Previously in Valerie Anne’s Wynonna Earp, Rachel told Wynonna she was her family and she looked up to her, Waverly stole her own book from the Garden but couldn’t read it, Black Badge went buckwild and started kidnapping demons, Mercedes got shot, Cleo became the Clanton heir, Jolene activated Dark Angel Waverly and told Wynonna that her journey was over.
We open on Mercedes, bleeding out from her gunshot wound and being dragged into the cell the BBD Agents called the “feed pen” and left to die. All the blood is making Doc vamp out, and Jeremy is doing his best from keeping the gunslinger from eating their friend. Jeremy cries out, wishing he had a little help from the Earp sister, but as we’re about to see, they’re a bit tied up at the moment.
Wynonna looks up at the creature that wears her sister’s face and calls her beautiful and terrible even though she’s definitely more of the first thing than the second.
Wynonna asks about the fog but Dark Angel Waverly says it’s not necessary anymore now that she’s here. She barely remembers Jolene, calls her “the body’s other half,” and says she helped Waverly. And it is incredibly unsettling to hear her talk about Waverly in the third person.
Wynonna wants her sister back but Waverly says something not unlike what Charlie/Julian said once, that man is no longer her concern.
But Wynonna says, “I am no man.”
Wynonna won’t watch this being take over her baby girl’s body and so Dark Angel Waverly helps her along by taking away her sight altogether. “It’s her turn, Wynonna,” she says, ignoring Wynonna’s pleas to not leave her alone in the dark and leaving the Earp heir alone and sightless in the middle of Murdertree Forest.
Back where Wynonna left them, Cleo is filing her nails and teasing Rachel, trying to sever the bonds Li’l Valdez has to Wynonna.
Cleo says Wynonna lied to her about Billy being the Reaper they sent into the fog, and suggesting that just because Rachel considers Wynonna family doesn’t mean Wynonna feels the same.
Jolene’s hair catches fire and Cleo says that means she’s dead, and that the Reaper will go after its next target now, which I imagine is the real reason she wove Wynonna’s hair into the first spell. But now that Cleo has Rachel on her hook, she wants to use her to do something that would benefit them both: she wants to de-reap Billy.
Back at the BBD waystation, Mercedes is continuing to bleed a lot and of course is not conserving energy and is instead giving everyone the play by play about it, which isn’t helping the whole Doc hunger problem.
Jeremy tells Mercedes to stop saying “the b word” and Freddy the Werewolf jumps in to try to help stop Doc from snacking on a Red Delicious.
In the woods, Rachel has apparently agreed to do whatever it takes to de-reap Billy and she’s bleeding on a Clanton rock. Cleo says something about this tying her and Billy together forever, which I’m sure is a totally chill and fine thing for these teenagers.
While Rachel is bleeding, Cleo is stalling, reaching for Rachel’s gun as the girl bleeds for the youngest Clanton.
Wynonna stumbles through the Murdertrees, only able to make out shapes and shadows, when she hears the footsteps and chain rattling of a Reaper approaching. (I imagine she can also smell him.)
She tries snarking, she tries pleading, she even tries calling out to Waverly as the steps get ever closer.
But then she’s caught, not by a Reaper, but by Billy. He has been successfully de-reaped, and he hands Wynonna the gun she just can’t seem to hold onto these days.
She can tell he’s not a Reaper anymore because he can hold the gun, even though I’m sure his diction helped, too. She tells him she can’t see so he offers her his hand, proving once and for all he’s back to being the good, sweet boy we once knew.
Things are looking bleak in the feed den, with Doc begging to eat the practically-dead-anyway Mercedes, but Jeremy holds him close and says he’s not doing this to torture him, in fact just the opposite. He knows this would kill Doc, to come to and find out he ate an innocent woman, a friend. So instead Jeremy offers himself. He’s lost Robin and his job already. And if Doc is going to succumb to the monster within, he’ll have lost Doc too. He calls him brother. But this works because who could hurt Best Boy Jeremy, and Doc hugs him instead of biting him.
Doc feels like he can hold onto his humanity now but the problem is, he’s still not sure how they can get out of the cell in time to save Mercedes; he can’t open the bars alone, and Freddy the Werewolf can’t help because iron, like silver, hurts werewolves.
