Wynonna Earp 3x03 "Colder Weather" Review
Hello friends, my TV shows have been trying to kill me with sadness this last week or so (if any of you dear readers also watch The 100, you know what I’m talking about). Episode 3x02 of Wynonna Earp left us all reeling with the shocking and VERY unexpected death of our beloved Deputy Marshal Xavier Dolls.
We were not prepared, but I dare say the showrunner and writers were; this episode, aptly named “Colder Weather”, is a beautiful bleeding love letter to a character that sadly we didn’t know well enough before his demise, but we still loved without measure. I wish all TV shows that killed off beloved or lead characters were this good at finding ways to explore our characters as they navigate a very fresh wound while also giving the newly passed on character closure and a final bow.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted" - Matthew 5:4
We open to a close up of Wynonna's eye with a giant tear sliding down her lashes, swigging a bottle of whiskey drunkenly in the snowy woods, yelling at a demon to literally come out and fight her...grief is not going well in Purgatory for our hero(es). Of course, a concerned Waverly and Nicole are nearby with guns, letting Wynonna purge her pain the only way she seems to know how.
A demon does show up to fight, but not the one she wants, not Bulshar. She exchanges some barbs with the revenant before dispatching him, but Wynonna is far too numb to even enjoy his demise. This is the cold open to a somber episode.
Next thing you know, Waverly and Nicole are picking out Dolls’ casket. We actually get a light moment here with Nicole telling Waves of her desire at death, to be eaten by the birds of the air and then “dispatched” over the land she loves vs being buried. Someone needs to give Nicole the 411 on what is and ISN’T bittersweet romantic topics.
Wynonna, unable to even accept that Dolls is truly gone forever, removes herself from the house for some nice healthy target practice whilst imagining Bulshar’s head in the place of the tin cans, I would assume.
This leads to one of my favorite moments of the episode: Wynonna and Doc having a heart to heart in the cold, gloomy snow. This moment isn’t a shipping moment (although I do LOVE these two together in any form), it’s just Wynonna taking a moment to be vulnerable, to bury her face into the shoulder of a friend. “I’ve been through all of this before, with Daddy, and Shorty and WIlla” and I’m sure in a way she and Doc were also thinking about Baby Alice; even though she is very alive it must still feel like a death to them. Doc just offers her deep love and comfort with no strings attached, telling her Dolls died a hero saving them all, just trying to squeeze all the pain out of her and himself, his last words to Dolls still haunting him.
They talk about what Dolls would want; Doc tells the story of how back in his day a man that “died with his boots on” got buried in a special location (Boot Hill, HA! super original name) and was buried with a bottle of the finest whiskey money could buy (which he then confessed he would steal). Wynonna gives us a detail we didn’t know before: Dolls was from Arizona! But she states that they were his chosen family and he would want to be buried and mourned by them.
"When the tears come streaming down your face, when you lose something you can’t replace" - Coldplay
Speaking of mourning, I love how this episode gives each character a “grief arc” and all their reactions just feel so, so real.
Wynonna is still denying she won’t talk to him again, saying things like “He’s not cutting him up, no way!” when she finds out Jeremy is doing the autopsy on Dolls’ body. Her rage at Bulshar, her inability to accept what she knows is TRUE and very much real. It’s truly heartbreaking and Melanie Scrofano destroys your heart with palpable grief in every scene; every season she just sets the performance bar higher.
Waverly reminds me of myself in grief or sadness, she must do all the things! Pick the casket! Go to Dolls’ place for his funeral clothes! Make 15 different types of sandwiches! Take care of Wynonna! It also makes her think about her own mortality, and how finite her young life is. She is even more bubbly than usual and it’s even bothering her because she keeps giggling. (Fact: I am like this, the more uncomfortable or upset I am the more I fight to be the opposite.)
Doc is the opposite, sullen, angry (mostly at himself), his last words to Dolls’ haunting him. He lashes out in a way that feels all too real when Waverly accuses him of having “no feelings”; he, without flinching, sends his entire glass of whiskey shattering against the wall, saying, “Is that feeling enough for you?!” Wynonna, Waverly and Nicole look shocked, and Waverly looks a little scared; no doubt it triggered old memories of her dad's explosive and abusive ways. You can tell as Doc exits the Earp home he feels terrible about it; he is not in a place to deal with it yet (thankfully he and Waverly do get to talk later), but in the moment the tension is thick.
