*** This article contains major spoilers for the Wynonna Earp Season 3 episode “When You Call My Name” ***
And just like that the Wynonna Earp team is down one member. Unfortunately, it’s for good this time. In “When You Call My Name,” Deputy Marshall Xavier Dolls (Shamier Anderson) stepped in to fight off a minion of the evil Bulshar in order to save Nicole Haught’s (Kat Barrell) life. However, in the process he exerted himself too much to recover and died as a result. While it seems that Dolls may have been suffering some side effects from whatever it is that Black Badge put him through, a lot of what he was experiencing is still unknown. Regardless, he seemed to know the risks behind what stepping up and saving Nicole may do to him, and yet, he did it anyway. He was a hero to the very end. Dolls is a major loss for Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano), as she loses her boss/partner and will definitely have a hard time recovering and moving on.
Dolls’ death because of these unknown side effects will come as a shock to the team, as Jeremy (Varun Saranga) seemed to be the only one aware that he was experiencing any issues, and will be just as big of a shock to many viewers as well. While some fans had made guesses about Dolls’ fate after seeing trailers before this season began, I am not sure anyone was ready to lose one of the members of Team Earp that’s been around since Day 1, especially so early in the season. Anderson, like the rest of the Wynonna Earp cast, has always had a close relationship with fans, attending multiple conventions where he’s interacted with them and the loss of the character will hit close to home.
This was not an easy episode for the show to take on, especially coming after a premiere episode full of fun and jokes, and sets a very serious tone for what’s ahead in Season 3. It was also an episode that, admittedly, I changed my feelings on after watching and rewatching it several times. Upon first viewing of the episode, written by Caitlyn D. Fryers and directed by Paolo Barzman, I found myself very frustrated throughout by what was happening with Dolls. Clearly things weren’t headed in a good direction, and every time he came on screen I just wanted to be let in on the secret. By episode’s end, we still didn’t have an answer.
Now taking a step back, I can see the confusion and fear over Dolls’ life was intentionally done and will be hopefully explained in the coming weeks. Perhaps it was meant to leave viewers feeling much like Wynonna herself: not understanding how he could be seemingly fine one minute, torch some guy, and then be lying dead the next.
Wynonna: “He saved us. He saved me. So how is this OK?”
Death is confusing. We don’t always know why someone dies or is taken from us. Knowing the Wynonna Earp writers and showrunner Emily Andras, they don’t put things into the story and just let them lie. We will come back to all these dangling threads sooner or later and there’s no way Wynonna will take Dolls’ death lying down. She’s going to want answers and to make someone pay. As if the threat of Bulshar wasn’t already close enough to her, he’s now come and knocked down her front door. I’m already eagerly awaiting the next few episodes where we learn about what triggered Dolls’ death and when Wynonna starts to really get a handle on the huge threat that Bulshar poses.
For now, I try to take solace in the fact that at least Dolls went out a hero, saving Nicole from perishing on the side of that cliff. He stepped up when the team needed him the most. Wynonna has always been the Heir, but Dolls provided her with a true sense of leadership and was always a guiding force for her and the team. How can that be replaced? What about the rest of the group? Jeremy will have to deal with guilt over keeping Dolls’ secret, while Doc (Tim Rozon) loses someone that he’s built up a great respect and true bond with. It should be very interesting to see how the dynamics of the group change without him around.
Losing Dolls presents another major challenge to Wynonna, so soon after losing Alice, and has the potential to really harden her. How she internalizes this loss, deals with it and keeps moving forward to fight Bulshar is something I’m very intrigued by. We sure don’t know much of Bulshar or what he’s capable of, but we got another glimpse of that this week and it does not look good. While I worry about the trouble he’s going to cause, as a viewer I’m excited about the idea of him as the Season 3 Big Bad.
Right at the center of all this will be Scrofano’s Wynonna. As much as this episode will be known for and remembered by fans as the one where we lost Dolls, it was also one hell of a showcase for everything Melanie Scrofano is capable of as an actress. From emotional moments with Mama Earp (Megan Follows), to utter desperation on a cliff face, to physical comedy guessing what Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) was miming and then the pain of losing Dolls, Scrofano stepped up to each and every challenge. And she made it look easy. She’s turned in many amazing performances over the show’s first two seasons, so this should stop surprising me, but somehow she keeps finding new and exciting ways to use her talent and bring another layer to Wynonna.
This was not your typical Wynonna Earp episode. As I said, I struggled with that the first time I watched, but upon repeat viewing I really came to appreciate it. The scenes between Wynonna and Mama Earp were unlike anything we’ve seen on the show and they gave a lot of insight into Wynonna’s childhood and what she’s been through. Scrofano and Megan Follows had me absolutely captivated. Wynonna clearly had a different relationship with her mother than Waverly, and now that Waverly is aware that Wynonna knew of Mama’s whereabouts this whole time there’s surely Earp sisters heartache ahead.
So while things may look bleak and very serious at the moment, the pieces of the puzzle for Season 3 that we’ve gotten so far — Bulshar’s power, Mama Earp, Nicole’s backstory, the mysterious stranger from Doc’s past and potential Earp sister drama — all have me more intrigued than ever moving forward. Dolls’ death is a major blow and a loss that they may never truly recover from, but with the rich world of Purgatory and these well-written characters, I can’t wait to see how they move on and get through it together.
Oh, and for what it’s worth: you’re wrong, Wynonna. You can do this without Dolls. You may not want to and I don’t want it for you, but he is at peace and you’re way stronger than you know. Remember, you’re the best of us.
What did you think of this episode? Add your thoughts below!
Wynonna Earp airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on SYFY and Space.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.