[Warning: The following contains light spoilers for Season 4 of Wynonna Earp. Read at your own risk!]
It goes without saying that this year has been a difficult and unrelenting one for many people. Escaping the overwhelming emotions and anxiety caused by current events, for however brief, is considered healthy and necessary for continued mental wellbeing. And there's no better reprieve from the real world right now than the escapist fun of the new season of Syfy's Wynonna Earp.
The fan-favorite series starring Melanie Scrofano as the eponymous heroine who, for the show's first three seasons, tracked down revenants -- the men and women killed by her ancestor Wyatt Earp and who became demons upon his death -- and sent them back to hell, returns for the first half of its long-awaited fourth season on Sunday. A delay caused by insufficient financing forced the show into an extended, unplanned hiatus last year, and although the cast and crew were able to film for only a few months earlier this year before production was suspended because of the pandemic, the new episodes we have to show for their hard work are more of the same enthusiastically entertaining adventures we've come to expect from the show. And they're coming at exactly the right time.
In Season 4, the series remains a perfect balance of humor, heart, and gunslinging Western, something that's evident in the premiere's opening scene, in which Wynonna painstakingly arms herself to the teeth to rescue Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) from the Garden of Eden, only for the camera to cut to an exasperated Nedley (Greg Lawson), waiting in the background, who expresses his extreme annoyance at her taking so long. The show's ability to effortlessly blend its signature sense of humor with a story exploring the depths of family and loyalty, all through a supernatural lens, is one of its greatest strengths, revealing that even in the face of the dangerous unknown, there is still lightness to be found.
The other reason the show is worth watching, of course, is Wynonna, who in the wake of the Earp curse being broken and Bulshar being defeated last season, is not celebrating breaking the shackles of destiny, but going to great lengths to save her younger sister, who is trapped with Doc (Tim Rozon, whose mustache I swear gets bigger and bigger each season). Without giving away too much, Wynonna and Waverly's bond continues to be a driving force of much of the show's emotional narrative, and Scrofano's ability to express so much by doing very little is the show's secret weapon. Unfortunately, Wynonna is left to do much of the rescuing on her own and without her resilient team of underdogs; Nedley is injured in Wynonna's first attempt to enter the Garden via the staircase in the woods, Nicole (Kat Barrell) is injured in their pursuit of another portal into the Garden, and Jeremy (Varun Saranga) and Robin (Justin Kelly) are nowhere in sight after seemingly being kidnapped. Even Kate (Chantel Riley) is out of commission.
As Wynonna fights for her family and attempts to save her hometown of Purgatory from the dangerous forces coming in the new season, she's also forced to do so without Peacemaker, the gun that has aided her in nearly all her previous pursuits. But at the risk of sounding like a clichéd motivational poster, it's been clear for a while now that it was never Peacemaker that made Wynonna the exceptional hero she has become -- the confidence and inner strength necessary to do the job was within her all along, and she simply needed something to unlock this power.
But the new season of Wynonna Earp isn't just a reminder that we all have the strength and ability to effect change, it's also a much-needed vacation for our overextended and exhausted psyches. Stepping outside our own mentally and emotionally taxing existence, even for a short while, is a form of self-care that allows our bodies to relax, our imaginations to stretch, and our brains to focus on things that continue to bring us joy -- things like Wynonna adding her own spin on Coach Taylor's famous "clear eyes, full hearts" rallying crying, the show finding new uses for feminine hygiene products, and how strange it is to see Nedley drop the F-bomb. Being able to temporarily forget our own worries and vulnerabilities and escape into the exceedingly fun world of Wynonna is exactly what many of us need right now.
While no one would likely ever call Wynonna Earp predictable -- between the immortal gunslingers (who take offense at being called cowboys), half-angels with exceptional fashion sense, heroic man-lizard hybrids, and demons force-feeding people baked goods, the series is a near-constant surprise -- there is still a sense of predictability to its narrative that allows fans to feel like they're in control. The familiar beats that accompany diving into a world that is different from ours and yet the same, one where relatable heroes are successful in defeating their demons, whether literal or metaphorical, are comforting in a world that feels increasingly less stable. After all, in Purgatory problems that seem insurmountable rarely ever are; with overarching messages of teamwork and perseverance -- and a healthy dose of humor to keep things in perspective -- anything can be accomplished, even for someone like Wynonna, who rarely lines up with the traditional version of hero.
TV Guide rating: 4.5/5
Wynonna Earp Season 4 premieres Sunday, July 26 at 10/9c on Syfy.