Previously on Wynonna Earp, after a weird hazing ritual that involved kidnapping and guard duty, Wynonna and Jeremy got permission to re-open the Purgatory BBD office; Wynonna got hunted by a reaper that we learned were part of the Clanton family aka historic enemies of the Earps; Rachel’s sweet boy crush was turned into a reaper; and Nicole tried to go back on a deal she made with the matriarch of the Clantons but Mam told her it was time to pay up.
We open in a sweet dream or a beautiful nightmare. Nicole is in a black wedding dress and Wynonna walks her down the aisle; she’s ready to join Waverly.
But something is weird… I mean, besides the fact that it’s an outdoor wedding in the Calgary winter and everyone is dressed like they’re going to a really elegant funeral. Wynonna is being sassy in a more biting way than usual, and Waverly is nowhere in sight. Wynonna turns to Nicole and says that Waverly isn’t coming, not after what Nicole did. Nicole doesn’t remember though, and when Wynonna asks her to say it, Nicole realizes she can’t. She looks over at Doc and his eyes are weeping blood and… I think this is a clue. But we’ll get back to that. Nicole realizes she has a lighter in her hand and she laughs, not of her own volition; she’s still scared and confused. She lights Wynonna’s cigar and suddenly everyone is coughing. And like I know this was filmed before the pandemic but that was stressful to watch.
And then Nicole wakes up, but she’s still coughing.
She realizes there’s a fire and goes into emergency response mode. She tries to wake up Waverly but she can’t, so she wets a cloth to put over her mouth, slings Waverly over her shoulder, and heads outside.
Out in the barn, Wynonna wakes up to see Doc watching over her, realizing that he doesn’t really have to sleep now that he’s a vampire.
It’s something they don’t really talk much about, but then again there’s plenty they don’t talk about. Wynonna says talking is overrated and she gets out from her makeshift bed to reveal she is severely underdressed for sleeping in a barn but no one here’s complaining. She gets real close to Doc when she smells the smoke from the Homestead, hilariously thinking Doc ate another fireman before realizing what was going on.
When they go outside and see the flames, they run toward the house yelling the names of those left inside. Rachel emerges first, assuring them she got the fire out, but when Nicole appears with Waverly, Waverly isn’t breathing. After Wynonna yells helpful things like, “Breathe, asshole!” Waverly does wake up, and when Nicole tells her to never do that again, she says she doesn’t know what she did. And so my question is…i s she just a really heavy sleeper, or did she go into some kind of Angel Survival Trance and just not need to breathe for a while? I suppose it’s possible she just passed out from the smoke before Nicole woke up but I don’t know, she’s half-angel and has spent some time in the Garden often associated with the afterlife, it just felt worth mentioning.
The fam huddles together on the porch as the sun rises, recovering from the unexpectedly eventful evening. Waverly wonders if Rachel got distracted cooking, but the fire started in the living room. Wynonna wonders if it was from scissoring friction but there’s a whole whack of reasons why that wasn’t it, either.
So the most logical conclusion they can come to is that it was the Clantons, but Doc was keeping watch and he recognizes all the footprints, so whoever (or whatever) started the fire didn’t walk into the Homestead to do it.
Wynonna and Doc decide to go see Amon at the Glory Hole to see if he knows anything but he doesn’t even like the Clantons, let alone associate with them. He does, however, want to help the infamous Wynonna Earp get rid of them. You see, he knows where Peacemaker is, and he’s going to help her find it. He tells her that demons get chatty, which is how he knows where she can find her beloved SwordGun, though the people who have her will want something in return.
(Side note: if I’m not mistaken, I think this is the first episode Wynonna ever used gendered pronouns for Peacemaker? I could be wrong but I think she’s ever only called the gun just that or talked directly to it before? I thought that was interesting.)
Meanwhile, at the Purgatory Precinct, Jeremy is setting up the BBD office and doing his best Agent Dolls impression while robbing Cleo of some of her Magistrative space, much to her chagrin.
She’s getting more and more furious but Jeremy does his best to stand his ground, knowing he has the upper hand here. Holt comes in and tells her to stand down too, and she’s sick of being told what to do. By Jeremy, by Holt, by Mam, by the curse. She wants to make her own fate.
After she storms off, Waverly and Nicole show up with an office-warming gift for Jeremy. Well, Waverly does, and Nicole is with her.
Nicole is a little salty about being abandoned, but Waverly does her best to diffuse the situation. They get to work setting up the office, and Nicole installs a lock to keep the Clantons out, but it’s not Wynonna-proof so she barges right through it with Doc in tow. While Wynonna updates everyone about the lead they got on finding Peacemaker, Nicole finds herself compelled to take her drill and point it up, the ginger soft butch we know lost behind cold, empty eyes.
And at first it seems like Nicole is pointing her drill at Wynonna, but know who is sitting between her and Wynonna? One Doc Holliday…
Wynonna snaps her out of it (with a hilarious quip about Extreme Makeover: Homo Edition) and Nicole says she searched the whole Ghost River Triangle for Peacemaker, so Amon’s story that someone has it checks out. They know they can’t entirely trust a demon they just met, but they also know they don’t have another option at the moment. So they decide as a team to trust him just enough to get Peacemaker back.
