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Wynonna Earp (2016-present) is a US-Canadian supernatural Western that follows the exploits of its titular character (played by Melanie Scrofano), who inherits “the Earp Curse” on her twenty-seventh birthday. The curse makes her the only person who can wield (her ancestor) Wyatt Earp’s revolver, the “Peacemaker,” as she battles reincarnated demonic beings who are resurrected from hell upon the coming-of-age of each heir in the relatively unknown town of Purgatory, located in the Ghost River Triangle. Trapped in an endless cycle of violence which pits these demonic outlaws (or revenants) against the Earp heir (the result of a curse by the demon sheriff Bulshar Clootie, played in season three by Jean Marchand), Wynonna has to find a way to end the curse. She is assisted by her sister Waverly Earp (Dominique Provost-Chalkley); Wyatt Earp’s best friend Doc Holliday (Tim Rozon), who was once cursed to be eternal and (as of season 3) is now a vampire; Black Badge Marshal Xavier Dolls (Shamier Anderson); Officer (and later Sheriff) Nicole Haught (Katherine Barrell); and former Black Badge scientist Jeremy Chetri (Varun Saranga).

Season one establishes the show within the parameters of a mythological hero narrative[1] by dealing primarily with Wynonna’s return to Purgatory and her quest to avenge the deaths of her father and sister, Willa (Natalie Krill), at the hands of a group of revenants, led by Bobo Del Ray/Robert Svane (Michael Eklund). The curse sends anyone Peacemaker kills to hell and resurrects them following the death of the heir. This forces Wynonna and the revenants to hunt each other, and binds the revenants to the boundaries of the Ghost River Triangle unless a revenant and the heir join hands to cross the boundary. Season one reveals that Willa is not dead but has allied herself with Bobo Del Ray, forcing Wynonna to shoot her to prevent the revenants from being allowed to leave the Ghost River Triangle. Having established Wynonna’s ability to make hard decisions and sacrifice for the greater good, season two shifts away from the revenge quest motif and becomes a veteran hero’s search for a deeper understanding of the self, destiny, and society. Wynonna spends much of the season coming to terms with having had to kill Willa while trying (and failing) to prevent the demon Bulshar’s wives (played by Meghan Heffern and Dani Kind) from resurrecting him. Wynonna also gives birth to a new Earp Heir (to the Curse), Alice Michelle, as the result of an on-again-off-again relationship with Doc Holliday. She is forced to send Alice outside of the boundaries of the Ghost River Triangle to ensure her safety as the child is considered prime capital in the war between good and evil. This not only reinforces season one’s emphasis on her ability to make hard decisions, but also makes her more determined than ever to break the curse, as she does not want her child to have to repeat this cycle of violence. Season three builds on these narratives, moving towards the mythological hero’s engagement with a spiritual quest and ideas of immortality, as Wynonna confronts the creator of the Earp Curse, the Demon Bulshar/Sheriff Clootie, breaks the curse, and discovers that Purgatory is in fact the site of the Biblical Garden of Eden with Bulshar as the snake.

It’s worth establishing at the outset that Wynonna Earp’s choice to draw on the mythical hero, locate this in the American West, and link this to American Christian exceptionalism is inevitably intertwined with the manner in which the show deals with race and gender. The show begins by evoking the myth of Wyatt Earp as a vehemently moral lawman or frontier marshal, rewriting and erasing any dubious histories in favour of positioning him as a moral origin point within this narrative. This not only draws upon the Western heroic myth, but also consolidates the importance of inheriting Earp’s arms—Peacemaker is passed to Wynonna, and is revealed in season three to have been forged from an angel’s blade, used to name a guardian to protect the Garden of Eden. Peacemaker, with its name associated with law-making, is part of this mythical heroism—it is a named weapon and thus takes on a personality and characteristics of its own that are used to play into Wynonna’s (and Wyatt’s) heroic status. Peacemaker chooses Wynonna as worthy over her sister Willa (“I Walk the Line”), is willing to work for Waverly when Wynonna begs it to (“I Hope You Dance”), and indicates if someone is demonic, therefore allowing Wynonna to partially shift moral responsibility to it in deciding whom to execute. All of this has bearing on the symbolism of Wynonna’s greatness as a “chosen one,” as the viewer is privy to her affinity for her weapon and the trust forged between them. Additionally, Wynonna’s fear of intimacy, trust issues, functional alcoholism, swearing, refusal to acknowledge authority, and lack of organisation suggest a framework of moral ambiguity—she is presented as transgressive of social and moral mores, yet (in her role as Earp heir) is an enforcer of the law. In this sense, she is a version of a traditional Western paradox: the law-maker who prevents violence by being violent themselves. And her hubris is her overarching ambition to end the Earp curse, yet she herself admits repeatedly that she lacks self-definition outside of her role as the “chosen one” Earp heir.

