*** This article contains major spoilers for the Wynonna Earp Season 3 episode “When You Call My Name” ***
It’s going to take awhile for this wound to heal. For the first time on Wynonna Earp, the team has lost one of its own. Despite knowing that it would be dangerous, Dolls (Shamier Anderson) stepped in the middle of the chaos to fight off Bulshar’s minion and save Nicole’s (Katherine Barrell) life. It’s still unclear why that last breath of fire exerted Dolls to the point of no return, as Jeremy (Varun Saranga) seems to be the only one aware of what was happening as of late with Dolls, so many viewers are probably feeling as confused as Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano).
In order to get more insight behind what happened to Dolls, the loss of his character and what’s next for the Wynonna Earp team, The TV Junkies sat down for our weekly postmortem with showrunner Emily Andras. Andras discusses the decision behind Dolls’ fate in “When You Call My Name,” written by Caitlin D. Fryers and directed by Paolo Barzman, and how Anderson was a full participant in the story direction.
The TV Junkies: The loss of Dolls is a major one, not only on the show, but for the Wynonna Earp family since Shamier has been around since the beginning. Can you talk a little about what went into the decision that this would be the end for Dolls?
Emily Andras: It’s an absolutely shocking loss and without a doubt the biggest loss we’ve had on the show and as a community. Number one, creatively it was done because we desperately needed to show that this was a demon unlike any other we have faced before. This was someone who is not playing games. This is the demon Bulshar who cursed the Earp family in the first place. It’s third season and time to up the stakes.
Behind the scenes, I cannot make it clearer that we absolutely love Shamier. He will always be a part of the Earper family, and I expect Earpers to know that and treat him as such. There are absolutely no hard feelings and the truth is Shamier is an extraordinary talent. Hollywood is calling and has been for a couple years now. We’re all very open behind the scenes and Shamier had indicated that as grateful as he was to Wynonna, he was ready to move on. We felt like he gave us an extra year to tell more of Dolls’ story and we felt like this was the best course of action to make everyone happy.
It’s incredibly painful to me personally. I feel like losing Shamier is going to lose something on the show, but at the same time it’s going to spur the rest of the characters into interesting directions this year. I really want to say this again, I hope you see that Shamier came to Comic-Con with us. We all adore each other and are very close. He was as happy about the pickup as anyone. It’s merely a business decision and I think you’ll hear Shamier talk about this as well, it was 100 per cent a mutual decision.
The one thing we did give Shamier the choice of, he and I had a lot of long talks once we decided it was time for Dolls to go, was that I gave him the option of how he wanted to leave. It was extremely important to Shamier personally that he have Dolls go out as he lived, which is a hero. It almost makes me cry talking about it. He really wanted Dolls to be remembered as someone who sacrificed for the rest of the team. I was kind of impressed and flattered that that was so important to him versus just being written off or just leaving for something. He wanted a big finish so we were determined to give him that. Certainly the impact of his departure will be felt this year, both on screen and off.
The other thing I would encourage people to do is go watch the iTunes Behind the Scenes tribute to Shamier. If you want more answers, that has all of us talking about how it kind of came to be and he’s talking about how he’s always going to be a part of the Earp family. That has a lot and is a really good one.
TTVJ: Each member of the team is going to have obstacles to work through in order to move on from Dolls’ loss — Wynonna loses a guiding force, he and Doc shared some pretty harsh last words and Jeremy kept secret the troubles Dolls was having. How do they collectively try to heal from this and keep fighting?
EA: Initially you hit on something, which is what the hell actually happened? Jeremy seems to know more than he was letting on as far as Dolls’ state of mind and health. He seems to have spoken to Waverly about it. We aren’t going to do a huge time jump though and not do it justice. We are going to pick up immediately after the events of Dolls’ demise. At the same time, it’s a demon hunting show so danger isn’t going to stop just because we have suffered a devastating loss, which is part of the problem, right?
It’s interesting because the next episode, Josh from SYFY, one of our favorite allies, said he really wanted the next episode to feel like Buffy’s “The Body.” That’s a very famous episode where Buffy suffers a loss under normal circumstances and it really shakes her to her core. Buffy is a vampire slayer, but suffering a loss under normal circumstances. I really thought about that a lot when I was thinking how we do the next couple of episodes.
