Season 1, Episode 11: “Landslide”
Written by Brendon Yorke
Directed by Peter Stebbings
The return of a loved one you thought was dead should be cause for celebration, but like so much in the life of Wynonna Earp, it’s more… complicated than that.
Aaand my apologies. This review is a little later, and a little shorter than usual. I had the opportunity to spend a day with my father and the Highland Games, and this Scottish lad took that opportunity, and in light of the tragic events of this weekend, I have no regrets for that decision. Time spent with family and loved ones is precious, and I sincerely hope that all of you get to do that as well, as much as you can, whenever you can.
I am also preparing for the Independent Filmmakers Coalition of Kansas City’s One Night Stand Film Competition. You may have heard of the 48-Hour Film Competition? Yeah… we do it in 10 hours here, and we did it first. My life outside of writing for the websites is – when I can – one of an independent filmmaker. That life has been neglected of late, and it’s time to play. (Note to our friends in the Wynonna Earp family: You can too, by the way. We’ve had Canadian filmmakers play with us before, we’d love to have more. Just saying.)
OK, enough of that. Forward!
With Wynonna’s 27th birthday and her return to Purgatory, she assumed the mantle of the Heir to Wyatt Earp, and with Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley), Deputy Marshall Dolls (Shamier Anderson) and the magically-preserved Doc Holliday (Tim Rozon), she would take on the threat of the Revenants – damned souls released from Hell led by Bobo Del Ray (Micheal Eklund) – not only to protect her town and the larger world from them, but to avenge the deaths of her father and sister.
You know all this. It is, after all, the story of the show we’re watching.
It’s also not quite true.
Last week, we learned there was a reason that Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano) connected so well with the woman (Natalie Krill) she met at Revenant Lou’s cult-y little harem thing in the woods: That woman was Willa, Wynonna and Waverly’s long-thought-dead older sister. Years ago, when the Revenants attacked the Earp farm, Willa had been dragged away along with the girl’s father, Ward, to what everyone thought was her death. That nightmarish night – where Wynonna would tragically kill her father while trying to save him and her older sister – would shatter the lives of both Wynonna and Waverly.
Well now, Emily Andras & Co. sure do like pulling the rug out, don’t they?
Of course, what should be a happy family reunion is not what faces Wynonna and her friends, because Willa’s survival raises some rather disturbing questions, not least of which is where the hell Willa has been all this time? Her being in the hands of Lou since she was a girl seems highly unlikely – we saw no children at Lou’s and nothing Willa said that episode would make her presence there all these years make sense – if for no other reason than the enmity between Lou and Bobo would keep even the boldest of the Seven from being so suicidal as to cross Bobo in that way. Some of our demonic baddies are clearly not bright, but all of them know what Bobo would do to them if he caught them making deals with Lou, and it would be ugly, indeed.
But oh my, Willa is… kinda awful, isn’t she? Not at first, of course. At first she is confused and lost and all the important answers are far from close at hand, but once Wynonna puts Peacemaker in her hand, the pieces of memories-lost begin to return, and with them, that disturbingly grey image of Ward Earp, and the preternatural shooting skills she shares with Wynonna. From there though, she manages to completely miss the point of Waverly’s attempt to reconnect with the sister she was truly too young to know, and we begin to lose the considerate and kind woman Wynonna met in the woods.
Wynonna, of course, is shaken by the return of her older sister, but not just because she has her back. No, the larger issue for Wynonna is the question of Who Is She Now? If Willa is the true Heir, then what does that make Wynonna?
It’s not just an existential question. Leaving aside the addition of even more guilt for Wynonna to carry – misplaced though it is, considering she was just a child, and a traumatized one at that, and so hardly responsible for calling off the search for Willa – there is the question of Peacemaker and sending the Revenants back to Hell. For all that Wynonna has become stronger and more the woman she was meant to be with Waverly, Doc and Dolls beside her, the question of Willa has her wondering what her place is, if not as the Heir. When she and Dolls go up against the Vampire Twins, Dolls has to bring her into focus, where before she would have not hesitated for a moment.
And then there is the question of the Mysterious Stranger (Shaun Johnston). This curious fellow who arrives to help Doc in more ways than one, dropping far more than car repairs on our undying gunslinger. Who is this guy? Clearly this Juan Carlos sees through Doc from the moment he pulls up to the dead pink monstrosity, and clearly he arrived at all because he was looking for Doc. Everything he says and does reveals that the story of the Ghost River Triangle is far bigger than the Earp Curse and the Revenants, and while cryptic as all hell – as such figures are – he makes Doc see that leaving Purgatory is not the answer.
Which is good, because it’s pretty clear that Wynonna is going to need his help, even if there weren’t warnings of impending doom from Mr. Carlos. ‘Cause Willa ain’t right, kids… even more so than just being mostly amnesiac and socially awkward. There’s something wrong there. She’s too violent, too adept at violence, for someone who has been just kept in a cult in the woods. Too bloodthirsty. Too certain of herself, when she should be uncertain, and she’s actively pushing herself between Wynonna and Waverly. Sure, her childhood memories of Wynonna would be stronger than the much younger Waverly, but still. That comes even more into focus when the mercenaries attack the farm, Willa goes all action hero, and she completely ignores the injured Waverly in her desire to go after the attackers.
And then she saves Bobo. From Wynonna.
Because Bobo “saved” Willa.
In the end, Doc has tried to return to Purgatory and been knocked out by… someone. Dolls knows that someone wants him dead, and Willa wants to know more about Bobo. And Bobo, well. Bobo seems a little too sure of himself and a little to happy that the missing Earp sister is missing no more.
We’re building to something nasty here, folks. I don’t think things are going to end well for all of our heroes… too many rugs pulled out from underneath, too many arcs of the season “resolved”.
It’s going to get… ugly.
Wynonna Earp airs Friday nights at 10/9c on Syfy.