I mention these points to demonstrate how the show’s use of the supernatural Western is tied to narratives of European mythic heroism, which are themselves inextricably linked in popular understandings to constructions of white masculinity and, within American television, to constructions of American exceptional nationalism. Wynonna Earp’s use of a female Western hero calls into question the masculine nature of heroism and the socially constructed terms of who is allowed to wield that power is redefined (I’m drawing here on Kerry Fine’s analysis of Sons of Anarchy and In Plain Sight)[2], but this ignores the manner in which this ideation is limited to white women, their relationship with white male structures of power, and the manner in which gendered depictions of aggression, toughness, strength, and law/lessness are racially policed. The female outlaw hero here is transgressive only insofar as her nonconformity and limited social and emotional resources play against ideations of passive white womanhood. I enjoy Wynonna Earp as a character that’s allowed to be flawed and complicated, but am not unaware that the stakes for this depiction are very different for women of colour for whom lawlessness, alcoholism, sexual promiscuity, a history of (falsely) presumed mental illness, underage drug peddling, and jail time would evoke histories of false racial myth. The fact that the show has no heroic female characters of colour underscores this set of ideas. This is not to say that there aren’t several women of colour through the show—there are—but they are there to be threats to the Wynonna-Doc romantic endgame of the show (the demon Rosita, played by Tamara Duarte, and the vampire Kate or “Contessa,” played by Chantel Riley); introduced to be killed (Mattie Perley or The Blacksmith, played by Rachael Ancheril); introduced as an antagonist (Gretta Perley, also played by Rachael Ancheril); or introduced to be saved (Tadewi, played by Riza Santos, the clearly Native-coded bear “skinwalker” in the episode “She Wouldn’t Be Gone”). The three in the show who refuse the markers associated with traditional gender roles in American Westerns (i.e., Wynonna, Waverly, and Nicole) are all white. Women of colour are not only peripheral (at best) in this framework, but their evocation of similar characteristics as Wynonna (particularly in the cases of Kate and Rosita) are arguably only present so as to allow for (lacking) comparisons with Wynonna herself. The show’s choices here for “strong female character that shatters stereotypes” clearly demarcate racial boundaries that distinguish this as exclusionary (if queer-friendly) white feminism.

I draw attention to the show’s queer-friendly white feminism because of the ways in which the supernatural American Western allows for a more subtle ideation of the systems of white supremacy. One of the central concerns of the Western is sex and the fear of mixed races; this results in either the masculine hero carefully policing his sexuality, or the threat of this transgressive sexual act (whether consensual or nonconsensual) coming back to haunt the events of the film/show. Thus, although the show attempts to explore a love triangle between Dolls, Doc, and Wynonna, it’s notable that despite Dolls and Wynonna admitting to feelings for each other, we see only one clearly sexual kiss between them towards the end of season one (“House of Memories”); it is interrupted by Doc’s return, reminding us of the show’s emphasis on a Wynonna-Doc pairing. Season two offers evidence of nonsexual intimacy between Dolls and Wynonna while Wynonna gives birth to Doc’s child. Notably, as a narrative parallel to the emotional arc of Wynonna having to choose between Dolls and Doc, both of whom are in love with her, we see her having to figure out if her child is “mixed race” (the result of a drunken night with a revenant, Jonas, played by Lebanese-Canadian Mark Ghanimé) or not, and how horrific this idea is to her. Against the background of the romantic competition between Doc and Dolls, and the wider context of the demonisation and dehumanisation of people of colour, this narrative of a mixed-race child serves to highlight an underlying white supremacy within the show.