Mercedes thinks of a way, though, to feed two birds with one scone. What if Doc turns her into a vampire, which would both save her life and make them strong enough combined to get out of the cell.
They ask again for explicit consent, which is very sweet especially considering it was her idea in the first place, and as soon as she takes her true final form, she helps Doc break through the bars.
The new monster squad struts down the hallway like badasses, freeing all the other prisoners as they go.
Meanwhile, out in the forest, Nicole is making her way back to Wynonna when she picks up BBD activity on her walkie and overhears them saying that they’re going to wipe out all the remaining townspeople, and that’s something she just can’t stand for. So she trusts Wynonna to handle the Waverly situation (and in fact would trust no one else to) and runs off to save the city she has sworn to protect.
Apparently Dark Angel Waverly was just trying to make a dramatic point, because Wynonna’s blindness fades as they get to the part of the woods where she was expecting to find Rachel and Cleo, but instead just finds Rachel’s blood and Billy’s tooth.
Billy tells Wynonna that Cleo is unhinged and that they have to find her and save Rachel. Billy thinks they’re probably at the Clanton ranch, but Wynonna a) knows that’s definitely a trap because this ain’t her first rodeo, b) isn’t exactly in a hurry to get back to the place that her and her sister committed a double homicide. Plus she has some other things to deal with right now, like a possessed sister and a missing baby daddy, to name a few. But Billy says Rachel is counting on her; even back before he got turned, he remembers Rachel telling him about how awesome Wynonna is. Billy says this is what Waverly would want Wynonna to choose, and Wynonna says that’s a low blow, because she knows it’s true.
Billy can’t go with her because if he goes back to the ranch he’ll get re-reaped, but he can go try to fix his tooth problem while she gets Li’l Valdez back. After he’s gone, Wynonna has a little pep talk with Peacemaker, saying they’re going to do things a little differently this time.
She also says she hopes Waverly has mellowed out, and if she means got less Dark or Angely, the answer is no. But she’s about as mellow as a celestial being could be while watching the world burn during a CRISIS and wearing a thigh ribbon.
Inside, the Monster Squad almost reaches safety when a poisonous gas starts to fill the air. They find themselves nose to nose with Agent McJerkface, and think their number is up, until they realize that actually he’s being held at gunpoint by one Nicole Haught. He doesn’t understand why she’s doing this, calls them all monsters, but Nicole says they’re her friends. And the werewolf is also her florist, thank you very much.
She tells McJerkface that while she’s in charge, Purgatory is going to be an inclusive place. All species welcome; the only rule is, no assholes. Which I think is a lovely rule to live by.
Everyone starts to fight their way out, and Jeremy uses a doohickey to see if there’s a path through the fog and is surprised to find the fog is gone. So he starts leading people away while Doc decides to go in and get any stragglers. Before he goes back in, he has a flash where he hears voices, and Mercedes accidentally calls him “sire” when asking if he’s okay but all he knows is he has to get ready. When he’s inside, he hears more voices, so he loads his gun to prepare for whatever is coming next.
Cleo, having a literal captive audience in Rachel, is rambling about her mommy issues, getting angry when Rachel says her own mom was a hero. She’s furious about being punished for the sins of her mother, about the things no one ever told her, about being left all alone. She wants it to be over. And thus is delighted when Wynonna shows up to save Rachel, as predicted.
She calls Rachel a master bait-er (which had big Buffy Dracula Episode vibes imho) when Holt the Reaper stumbles in. Because that’s what happens when a Clanton dies (unless they’re fed to other Reapers like Mam.) Cleo tells Wynonna now why she’s so desperate to get rid of the curse. Mam never warned her about the voices, and how the Reapers follow her, constantly crying out to be fed, demanding revenge, and never sleeping. Wynonna looks at her with more understanding than Cleo could ever know, because her dad also prepped a different sibling for the dangers to come, and never told any of them the full extent of it. But Cleo is determined to free herself of this curse; she’s found a way to pass the Clanton heir title to her greatest enemy instead.
