In case you’re new, my Wynonna Earp “Countdown to Season 2” watch-along recap spectacular begins here.
This installment begins in Black Badge HQ with Wynonna and Dolls training in hand-to-hand combat. Wynonna loses to Dolls (“you’re dead again”) but pops back up in that awesomely badass ninja way that requires no hands and a lot of ab strength that I’ll never have. I salute Melanie Scrofano for that level of physical badassery. Despite her agility, Dolls keeps catching her with her guard down until he finally goads Wynonna into beating him, into showing herself what she can do. He suggests she has “limbered up.” She claims it’s yoga, but we know what it was…
Wynonna looks at the photo of the Seven, with the ones she’s already dispatched crossed out in red Sharpie, asking Dolls to join her and Waverly for dinner. He declines. She tells him he needs to “loosen up.”(We know what she means!) As she departs HQ, Dolls looks distressed to notice one of his hands shaking uncontrollably.
Cut to a hiker in the snow. He hears weird growling laughter, gets attacked by some creature seconds later. Then we see his scalp? Or head? Tossed all bloody in the snowy road. Gross.
At a construction site we find Bobo and Doc hanging around a trash barrel fire discussing the “unexplainable” disappearance of the Stone Witch after Bobo has so kindly provided Doc with her last known address. Bobo insinuates that she ran because she’s afraid of Doc. They threaten each other in a hypermasculine way that ends in both of them (sort-of?) backing down. I’d say Doc won, but only sort of.
Doc leaves the site, and Bobo rants to the foreman about the lack of workers showing up on time. In order to “motivate” him, Bobo mind-controls the foreman into turning a power drill on himself. The guy is a Revenant, but I guess it still hurts when he drills himself in the face.
Waverly sits in a diner engrossed in texting, when Wynonna shows up to snatch her phone. We sadly find out that Champ “manscapes,” so we can only assume that they were sexting … ewww… I don’t wanna know. Anyway, Wynonna gives Waverly a hard time about Champ, only to end up almost dishing about her – apparently – really high quality roll in the hay with Doc. P.S. It was not hay, it was dirt and leaves. Hello, unsanitary?
A waitress who knows Waverly shows up at their table just time for me to not hear more about the (literally) dirty rendezvous with Doc. Thank you, Heddy the Waitress. Heddy is for Hedwig, incidentally. So this waitress’s name is Hedwig, which I will call her throughout the rest of this post. Wynonna ends up pissing off Hedwig over a defaced picture of “Mama,” diner owner, and they don’t get a coffee refill. Despite the incident, Waverly reminds Wy that she has “a beautiful soul.” Because we know Waverly already, we understand how much she both means and doesn’t mean that. Our gal has layers of both sass and sincerity, all of which I love.
Wynonna shows Waverly the photo of the Seven, and even their little exchange about it gives us insight into these two characters.
Waverly: I hate that picture.
Wynonna: It reminds me why I’m needed.
They have trouble identifying the remaining two undispatched Seven. One has a neck tattoo that looks like an old ranch brand. To find out about the brand symbol, they’ll have to go see…. *whispered ominously* The Blacksmith.
Cut to a rusty shop building with a “no trespassing” sign and a lot of random metal objects and antlers adorning the place. Dolls and Wynonna approach the shop trading what they know about The Blacksmith: “artist, loner, mucho info about the Triangle,” etc. Then Wynonna steps on a landmine trip. Dolls knows all about landmines because of his time in Kandahar, which he has referenced now in a few episodes. Wynonna has to keep her foot on the trip, and Dolls pulls his gun as a creepy masked figure slides open the door to the shop. They’re holding a hot poker, and instead of a welding mask, it looks more like a medieval plague mask with kind of a BDSM-y / executioner vibe.
Aaaaannnd the blacksmith takes off her mask, and guess what? She’s a lady, she’s really pretty, appears to be a WOC (finally, Wynonna Earp, jeez!) and she hates the eff outta the Earps. They have to negotiate with her about defusing Wynonna’s landmine predicament. Dolls’ reasoning: “Because if you don’t help us you’re gonna be helping things far more worse than an Earp.” More worse? Worser? Okay. Turns out the landmine isn’t live. So a dummy minetrip? That would only work on… Never mind…
Anyway, they join the Blacksmith in her shop. It’s filled with all kinds of cool retro machinery that billows out steam and smoke. She deems the cattle brand in the photo “hardcore” and shows them her collection of 19th-century ranch brands, which she accrued, “as a reminder that those who were marked were chosen. They didn’t choose.” Wynonna can relate. Also is the Blacksmith vegan? The brand is from the Tates, a family of cattle rustlers.
