*** This article contains major spoilers for the Wynonna Earp Season 4 episode “On the Road Again” ***
It has taken two long long looooonnnnggg years, but Wynonna Earp is officially back! Thankfully, the Season 4 premiere episode, “On the Road Again,” written by Brendon Yorke and directed by Paolo Barzman, wasted no time at all getting viewers back into the world of Wynonna Earp (Melanie Scrofano) and her merry band of misfits. She may no longer be the Heir or have Peacemaker, but that didn’t stop Wynonna from joining forces with Nedley (Greg Lawson), Nicole (Katherine Barrell), and new maybe ally Rachel (Martina Ortiz-Luis) to try and save Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) and Doc (Tim Rozon).
Waverly and Doc still find themselves trapped in the Garden, and viewers finally got answers about what that looks like and what is happening to them. After seeing the name Valdez scrawled on the Homestead wall last season, Wynonna tracked the name back to Black Badge and that’s when she crossed paths with Rachel. It seems as if the teenager may hold the key to some answers and a way to get to the Garden. Unfortunately, after battling some demons together, Nicole met some terrible fate and the episode ended with her falling down a portal? A well? A tunnel? We’re not quite sure, but it seems like she herself has now ended up in the Garden.
In order to get a deeper look at everything that went down, as has been the way for every season of Wynonna Earp, we discussed the episode with showrunner Emily Andras. These weekly post-episode breakdowns will be back once again in Season 4 after every Wynonna Earp episode. So get ready, hang on tight and tune in here at The TV Junkies as our interviews with Andras go live as soon as the show is done with its Sunday airing on Syfy and CTV Sci-Fi (around 11 p.m. ET).
The TV Junkies: I can’t believe we’re even back and finally talking about Season 4!
Emily Andras: I know it’s so crazy, right?
TTVJ: Did you feel pressure coming back after being away for so long?
EA: Oh my God, did I feel pressure? Yes, it turns out people really care about this show. Yes Bridget, I felt so much pressure that I felt like I was going to barf all the time. I still feel like that. It’s so hard because you have to make sure the show feels like the Earp that everybody loves, that all the characters show up and are ready to go in swinging right out of the gate, but the writers and I needed to compartmentalize that. You need to put that to the side and just tell a really good story that’s surprising. One thing that’s an advantage of being four years in is that we know what our cast can do and how talented they are. We know if we give them good stuff they just are going to slay it.
It was important to make it feel like it was still fun and emotional and fraught and make you fear and make you cry. We had a lot of fun writing those two episodes, to be honest.
TTVJ: Oh, so totally easy.
EA: Yea, so easy. Plus answering all of the cliffhangers. Plus it’s the middle of winter in Alberta. It wasn’t easy, but it was a pleasure. It was like doing the most fun crossword puzzle. It’s a challenge, but always super fun, and really, really gratifying. I just truly hope Earpers feel happy when they see Wynonna for the first time in her leather jacket.
TTVJ: We’re used to seeing you write the season premieres and finales, but Brendon wrote this one. Can you talk a little about what was behind that change?
EA: First of all, Brendon is a phenomenal writer and deserves a lot of credit. He’s so good with character and so dry and funny. The biggest reason was that we knew Episodes 1 and 2 were essentially a two-parter. There’s a couple sequences in Episode 2 that were really difficult, in so far as terms of production. What would they look like on the floor versus what they look like on paper? I realized I was going to have to be there for some of Episode 2 to usher it through and it made more sense to write the second half.
That’s a benefit of having a team of writers you trust. I know any of them can get the job done and we’re all very comfortable passing the scripts around. Everybody gets a joke or a good line. There’s not a lot of ego when it comes to that, including with me. I don’t care what episode I write. Sometimes I try to take on the episodes that are a little harder just because I feel like that’s my job. If one is a little more complicated or complex in so far as how it’s shot, then it’s just easier for me to write it because I’ll be more present in the meetings, decision-making, and shooting of it. One was complicated though, don’t get me wrong! Two is even more complex in a way.
