haven’t.
That said, once again, not one single ounce of me believes she’s forever dead. She’s more like Sara Lance dead. It won’t stick. And I can’t help but wonder if this is how straight people feel when they’re watching TV all the time. When the straight white male character seems dead but never is. Because he never is. And all the things that save those characters (being part of the main romance of the show, being a main character, etc) has never been guaranteed safety for queer characters. So to be able to focus on what implications this will have for the characters, whether or not it will work/have been worth it, on the STORY instead of feeling pulled out of it and being IRL slapped by a show? It feels nice. Stressful in a Good Way: The Wynonna Earp Story.
That said, I suppose it’s 2020 and anything is possible. If somehow I was wrong and the writers have been playing some kind of twisted long-game with our hearts and our trust, I’ll be back next week with a thesis-length rant. If I’m right, I’ll be here with joy and anxiety in my heart to recap the mid-season finale!