The Blacksmith says expressions like “Great Gaia” and senses Dolls’ pain of the hand-trembling pain. She tells him he’s fighting a battle deep inside. The Blacksmith is in touch with … special Natural Forces. More on that later.
At the Earp homestead, Champ helps Waverly unload some of her Uncle Curtis’s stuff from the back of a pickup. Turns out, Curtis was also interested in history, collected curious objects from the past. Champ ends up giving Waverly the crappiest compliment ever:
Champ: How could somebody so pretty be so smart, huh?
Waverly: Cause they’re not mutually exclusive.
She gets an annoyed look on her face, and it gets more annoying when he uses the phrase “mutually exclusive” to describe sex and tries to get feisty with her. She fends him off in favor of the truckload of cool historical objects. She finds an envelope with Curtis’s writing (it’s all block letters, but okay?) and it contains a short poem, which Champ poo-poos in favor of dirty limericks. Because of course.
Wynonna comes outside just in time to interrupt Champ’s unwanted advances and ask about the Tate family. Apparently the family “went legit” and now deals in organic, grass-fed beef. In the midst of this exchange, Wynonna gasps in amazement as she sees Champ uncover a black Harley 1200cc Screamin’ Eagle sportster. Curtis has left it to her. She has a bike-gasm. I hope she doesn’t blow up this motorcycle within five minutes of owning it like the last one.
Doc shows up to “talk” about the bangin’ situation, which Wynonna dismisses with “there is no we.” Doc looks relieved and gets to his real point, which is to request a meeting with Dolls.
We find Dolls, meanwhile, on the phone with someone (a “sir,” a superior in Black Badge, perhaps?) about the “supply” of some unnamed injectable blue substance. He looks like he needs a fix about now when Wynonna shows up unexpectedly, with Doc in tow, to request the meeting. She then bows out to go get a donut.
Sure enough, Doc wants to know if Dolls can help him locate Constance aka the Witch. He will not let up, will he? Jeez. You spend 100 years in a well and really get bent on revenge, huh? He uses his info on Bobo as a bargaining chip. Dolls demands “evidence of his more unearthly activities” and they have a deal. Doc finds Dolls’ sweaty-palmed handshake cause for concern. I do too, albeit for other reasons.
Dolls and Wynonna visit the supposedly now-legit Tate ranch. Someone is inside the ranch house cutting up all kinds of raw entrails, and it’s really disgusting. Dolls, obviously still in need of his drug fix, is jumpy and irritable. Wynonna’s not having it: “The last guy who talked to me that way got a nail gun to the nads.” Ahh, our sweet Wynonna.
Just then they notice a creepy cowboy hanging out on the ranch house porch. He’s Neck Tattoo Revenant, and he happens to be holding a meat cleaver, so that’s not alarming at all. Nope. But then it’s a lot less alarming when he throws the cleaver. Dumb Revenant! Everybody knows that’s a ridiculously unbalanced projectile weapon. Please. He runs off, Wynonna after him declaring, “I got beef with you, Tate!” Get it – beef? LOL!
They corner him against a fence, but Dolls encourages Wy not to shoot him. They need evidence of Revenant activity to show Black Badge. Since he’s one of the Seven, Wynonna has a really hard time sympathizing with that need and ends up shooting him anyway. He doesn’t get the option of her new “make your peace” catchphrase. Dolls is really mad until he finds a probably-human hand in the brush next to the fence. That always cools my jets too.
