Season 1, Episode 3: “Leavin’ on Your Mind”
Written by Brendon Yorke
Directed by Ron Murphy
So a couple of potential problems for Syfy’s Wynonna Earp were nicely dealt with this week, both opening up story possibilities and addressing a production-side issue. There’s an explanation for the trapped/not-trapped-in-Purgatory thing from last week’s episode, and that is that the area that the Revenants are contained within is a much larger space than just Wynonna’s home town – the “Ghost River Triangle” – and the introduction of a mysterious (apparently) non-Revenant mystical threat.
Both of these are actually kinda important, with the Triangle holding enough country and city space to enable the production crew to move the story around a bit, and the addition of a new potential adversary solves the looming problem of Wynonna & Co. running out of Revenants to send back to Hell. Considering the rate at which these guys are getting killed by our newbie demon-hunter, Purgatory could be cleared of Revenants by the fall, and where would the fun be in that?
It also moves the series a bit closer to the comic it’s based on, where Wynonna fought zombie mailmen, Egyptian mummy hitmen, Hillbilly Gremlins, and vampires. Personally, I’m all for these supernatural threats to make the move over to the live-action side, especially since our Revenant leader Bobo – he of the striped beard and unique fashion sense – was a vampire in the comic, and not the damned soul returned to take revenge on both the Earps and the world in general. (A line in passing earlier indicates that he may also be Waverly’s invisible friend from her childhood, but no new news there.)
As for what happens this week, the short version is a group of Revenants take some hostages after killing some other people, all to the end of finding a new way to escape the Triangle. It ends poorly for them, and Dolls reveals that he actually is human. The longer version is the revelation that there is this other player in the mix – this Stone Witch, whose advice, if not her yet-unseen abilities, will make Revenants go against their leader to find a way to escape. It is her instructions that lead to this not-so-merry band of the damned to chop off a man’s hand, steal the diary of a deaf/mute poet, and a locket from a long-dead unfaithful wife, and her instructions that enable them to use these in a ritual that will give them the power to possess the living, and escape the Triangle inside their very unwilling hosts.
This Stone Witch is also, it seems, the woman who made Doc Holliday… whatever he is. Her whereabouts are the information that Doc wants from Bobo, but Bobo is holding all the cards, and wants Doc to get close to Wynonna. Obviously it’s not for altruistic reasons, and Doc is less than thrilled, even if he continues to keep his own secrets and agenda close to the chest. The outburst and insults he throws at Waverly are definitely cruel and designed to push her away, although that plan is clearly out the window, as at the end of the episode he reveals his true identity to Wynonna.
The strength of the show continues to be the characters, and the timing of the actors in the delivery of some pretty funny dialogue. I’m having a bit of a problem viewing our Revenant baddies as all that much of a threat, and maybe the Stone Witch will help up the tension, but I am really enjoying the banter and the clash of personalities and wills. Even here, where a prominent secondary character is killed off (Bye Shorty) and Wynonna realizes that losing a friend can count as a victory when the cost of failing is so high, we get lines like “And sometimes we get donuts” “Oh, he’s going to miss his bus”.
It’s the chemistry of the cast, ultimately, that makes it all work, and be as fun as it is. Yes, the dialogue is good and often really funny, but from other actors, it might not play the same way, no matter their talent. Whoever cast this show did it right, because Melanie Scrofano, Dominique Provost-Chalkley, Shamier Anderson and Tim Rozon fit together extremely well, and the that’s a good strength for any show to have.
Of course, the critic in me must rear its ugly head and point out a couple of niggles, like killing off a character before the audience really has a chance to feel the real weight of Wynonna pulling the trigger. There are lots of reasons to write a scene like that, and the big one they seem to have gone with is the collateral damage that is going to come from all of this, but we’re only three episodes in, and Shorty wasn’t enough of the main story to be terribly missed going forward. It’s a death that has more power in talking about it than in the actual scene itself.
The other is that problem I mentioned earlier, that feeling that the Revenants just aren’t all that threatening, and they really should be. Maybe it’s a side-effect of changing Bobo and his gang from the vampires of the comic into the demons of the TV show, but other than Bobo himself, they all have a generic “evil biker” sameness to them right now. Sure, we got one this episode that had “hellhound” attributes (he could move really fast), and we got the spooky assassin guy last week, but even then, the threat level was… eh. I’m still wondering why they don’t just attack Wynonna in force, and nothing I’ve seen so far has given me a good reason why not. Hopefully there’s one coming.
Still, I’m enjoying myself. After way too many years of the Sci Fi Channel – fine, Syfy – shooting itself in the head with terrible programming, it is nice to see them back in the business of producing original content that actually is in the genre. That it includes this show is something I’m pretty happy about.