Wynonna Earp: Emily Andras Talks “Life Turned Her That Way”

*** Warning: This article contains spoilers for the Wynonna Earp episode “Life Turned Her That Way”

Play time in Purgatory is certainly over! Gone are the days of Trick or Treat or Trivia Night as much more serious and dire times have now come to call on Wynonna Earp. This week’s episode, “Life Turned Her That Way,” written by Noelle Carbone and directed by Jem Garrard, saw the return of the demon Jolene (Zoie Palmer). She was back once again to torture Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) after she got lost in the fog. As skilled as ever at giving voice to all of Waverly’s deepest, darkest fears, Jolene’s words got to her in the end as Waverly ascended to Dark Angel status. Elsewhere, Doc (Tim Rozon) and Jeremy (Varun Saranga) were captured by Black Badge, as the division’s evil plans came to light. 

With so much to break down from this jam-packed episode, it’s a good thing showrunner Emily Andras is back to chat with us here at The TV Junkies. Andras has some fun over that incredible cliffhanger that she just left for fans and talks about why Jolene was the perfect catalyst for Waverly’s descent into darkness. She also explains more about what Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano) is feeling at this moment and what kind of tricks Cleo Clanton (Savannah Basley) may have up her sleeve. Only two episodes left in Season 4 and things in Purgatory seem on the brink of getting crazier than ever!

The TV Junkies: “Your journey is over, Wynonna Earp, and mine has just begun.” Emily! That ending! How are we supposed to wait for another week after an episode like that?

Emily Andras: I’m doing what needs to be done. Dark Angel Waverly spinoff. Goodbye Wynonna, thank you for your service.

TTVJ: Ouch, harsh!

EA: You’re supposed to wait like grownups now, screaming at me on Twitter. You tell me what you think is going to happen next. Probably nothing good.

TTVJ: Dark Waverly seems so much worse than Gooverly!

EA: I’d say so! Gooverly was kind of sexy and fun, but Dark Angel Waverly has a bit of an ego and is a bit disconnected from humanity. She crushed someone’s neck, although Jolene deserved it, probably. I’m not sure how Wynonna is going to wrangle this.

TTVJ: This is a killer cliffhanger! You’re going to really be hearing about it on Twitter all week.

EA: I can’t wait! It’s like fuel and amazing. It clears my skin and waters my crops. Is that what the kids say? We’ve been due for a good cliffhanger. Things get crazier next episode.

TTVJ: Many fans have discussed Jolene making a reappearance, but it was still shocking to see Zoie Palmer back once again. What was behind bringing that character back and why was she the perfect catalyst to send Waverly down this dark path?

EA: I should first say that this is a Noelle Carbone script and it’s a classic Carbone script — the Full Carbone if you will. We actually toyed with the idea of a couple of different characters. We all discussed who the best character to take Waverly on this journey would be. Who would help her understand herself? Whenever you have a chance to work with Zoie Palmer you just leap at it. She’s just so phenomenal. We’ve all seen the chemistry between her in Dom in Season 3. We knew there was something about the emotional shorthand between these characters and that it wouldn’t even take that much for Jolene to rev up Waverly to the next level, where she needed to be. 

It’s also that thing about a good villain where Jolene is somewhat Waverly’s dark twin. Some of what she spoke was massive truth. It was kind of right and really dug into Waverly’s subconscious about her guilt over Wynonna and what Wynonna has had to shoulder. It felt like Jolene, for all her insidiousness, could be convincing. Also, it was quite gratifying to see a different Waverly take down Jolene. This is not the same victim Waverly, which is hopefully a good message. She certainly comes into her own, one could argue.

TTVJ: Jolene really did say the MEANEST stuff. It was just downright terrible.

EA: What line in particular? Give me a line.

TTVJ: Let’s see, there was ‘now Wynonna drinks herself to sleep every night while you giggle in Nicole’s arms,’ for example.

EA: Isn’t that kind of true?

TTVJ: It was all kind of true, but damn!

EA: That’s what’s so awful about it. Wynonna may feel differently about it, but we literally see at the beginning of the episode that this is the price. Wynonna doesn’t let anyone else carry the burden. Only she has to make these terrible decisions. Boy, she’s got some tough ones coming up, too. That’s what it takes to be a hero. It’s not all sunshine and roses, it’s lassos of truth. But yes, very mean.