They hear the animal noise like the ones with the hiker from before and Wynonna notes that the Revenant had said “leave us alone.” So perhaps more evidence is just around the corner. They search through the ranch house aka “at-home butcher shop” to see if they can find any other clues. Wynonna uncovers a family photo album conveniently labeled “family.” Creepily enough, however, the family album turns out to be a fun scrapbook of murder victim memorabilia. Lovely. The family that slays together…
Back at Bobo’s construction site, Doc goes undercover in a hardhat and reflective gear. He breaks into a building (the barn from last episode!) to find the Incomplete Skeleton Twins. Bethany the sexy lady who seduced Doc a couple episodes ago follows him in, acting saucy as usual. With the prospect of more sexytimes with Doc, Bethany is all too happy to spill all kinds of details about the skeletons. Unfortunately for her, she gives away all the info first, so no sexytimes, babe. Sorry. She sassily flips Doc the bird on the way out.
Wynonna and Dolls go over evidence at HQ. Dolls’ hands shake as he pulls bits of metal out of something gross. Apparently the “at-home butchershop” was PEOPLE. Revenant dude was hacking up people. Yick. Wynonna deduces that each wave of hackings-up corresponds with the rise of a new Earp heir. Disturbingly, Dolls remarks that the bone marrow has been cleaned out of the mummified arm he’s examining. Did I mention yick? Also the arm has human bite marks. So… eww no. Cannibal revenant. A lady cannibal revenant.
I’ll just mention here that I really hate cannibal horror. Just registering my disgust. Carry on.
Bethany, totally not dressed for the snowy weather in her fishnet stockings and high heel boots, treads unsteadily along a road. An unmarked delivery truck stops for her. Unfortunately not to offer her a ride. We hear the growly noises again, and blood splatters against the window of the van. So yeah. Doc should’ve said yes to her. It’s would’ve double helped her day go better.
Waverly, back at Shorty’s, puzzles over Uncle Curtis’s odd poetry. Something about sitting in front of a mug. Waverly sees her own beautiful mug in a mirror from Curtis’s old chair and gets an idea. Because beauty and brains aren’t mutually exclusive. Except they are where Champ is concerned. He’s a dum-dum.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch (finally, I got to say that!), Dolls and Waverly look for more clues. They find a storm cellar door out behind the house. The door is really heavy. Hey, Dolls and Wy – you shouldn’t both go down there! That heavy door is just propped with a 2×4. Aaaaand no one ever listens to me. There they go!
Our pals find a subterranean living room with mummified parts just hanging around casually. Plus a recently gnawed-on skull? Did I not just say how much I hate cannibal horror? Uggghh. Wynonna recognizes the chair from the photo of Mama in the diner. They hear the growly noises again and should really get the hell out of that hole. Wynonna climbs for the exit, and…
Waverly works on her riddle back at Shorty’s – something about a favorite song, and Waverly remembers him singing “Pop Goes the Weasel” to them when she was little. Also she has a beautiful singing voice, which of course she does. She plays the end of the song on the old bar piano, somehow picking the right key even though it wasn’t the one she was singing, and a door on the underside of the piano swings open. Champ yammers about how he hopes it’s $1,000,000 and they can open a bar in Buenos Aires because that’s what he’s always wanted for them and dude STFU…
Instead, it’s a skull. With a note in its mouth. It tells her she’s the Keeper of the Bones. And the only person she can share it with is the Blacksmith because Waverly is the only person Curtis could trust. Except… except… dum-dum Champ is right there. You can’t trust him! He’ll blab. No! And then… and then… the worst thing Champ (or perhaps anyone) has ever said. “You’ll always be the keeper of my boner.” Dude. Just no.
And our gal GOES OFF, ending her tirade like this:
It turns out that a boner and a pickup aren’t the whole enchilada. No… we’re done. Yeah, we’re done, Champ. And I’ve got work to do.
She looks a little stunned but relieved that she actually said it. And she just grabs her cardboard box full of skull, sighs, and walks right off. YOU GO, GIRL!
Honestly, this scene finally, fully sold me on this series. I liked it before, but we’ve all been burned in the past. Normally, in so-called feminist shows, we get cool female characters who end up tied to their dumbass love interests for obvious marketability purposes. Woefully inadequate love interests – played for humor, but who aren’t funny at all. They hold our awesome lady characters back from their true purpose, doubt their worth, don’t see how great they are, remain undeveloped manbabies who need constant attention. Champ, of course, has been waaay over the top from the beginning. But we need only look as far as Supergirl to see another prominent allegedly feminist-themed series with a main character mired in a relationship with a similarly douchey guy who constantly underestimates, hinders, oversteps stated boundaries, and siphons attention. Indeed, he does in a way that makes Supergirl – the title lead – a love interest in her own show. It’s not that far-fetched at all to have been surprised to see Waverly dumping Champ so soon. And (again, sideeying Supergirl) this dumping didn’t give us any, “Oh they’ll get back together lol” vibes. It felt final. Yay – dump that loser, Waverly!