If you still doubt my reading of this, it’s worth comparing the scenes of largely nonsexual intimacy between Dolls and Wynonna with the wide variety of scenes in which Wynonna and Doc have sex, discuss having sex, or banter with sexual innuendo. The show makes a deliberate choice here to present Wynonna and Dolls’s relationship as far and away less sexual even when it is a romantic relationship, while repeatedly visually and thematically underlining Wynonna and Doc’s relationship as current, distinctly sexual and emotional, making clear that while Wynonna and Doc could have a special (white) baby that is the product of two legendary (white) bloodlines, Wynonna and Dolls may not even have gone beyond a kiss. While Doc has had multiple sexual partners (almost all of those we know of are women of colour), they are meaningless fillers for his ultimate relationship with Wynonna. As if to underline this, none of them could have children—Rosita because she is a revenant, and Kate/“Contessa” because she is a vampire. The show is not subtle with this point. The inheritor of an Earp legacy must be white, even if she is female—this is indisputably white feminism. Add in that all the “threats” to the Wynonna, Doc, Alice “superpowered” family unit Western legacy are nonwhite (Dolls, Rosita, Contessa, Jonas) and it’s not hard to see a pattern of racial hierarchy played out multiple times over the course of the show. Even with Waverly and Nicole’s queer romance, Nicole’s wife (they are mutually separated, and later amicably divorce) Shae Pressman (played by Clark Backo), a woman of colour, only appears briefly to reaffirm the strength of Waverly and Nicole’s relationship and the lack of lasting passion in their (Nicole and Shae’s) own. This then mirrors the representation of Wynonna’s relationship with Dolls where emotional intimacy may still be present but sexual intimacy is largely or entirely absented onscreen.

But then there’s Julian/Charlie (played by Sebastian Pigott). An amnesiac fireman introduced in season three as Wynonna’s love interest, Charlie is eventually revealed to be Julian, the love of Wyonna’s mother’s (Michelle Gibson, played by Megan Follows in season three) life and, Waverly’s father. He’s also revealed to be an angel, one of two (the other is Juan Carlo, played by Shaun Johnston), tasked with guarding the Garden of Eden located in Purgatory. This makes Waverly genetically half-angel and explains the repeated suggestions that she is “special” that have been peppered through much of season two of the show. Once again, procreation when linked with legacy is repeatedly restricted to white identities, white sexuality is created as more visible (and thus default) and more enduring, and the results of this procreation (Alice in season two, Waverly in season three) are depicted as “special.”

I’ve seen numerous discussions online about the importance of Waverly being half-angel and queer, but very few addressing how this simultaneously reinforces ideas of whiteness, Christianity, and American exceptionalism. The mapping of a Biblical space onto an American town, its portrayal as “new” territory that must be explored/protected from (white) Bulshar (revealed to be the snake from the Garden of Eden), and the use of this battle to discuss “the fate of the world” firmly being decided within Americana ties together multiple narratives of American exceptionalism, the Western frontier, the “chosen land,” and white Christian American identity; this version of America is traceable in political ideology back through Bush and Reagan, to colonial American myth itself. That the “Earp Curse” comes from the Biblical snake; that angels “chose” Wyatt Earp to wield Peacemaker (and then Peacemaker chooses Wynonna); that the Garden of Eden needs Wynonna to defend it; that the “fate of the world” rests on the shoulders of two white American women—if this isn’t the myth of (white) (Christian) American exceptionalism, I don’t know what is. Waverly’s being queer barely challenges this system, articulating acceptance on one axis so as to double down on others. Wynonna Earp is not challenging colonial myths so much as appropriating them in largely unchanged form for white Christian American cis femininity.