TTVJ: Just as they did in the last “Jolene” episode, Zoie and Dom absolutely knocked those intense scenes out of the park. I’m sure those scenes are intense on the page as well, but what’s it like to see those two actresses bring them to life in that way?

EA: It’s just incredible. You also realize, as mean as that stuff was on the page, their connection and chemistry was so intense that we actually ended up cutting a lot. You just didn’t need that much to see these two women were locked in that psychological warfare. They are just incredible. I’m sure it’s very grueling on them. 

I had a ton of talks with Dom about it ahead of time. We both wanted to make sure that Waverly was in a different place and what she’s feeling as she goes through this. The amount of trust between two actors to match each other as they go to those heightened emotions with so much cruelty, I think it’s exhilarating, but also extremely exhausting.

TTVJ: It’d be very hard to leave behind at the end of the day.

EA: I am not an actress, and I admire actors very much, because when you really see the work that goes into performing you’d be astonished. But I wonder if there’s something cathartic about it? Maybe if you got to scream at someone all day it’s a way you can’t behave in real life. If you’re able to separate yourself, I imagine I’d go home and eat a big plate of pasta and feel quite chuffed. I’d be good and chill.

TTVJ: When Jolene was talking to Waverly she said, “You may not want to call me sister, but we are kin.” That’s a very interesting choice of words, and we heard Bobo call Waverly kin in Season 1. Are those two things related at all?

EA: She goes even further and says ‘demons are just fallen angels.’ She’s saying, ‘Waverly you’re a demon, even if you’re part angel, you’re a demon, too. We are literally linked through the demonic.’ I think that really encapsulates all of Waverly’s fears for four years running. From the first moment Bobo said ‘you have a dark side,’ deep down Waverly has always suspected this. It’s also why she’s always tried so hard to be optimistic, positive, kind, and caring because she has seen this other nugget of the demonic deep within her soul. I don’t know how surprised she is by it. I think she’s always been somewhat terrified that it could overtake her. But yes, that was a fun callback and it’s been a long time coming. Sometimes we improvise, but we laid that groundwork very early on knowing what it was going to be.

TTVJ: After realizing Waverly was in the fog, there was a big moment between Wynonna and Nicole. Why was it so important for Nicole to stand up to Wynonna and be the one to go into the fog after Waverly?

EA: It’s exactly what Nicole said and it’s her turn. She has as much right to Waverly’s well-being, safety, and survival as Wynonna as they move ever closer to potentially becoming wife and wife. Because of the incredible adventure Wynonna and Nicole went through in Episodes 401 and 402, Wynonna knows that Nicole is a hero unto herself and that it was the right decision. It shows growth in their relationship, both in trusting one another and knowing each other’s strengths, and realizing, whether Wynonna likes it or not, that she’s not the only person anymore who’s in charge of her baby sister’s welfare. I think that’s a theme of this season, right? Wynonna is realizing, maybe at the worst possible moment, that she’s not actually alone.

TTVJ: At the beginning of the episode we saw WayHaught staging an intervention for Wynonna, one that didn’t go particularly well. This is the second week in a row where Wynonna is hearing people tell her that she could walk away from Peacemaker, but that she’s the one that keeps staying. How is she feeling after that intervention and will she maybe start to see what mean?

EA: I think so. I could talk for an hour about where Wynonna is at after four years. I love the scene in Episode 406 when she tells Doc in the middle of their fight, ‘I never run and I never will.’ What a journey from the girl we met in the premiere who wanted to get the hell out of there as soon as she could. Wynonna has done what people asked her to do which is pick up the mantle, pick up the gun, and stay. Now for people to say, ‘Well no, not like that’ is just impossible, right?

Let’s face it, Wynonna is a borderline alcoholic, but in the past Waverly has said to her, ‘We need you whiskey-soaked and reckless.’ It’s hard when people need you like that and then say ‘now we don’t want you to be like that.’ Wynonna has built up this myth about herself and what is necessary to do the terrible role she has to do in order to survive. For people to say, ‘That’s a lie and we don’t like it anymore,’ is terrifying. It’s terrifying for Wynonna to think about who she is without the alcohol, without the recklessness, and who she is without the gun. 