Also shockingly, unlike the old trap door bit would have us assume, Wynonna and Dolls do get out of the underground living room. They chase Cleaver Cowboy through the snow, but Dolls gets bowled over by the growly creature. Wynonna tackles the Cowboy. But wait, isn’t he supposed to be dead? Didn’t she shoot him with Peacemaker? What’s happening? Oh wait, it’s not Cleaver, it’s Hedwig the Waitress, in Cowboy cosplay, complete with bandanna to hide her face. The Revenant was Herman, Hedwig’s brother, and oh hey Hedwig is a Revenant too. Also, where’s Dolls?
Also Mama Olive, diner owner, is the cannibal. WHAT ARE THEY SERVING IN THAT DINER? Please don’t tell me. I don’t wanna know.
Waverly shows up to visit the Blacksmith toting her box-o-skull and a bottle of wine. The Blacksmith has no interest in the “$8 bottle of Pinot” but recognizes the skull immediately.
Wynonna and Hedwig go to the trap door to see if Mama Olive the Cannibal has brought Dolls to her lair. Despite having a gun to her back, Hedwig manages to insult Wynonna. The trap door is locked, and the old shoot-the-lock Han Solo trick doesn’t work. This trap door just keeps defying our expectations.
Oooh it’s Skull Wedding time, y’all! The Blacksmith utters some incantations. So my suspicions about her Connection to Magical Forces were correct. The little ceremony involves the four elements and it “bonds” Waverly to the skull.
Waverly: Wait. Did I just marry a skull?
When the Blacksmith bonded Curtis to it before, the skull never revealed whose it was. This time, the Blacksmith finds out it belonged to the Stone Witch’s son. She’s all like, “Oh hell nah I gotta get outta here. She’ll be coming for me peace out I gotta go find some salt for a binding spell bye.” P.S. Being the Keeper of the Bones is also really dangerous. So Waverly is super involved in a major plot arc now.
Dolls wakes up in the Underground Cannibal Lair, and Diner Mom gets all glowy eyed. She’s “hungry” and wants to eat him. Wynonna and Hedwig look for the key to the cellar back in the ranch house. It’s not going well. Through intercuts between these two scenes, we learn the story of a harsh winter back in the olden days when Cannibal Mom and fam ended up eating hotel guests during a blizzard. They decided they liked the taste of human flesh (ewwww!!!!!).
Wyatt Earp came into town in the spring to investigate the subsequent missing people. Herman (Cowboy Cleaver) fought to protect Cannibal Mom, but Hedwig just got caught in the Earp crossfire. She didn’t do anything to become a Revenant. Hedwig and Wynonna bond over not getting to choose their fate. Apparently because “girls didn’t have opportunities,” Mama Olive had also dressed Hedwig as a boy and passed both kids off as twins until the 20th century. So that’s a weird detail. They finally find the keys.
Cannibal Mom gets extra hangry and starts getting creepier with a giant mouth. Wy and Hedwig try to open the door. Mom has bitten Dolls, but “There’s somethin’ wrong with you.” His blood doesn’t taste right. He’s also weak, and so is Mama. But he manages to toss some handcuffs up to Wynonna, and she attaches Hedwig to the cellar door. Wy drops down into the cellar, sans ladder, ninja style. She dispatches Cannibal Mom (I’m so glad.) Hedwig runs off with the entire cellar door.
Buuuut she’s easy to catch. Because that door is heavy (nice continuity!). Hedwig had colluded in trying to kill Wynonna’s dad because every time an Earp heir rose, Mama got “hungry and murderous.” Unlike the other two Revenants in this episode, Wynonna gives Hedwig a moment to make her peace. It’s not long, but I guess it’s something.
The City. Dolls approaches a Clark Kent-looking guy on a park bench to pick up his “lunch,” aka some kind of substance smuggled from “the lab.” The Black Badge Lab? It seems so because, “they track that shit like it was plutonium.” So we find out that Dolls has been “cut off” by “the people upstairs” until they see results. More job pressure for Dolls.
