Friday, April 1, 2016

Wynonna Earp 1.1 - In which Wynonna winds up back in Purgatory

Wynonna Earp airs Friday nights on Syfy.

I literally had never heard of this show before last week, but then I saw that it was Syfy, and that Hank was recommending it, and since a) Syfy has really been making an effort to make shows that plug perfectly into my personal psyche, b) Hank usually recommends shows I wind up loving*, and c) I already missed Sleepy Hollow** and Second Chance***, I thought I'd give it a go.

Man, I'm glad I did.

Wynonna is a mess, but she's not irredeemable, and she's mean, but not because she's a mean person--because she was damaged by a sucky childhood where she thought she'd be the sister of the hero and wound up having to be the hero herself after the monsters killed the first born. And then she accidentally killed her dad while trying to save him. Like you do.

But this starts years later. She's trying to come home just long enough for her uncle's funeral and winds up getting involved in a murder case for a girl who was on the bus with her. In fact, she spends most of the episode trying to leave, but you can't keep running from your fate, and she has come into her Slayer powers and needs to deal with that.

Deputy Marshall Dolls wants her to work with him. Aunt Gus wants her to leave. Waverly, her sister, has been doing all the research and knowledge-gathering that she's been avoiding, and so has a whole Wall of Crazy**** and is way more enthusiastic about everything than Wynonna is. And all 77 people their ancestor Wyatt Earp killed with his enchanted gun are all coming back to the world--the curse the Earps have to deal with.

The first half of the episode is tense set up after a horror-movie intro where Wynonna knows how to take on a baddie and THEN comes into her power without really even noticing it yet. Then there's really good character stuff as she tries to find out what happened to her uncle (the monsters got him) and she runs into all the people she never wanted to see again, who have various reactions to her. And the second half is full adventure--She gets the gun, she has run ins with Marshall Dolls, the Revenants want Earp's gun, the Peacemaker, and to get it they kidnap her sister and attack her aunt. She is a lousy shot, which is hilarious, but she learns how to use the wild ricochets for good. The aunt lives AND she saves her sister from hanging! Hurrah!

That last part was great. If there was a male lead, Gus would probably be dead, and Waverly might have died dramatically in her arms; since she's not a dude and the creator and at least some of the writers are women, too, Gus lives and Wynonna manages to save Waverly with much snark and crazy risk taking! Better yet, Waverly seems to have not once questioned that her sister would save her, even when the stool is kicked out from under her and she's literally being hung while her sister handles a fistfight nearby. It's wonderful!

This first episode moves at a good clip, but doesn't feel slow when people are talking, probably because of how Wynonna is sometimes literally fighting her way away from all this stuff that's being introduced, and always does it with admirable snark and attitude. It's a snarky show--but the snark covers scared, damaged people who don't want to be hurt anymore, and that comes through really well. Wynonna and Dolls have good chemistry, but more importantly, Wynonna and Waverly could very well be the lady-Hunters show that Sleepy Hollow looked in the first season like it could have been and never was! It's got sort of an early-seasons Supernatural feel, but with one location and girls, with a little Buffy and the barest hint that they took what worked for Sleepy Hollow and folded that into the genre influences. And it's a little little like Jessica Jones in the leather-jacket, tank-top, hard-drinker who doesn't take shit from anyone.

It's so much fun.

And the "this season on" looks really good, too, with more and better, so if it can manage not to change the tone too much in the transition from pilot to season, it'll be so great. Even better, there's a dark heart lurking somewhere next to that heart of gold, and there's the potential for it to get really creepy--and also the potential to stay light-heavy like this episode: serious, but not oppressive. It'll depend how they take it. And both ways would work so well with this pilot! I can't wait to see how they'll take it.

Did you guys watch? What did you think! Tell us here in the comments, or go over to Twitter and let's talk there!

*Last year he got me to watch Killjoys and Dark Matter and I never looked back.
**I'm mad at Sleepy Hollow for dropping so many of the good story-balls they've thrown anyway, and this does sisters better.
***I really like that show and it makes me sad that ANOTHER Fox show I like is probably not going to exist long enough for people to kiss.
****A Wall of Crazy is a sure sign of quality weird plots to come!
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