Nicole, as it turns out, had a very strong and “professional” friendship with Dolls — she even had a key to his apartment! Which they use to find him funeral clothes, and they also find a letter to Wynonna he left amongst his things. Nicole fills Waverly in on how he was tracking down old files on the cult of Bulshar massacre she survived as a kid for her! They both checked in on each other because they were both “officers in the line of duty.” They just got each other. Dolls confided in her; “He had a traumatic past, so he thought he could help me with mine” she tells a rather taken aback Waverly, who is still processing that her normal girlfriend is not as normal as she thought. Nicole breaks down, “but I couldn’t save Dolls, he was trying to help me and now he’s dead,” her grief mingled with guilt much like Doc’s.
The moment is interrupted by a shadow outside of Dolls window, which is three floors up. It’s vampire Kate, who steals Waverly’s bag and is gone in a flash. What is her exact motive? It remains to be unseen. Waverly had of course put the letter from Dolls in her bag.
Jeremy may have the shortest end of the grief stick as he knew Dolls was going to die — but Dolls had made him swear not to tell anyone, leaving him with a huge burden. The drugs killed Dolls but a grief-stricken Wynonna sees Jeremy as the thing to blame in the moment. “I will never forgive you for this” she whispers through hot tears. Jeremy retorts, “I get it, it’s easier to blame me than the dead dragon.” His angry reply hits Wynonna in the face like ice water, and she informs Jeremy to pack up his stuff and get out of Purgatory.
Everyone is just so raw and sad and angry; it gives such realness to these fictional people that you feel all the barbs and tears.
Lastly, the griever no one was expecting or asked for is Dolls’ former Black Badge colleague Ramon Quinn — who shows up in Shorty's bar looking for a drink and info on Dolls, startling an irate Doc who’s just discovered the bar has been broken into and trashed, but all that seems to be missing is the “banana liqueur.” (Revenants actually stole all of Dolls’ drugs Jeremy had made and stored in the fridge, but we will get to that.)
Quinn fills her in on some backstory: he and Dolls were part of the same Black Badge squad and Quinn explains that Dolls’ squad would place coded messages in ads in magazines to signal to each other so they could attend each other’s funerals without Black Badge knowing.
He also fills Wynonna in on some of Dolls’ past, most of it sad — making me feel even worse about him losing his life so young. Quinn wears the dog tags of all his fallen Black Badge squad who are all dead besides him, as a result of the experiments, because the injections always fail eventually. Quinn didn’t have the right blood type to be experimented on, so instead he was the one tasked with having to catch escapees from the Black Badge facility, a place Dolls escaped seven times. (I have issues with the idea of writing this particular storyline, where a white officer of sorts chased and captured a black man being held against his will over and over again, even though he was also technically a prisoner of sorts, but I digress.)
"They can have a terrible power over you...the power of grief, and loss, and of regret." - Babylon 5, Episode 3x11
All of the character moments and plot threads of this episode seem to lead up to the wake Waverly has planned at Shorty’s — the very thing Wynonna seems hellbent on avoiding. She instead gets drunk with Quinn, which probably didn’t pan out the way she was hoping. He asks her “who had Dolls’ back?”, insinuating that she and the gang dropped the ball. He also sets off her internal alarm when he says he doesn’t think Black Badge is really gone and they might come for Dolls’ body, since all the other “BB experiments” were buried in unmarked graves to prevent theft of their bodies. Something he wants Wynonna to think about. She of course goes to the morgue to check on Dolls’ body, where ever faithful Sheriff Nedley sits guarding it. Even he gets a small moment of reflection on Dolls some of the losses he has also recently experienced.
Wynonna heads back to Shorty’s to honor her friend, where she finds everyone is toasting Dolls and eating Waverly’s many sandwiches. Doc finally approaches Waverly to apologize for his behaviour and confides in her his last words to Dolls and his fear of going back to hell one day. She is of course ready and willing to forgive him, but she needs him to help her get her purse and Wynonna’s letter back from Kate, the mention of her name painting Doc’s face with annoyance. But he will do anything for the Earp girls, so they sneak out of the wake to confront Kate.
Nicole finds Jeremy hanging out in the cellar of the bar; he feels like his presence would not be welcome. They finally discover that all of Dolls’ drugs are missing! (I told ya I’d get back to this.) And just like any perfectly timed TV show, the revenants — jacked up on Dolls’ drugs — come barreling in, crashing Dolls’ wake. Wynonna, Nicole, Ramon, and Jeremy fight them all with all the rage you would expect. Wynonna calls Doc’s phone for backup only to have Waverly answer; they are still on a mission to save the letter from vampire Kate.
Waverly finally asks Doc the question we’ve all been wanting to know: “Who is she?”