If you assume I’m stretching here, I think it’s worth pointing to the manner in which Xavier Dolls is introduced. He repeatedly makes mention of supernatural threats that have followed him from Kandahar, reminding the viewer through his government affiliations and time at war, of the US offensive in the 2001 fall of Kandahar and the city’s place in the 2011 Taliban Spring Offensive. Dolls is introduced as the leader of the team in season one, yet the show is called Wynonna Earp and thus the viewer knows he cannot be the true leader. Only her weapon can make a difference; and he is at least partially compromised through his association with what is presumed to be the government agency of Black Badge (it is eventually revealed to not have been a government agency at all). The depiction of the team is positioned to effect a platoon narrative of war against revenants and a multiethnic found family narrative, yet within the framing of the Western, this found family has to have a white person as its central, guiding figure. Moreover, in what appears to be a drug plot, season one rapidly presents him as animalistic and out of control due to being genetically modified with some form of dragon-demon DNA; and season two underscores this assertion of his in/humanity by Doc Holliday: “Deputy Marshal Dolls is many things. He’s stubborn, he’s humorless, he’s principled, and he’s strong. He’s a good man. He’s also not a man at all” (“Steel Bars and Stone Walls”). None of this can be seen outside the long context of black masculinity being portrayed as monstrous, violent, and uncontrolled, and of these traits being attributed to genetics, particularly given the show’s use of the Western genre. The choice to centre this narrative specifically on a black man, particularly as a group of white people ride to his rescue and spend a few scenes across season two convincing him to find his humanity once more, is … vehemently not good.

The second episode of season three (“When You Call My Name”) has Dolls die without much fanfare or build up. While Shamier Anderson has claimed that the choice to avoid discussion of the issue would be in-character for Dolls, this doesn’t account for how little development there was of this issue and how the following episode (“Colder Weather”) centres the entirety of grief for Dolls on a white character, Ramon Quinn (played by Peter Mooney), “the only member” of Dolls’s Black Badge team still standing. The episode literally reduces Dolls to the question of his body, as the team wonder how to keep his remains from being utilised by Black Badge. Gretchen at TheFandomentals notes that the narrative of “When You Call My Name” is unacceptable particularly when linked to Dolls’s previous arcs of drugs, inhumanity, and violence, and I’d argue it extends further to the manner in which his body is used as a way to play out power struggles twice in the show—between Black Badge and Wynonna and her team at the start of season two,[3] and now in season three. Using a black man’s body as the site of negotiating control and government experimentation is bad enough, but repeatedly playing out this narrative as a way to centre the feelings of a white woman saviour about this event suggests a toxicity of purpose.

But don’t just take my word for it: Zina Hutton has written about the manner in which show-writers, particularly in non-diverse writing rooms, seem entirely too willing to kill off characters of colour as “heroic sacrifices” for the (inevitably white) main characters they love. Hutton notes that this repeated construction of person of colour characters being killed off in the service of this sort of narrative is not simply hurtful, but:

It’s that characters of color who make it to main-ish status tend to wind up either killed off by the source media in these cases or whom the fandom desperately wishes would get killed off because that is the only way that fandom thinks that they have value. It’s that when these characters of color die, it’s usually in a form of fridging—a death done [in] order to save a white character or provide them with a tragedy that fuels the remainder of their mission or a further plot point.

Even the revenant character of Hui (played by Wei Dave Chen)—the only character who doesn’t speak English in the show, who is introduced as subordinate to Bobo, and eventually becomes part of the set of revenants who ally themselves with Wynonna—sacrifices himself for Wynonna and her cause in the final fight against Bulshar’s army of beekeepers (more on the “beekeeper” army later). Of all the characters to sacrifice as a “heroic” gesture for Wynonna, the writers chose Hui; his survival is not intended to matter. Characters of colour can only perform acts that are recognised as heroic when they allow for the survival of white protagonists.

