WYNONNA EARP: Jack Be Ripper, Jack Be Quick…

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Season 1, Episode 8: “Two-Faced Jack”

Written by James Hurst
Directed by Ron Murphy

My apologies, kids. This weekend was Kansas City’s Planet Comicon, where this lad sat on panels and got to be moderator for Giancarlo Esposito’s talk – great guy, by the way –¬† and between that, the day-gig, and recording review podcasts for Fear the Walking Dead and Preacher, well… I’m behind a bit.

Obviously.

So. Let’s catch up. Here are some of my notes from last week’s episode of Wynonna Earp, “Two-Faced Jack”, and it goes without saying there are SPOILERS from this point on.

And c’mon. You know you already watched the episode.

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“Where’s the rest of me?”
The Dynamic Duo!
Uh huh. Your bedside manner sucks, buddy.
No, that’s not actually what doctors do, in fact.
Does anyone ever whistle on TV and movies who ISN’T bast@#$% crazy?
Oh hi, Bethany. Guess you’re not a Revenant. Doomed though, so…
Jack huh? But of course his name was Jack.
Post-treatment Dolls is… interesting.
“Move your damn horse.”
Bethany has some real self-worth issues, aaaaand she’s going to die.
Ewww. Just… eww. (Still, should be more blood.)
You know what? Sheriff guy isn’t completely terrible, is he?
Crazy screaming. Yeah, he’s not the real killer is he? A killer, but not the killer.
Waverly for the win!
Revenant Fight Club!
Maroon pants. Really? Clearly a bad guy.
See? RULE NUMBER 1. Everyone knows that.
Seriously. You gotta work on that bedside manner. And yes, you are psycho.
Sigh. Much more Doc than Dolls. Got to hit the gym.
Yep. Selling out Doc was a bad plan, Dolls. Uncool, man.
Hi Jack. How’s it going?
Guilt, Dolls? Good, but oops.
Dead huh? Uh huh. Suuuuuure he is.
So Bobo has an in at Black Badge? This makes sense, and potentially explains a lot.
Hi Dolls.
You know, I’ve always liked the quiet, calm villains. They really are scarier.
So Daddy was tight with Bobo? Hmmm.
Two Alpha Males circling each other.
Bye Jack. Make sure you write From Hell.
Dolls, Dolls, good on you for saving Doc, but at what cost?

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When last we saw our heroes, Doc (Tim Rozon) had discovered Officer Haught’s cruiser rolling down the road suspiciously short of both Haught (Katherine Barrell) and Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano), but considerably bloodier than anyone should be comfortable with. This drives the gunslinger into a less-than-desirable (from his point of view, anyway) partnership with Dolls (Shamier Anderson) in order to find her, and one that neither man realizes will expose the actions Dolls has taken to keep from being shut down by his superiors.

Luckily they find that Haught is hurt but alive, and that Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) is still the smartest person in any room, because she figures out where Jack of Knives has her and the Revenant who will have the information they need to reach her there… if they can work together without killing each other.

It’s a partnership we’ve seen before…initially, at least. The Loose Cannon and The By-The-Book Cop are characters we’re very familiar with, and certainly that fits the show’s characters perception of who Dolls and Doc are. As the audience, we know that Dolls structured facade hides not only whatever is being kept at bay by his injections, but also the promising of Doc to Agent Lucado (Kate Drummond), and the Book has been tossed pretty hard. That Dolls also is hiding – sort of – his attraction to Wynonna is something that really isn’t fooling anyone, least of all Doc, and despite the protests both men would undoubtedly make, we see here more evidence that they are far more alike than they are different.

Both men are dealing with lives that are shaped by the mystical, and driven by agendas that only they know the extent of. Both men use, or have used, the law as a means to an end, and both men have or are, bending it to the breaking point. Both men care about an extraordinary woman far more than they want to admit, and both men – whether they admit it or not – are trying to prove themselves worthy of the image they have so carefully cloaked themselves in.

And both men are failing, and they know it.

