Review: Wynonna Earp – Season 1

Last week I wrote about my first impressions with Wynonna Earp, a new supernatural drama. The first season ended in June, but I only caught it now. Now that I’ve finished the season, it’s time for the full review

Genre(s): Drama | Horror 

Created By: Emily Andras

Network: SyFy

Air Date: First Season Ended

Good: 

  • Main Character.

  • Main Villain.

Bad:

  • Willa.

  • Forced relationships.

Review

I could sum up my original impression with this word: “meh.” After catching the first couple of episodes, I didn’t think there was much in Wynonna Earp. I found it disappointing that, with the richness of historical facts tied to Wyatt Earp, they would choose to completely ignore them. I hoped for a wonderful bit of Alternate History combining the events we know as the Shootout at the O.K. Corral and their aftermath with the supernatural, but the truth is the writers decided to opt for the popularised “facts” about the old lawman, particularly the mostly fictional Buntline Special Wyatt supposedly carried, here named Peacemaker—which is in fact, the name of another Colt model.

True, Wynonna Earp is an adaptation of a comic book series, so perhaps things from the source material made it to this version. I have not read the comics but even if I had, I have learnt to pretty much ignore source material knowledge when it comes to adaptations. iZombie beat that out of me with an undead stick. So I can still hope for some nice Historical Fantasy.

Wynonna Earp

Researcher, Sidekick, Wise Counsel, Keeper of the Bones…I wonder how many more roles they’ll try with her.

The gun, the Peacemaker, is essentially The Colt from Supernatural, made to kill supernatural entities, particularly the demonic revenants, seventy-seven criminals once killed by Wyatt Earp, reborn as demons to hunt him and his bloodline. The Peacemaker is the only thing that can truly kill them, literally sending them to hell on a headshot. The ground splits open and hell drags the revenants through the cracks.

This effect is a bit dodgy to be honest. Sometimes it looks cool, but the production of Wynonna Earp commits one of the capital sins of CGI: they zoom in too close. A very flamboyant effect like this works best if you look at it from afar, but in their attempt to highlight this dramatic effect, they sometimes do the opposite and it’s not pretty.

Wynonna Earp

This bear was so baaad!

Though to be honest, the worst effect in the series is that CGI bear from around the second half of the season. I have never seen such a plastic animal before. I laughed so hard at that moment, which I’m sure is not what the series was going for. It was terrible.

Having said so, there are very cool effects in play, particularly the facial transformations for the revenants and the Witch. These are minimalistic and I’ve always believed with CGI that less is more when it comes to a limited budget. Add in the voice changes when these effects come into play and you have instant monsters with a nice impact.

Wynonna Earp

Bobo is fantastic!

Speaking of monsters, the revenants are a mixed bag. Most of them are just cannon fodder, with very little going for them, even in the supernatural ability category. But once in a while you get the truly special ones, with the best among them being Bobo Del Rey, the main villain in the season and perhaps my second favourite character after Wynonna.

Bobo is cunning, ruthless and highly charismatic, yet never falls into B-Movie villain-ness. He rarely gloats, and more than enough times takes care of things on his own, using his influences to stay several steps ahead. There’s also tremendous depth in him, but this is more on Michael Eklund’s performance, the Canadian actor giving the demon such a wonderful degree of tenderness and vulnerability at times. He makes the monster human enough to relate but never losing that monstrosity that makes him a compelling villain.

Wynonna Earp

I do really like the effect on the Peacemaker

Maybe it’s because of how good he is at his job that I found the season finale plot baffling. Instead of killing off the main heroine, he enacts a convoluted and really weak scheme that inevitably leads to his downfall. It boggles the mind, honestly. It’s true that the ploy was mostly a distraction, but still, a character so in control of everything leaving so much to chance doesn’t seem right and clashes with the overall characterisation.

But, his leading lady, the main female villain, is undoubtedly worse. Her story is not only one of the most contrived tales ever placed on a TV screen but also the writing and frankly subpar performance by Natalie Krill make it boringly predictable. I knew what the character would do from the very second they revealed the “twist.”

Wynonna Earp

Worst part of the season

The series struggles during the first half of its season with a messy mythos, but the second half is solid. Firstly, they did what I feel they should’ve done from the start and gave us enough information to help understand the Earp family curse, the gun and the revenants. Thankfully, they don’t reveal everything, just enough to grasp the gist of the setting. And secondly, they quickly do away with “The Seven” and bring the focus back to what’s truly important: Bobo.

I said this before and I’ll say it again, Melanie Scrofano as Wynonna Earp is the best part of the series. She’s funny, witty and not only a complete badass but also the performance gives the character enough vulnerability to make her relatable. Her jokes are often inappropriate and even insensitive and I loved it, because that’s what gets me into trouble most days.

Wynonna Earp

This is a pretty nice scene!

I’m not sold on the secondary cast yet though, on the hero’s side at least. Dolls is still an emotional void, yet another in the long line of emotionally unavailable super-stoic soldiers. Doc Holliday is the best of the sidekick bunch, but even his characterisation lacks in the way of depth, a one trick pony that Tim Rozon fills with more charisma than should be allowed for a single character.

Waverly has the messiest characterisation, and even by the end of the season, of everyone in the series, she had yet to find her defining characteristic or role. The season, more than an origin story for Wynonna, feels at times like a trial run for Waverly, putting her in a myriad of roles but never sticking to any of them for a significant period of time. Also, she’s one of the prime examples of the series’ forced relationships.

Wynonna Earp

Super secret organisation, has its name emblazoned on their vests…dumbest part of the season!

Wynonna Earp’s first season tries too hard to pair up the characters, even setting up a clumsy love triangle between the eponymous protagonist, Doc Holliday and Dolls, without much in the way of development. They end up feeling like sudden moments of passion, but nothing sustainable. Granted, Wynonna herself claims “it’s just sex,” but it’s pretty clear from the writing and performances that it’s supposed to be more, and it feels rushed.

Waverly an Haught are the steam train of rushed relationships, with maybe one instance of flirting when they first meet—and an appalling boyfriend I wanted dead the moment he popped up—leading to their romance. I’ll give it to Dominique Provost-Chalkley (Waverly) and Katherine Barrell (Haught) though, as they have wonderful chemistry that helps sell their pairing.

Conclusion

Wynonna Earp has many flaws, some in writing and other in execution, but the performances of its cast keep the whole thing together, particularly those of Wynonna and the main villain, Bobo Del Rey.

Also, gotta love that main theme!

TMA SCORE:

3.5/5 – Good!

2 responses to “Review: Wynonna Earp – Season 1

  1. Pingback: Entertainment – The Hook | The Mental Attic·

  2. Pingback: Best of 2016 – The Mental Attic | The Mental Attic·

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