Wynonna Earp has always owed a lot to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and this week, it finally gave us vampires.
Wynonna Earp Season 3 Episode 1 was a chance for viewers to catch their breath after Season 2's final moments. It was a return to the familiar, as Wynonna and her team deal with the fallout of Bulshar's return to power.
Over the course of the first two seasons, Wynonna Earp has taken on a distinct shape. Each season starts with slower, more isolated episodes that are much less focused on the season's overarching big bad.
As things progress, the season becomes more and more about larger themes and a broader, more overarching story until things explode in one way or another in the finale.
Season 3 seems to have started in a similar manner. While the vampires that invade Purgatory are nominally connected to Bulshar, this season's existential horror, it's clear that they are incidental to the season's larger story.
What this episode does well is re-establish where each of our main players is. Wynonna and Doc are both dealing with the fallout of their decision to give their daughter up so that she could be safe.
He won't touch me unless we're training and he won't touch me unless he's angry, so I keep him training and angry.Wynonna
Wynonna has doubled down on her work hunting revenants and looking for Bulshar, and Doc has withdrawn. Of course, this premiere is careful to remind us that Doc is also dealing with the loss of his immortality and his brief stint in Hell.
Tim Rozon has really come into his own as Doc and has turned the character into one of the more appealing presences on the show. Doc is on Wynonna's side, but less than the rest of her crew. That makes the dynamic between them one of the show's most fascinating.
If Rozon's performance has evolved, Melanie Scrofano's has been assured since she first assumed the role. Wynonna has accumulated more baggage as the show has developed, but at her core, she's exactly who she was in the show's first scene.
She's bruised and damaged, but strong and fearless. Wynonna is the kind of protagonist every show should want, headstrong and confident in ways that make her both compelling and deeply flawed.
Even as the show plumbs the depths of its characters, it's also fully capable of inserting plenty of levity. Dominique Provost-Chalkley and Varun Saranga do some of the heaviest comedic lifting in this first episode, but this is a show that understands that all of its characters can be funny.
You made me pee a little!Waverly
Perhaps the most hilarious, largely unspoken idea in the whole episode is that Jeremy has grown out his facial hair to look exactly like Doc's because that's exactly what Jeremy would do. Surprisingly, it's not a bad look.
One particularly beautiful moment of levity comes when Dolls seems a little bit too excited to break out his vampire hunting gear. It's a moment that's both hilarious and totally in character, and that's why it works so well.
I'll tell you what you can eat...a dick.Wynonna
The final action sequence, one featuring plenty of wooden stakes that seem like an intentional ode to Buffy, is as fun and light as this show always is.
Wynonna Earp has always been a show that's remarkably capable of using its budget effectively, and the purple fog that the vampires ooze in this episode is another delightful example of that effect.
Although it's unlikely that the show would kill its titular character, the episode's final scene, which sees Wynonna trapped in a crashed car, does offer interesting possibilities for how the next few episodes will play out.
Wynonna Earp is at its best when it pairs its characters off in new, interesting ways.
The premiere reminded us of many of the show's most familiar dynamics -- Waverly and Haught, Doc, and Wynonna -- but if Wynonna is out of commission in the weeks ahead, things could get interesting as Bulshar amasses more power.
Also, we're keeping your stripper bus.Wynonna
This premiere also features the requisite table setting that comes with many season premieres. We meet Wynonna and Waverly's mother and get a sense of just how hard it may be to work with her.
We also meet Contessa, a woman from Doc's past who will likely re-emerge at some point later on in the season.
This table setting drags the episode down slightly, but it's also part of what makes serialized TV worth returning to. There's a promise of more to come, one that Wynonna Earp delivered on during its first two seasons.
Wynonna: To victory in the face of vampires. To Alice.
By this point, the show has earned a certain level of trust from its viewers. Wynonna Earp has swagger and confidence to spare, and Wynonna Earp Season 3 promises to be exactly what viewers look for from the show: Plenty of wit, heart, and action, anchored by a compelling ensemble cast.
Are you excited about the show's return? What are you looking for in the weeks ahead? Be sure to watch Wynonna Earp online and stay tuned here for the next review.