TTVJ: It felt like a very Brendon script in that there were so many good lines and fast quips. I’ve gotten to watch the episode several times now and I’m still catching ones I missed.
EA: I want you to watch it eight times and get something out of it every single time. I want it to be fun the first time, but there are so many good lines. Right out of the gate it’s Wynonna and Nedley, and then Mercedes shows up, and Nicole and Kate are together. You’re just waiting and waiting and when you finally see Doc at minute 17 you think, ‘There he is! The gunslinger is here to save Waverly!’
TTVJ: Oh yea it was super fun as a viewer waiting that long to make sure they were OK. Really, really “fun”.
EA: Did you like that? I feel like you hadn’t waited quite long enough and wanted you to remember what that felt like. Then when you do see them it’s all the more sweet, right?
TTVJ: And Doc is still a vampire! What’s up with that? That was a bit surprising.
EA: I know!
TTVJ: I think we all assume that because he was able to go up the steps to the Garden that he was going to be mortal now. But clearly, that’s not the case.
EA: Everybody says that and then people say things like, ‘Remember when Waverly cried her angel tears on Doc?’ Remember that Doc shows up at the foot of the stairs, vamps out, and sucks the Bulshar venom out of Wynonna’s neck. I don’t feel like it’s that big of a surprise. He was a vampire until the second he stepped on the stairs, Bridget.
There’s no doubt about it, Doc Holliday did some really, really shitty things last year and he has a lot to make up for. It’s one thing to go to the Garden and rescue little baby girl from chains, but he’s got a lot of work to do I’d say, with everybody. Being a vampire is still going to be a moral quandary for him.
TTVJ: Let’s talk about the Garden and everything you guys were able to accomplish with the look and feel of it. It was beautiful on screen and I love what Paolo did with the direction. How did you come up with what that was going to look like?
EA: Three people, in particular, need credit for the look of the Garden. One is Paolo Barzman, our long time director and certified genius. Gavin Smith, our director of photography, is just next level. What he does with the faces of those actors and the Alberta landscape is just incredible. Then we have our production designer Trevor Smith and it’s his first year moving into that role.
The problem with the Garden was that I knew we were never going to go to Tahiti, as much as I wanted to, especially once we had some financial difficulties. I knew I wanted it to feel different than expectations. There’s a real theme in Wynonna Earp that all this destiny, the universe, and maybe what you want to call God is missing from the clockwork. All these things have been put in place like angels, swords, thrones, and the Garden, but nobody seems to be running the ship. I really love the idea of showing up and having it be a decrepit, barren garden. Frankly if you think about the Garden of Eden — which is it that or not is up to you — and go by the text, it’s been abandoned by humanity for thousands and thousands of years.
I love the idea that they came up with was this non-denominational, but vaguely recognizable, almost religious iconography with these almost communist obelisks and structures. They felt awe-inspiring, and vaguely sacred, but didn’t really subscribe to any particular religion. I like the mystery and the idea that we don’t reveal with Doc and Waverly as they go through their journey in the Garden. We only have as much knowledge in what we’re seeing as they do. We don’t totally understand it.
TTVJ: How did you settle on that location?
EA: We weren’t quite sure where we were going to do all this. We knew it was going to have to be spectacular because God knows we’ve been waiting to see the Garden for 75 years! We found this beautiful frozen lake in Alberta, and it felt so different from what you usually get in Alberta which is foothills, the Rockies, and desert even. We hadn’t done anything extremely flat with that huge, famous Western sky that goes on forever. It seemed like a good place to build it. I have to say that I was still absolutely blown away when I saw the final build. As always with Wynonna, it was just a beautiful collaboration between lots of insane brains to come up with something that feels both fresh and taps into your subconscious and feels familiar. You know what that place feels like a little bit. And it was cold!!! Oh my god was it so cold!