If you need any evidence of that, just look at Dolls’ face when Doc tells him that he knows about the report. That’s shock and shame, folks, and Dolls knows he should be ashamed of what he’s done, even if he did it for understandable reasons. Not that Doc isn’t guilty of shameful behaviour, what with the whole putting Waverly in danger thing last week, but Doc is a scoundrel and everyone knows that, while Dolls is supposed to be “better” than this.

Of course, all of this unfolds at the awesome Revenant Fight Club, where once again we see that the Damned have worked themselves into the fabric of Purgatory in quite interesting ways. Whiskey Jim’s (Joris Jarsky) club is the kind of illegal fighting ring that a Revenant could easily hide themselves in, and the upper hand that he holds over Doc and Dolls actually gives us a good reason to have them give us the fight we didn’t know we really wanted this much.

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And it is a great fight. Brutal and nasty, both in the physical and the revelatory sense. Fun too, with a physical humor that keeps up the overall feel of the show itself, balancing the horrific and violent with the funny and light. Crotch shots – of course Doc fights dirty – and uppercuts end a fight with Dolls’ “death”, getting the information they needed to find Wynonna, and both the comedy of Doc trying to figure out driving, and the look on his face when Dolls reveals that he was faking it. Pretty awesome stuff there from Anderson and Rozon, and in fact the way the two men play off each other the whole episode is pretty great.

Meanwhile, Wynonna is dealing with not one, but two threats, as she has both the human crazy of Reggie to deal with as well as the Revenant behind him. There’s a nice fakeout here, as the writers have done a good job of painting Reggie as the Last of the Seven and the serial killer behind the deaths of several women who look a lot like Wynonna. Certainly Ryan Belleville’s Reggie fits the bill, with his fake hospital and clearly monstrous medical habits, and what he does to Bethany is… well, let’s just use monstrous again. I had wondered if she was a Revenant too, given her place in the Bobo camp, and I’m sorry to see Sasha Barry go and go so tragically mortal. Bethany, ultimately, is a tragic character, and her death is sad and lonely, if strangely bloodless.

But Reggie is just a garden-variety psychopathic Renfield, and the real monster is the Revenant behind him: Jack.

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Ahhhh, Jack. Of course he’s meant to be Jack the Ripper… I don’t know that I could have resisted writing that bit either, even if it is a touch on the nose. Still, the performance by Greg Bryk is wonderfully calm and chilling, and his analysis of Wynonna’s own mental state is disturbingly accurate, especially in his comparison of her to himself. We’ve seen Wynonna dance dangerously close to her own darker impulses over the last several episodes, and Jack raises a good point: What does she do with those darker drives once she’s had her vengeance? Whoever fights monsters, and stares into the Void, right?

That calm and chilling Jack is also the source of some disturbing information about Wynonna’s father as well as a serious threat to her well-being. According to him, Ward Earp was actually a friend and ally of Bobo’s which, if true, raises some very serious questions, and throws the whole narrative that Wynonna and Waverly have carried since they were children into chaos. If Ward was corrupt, then what really happened that night? What led the Seven to attack the farm, and did they do it with Bobo’s blessing? If not, then why didn’t Bobo protect his “friend”?

I doubt anyone watching this show needs a reminder, but Melanie Scrofano is just fantastic this episode. The struggle Wynonna has with the potentially earth-shattering revelations about her father and the emotional trauma she’s dealing with in bringing her vengeance to fruition play out beautifully across Scrofano’s face, as does the weariness and physical weakness of her battered and drugged body in her body language. For an episode where she spends a fairly large chunk of it acting from a bed, it is a surprisingly physical performance, and an excellent one.

Of course our characters are reunited, and it is through their actions together that Jack is finally killed, and Wynonna’s hunt to bring the Seven down is completed. It’s a personal victory that is incomplete though, as the larger threat posed by Bobo remains, and is greater than they could have suspected. As Whiskey Jim reveals to Doc, Bobo (Michael Eklund) has a far longer reach than we knew, and one that has its fingers deep inside the Black Badge Division. This explains a lot actually – although the details are still to come¬† – and questions about why Dolls is treated so awfully by the organization he serves seem to have answers that will bode particularly badly for Team Earp… both in the short-term and the long.

Wynonna Earp airs Friday nights at 10/9c on Syfy.

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