I see both points. I think she’s doing terrible and I do think Waverly may have crossed a line in this fight. When Waverly compared Wynonna to her dad, who was a cruel, ineffectual, full-blown alcoholic, that was not fair. If anything, Wynonna cares so deeply that it’s what’s led her on a path towards substance abuse and reckless behavior. That was a really low blow from Waverly to make herself feel better. It was a pretty uncharacteristic streak of cruelty from Waverly and I think Wynonna feels awful.

Wynonna is better when she has a plan of action. Now, at least, she has something to do and needs to save everybody. That’s when she does thrive. It is fascinating the way we judge Wynonna and the way she judges herself. There’s a lot of hypocrisy there, but it all comes from a place of love, which is so often the case. 

TTVJ: Rachel asked Wynonna to train her in this episode and it was nice as a viewer to see those two interact more. Why did you want to explore that pairing? How does Rachel feel now after what she went through and saw in this episode?

EA: It’s quite interesting that at the very moment Waverly has grown up enough to say, ‘I don’t want to be like you, and I don’t think you should be like you,’ we have someone fresh on the scene that sees and reminds us what a hero Wynonna is. She’s the one getting shit done. She’s the one out there fighting to make sure people can lay in each other’s arms at night and giggle. I also think it humanized Wynonna, even more so than her fight with Waverly, when Rachel says she wants to be like her, and Wynonna says, ‘Nobody should be like me.’ She has enough self-awareness that she’s taken on this burden but wouldn’t wish it on anyone else, especially someone as sensitive and who has her whole life ahead of her as Rachel. Rachel has finally gotten out, right? She’s got a family now. I don’t think Wynonna wants Rachel to look up to her.

Rachel really was witness to the horrible decisions that Wynonna has to make, and she realizes, ‘thank goodness someone else has to make these choices and not me. I don’t want to make these terrible choices about who lives and who dies, who I save and who I don’t, and how I justify that to myself in the moment.’

TTVJ: However, it looks like Rachel may be put in some situations where she has to make those kinds of choices now that Wynonna has left her alone with Cleo. 

EA: Always a great idea! Probably not one of the Top 5 babysitters in Purgatory.

TTVJ: Can you give any hints as to what Cleo’s next move may be?

EA: All we know right now about Cleo is that she’s done with Purgatory. She is wanting to get away but has this yoke around her neck. It’s literally her family and ancestors, and the reapers don’t seem like they want to let her go. It’s very clear that Cleo’s goal is to figure out how to get the hell out of dodge, but how she is going to do that and what she’s scheming is going to be very interesting.

TTVJ: As if this all wasn’t enough to deal with, we also learn that Doc and Jeremy have been captured by Black Badge, and we see some of the horrible things BBD is planning.

EA: Bet you’re missing Trivia Night now, Bridge.

TTVJ: It seems so…trivial. 

EA: It’s true!

TTVJ: One week in Purgatory and everything can really change. What’s next for Doc and Jeremy? Mercedes did show up with a wonderful entrance, but I’m really worried about her getting shot. 

EA: You should be. She’s a great character but things change in Purgatory pretty fast. That’s all I’m saying.

TTVJ: Finally, just before we wrap on this episode, I know these are dangerous times in Purgatory, but I was really sad to see us lose Casey. It was nice to see Rachel give him some kind of send off. Let’s pour one out for him.

EA: Andrew Phung was also just so amazing. In this back half we have to show the cost of doing these things. There’s going to be some real sacrifices. Casey was another example of something that shook Rachel to her core, that this lovely half-demon guy tried to help them and paid the ultimate price. They couldn’t save everybody. 

Andrew brought such a good energy and freshness to the screen. We need that sweetness sometimes to counteract all the bullshittery we tend to serve up. I’d love to pour one out. I will pour out some kimchi mac-n-cheese. 

TTVJ: I’m terrified to even ask, but what can you preview about next week’s episode?

EA: Things really come to a head next week and it’s our wildest ride of the season. We have so many fires to put out and not everyone is going to make it through. There’s murder, mayhem, and chaos. We have to deal with the Garden, the fog, the angel, BBD, vampires, death. Wynonna gets in some bad situations and then, she gets in some worse situations. We have to hope that this team finds a way forward, but after this episode, some characters are forever changed and I’m ready to hear a lot about it after it’s finished.

Wynonna Earp airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on SYFY and CTV Sci-Fi.