Doc is to the point and honest: “She’s my wife.” Dun dun dun! I am sure if you’re like me you already had your sneaking suspicions, but Waverlys response is pure GOLD. “Does anyone around here NOT have a secret wife?” Only time will tell, Waves. Kate seems to just be jealous and wanting attention from Doc, usings the Earp sisters to lure him. She sure does seem to know what makes Doc tick.
Waverly confronting her with all her riled up feelings is priceless; she goes to flip Kate’s tarot table “Jesus in the temple style”, but when that doesn’t work she threatens to get a stake. Do not get on this little bb’s bad side, guys!
Kate seems to think Doc is so loyal because “the fiery little Earp reminds you of Wyatt” to which he gives the best side eye while responding “Waverly ain’t even an Earp” and exits smoothly like the southern gentleman he is. Kate picks up her fallen tarot cards and must see “something” spooky, stating, “She’s SOMETHING alright.” I think we all know that we are gonna find that out this season, and I hope it happens soon.
Back at the bar Nicole busts out some tough love for Wynonna after trying to cut her off from drinking. Wynonna’s response of “a man I l….someone I love is dead” may have made my heart crack right down the middle.
“You’re not the only one who lost him. You don’t get the monopoly on the grief we all feel.” That line drives home the theme of this whole episode. They all hurt and the pain is different for each of them, but you can’t tell someone your pain is more important than theirs.
Wynonna is on her way to apologize to Jeremy when she discovers Quinn torturing him for Dolls drugs. He wants to use them and storm Black Badge and get revenge. Here is when he confesses to being a “good soldier” to Black Badge and bringing Dolls and the other squad members back to captivity when they escaped. “Even when he begged me not to.” This realization bookends Dolls life with a tragic start and a tragic end — but he did have a hopeful middle, filled with people that loved him and he whom he loved back.
Of course Wynonna talks him down and asks him to do some digging see if Black Badge is still really out there. She also gives Quinn Dolls’ dog tags that she had been holding onto.
"He was footprints in the snow. Not all loves are meant to last, some are meant to grace you briefly." - Jacqueline Simon Gunn
The burial is a bittersweet and moving scene in the snowy shadows of the Earp homestead. (They decided to cremate him so “his body could never be used as currency again.” What a profound statement, if you think about it.)
Each of our heroes get to say their goodbyes, Waverly kissing the stylish scarf Dolls seemed to be fond of (I will miss style icon Dolls!) and lays it to rest with his ashes.
Nicole adds his badge, and salutes her fallen brother in arms. Doc adds a bottle of his finest whiskey and kneels, making the sign of the cross — a moving gesture since his last words to Dolls were those of condemnation.
Jeremy adds Dolls’ beloved “X” coffee mug.
Wynonna doesn’t add anything of Dolls’ but instead removes her keepsake necklace from Greece, the first thing Dolls found in the woods in Episode 1x01. His comment that “we might be looking for a Greek goddess” is now a nice bit of foreshadowing, since the word on the key is Greek for Athena, fittingly the goddess of wisdom and war. He returned the necklace to her as well, so she is essentially leaving a piece of her with him which just makes me tear up all over again.
The Earp sisters chat around a bonfire, Waverly finally delivering the envelope Dolls left to Wynonna. Its contents: a group picture of the gang looking happy around a dinner table, taken by Dolls (she whispers “I remember this day!’); “Keep going, keep fighting,” a reminder of the words he spoke to her that day giving her a sense of hope, and maybe even peace; and a single snapshot taken of her, unaware. A final way for him to say “I always look out for you, Wynonna.” A silent way of saying I love you, without expectations. His final sacrifice was for her and their friends and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
The final scene of the episode was a bit odd to me, Doc going back to confront Kate (Contessa, as he calls her). She tells him Wyatt never stopped looking for him. And that for years she believed him dead and when she heard he had “risen”, she came looking for him. Her hard work of trying to get him involved with her again pays off as the last scene is of them kissing.
I get the feeling that it will be a short lived happy reunion for this marriage, as I do not trust her motives of coming to Purgatory just to get back with Doc, but we shall see!
I loved the mournful acoustic version of the theme song they used for the episode
Will Quinn be back as a recurring character? I kinda hope not, but I guess as long as they don’t try and replace Dolls with him I’m okay with seeing him again
What the heck is Waverly, guys? I’m concerned
I think Kate (Contessa) is an interesting character but I don’t trust her motives with Doc
Jeremy’s mustache still needs to go
The way Doc says “banana liqueur” had me rolling
Doc hogtying Quinn with a strand of Christmas lights is some high quality resourcefulness
Thank you all for going through this emotional roller coaster of an episode with me, until next time Earpers!
Wynonna Earp airs Fridays at 9/8c on Syfy.