TTVJ: It was really exciting to finally get some answers, but we still aren’t sure at all what’s going on, and is Nicole there now? What is the book that Waverly picked up all about? You won’t answer any of these…
EA: Which book did she take? Did she take one? Did she take them all? What happened? And now Nicole is in the Garden? I wonder how Waverly is going to feel about that…It’ll be ok!
Put in your notes, ‘Bridget sighs heavily during interview…’
TTVJ: Let’s switch gears a bit to Wynonna. She was having some self doubt about no longer being the Heir or having Peacemaker, but ultimately just got down to business to get Waverly and Doc back. Is that doubt something she’ll struggle with throughout the season?
EA: Yes, definitely. What I love about Wynonna is that she’s like a whirling dervish. She’s better when she keeps moving because then she doesn’t have to stop and think about the consequences of her actions or self doubt. Like a lot of moms, she just has to keep going! It’s going to be a massive issue for Wynonna this year since technically she doesn’t have superpowers. She doesn’t have a magic gun to take down supernatural creatures. She’s just a borderline alcoholic crazy chick without a gun who is trying to save her family. I think it’s so good to get Wynonna back to being really human. She’s extraordinary in so many other ways. She’s so brave, so fierce, so determined, so smart, and quick on her feet. When you define yourself by something, even something terrible like a curse, when that’s taken away from you then you have to figure out who you are without it. That’s going to be a massive struggle for Wynonna this year.
TTVJ: At least she has her BFF Nicole. We all heard it! No take backs!
EA: Except Nicole fell through a hole and is in the Garden of Eden. Do they have email? Do they have AOL? Who is going to believe Wynonna when she says Nicole said it? No one was around.
TTVJ: Well Wynonna is with this new person, Rachel. Any hints as to what their next move may be? Can you also talk a little bit about Rachel and casting Martina?
EA: I would love to talk about Martina. She’s extraordinary and has been a performer her entire life because she has the most incredible voice. She was the official anthem singer for the Toronto Maple Leafs and you should look her up on YouTube. She’s absolutely astonishing and used to performing in front of large crowds, but hadn’t really acted before. We really just loved her energy and wanted to make sure Rachel had a different energy, different look, and different feel than the rest of the extraordinary women on our show. We have a lot of sassy, wrong, sarcastic women. What I really love about what Martina brought to the role of Rachel is that she feels really weird, interesting, and natural as a teenager without being particularly emo or sensual. She’s not too much of anything, but feels like she inhabits a real space.
Of course the best part is that Wynonna and Melanie Scrofano are such a metaphor. Wynonna is so determined, so smart, and so brilliant that she elevates everyone around her. So even if she’s left with Randy Nedley, who is wonderful but about to retire, that she’ll bring the best out of him and inspire him to help her. I’d say the same is true with Rachel. It’s honestly Wynonna’s only option right now. She has this kid, who has been camping out in Mutant Manor, but together they do have more skills than they realize. Rachel knows the layout of the facility and has some chutzpah. It won’t be without pain and trouble, because this is Wynonna Earp, but I think Wynonna will use what she’s got. Right now, the only one she’s got is Rachel.
TTVJ: I really liked Rachel a lot. I mean, not as much as Mercedes, but they can’t all be played by Dani Kind.
EA: Well do you even like your own children as much as Mercedes? Let’s be honest, Bridge.
TTVJ: I can’t wait until we catch up with Mercedes and Nedley. That was such a fun pairing.
EA: Oh I know, there may be some surprises down the road there.
TTVJ: What can you share about next week’s episode?
EA: Well we’re back in the Garden and trying to figure out how the hell Nicole got there. We’re trying to figure out a way home. Wynonna thinks Nicole is dead, essentially, or could be. She and Rachel have to figure out what happened. We also meet a new villain who definitely has an interesting bag of tricks up their sleeve and something we maybe haven’t seen before. There are some sacrifices, some amazing fights, could be some reunions, and there are some big consequences to those things. Plus nudity! 10 p.m. cable, baby!
Wynonna Earp airs Sundays at 10/9c on SYFY and CTV Sci-Fi.