Wynona Earp drives off into the midday sun on a motorcycle with Doc. But not without Peacemaker making one more kill, Doc Holliday’s beloved car, Charlene.
And thus one of the campiest shows in television history follows its broken curse into streaming oblivion.
But let me back up. Before initiating the motorcycle trek into the future, there was a wedding. One of the most sparsely attended weddings in television history. But it wasn’t sparse for chairs, just for people. The chairs sat empty, but from each empty chair dangled the name of a character lost during the show’s four-season run—all the way back to Shamier Anderson’s Agent Dolls. This is a show that never took its evil seriously but always fully embraced its love.
The heart-warming conclusions and wrap up though needed a final supernatural twist. So Wynona tries a Lizzie Bordenezque dress and wreaks havoc with the wedding setup.
Wynona Earp, despite demons and curses, conspiracy theories and secret agencies—decades, even millennial old feuds and fetishes, the show always centered on family. A really weird family with constant revelations and additions of new members, some blood, others emotional, but nonetheless family. At the core sits the descendants of the legendary lawman, Wyatt Earp, and the family homestead.
The Earp family lives tied to a geographical location known as the Ghost River Triangle, or as they called similar locations in the Buffyverse, a Hell Mouth. At the center of the Ghost River Triangle sits the town of Purgatory, a town that at once seems deserted and conveniently populated. But plots and subplots keep viewers distracted from the logic wholes of the military-industrial complexes that seemingly rise from magic seeds just off-camera—perhaps the same seeds that grow vast forests just beyond the lens when required.
Regardless of its inconsistent attributes, geography played as a constraint, a positive creative one for the showrunners. They didn’t need to do giant world-building that spanned cities, cosmic realms, lush forests, and mountains—they could center the majority of their work on a rural town and its outskirts—vast vistas of tumbleweed and dirt. The occasional worldly or otherworldly locations proved mostly sparse and utilitarian. The Triangle was also a magnet. New characters came to Purgatory.
And the Triangle was the orbit and the trap for one Wynonna Earp played with complete abandon by Melanie Scrofano. Wynona lives in a slightly unhinged, rather self-centered world of her own making while carrying the mantel of the reluctant matriarch, and hero heir to the Earp legacy. Wynonna wields Peacemaker, the demon-killing pistol inherited from Wyatt Earp. The pistol would glow if pointed at a demon, much as Sting glows blue in Lord of The Rings when Orcs are about.
The other Earp, Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley), a cute, tiny blond powder keg who turns out to descend from angels. Waverly becomes the deep heart of the show, at once heroine in distress and powerful avenging angel, a demon with an attitude, and a savior.
One ancillary Earp came in the form of Doc Holiday (Tim Rozon), the legendary gunslinger who fought at OK Corral alongside Wyatt. This character was notedly the actual Doc Holiday, not a descendent or reincarnation. He embodies history. You’ll have to watch to see all of the twists and turns the showrunners conjure for the attractive, tired, lovesick, and sometimes possessed, Holiday.
And then there is Nichol Haught (Katherine Barrell), the beautiful Sheriff’s deputy who falls in love with Waverly, leading to the aforementioned wedding, and her becoming an official Earp. In a node to the show’s cheekiness, the happy couple was known as Way-Haught.
Several recurring characters, some recurring after death and resurrection, and death and resurrection again, add little bombs of surprise, peppering episodes with the unexpected. Earp is never boring.
Wynona Earp developed a relatively small but devoted following. I remember fondly the packed house at Emerald City Comic-Con in Seattle as Barrell and Provost-Chalkley shared their experiences and answered fan questions. The show always struggled to find a big enough audience. The Earpers, as they are known, brought passion that outsized their numbers.
Emily Andras adapted Wynonna Earp from an IDW comic. In the days prior to streaming’s audience fragmentation, this show would probably not have had a chance, even on a network like Comcast/NBC/SyFy that focused on Sci-Fi and horror. Sexual fluidity flowed through Wynonna Earp. Race was addressed by not being addressed. People were just people. It wasn’t that this show ignored the issues of “the other,” but it did so through non-humans, or previously human characters. Power and oppression, historical lies and buried secrets (in the case of Wynonna Earp actually buried secrets) tackled social justice themes. As many genre shows know, going back to at least Star Trek, social commentary in space or the demon realm is much easier to sell to networks than hitting the subject on its head (or viewers over the head). Subtle attacks on prejudice and power may well increase awareness and drive more change than preachy diatribes.
As season 4 brought Wynonna Earp to a close, love dominated all. Even the final haunting derived from a love gone wrong. The extended Earp family, such as it remained at the end, gathered for one last time before they went on to new roles and new adventures.
For a show like Earp, stories could be told forever, but that would require a larger audience to justify the investment. Season 4 wrapped the show up with a bow. Season 5 might have told additional stories, but we most likely never see them, unless comic publisher IDW, the originator of Earp lore, picks up in print where SyFy left off. They have already published books telling Wynonna’s pre-Peacemaker story. Comic-book based shows, like the characters on their pages, seldom remain as dead as they appear.
I will always be an Earper.