The time for jokes in Purgatory has passed. Ok well, when it comes to Wynonna Earp that’s never exactly the case, but after a fun-filled week of chili cook-offs (FOR FREEDOM), things in Purgatory get super spooky and super scary this week. In “Afraid,” written by Matt Doyle and directed by Ron Murphy, Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano) must face down an ancient enemy as Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) and Nicole (Katherine Barrell) search for help.
Wynonna already has her hands plenty full after last week, what with a new sheriff and magistrate running things. Will we learn more about the people who have come to power in the 18 months Wynonna was in the Garden? To get an idea of what we can expect in this week’s episode, The TV Junkies turned to Doyle. This script was the first solo writing credit for the Wynonna Earp story editor, and he also shared what he’s learned from his time in the Wynonna room, as well as the inspiration behind this week’s creepy episode.
The TV Junkies: You co-wrote the Christmas episode in Season 3 with Emily, but this is the first solo Wynonna credit we’ve seen you have. What did it feel like getting the opportunity to write this one on your own?
Matt Doyle: Really exciting and a responsibility to not mess up what’s working. Of course, when you say I “wrote this” one, the whole talented writing team breaks things down together very minutely in the writing room, so it’s like being handed a BlueApron meal kit and all I have to do is just use the right ingredients and not leave it on the stove too long.
TTVJ: What are some of the biggest takeaways or things you’ve learned from your time in the Wynonna room?
MD: Not everything needs to be punctuated with a joke. I stuck a Post-It note on my desk reading “Less Jokes” so I would always ask myself if a particular moment of supernatural horror is really the place for a smirk and a “Sooo THAT just happened.” Sometimes it is, and these actors are great at delivering one-liners in all sorts of unconventional places, but it’s been instructive to occasionally let the frightening moment speak for itself. Especially in this episode, which skews more horror.
TTVJ: We’ve seen just how different Purgatory is after the time jump. Where did you all start in the writing room as far as figuring out what that would look like? Was it big-picture first or more like ‘what happened to Shorty’s?’
MD: Pretty big-picture. We knew we wanted to meet a brave new world returning to Purgatory and from there, we basically went down a list, figuring out what happened to everyone, and where that left places like Shorty’s. Some of these things never made it into actual episodes, and were discarded or changed based on plot-needs, but it’s still useful to talk through. Viewers will never see the public access GRT-TV station we had in mind, but that’s probably for the best.
TTVJ: Last week’s episode introduced a lot of new players that have taken up residence and risen to power in Purgatory. I assume we will continue to explore who they are and what they’re up to, but from a writing angle, what’s it like for you to get to step into those new voices?
MD: As a fan of teen supernatural shows and movies like Stranger Things and It Follows, it was great writing for Rachel. Since we’ve seen the result of what it’s like to grow up as a teen in a supernatural hotbed like Purgatory with the grown Waverly and Wynonna, it was fun to dial the clock back and see it through a teen’s eyes in the moment. I mean, she also had 18 months here so I’m sure she made some friends and got up to some stuff. Hopefully nothing terrifying comes of that.
TTVJ: We started to see signs last week that Nicole maybe didn’t handle being alone for those 18 months all that well. Will we continue to explore some of those feelings in her and what excited you about exploring Nicole’s story this year?
MD: We will definitely continue to explore these darker elements of Nicole, but trust me when I tell you you don’t want me to say anything more than that.
TTVJ: Something that’s really great about the show, even in Season 4, is that we keep getting new and exciting pairings of characters that always result in a lot of fun. Which pairing is your favorite and which one do you write for the most?
MD: I don’t have a favourite, which is a testament to how well-rounded they are, and how good the actors are. They all have such defined and unique attitudes towards each other, which, like a show like The Office always results in surprising, fun moments with different pairings, even if it’s a scene where two people are alone in a room.
TTVJ: Is there anything else you wanted to add or have us know about this episode?
MD: The writing room was deeply immersed in House on Haunted Hill when we were first conceptualizing this episode, so let that be a warning.
Wynonna Earp airs Sundays at 10/9c on SYFY and CTV Sci-Fi.