Dolls hauls his lunch cooler of drugs back to HQ when Doc buttonholes him, complaining about his mission being “for naught.” So, like what? Doc just won’t spill the info he got? He wants more from Dolls or something? Well, too bad I guess. Dolls calls their deal off. Doc also knows about Dolls’ drug/whatever problem. Dolls tells Doc to leave town, and they end up deciding that they’re rivals over Wynonna? What? OMG this is some lame manly bullshit. Wynonna would not approve.
Listening to the soft chug of her new Harley’s engine, Wy lovingly polishes her ride. Doc shows up to badmouth Dolls, and they chat about the nature of happiness. Wynonna believes in the reality of a true, lasting sort of contented happiness. Doc believes in momentary fleeting happiness, e.g. their recent roll in the dirt. Wynonna uses this opportunity to friendzone him for the second time this episode.
Dolls struggles to bust into his drug supply and can’t get his fix fast enough. His eyes go weirdly reptilian as the substance starts to work. So that plus Mama Olive’s reaction to his blood must lead us to the conclusion that he’s… not quite human? But what is he?
A couple of things in this episode I want to address. These are actually my two main criticisms this season, which both happen to figure prominently in this episode, so here we go:
I really like that we got a woman of color in a powerful, interesting role in this episode. However, her very welcome appearance brought the one real problem with this season into sharp relief. The Blacksmith is a really great character but, unfortunately, unique this season as a WOC in a more-than-one-episode arc.
Specific to her characterization, I get the vague sense that we are maybe supposed to read her as Native, though that is not made explicit in any way. So I’m gonna say “if” here. If we are supposed to read her as Native, the whole “in touch with magical earth forces” thing feels super tropey. And this still sticks even if she is any kind of Woman of Unnamed Nonwhite Ethnicity because, you know, Exotic Primitive People who “know stuff” that white people don’t understand? This is one of those backhanded racial compliments. Like “hey cool, she’s in control of powerful forces.” But you also have to recognize that exoticizing nonwhite people and the whole “primitive, elemental” thing both make characters “other” and place them in a kind of “primitive ‘ethnic’ powers vs. white institutional power” type hierarchy that we’ve seen way too many times. Not cool.
My meta-criticisms of her characterization notwithstanding, I really like the Blacksmith a lot because a) you thought the she was going to be a guy and really menacing, and b) she emanates her own particular kind of strength in much the same way as most women characters on this show. She exhibits a hard-edged compassion towards both Wynonna and Waverly, despite her admitted distaste for the Earps. We get to see a really distinct personality, and actress Rachael Ancheril brings a lot of life to this unfortunately short-lived role. I would love to have seen the Blacksmith as a recurring character that extended far beyond this one arc. What a waste!
From what I understand, I’m not the only one to have noticed the lack of WOC on the show in prominent roles, and at ClexaCon we were introduced to a Latina actress who will be playing a major character in Season 2. Apparently, she won’t be the only new WOC we see in the mix. This suggests to me that Emily Andras listens to her critics and responds to them accordingly.
Ok, but really? Dolls as a Black man who is also involved in some kind of drugs? I mean, yes obviously it’s not drugs-drugs. Obviously it’s some kind of medicine he needs to control whatever… condition he has? But like, we don’t need a repetition of that imagery. I just know there could’ve been another creative way to convey his need to control whatever-this-is without making it about drugs.
Also, did we need to make him not-human? That in itself, making the Black guy not-human (or trans-human, or part-human, or whatever he turns out to be) also feeds into Tropes We Don’t Need. Not that there is a long history of Hollywood comparing Black guys to lizards (or felines, or whatever he is), but anything animalistic being in any way equated to anyone Black points directly to dehumanization. Like, exactly, eyeline-match directly. And we do not need any of that. Look only as far as vicious political cartoons of Pres. Obama if you don’t understand what I’m saying here.
So, my friends at WE, I’m really hoping y’all handle this Dolls subplot veeeeerrryyy sensitively going forward. This could take us into Not Cool territory really easily if you’re not careful. But given the direct and robust response re: critiques of the lack of WOC on the show, I have a feeling that Emily will do a course-correct on this arc as well.