Warning: The following contains spoilers for "When You Call My Name," the second episode of Wynonna Earp's third season. Read at your own risk!
Wynonna Earp is no stranger to death, what with all the revenants and monsters and weird Widows Clootie who've called the Ghost River Triangle home over the show's first two seasons. But the ragtag group of badasses at the center of the beloved Syfy series have never had to confront the death of one of their own... until now.
In Friday's episode, after she got into a serious car accident in the Season 3 premiere, an injured Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano) had an eye-opening chat with the version of her mother (Megan Follows) that apparently lives inside her head. It eventually helped her find Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley), who was in the clutches of a revenant camped out in the woods. But just when viewers thought the episode's moment of danger had passed, one of Bulshar's henchmen attacked and everyone's favorite man-lizard hybrid, Deputy Marshal Xavier Dolls (Shamier Anderson), sacrificed himself for the team.
It was a truly shocking moment that no one saw coming, least of all Wynonna, who refused to believe Dolls was dead initially. Naturally, TV Guide hopped on the phone for an exclusive interview with Shamier Anderson to discuss his exit from the fan-favorite series, what storylines he wished he'd had the chance to explore, and whether or not he thinks Dolls ended up in hell after that tense conversation with Doc (Tim Rozon). Read on to see what he had to say!
Dolls is the first major character death on the show, but it felt kind of sudden. Was it your decision to leave the show or was this a creative decision made by the writers?
Shamier Anderson: Wynonna Earp's been a really great journey for me and my career. It's opened up a lot of doors and shed light on a lot of things for me. I've been a part of something that's beautiful, and it's growing every single day: the fanbase, the people, and just kind of outside of the fantasy-drama sci-fi thing, you know representation, which I think is the best thing. Representation from the LGBTQ community with WayHaught and then being an African-American ... and not playing to stereotypes. You know when it came time to make a mutual agreement for me to kind of step out of that character ... it was very supportive all around.
The show takes turns and twists and what not and people grow. We're actors at the end of the day, first and foremost. So people's careers blossom differently, and it was one of those things where it was just time for [me], Shamier Anderson, to kind of go to the next phase in my career. So that's kind of how it aligns, but it was incredible. Incredible show. Incredible bosses.
What were those final days like on set? I imagine it was pretty sad to leave the show and say goodbye to everyone.
Anderson: Yeah, it was like three years with people I've been with from the beginning. Especially me, I was there down to the screen test in the auditions. It's bittersweet, you know? Everybody was super supportive, but at the table read, I can say people did cry. There was a lot of tears in the table read. A lot of tears in the table read. It was, like I said, bittersweet.
I feel like the way Dolls went out was kind of fitting; he went out in a blaze of glory and sacrificed himself for everybody. Is that the kind of ending you envisioned for the character?
Anderson: Yeah, actually, I didn't know what they were going to do, but when I read that I thought that was very heroic. [Showrunner] Emily [Andras] and the writing team really did an awesome job just with his exit and [keeping] ... the integrity of Dolls. And so when I read that, I said that was perfect.
He knew he was dying though and he didn't say anything to anyone. Why do you think that is?
Anderson: It's just kind of Dolls' nature. He does not want the attention to be on him. He's a really selfless character. It's all about the others and making sure the others are safe first before himself. And so it's just kind of how he operates. If he'd told anybody they probably would have stopped him or found ways to try make him better, which would take away from the objective.
Dolls was also a stabilizing force for everyone on the team, especially Wynonna. So how do you think his death will affect her and the team moving forward?
Anderson: I don't know how they're going to deal with it! I haven't read anything else. After Episode 2, that was kind of the last script that I read for the series. I mean, I would hope that they'd be sad[laughs], but you know, maybe they have a party the next day. But I don't know. You'll have to watch and see how they deal with it.
Are you bummed that you never got to see what a relationship between Dolls and Wynonna might have looked like? I know a lot of fans are going to be very upset we never got to see that.