She thinks this will give Wynonna yet another burden to bear. She thinks the Earps are her family’s greatest enemy, which makes sense from where Cleo is standing. Waverly Earp killed her mother, Wynonna killed her big brother. Rachel, an honorary Earp, is the reason her baby brother is dead. And so she’s excited to watch Wynonna kill everyone she loves the way she’s had to watch her own family die. Cleo’s lip quivers and you can tell that for her, this is a last resort.
Next page: Go ahead and get an extra box of tissues and some Advil for your sobbing hangover.
Nervous about what’s to come, Wynonna gives Peacemaker to Rachel and tells her to run and not give her back her magic gun if she becomes a Clanton heir zombie creature. As Rachel disappears out of the barn, Cleo completes the ritual.
Back at BBD, Doc meets Dark Angel Waverly.
Before Doc can wonder too long about what stage of the queer evolution this is, Dark Angel Waverly introduces herself as the scion of the great guardian, protector of the fifth realm. She wants the Garden-ing book in his possession, but Doc knows better than to just do what the majestic creature in Waverly’s body wants. She says she doesn’t want trouble, she just wants to take the book and go home. And Doc says, “You are home,” because this episode was out for blood. He wants her to give Waverly back but she stands her ground. Just then, the Clanton C burns into his hand and Doc leaves Dark Angel Waverly with the promise to find a loophole. He poofs away and Dark Angel Waverly looks confused, and for the first time, almost scared.
By the time Doc materializes on the Clanton ranch, Cleo and Wynonna have figured out that it’s not the Earp heir that is the Clanton’s greatest enemy. Cleo’s maybe, but not the family’s. Cleo decides this is a hilarious twist and does feel a little bad for leaving Wynonna to die but also just wants to get the hell up out of the Ghost River Triangle and escape a lifetime of torture.
Doc shoves Wynonna into one of the famous Clanton rock traps and Wynonna quickly realizes she’s not dealing with pure Henry Holliday, this is Doc cut with something a little darker. She tries to reach Doc, not unlike Jeremy did earlier, but Doc stands his ground, asking for a proper Western duel. Wynonna tries to stall them out at number eight of the ten duel commandments but Holt has Rachel so Wynonna reluctantly picks up Peacemaker because despite the teen’s reassurances, there’s no way in hell Wynonna’s letting the girl die for her.
For the second time just today, someone wearing a familiar face tries to tell Wynonna the person she loves is gone, but Wynonna isn’t buying it. Death has never stopped Doc before, she doesn’t expect whatever this is to stop him either. She calls to the real Doc, the man who has spent the last few years fighting tooth and nail to protect and fight for his humanity, against all odds. She knows he’s still in there somewhere.
Meanwhile, Nicole and Jeremy are shepherding Purgatorians into a truck to head back to safety when suddenly Jeremy gets a crotch calling. He says he will get the civilians to Shorty’s, she has to get to The Stairs. He doesn’t know exactly what or why but he knows it’s because, “You’re the only one she won’t hurt.”
Which is ominous and terrifying and RUN, NICOLE, RUN.
Back at Shorty’s, Billy finds Nedley, who is pleasantly surprised to find his basement buddy is human again. Billy needs Nedley’s help to turn him into the Clanton heir to stop Cloe and her scheming, and luckily Nedley stores his incantation gear right next to the banana liqueur and is ready to help.
When the time to duel comes, and they take their ten paces, Doc gets down to one and turns to shoot, only to find Wynonna didn’t turn. She trusted that the real Doc was in there enough to trust that he wouldn’t shoot her in the back, and on some level she was right.
She takes this moment to shoot off the barrier and the ricochet hits Holt and takes him down, freeing Rachel.
And I loved this moment because it reminded me of the pilot, when Wynonna was still trying to get the hang of Peacemaker and shot at Waverly in order to shoot a Revenant with ricochet. But this time it was confident and purposeful and still being done to save her family.
Unfortunately for Wynonna, the Clanton in Doc takes over then and shoots at Wynonna despite Doc’s rule. But Doc had sensed impending doom long before Cleo finished her dirty work, so back when he loaded his pistols at the BBD waystation, he had loaded his guns wrong on purpose so that if they were shot they would backfire and hit him instead.