And speaking of teams… where the heck is Rachel? Rachel is going full Season One Waverly with binoculars (and I assume snacks) lurking on the Clanton ranch, looking for Billy. Wandering into barns and calling his phone to try to find him.
Back at BB2: Electric Boogaloo, Jeremy walks in on Nicole and Waverly breaking in the couch they saved from the renovation.
They claim it’s just a place where they can hang out, and Jeremy teases them, asking if that’s what the queer lady kids are calling it these days. And it struck me in that moment that we don’t hear queer characters use the word queer on TV very much. But it’s exactly what Jeremy, a gay man, would say to tease his two friends, a bisexual and a lesbian, in a short quippy way. It’s exactly how we talk to and about each other, and it’s once again refreshing to hear. (And is absolutely a direct result of having queer people in the writers’ room and on set.)
Jeremy tells them that Wynonna and Doc are off to find Peacemaker, and Nicole once again kicks herself for not being able to find it in the 18 months everyone was gone. Jeremy says the Earp Heir might have better luck, and Nicole takes an opening to sass him about ghosting her. Waverly tries to change the subject and ask about Robin, and Jeremy assures them that he’s safe but won’t go into more detail. Nicole accuses him of being cagey, but Jeremy blames BBD. He looks at her, desperate for her understanding; they just did what they had to do to survive. They all did.
And this fighting is so genuine but it hurts my heart because I can’t help but think of the bond these two shared. That season two finale where they bonded over being the two newer additions to this Earp clan, the outsiders who were welcomed in and made their own space in the family, found their own roles. But when there was no one left but each other, they split apart and they’re both hurting because of it. Nicole starts to wince in pain and Jeremy feels bad, thinking their fighting is giving her tummy rumblings, but the truth is Nicole is having a violent memory that is causing her to vomit.
In the memory, Nicole goes to Mam, desperate after a year and a half to get Waverly back, willing to do just about anything. Mam whispers her price into Nicole’s ear, it clearly being too terrible to say out loud, and Nicole’s face falls slightly but she’s resolute. It’s a price she’s willing to pay to get Waverly back.
Which is another point in the “Doc is the target” column. I could see sacrificing Doc as being something Nicole wouldn’t feel great about doing but could rationalize Waverly eventually forgiving her for; unlike if her target was actually Wynonna. She knows that sisterly bond is the only thing that matters to Waverly more than Nicole herself. It wouldn’t have been worth it. But Doc? Who is a vampire now? Who she watched kill Charlie before she knew he’d come back from the dead? I could see her talking herself into that. So maybe THAT’S why she instinctively resisted Doc’s comforting touches in the earlier episodes, maybe THAT’S why she froze when Doc was in danger. Even though it wasn’t activated yet, something in her knew she had betrayed him. Something deep inside was telling her that saving him wasn’t her main directive.
Anyway, whatever it is, present-day Nicole doesn’t want this to be true, says she couldn’t have promised that. When Waverly comes into to check on her, Nicole tries to tell her what she remembered, but when she opens her mouth, instead of a story, frogs come out. Which is poetic in a way I can appreciate.
At the museum, Wynonna finds Doc watching an old video interview with Wyatt Earp himself. At first he’s talking about a time Doc saved Wyatt’s life, and it’s all well and good. Then Wynonna sees a picture of Rosita on the wall and gets huffy about it. Wyatt’s interview turns to the O.K. Corral and the Clantons, but he starts talking about it in a way that Doc doesn’t remember. Then starts talking about Doc like he was a sex robot killing machine, and Doc realizes that all the love and respect that he held tight to for Wyatt in those decades in the well wasn’t quite returned. Wynonna asks if Doc thinks Wyatt would be proud of her, but now he’s wondering if Wyatt himself is worth being proud of.
Over at Magpie Ranch, Cleo is cutting onions which is funny only to me who called her layered like an onion in my recap last week when Mam comes into tell her children she’s found a way to end the curse so she doesn’t have to pass on her legacy to her children she hates oh so much. She has set into motion the end of the Earps, and the beauty of it is, they’ll be destroyed by one another.
Back in Purgatory proper, Nicole runs into Shorty’s, Waverly and Jeremy hot on her heels, and asks Nedley for booze to help wash the tastes of frogs out of her mouth. He quickly realizes that this isn’t something that can be solved with “chicken soup and a One Day at a Time marathon” — a shoutout I very much appreciated, especially since ODAAT shouted out Wynonna before, too. I love when shows I love also love each other.
Between the time we left them at the office and now, Waverly and Jeremy have deduced that Nicole did something but every time she tries to tell them about it… frogs happen.
In fact, even if they try to guess what it is, it’s Frog City, USA. It’s toad-ally gross. She even tries to write something down but ends up just drawing tadpoles, much to her frustration (and my delight.)
Instead of trying to figure out what caused it, since that’s going to wind up with them having to open an aquarium, they decide to focus on a cure instead.
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!