The difference between our people and Buffy is that they are not in high school. They are warriors, soldiers and they’ve seen a lot of death. Dolls died in battle so the way we deal with the grief is more active. Wynonna is going to be more determined than ever to go get the fucker who killed him, and maybe that’s reckless. People are going to have guilt and maybe talk about their own plans for when they go. This shock opens an emotional chasm into our characters that is really deep and kind of gratifying in a weird way. If you love the characters it’s a chance for them to talk in a way they maybe haven’t been able to stop and talk in awhile.
TTVJ: As much as this episode is about and will be remembered as the one where we lose Dolls, it’s also quite the showcase for your leading lady. Melanie had to do everything in this episode — emotional work, stunts on a cliff in the cold, physical comedy — and killed it on everything. Let’s just talk a little about her performance and the journey that Wynonna goes through in this episode.
EA: This episode was probably the most ambitious episode we’ve ever done, production-wise. It was extremely freezing, and I know I say that a lot, but it was the kind of cold where we thought we should maybe cancel the shoot. It was basically a wind tunnel, she’s on a cliff, there’s no tree coverage and you can see how cold everybody is. Then of course because she’s Melanie, and she’s so dedicated to the show, I remember she gasped during read through and said ‘wouldn’t it be the most incredible imagery if Wynonna was still in her dress on the side of the cliff?’ Our director Paolo Barzman was like ‘that would be an iconic Wynonna Earp image,’ but I said ‘Mel, I’m honestly afraid we’re going to kill you.’ I was the one that was resistant because it’s not worth it for an actress to have frostbite. It was the kind of cold that can get really dangerous.
What an incredible, dedicated actress that girl is! I think she really used it because you really feel her pain, sorrow and dedication. Then she’s so funny in the scene where she’s trying to act out “booby trap” with Waverly, hopping across the floor, when she’s playing it cool hanging upside down and then she has to be devastated at the end of the episode. Sometimes I feel like I take it for granted how many moods we push Melanie through. You can’t do that with a lesser actress. We really have her run the gamut but she is just next level exceptional. Exceptional.
TTVJ: We got a lot of quality Wynonna and Mama Earp time in this episode, even though it wasn’t really Mama Earp. It allowed us to really learn a lot about their history together, as well as see some of Wynonna’s biggest fears. Why did you think this was a great way to reveal some of that information?
EA: Because it allowed us to meet the image of Mama that Wynonna holds in her head and her heart before we reconcile with the real Mama Earp in upcoming episodes.
TTVJ: Speaking of Mama, Waverly now knows that Wynonna knew about her for a long while. The Earp sisters seemed united at the end of the episode, but will that have further repercussions on their relationship?
EA: I’d say so.
TTVJ: When they weren’t having huge emotional moments, Melanie and Dominique were really great in the scene where Wynonna has to guess Waverly’s act outs for the booby trap. What was that like for them to film? I think my favorite guess was “breast alligator” by the way.
EA: They’re both always so committed…the dailies and outtakes are hilarious!
TTVJ: It seems as though every member of the cast had some huge moments involving stunts in this episode. Melanie, Megan and Katherine were all out on that cliff face and then there were some fights as well. What was it like for everyone having to shoot these big stunt sequences?
EA: Extremely cold — like, the coldest episode we’ve ever done — and very dangerous. Everything had to be choreographed to the 100th degree. Even just lying on the freezing cold ground in temperatures like that and not moving…very challenging and painful.
TTVJ: When talking about the music on your show, we talk a lot about Andrea Higgins, and rightfully so, but I think the composers were really great in this episode. What was the musical approach you and composers, Robert Carli and Peter Chapman took?
EA: I’m SO GLAD you noticed the score in this episode! Rob and Pete send me the music ahead of time, and within the first two minutes of listening my jaw dropped and I had tears in my eyes. So epic and cinematic and haunting. They are so talented and so smart. And some of you will get to meet them at EH Con!
Were you shocked by the turn of events in this episode? Sound off with all your thoughts below!
Wynonna Earp airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on SYFY and Space Channel.
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.