Wynonna runs to his side, and since Nedley’s ritual worked and Billy took back over as the Clanton heir, Doc is back to his regular self, and doesn’t want to go on living like this. He wants her to end it, to end his pain, to keep him from hurting anyone else. But Wynonna points out that to do that might end his pain, but it would ensure hers never ends. Wynonna knows there’s another way, there has to be, there always is. And as if on cue, Dark Angel Waverly shows up.
Wynonna asks her if she can fix Doc, and Dark Angel Waverly weighs her options. On one hand, Doc does seem to have deep regret in his heart for his sins. On the other, he has defied the natural end to his life more than once. Wynonna uses her clout as the Champion to win Dark Angel Waverly’s favor, gets down on her knees, and begs. Wynonna says she’s lost so much, if she has to lose her baby sister too, the least Dark Angel Waverly can do is help Waverly save the man they love.
“Please,” she begs, “before you go away forever.” And this pain and defeat in Wynonna’s eyes and voice, this desperation to at least save one (1) person she loves in this battle for their souls, this breaks me. She weighs all her options and decides that having Doc alive and Waverly away from her but safe in the Garden is the best she can hope for, the best she can fight for in this moment. Dark Angel Waverly wants the book, and Wynonna is willing to give it if she’ll save Doc first.
And so Dark Angel Waverly does, in fact, save Doc, and wipes the blood from Waverly’s lil half-human nose.
Wynonna offers the book she promised, but holds onto it just a little too long. She begs one last time for Dark Angel Waverly to not take her most important person away from her. But all the celestial can offer is a small comfort; Waverly did this so Wynonna didn’t have to fight anymore. Waverly loved Wynonna very much. And tears stream down Wynonna’s face (and mine) as the impact of that one word being in the past tense hits.
This part got to me every time. Wynonna watching her little sister leave. This is what it was all for, to keep Waverly safe. It’s why she came back to Purgatory, it’s why she kept fighting when things got hard. It was always for Waverly. Sure, she added more and more names to the list of reasons to fight as the years went on. Doc. Nicole. Jeremy. Rachel. Alice Michelle. But Waverly was always on it. Always. And if she couldn’t save her baby girl, what was it all for?
If Primrose Everdeen dies, what was the point of Katniss’s sacrifice when she volunteered as tribute? The Earp curse is the Earp curse, Peacemaker is Peacemaker…but Waverly is Waverly. Wings and all.
As Dark Angel Waverly leaves, she passes the Reaper Pit, and Holt begs her to free him. And since she’s dishing out miracles on her farewell tour of Purgatory, she decides to do the Clanton clan a solid and turns them all into magpies.
Dark Angel Waverly returns to the Garden stairs and starts to climb them when Nicole shows up and calls out to her, ramming into the barrier that won’t let her pass. Dark Angel Waverly turns and tells her to go home, that this has nothing to do with Nicole.
But Nicole begs to differ. She doesn’t care that the guardian, the failsafe, the scion of the great blah-dee-blah, has to close the gate. She just knows they have to be together. “Where you go, I go.”
Nicole asks, “What about Wynonna,” I think asking both what Wynonna would do without her baby girl and also the role she already plays as protector, but Dark Angel Waverly says that Wynonna has served enough. It’s the whole reason she’s here, it’s the reason Waverly eventually let her break through. To relieve Wynonna of her burden, to take over as the protector.
Nicole won’t accept this as an answer though; she bargains with Dark Angel Waverly. Nicole says she’s already the sheriff of Purgatory, she’d be happy to extend her jurisdiction to cover the whole Ghost River Triangle if that means she gets her fiancée back. Dark Angel Waverly is dubious. Why would Nicole sacrifice herself like this? Nicole points to the book the angel holds in her hands, tells her to read Waverly’s story. Nicole’s name will be all over those pages, she knows it.
Dark Angel Waverly makes sure this brave human knows exactly what she’s offering. If Nicole accepts this role, she could never leave the Ghost River Triangle. Nicole says that as long as her girl is in her arms, she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else anyway. So Dark Angel Waverly showers her in magic and the two women have a different kind of intimate entanglement on a different set of stairs. Nicole swears an oath to protect the GRT, and declares herself the Angel’s Shield.
Her duties done, the Dark Angel leaves Waverly, returning her to her original form of a compact badass in a sundress. Waverly quickly yeets her stolen book back into the Garden as the doors close, and runs to Nicole to kiss her awake and rejoice in their reunion.