Hutton’s point is central to my annoyance with the representation of Dolls (and of season two and three’s Jeremy Chetri as well) because, as has been established numerous times, on-screen representation outside the predominant (white, cis, mostly male, American) parameters offers viewers who exist outside of these identities chances to identify with the characters onscreen and see themselves existing in these spaces. Here, characters of colour have to either be useful to white characters (and therefore are often far less complex because the plot simply cannot devote time or space to them), antagonistic to the white characters (allowing for white character development), or subservient to white characters (and therefore either stoic or comic relief, depending on representation). As a result, these characters rarely if ever get to be complex anti/heroes or have adventures of their own that centre only their narrative; and this transfers over to real-world ideas of how people of colour are perceived in global societies living with the reality of colonial history’s narratives of white supremacy. Wynonna Earp may be a somewhat campy supernatural Western, but it is absolutely complicit in setting up a narrative where people of colour are still secondary to the needs and narratives of white people visually and narratively, in front of the scenes and behind. It’s impossible to begrudge Shamier Anderson the choice to leave Wynonna Earp for other options where he might actually be developed as a character. As he states in an interview with TVGuide:

I’m bummed about a lot of things. I’m bummed we didn't get to go into his storyline a little more. I’m bummed we didn't get to see the background of him a little more, just kind of his origin ... I think just outside of the show itself, it would have been really interesting to see an interracial couple, you know really go into that and really explore the ins and outs and complexities of what that is, you know, being an interracial couple in a town like Purgatory. And especially with dealing with working with each other … I think bummed is not the right word; I think the right word is I was looking forward to seeing more of that. There’'s only so much you can do in what, 52 minutes or 45 minutes? [laughs] But yeah, that would have been super cool to see a bit of backstory on that end. But you know, the show is called Wynonna Earp, so we’ve got to keep the focus there.

It was evident through most of season two that the show had stalled out on developing Dolls at all, and that even if they were going to rework his character as a romantic interest for Wynonna, this would only be insofar as it centred Wynonna and could be used to introduce tension and distance in her relationship with Doc.

Wynonna Earp’s inability to develop narrative arcs for their characters of colour while handily managing to do so for white characters may stem not only from the Western genre’s privileging of whiteness, but also its non-diverse writing team. There were only two characters of colour on the show’s primary cast: Dolls and Jeremy Chetri, neither of whom are significantly developed. Introduced as a Black Badge scientist in season two, Jeremy is a gay man of colour who—due to a childhood automobile accident in which his entire family died slowly while trapped near him—can now sense when people close to him need him through “tingles” in his groin. This link between trauma, Jeremy’s genitals, and his sexuality is repeatedly used as a comedy gag in extremely bad taste, as Jeremy fondles his genitals while he opines on the safety of Doc or Dolls. The emphasis on his attraction to both men, the choice to link this to his previous trauma through this mockery, and their clear dismissal of his sexuality outright in favour of Wynonna sets Jeremy up as yet another person of colour whose narrative is only present to feed into a fascination with Wynonna. While season three introduces Robin Jett (Justin Kelly) as a love interest for Jeremy, the narrative does little to develop Jeremy’s character beyond this addition. In contrast, I suddenly know more about Robin’s backstory—his ailing father, his place among the founding families of Purgatory who had wronged Bulshar, his majors in college, his love of jazz, his inability to navigate the woods despite being hired on as a forest ranger, his friendship with Waverly, his being teased as the only gay kid in high school, and more—in the space of one season than I know about Jeremy over two seasons despite Robin being present to develop Jeremy’s character. Additionally, the choice to sanitise queer relationships such that both gay couples (Jeremy and Robin as well as Waverly and Nicole) move from attraction to immediate commitment, while Wynonna and Doc’s heterosexuality allows for both committed and noncommitted sex with a variety of partners, is its own form of moral queer policing.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this is Michael Eklund’s character, Bobo Del Ray/Robert Svane. Despite being the Big Bad of season one, and present for long stretches of seasons two and three, his character has remained largely undeveloped, i.e., I have a million questions and zero answers, such as—why “Del Ray”? Where does that part of his name come from? Why does he abandon the surname Svane? What did Robert Svane even do other than follow Wyatt Earp around? How did he earn a living? How does he eventually lead the revenants if they all know he used to run with Wyatt Earp? How does he get the money together for the trailer park? How does he get his power to control metal? Are we supposed to have forgotten that he was a pederast, given that he kidnapped Willa as a teenager and they apparently “fell in love” somewhere about this time? What is the strange, ill-fitting “taped together three garbage bags and added a beret on top” outfit that he wears in the finale of season three meant to indicate? Honestly, I have no idea what precisely I’m supposed to be getting from Bobo and his (limited) choices to serve Willa/Constance/Wyatt/Bulshar/Waverly.

