Wynonna Earp: Melanie Scrofano shines in the season’s strongest episode

Syfy
Syfy

Over the course of its first season Wynonna Earp has introduced us to a wide array of colorful and interesting characters that inhabit the small town of Purgatory. The unhinged and psychotic Bobo Del Rey and Constance Clootie are two of the most interesting and fun villains to cross my screen in a long time, and I’ve also really enjoyed getting to know “good guys” like Doc Holliday and Deputy Marshall Dolls, not to mention the smart and courageous Waverly Earp. However, at its core the show is about one woman and one woman only, the gun-slinging, sharp-tongued, never backs down from a fight Wynonna Earp. This week’s installment, “Two-Faced Jack,” served to drive home how good the show can be when it focuses on its leading lady.

With each passing week I have found Wynonna Earp to get better and better. It knows exactly what kind of show it is and what story it wants to tell. After spending a few weeks focusing on some of the other Wynonna players such as Doc, Dolls and Waverly (all of whom I really, really enjoy), this week shifted focus back to Wynonna. Melanie Scrofano proved all over again that she’s perfectly capable handling whatever it is showrunner Emily Andras and her group of writers want to throw her way. The actress routinely pulls off being a badass who can slay with a witty pun, but this episode proved she has no problem when it comes to bringing the drama and hitting us with a solid gut punch when called upon.

After being kidnapped at the end of Episode 7, Wynonna woke up this week in a mysterious makeshift hospital. All signs pointed to her dying and Scrofano effortlessly pulled off the vulnerability that Wynonna was feeling, while also managing to stay tough and put on a brave face throughout the ordeal. There were many times where, in the hands of a lesser leading lady, the show could’ve easily fallen flat on its face. But with Scrofano in charge, the show not only turned in quite possibly its best episode of the season, but elevated itself to an entirely new level.

By now we’re all well aware of the many comparisons that have been made between Wynonna Earp and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. However, after watching this episode I couldn’t help but think that one day we’ll look back at Melanie Scrofano and hold her in the same regard as Buffy’s Sarah Michelle Gellar. Gellar was a wonderfully talented actress who turned in some killer performances in episodes such as “The Body,” “Hush,” and even the musical “Once More With Feeling.” However, she was wildly under appreciated, not only when it was time to hand out awards, but also just by some critics in general that were never going to take notice of an actress on a show with such a silly name. Yes, we’re only eight episode into Wynonna, so it still may be quite a leap to go from Scrofano to Gellar for some people, but it’s a distance that seems to be getting smaller with each passing week.

Syfy
Syfy

Another fun aspect about this week’s episode that really allowed for Scrofano to impress me all the more was the whole Misery vibe of the show’s first half. Between the “toe incident” and when Wynonna had restricted use of her legs, Scrofano was given the opportunity to show off some great physical acting abilities. You can’t tell me that you didn’t get chills when Wynonna flung herself off that hospital bed and the music started to swell! Those acting chops were complimented well by some great choices from director Ron Murphy. There were several shot angles that left the viewer feeling the same uncertainty and fear that Wynonna was feeling, really adding to the overall atmosphere of the episode.

Wynonna Earp continues to go darker and deeper into the show’s core mythology and that means things keep getting darker and darker. This week’s revenant, Jack, proved to be the darkest of them all, but he also helped establish this as the show’s best hour of the season. It was frantic and frenetic right from the start, but kept me completely enraptured as everyone raced to find Wynonna.

Adding to those feelings, and one of the aspects of Wynonna Earp that’s been stellar right from the very first episode, was the show’s use of music. Andrea Higgins and the crew at Arpix Media really outdid themselves this week. From “Doctor” Reggie’s creepy whistling and the segway into that haunting music that was used during Bethany’s operation, the music this episode was almost a character in and of itself. Having a killer soundtrack can really elevate a show–just look at Fargo–and that’s exactly what’s happening here on Wynonna Earp.

“I owe Reggie an apology. You’re the sickest puppy in the litter.”

While Scrofano deserves heaps of praise for her performance this week, Wynonna Earp also gave us some pretty fantastically creepy villains. Just when I thought Wynonna would be able to make her move and escape Reggie (Ryan Belleville), we met Greg Bryk’s Jack. I don’t know about you all, but this was a twist I didn’t see coming. I do have to take a moment and applaud the show for the great casting call here. For three seasons Bryk played Alpha leader Jeremy Danvers on Bitten, a character that always had a bit of a menacing nature to him. As Jack, Bryk was allowed to fully embrace that quality and go all out (with creepy fire nails to boot!) and it was a lot of fun (albeit completely frightening) as a viewer to watch.

Syfy
Syfy

“Every man has a favorite body part upon which to gaze. I love to look at your organs.”

Perhaps what was most scary about Jack was the way he claimed to see right through Wynonna and all her facades. “You prefer to hunt alone, like me,” he told her, but she’s shown on many occasions to need help from Waverly, Doc, Haught and Dolls. Yes, just as Buffy had her Scooby gang, Wynonna has her own merry band of misfits because as Waverly pointed out, she’s “pretty needy for a lone wolf.” I’m guessing that having that backup will be a main reason why Wynonna will be the heir to succeed where so many before her have failed. When she clarifies later to Jack, “I’m not lonesome. I just prefer to hunt alone,” I think that statement is just as much about protecting the others than it being what she really wants.

Jack: “I’m the last of the Seven. What happens when you kill me?”

Wynonna: “Order too much Thai and open a bottle of wine.”

So now that Jack is dead and gone, Wynonna and her quest against the Seven that killed her father has also come to an end. What will this mean for her going forward? How will she feel now that her crusade is over? All signs unfortunately point to Bobo Del Rey and from what we’ve learned so far he’s no easy task, especially given some new information about a supposed bond between Bobo and Ward Earp. I do believe Jack was right in telling Wynonna she has fear in her, but I’m not so sure that’s a bad thing.

There is one thing no Wynonna Earp fan should be afraid of after this week’s episode, and that’s whether or not the show’s leading lady will be up to the challenge. It’s becoming more and more clear that as long as Melanie Scrofano is the one putting on Wynonna’s fringed leather jacket and hopping on that Harley there’s no limit as to where these writers can take Wynonna’s story. So fans better buckle up and sit tight because our girl has a big bad revenant and witch to take down next!

 

What did you think of this week’s episode of Wynonna Earp? For more information about this week’s episode check out our weekly post-episode chat with showrunner Emily Andras.

Wynonna Earp airs Fridays at 10 p.m ET on Syfy in the US. In Canada, episodes air Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on CHCH. All episodes will also stream live on CHCH.com in conjunction with the Syfy and CHCH broadcast airings.