They check out Nicole’s badass new brand on the back of her neck, and Waverly can’t believe what Nicole sacrificed for her. Nicole shrugs it off; the Ghost River Triangle is bigger than it seems. There’s the Big City, and a spa, and like three whole strip clubs at least. Sure, it sucks that after not leaving the Ghost River Triangle her whole entire life, Waverly can’t even go anywhere fun for her honeymoon, but as long as they’re together, they’re going to make it through.
What I love about these climactic scenes the most is twofold. One, in the end the fight was not a physical one. Yes, there was an OK Corral style shootout with an Earp, a Holliday, and a Clanton. Of course there was. And there was a bit of a hullabaloo at Black Badge. But those weren’t the peak or the pinnacle of the final battle. There was no huge shootout or brawl or Avengers level war for Purgatory. Doc Holliday risked his own life to save Wynonna, but that wasn’t the final sacrifice. Wynonna was willing to sacrifice her happiness if it meant her sister and her love were both alive, Nicole sacrificed her freedom, and Waverly sacrificed a state of peace she once got a taste of. A state free of worries and heartache and pain. In a sense, she sacrificed heaven.
In the end, it came down to three women. The heir to a curse her patriarchs laid on her shoulders without her consent, an angel who wants to help ease that burden as much as she could, a protector who loves them both. And that’s what I’ve always loved about this show. It makes sense, with so many women behind the scenes, but I’ve seen so many shows that tout a female protagonist somehow manage to sideline that same character in service of men. I’ve watched it happen time and time again. But on Wynonna Earp, Wynonna is the point. Her sister and her best friend are the point. Doc, Jeremy, Nedley, they’re important parts of this world, inextricable from it I’d argue. But they never feel like they’re taking up space Wynonna should have. They exist in service to Wynonna, and as they relate to her, not the other way around.
Okay I’ll save some of these feelings for the finale. Back to the action.
After dropping off the civilians, Jeremy goes back to the Black Badge waystation and takes a call from I guess the people above Upper Management? And tells them he’s got everything under control. He also says McJerkface didn’t make it, even though he’s standing right in front of them. But when McJerkface doubles down on his humanist stance, Jeremy does what the people of Mystic Falls should have done to Alaric Saltzman and frankly probably also Matt Donovan, and feeds McJerkface to the werewolf.
After everyone gets a little cleaned up, the fam meets up at Shorty’s. Well, minus Nedley and the teens, who are in the Big City for burgers now that there’s no more fog or border control to stop them. Wynonna is over-tending to Doc, giving him blankets, and every time they go to kiss Haught gets a little Interruptus revenge.
They assess their situation: Waverly says her Dark Angel seems to be dormant again, thanks to her Shield and her Champion. Jeremy says Black Badge is gone without a trace. And Doc seems to have been defanged during his resurrection. And Waverly says she thinks the only way she could have done that is if Doc really wanted it.
And Doc admits he did. He wants a fresh start. Maybe now he can even grow old with Wynonna.
Nicole interrupts everyone and says that the only update she wants is this: is the WayHaught Wedding happening or what?!
And everyone agrees that a celebration is exactly what they need right now.
It’s hard to believe this is the penultimate episode, for a lot of reasons. For one, they managed to cleanly and brilliantly tie up a TON of loose ends. Sure, there are a few lingering questions, like whatever happened to Eve, were ALL the demons they let loose on the way out of Black Badge actually harmless, etc. But none of them are questions that need to be answered in a series finale. If the show gets picked up, they’ll be there for the taking, but if it doesn’t, it wouldn’t feel unsatisfying to have to keep wondering. It will help with the imagining (and the fanfic-ing) later. The what-if scenarios and where-are-they-now ponderings we’ll do for years to come.
And even if they’re not successful in the traditional way, even if the episode doesn’t end with the official cross-border government agency of the unnamed neutral Canadica territory that contains the Ghost River Triangle, the truth is we know they’ll get their happily ever after if it kills them, and even the fact that the set-up for the Season 4 finale of this demon cowgirl show is a wedding between a bisexual angel and her lesbian shield? Even if things go to shit (as you know they’re bound to do in one way or another when Earps are involved), it still feels so big in such a good way.