Additionally, Bobo’s character is used to make links to Native cultures and knowledge. He is aware of a method to neutralise the ammolite of the Earp homestead (we are informed that ammolite was specifically linked to and prized by the Blackfoot Nation in “Keep the Homefires Burning”); he moved Bulshar’s body to a mine that he knew is sacred ground for the Assiniboine, suggesting that his religio-cultural frameworks acknowledge something outside of Christianity (one of very few instances of this nature in this show); and he has a claim of longstanding enmity with Lou/Yiska in the episode “She Wouldn’t Be Gone,” which introduces the latter as white man/demon controlling a Native-coded “skinwalker” for personal gain. However, the show appears to evoke these factors while simultaneously refusing any Native representation.[4] The mention of the Assiniboine, the Blackfoot, the Navajo “skinwalker” (played by Riza Santos, who as far as I can tell from having googled this, is not of Native descent and/or enrolled in a Native community) all play to assumptions of Native lives and cultures being a thing of the past rather than alive, present, and threatened still by settler colonialism in both America and Canada.

The finale of season two introduces Bulshar Clootie, or the demon/snake that started this entire series of events: he created the Earp Curse (as we are informed in season two), and before that he led Adam and Eve to sin in the Garden of Eden (as per season three). I’ve purposefully avoided any in-depth discussion of Bulshar because the character is so haphazardly put together that trying to decipher him would be to create more character development than the show itself offers. But apparently, he would like to get back into the Garden itself and would like to destroy humanity in the process.

On the surface, this makes sense. But I assume the writers thought this couldn’t be dramatic enough? So at this point we’re told that Bulshar/Clootie/the demonic Serpent is very intimidating (sadly, Jean Marchand’s performance is not) and has what I think we will all acknowledge is a weird habit of collecting “wives.” Also left unexplained by the show are his army of demonic beekeepers (I wish I was kidding), his control of Purgatory’s soil and trees (was he turning people into trees? Or fertiliser? Or soil?), and what purpose this was meant to serve at all. The show seems utterly uninterested in why or how Bulshar can control the land or trees (and no, this can’t be explained by him just being a demonic serpent because that still makes no sense), why making people drink fertiliser (I think?) would help find an entrance to the Garden of Eden that is located on Earth and in America for reasons no one cares to explain, or why old-school outfitted demonic beekeepers are part of this narrative altogether, or how any of this could/would/should be linked to a Biblical narrative that itself is unspecified. It all felt not unlike being the only sober person at a party full of drunk strangers trying to collectively tell a story. After a while I found myself just going with it. “Ah,” I’d mutter about five minutes into a dramatic scene, “an army of demonic beekeepers with a military-grade gun and a bunch of shields coming in to attack on Bulshar’s orders. Robin’s blood is somehow able to make him immune to their beekeeper senses. Sure, sure. Explanations are for suckers!”

The writing on season three is some of the sloppiest I’ve seen, and large parts are pretty much incoherent. The writers hinted at numerous connections between different characters but never followed through on this. For example, we’re informed that Michelle Gibson knows something about the “Cult of Bulshar,” a demonic sect that performed mass murders in Bulshar’s name, but the show never expands on this before she leaves for the remainder of the season. We’re similarly informed that Nicole Haught is a survivor of one of these massacres, but this again remains simply a way to indicate that Black Badge (which we now know is not a government organisation, making their motives far more suspect) probably covered up the scene. There is no further discussion of Black Badge for the remainder of the season.