Anderson: Yeah! I'm bummed about a lot of things. I'm bummed we didn't get to go into his storyline a little more. I'm bummed we didn't get to see the background of him a little more, just kind of his origins. ... I think just outside of the show itself, it would have been really interesting to see an interracial couple, you know really go into that and really explore the ins and outs and complexities of what that is, you know, being an interracial couple in a town like Purgatory. And especially with dealing with working with each other. ... I think bummed is not the right word; I think the right word is I was looking forward to seeing more of that. There's only so much you can do in what, 52 minutes or 45 minutes? [laughs] But yeah, that would have been super cool to see a bit of backstory on that end. But you know, the show is called Wynonna Earp, so we've got to keep the focus there.
There was actually a moment in the premiere when Dolls just looks at Wynonna in the truck and he doesn't really have to say anything, but she nods in understanding. What exactly was he going to say to her in that moment?
Anderson: That's a good question! I almost forgot about that moment until you reminded me. I'm like, "Oh yeah, that moment," and you know what, I think I'm going to keep that one between myself and [Melanie Scrofano]. I think that just kind of keeps the show exciting. Who knows, maybe in Episode 11 that will be revealed. So I can't give away too much.
I was actually going to ask, because the show is kind of crazy and weird things happen in Purgatory all the time, is there any possibility we might see you back again in the future?
Anderson: [laughs] If I could tell you that, I couldn't. If I could, I wouldn't. If I wouldn't, I shouldn't. You know what I mean?
Ha, yeah, I know! I had to ask!
Anderson: You know the answer to that one already. But that's Wynonna Earp; we can't say nothing. If you're gonna see me, you'll see me. If you don't, you don't.
There's a moment in this episode I was really interested in; it was between Dolls and Doc, and Doc is very afraid he's going to go to hell, but Dolls is certain he's not like that. He says he's not the same as Doc, and I was just curious: Where do you think Dolls actually ended up?
Anderson: These are really good questions! I don't know, and the reason why I don't know is because a part of that, in my personal work, I didn't explore kind of his spiritual conscience. I didn't explore if he was religious or not. I didn't explore any of those things. As for the show, what we see on screen ... it doesn't strike me that Dolls was somebody who thought about those things. I mean he's very aware of it, because of his job and what he did -- just talking about Purgatory and hell and demons and all those things -- but I don't know if Dolls really like ... I think when he turned the lights off, he wondered. He wondered if this sh-- was really real outside of what he saw in reality. You know what I mean? ... I played around with that idea in my head as well, you know in my creative work of just kind of thinking about the fact that outside, when he puts the badge away, the gun away, does he think about these things? Does he think about the afterlife? Does he think about everything? Does he have, essentially, inner dialogue? That's something that, once again, I wish I had a bit more time to explore, so I don't know where he'd end up, to be honest. He may come back as a lizard one day. Who knows? [laughs]
What do you want Dolls' legacy to be on the show?
Anderson: What I would like it to be personally -- you know ultimately it's up to the fans and how they proceed and when we release it people will watch the show and we'll see that expectation -- but I don't know. It's one of those -- you know all these questions you've asked today, it's a lot of I don't knows, because I have this idea and I've learned to let things go even in my personal life. But I just want people to be happy and to know that, just to look back on the past two seasons and as long as Dolls touched somebody emotionally, any way, shape or form, I feel like his job has been done. [If] his legacy is remembered just like as somebody that, you know, opened up their eyes to certain things, has really moved them in any capacity, I'm happy. You know, the worst thing to hear is "Who's Dolls again? That guy? Who's that character?" I'd be like, "Dang it. I didn't make that impact that I hope I will make." But we'll see. That question I'll leave to the fans.
So last question: What's next for you?
Anderson: Next for me is I've got a film coming out with Johnny Depp and Forest Whitaker called City of Lies. And that comes out in theaters Sept. 7. So I'm getting ready to the promotional campaign for that. But I've got some interesting projects as well. I just finished a film with Nicole Kidman, so a couple features in the can right now and then some really, really, really special, special projects that I can't speak on yet. So I'm really excited for that.
Wynonna Earp airs Fridays at 9/8c on Syfy.