At the end of all things, it’s hard to say that Wynonna Earp isn’t watchable because it still sort of is. There are great quick quips, I do enjoy many of the characters, and (extremely low bar here) it’s slightly better written than Supernatural (which falls in the same rough category of genre) in that it’s still rubbish with race and religion but at least women and/or queer people sometimes live. I genuinely can’t tell if that’s because Supernatural and its giant fandom have set the bar so ridiculously low that this feels like an accomplishment. I do know, however, that I can’t watch Supernatural without a rage migraine, but I can usually make it through an episode of Wynonna Earp—so it’s maybe … a type of progress … if you squint? Many of the problems with Wynonna Earp are definitely a matter of genre—partially because the American Western is always going to come with a huge history of racist ideology and settler colonial violence—but there are larger problems in the show’s choices of narratives (when it attempts some sort of plot at all). This show doesn’t know how to write narratives for people of colour, particularly women of colour, and that’s likely something viewers will have to consider if they plan to watch season four. Personally? I think I’m out.

 

Endnotes

[1] Many of the links here between the traditional American Western and the classic mythological hero are drawn from Martin M. Winkler’s “Classical Mythology and the Western Film,” in Comparative Literature Studies, Vol 22: 4 (Winter 1985), pp. 516-540.

[2] Kerry Fine, “She Hits Like a Man, But She Kisses Like a Girl: TV Heroines, Femininity, Violence, and Intimacy,” in Western American Literature, Vol. 47, No. 2, Special Issue: Current Western TV (Summer 2012), p. 153.

[3] The Black Badge division in question (itself a global organisation) is led by a “mysterious” Black man, Richard Moody (played by Kevin Hanchard), who seems to only appear to offer cryptic comments about the government or Black Badge’s work in an odd men-in-black version of the “magical negro” trope.

[4] There has been a previous longstanding claim (without any listed source and which has since been removed) on Wikipedia and a few other pop culture websites that “Michael Eklund is of Cree and Norwegian descent” (he remains present in this Wikipedia list); and this is something that I remember seeing quite a bit on fanboards back when I was watching Blood Ties (2007). However, given the manner in which claims of Native ancestry are currently being used to undercut Native sovereignty, I’m wary of asserting an identity that I can’t seem to find Eklund claiming publicly. Despite having googled extensively, I was unable to find any indication that he is tribally enrolled with any Canadian or American tribe.



Based in India, Samira spends most of her time explaining Nicolas Cage movies to her father and making bad puns. In her everyday life, she’s an academic. At night, she watches terrible TV and posts blurry pictures of her cat. It’s a life.
3 comments on “Wynonna Earp, Season Three”

Wow, this was comprehensive and well-considered. I enjoyed reading it.

Stacey

Great analysis, and raised a lot of things I hadn’t fully thought out. I’m glad to see I wasn’t the only one felt like S3 was either poorly conceived or written entirely under the influence of a bad trip.

NWP

My problem here is that the analysis of Dolls' character completely ignores the fact that much of his lack of focus in season two was due to the actor's other commitments, that the love triangle and his interest in Wynonna was going to be expanded upon further before Melanie Scrofano's pregnancy had to be incorporated (and no, Dolls couldn't realistically be the father and have it make any sense), and that there was almost no availability in the beginning of season three for them to film more buildup for his sacrifice. It's absurd to accuse the show of not properly handling a storyline that they had to rearrange at the last minute, twice, due to circumstances completely outside the control of the writers.

Additionally? I'm really tired of people acting like it's bad writing to have backstory information be held off for later episodes/seasons. Waverly's parentage was introduced in the end of season one and wasn't actually resolved until the end of season three. Expecting every single detail of Jeremy's and Nicole's pasts to be resolved immediately means that you have no idea how television narrative works. Especially Nicole's which was only just introduced this season. And Jeremy's was only introduced at the end of season two. Have you never heard of having patience for the timing of a plotline? There are only twelve episodes per season to work with.

You make some good points here, but ruin them by being completely unrealistic about writing a lead-focused short-length narrative that incorporates season-long, series-long, and episode-long plots simultaneously.

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