It's good to be back.
After Wynonna Earp Season 4 spent the past two episodes floundering, it was a joy, and somewhat of a relief, for the series to finally be back in full force.
While nothing can change the poor setup of the Clanton storyline, Wynonna Earp Season 4 Episode 5 brushed past that and executed the rising tensions between the two families in near perfection.
What helped make that possible was the show's rectification in connecting the season's seemingly disparate narratives: the Garden and the Earp-Clanton rivalry.
With confirmation that Nicole struck a deal with Ma'am to get Wynonna, Waverly, and Doc out of the Garden, it helped close the gap in storytelling that confounded us about the characters got from point A to point B.
And with that seedy deal, we now get to see the consequences of Nicole's actions play out, which sets things in motion for the midseason finale.
It's a roundabout way to tie the plots together, but at least we now have a plausible narrative going forward.
We still don't know what terrible thing Nicole did to get her family safely home, but whatever it is, she is certainly paying the price.
As if spewing frogs wasn't enough, she spent some time this episode actively trying to kill her friends and family.
Nicole: I let you down. I let everyone down, but today I’m going to change that.
Nedley: You need my help.
Nicole: It’s a big ask.
Nedley: Whatever you need.
Nicole: I need you to kill me.
So, of course, the natural thing to do was kill her to break the hex.
Though Nicole ended up dead by the end of the episode, it wasn't at the hands of Ma'am, or at least not directly.
It was Jeremy who was responsible for Nicole's "death" to break the hex Ma'am placed on her.
It was more comical than horrifying, if only because it's unlikely Nicole will stay dead for good.
The Powers That Be would have to be laughably high on opium for Nicole to meet her end that way -- being drowned by Jeremy while Nedley had on a ridiculous headdress, with Nicole "dying" just as Waverly came rushing into Shorty's.
For one, WayHaught is the heart and soul of the series, and two, we would riot for days, threatening to boycott the series.
That's not to say beloved characters can't be killed off -- RIP Dolls.
However, after the whole 'Bury Your Gays' debacle, which came to a head in 2016 when The 100 unceremoniously killed off Lexa, showrunners have become more cognizant about killing off lesbian or bisexual characters just for shock value.
While we can be pretty confident this isn't the end for Nicole, her potential death will still devastate Waverly.
It will also put the Earp-Clanton rivalry into overdrive, with an evitable showdown happening during the midseason finale.
Wynonna: Well, here’s what I know you didn’t do: You didn’t give up on us when we were in the Garden. And a year and a half, that’s a long time to keep the faith.
Nicole: The thing is I did give up. Not at first, at first I believed that Waverly and you and Doc were going to get home safe, but 18 months went by, and I woke up one day…
Wynonna: Nicole, did you do something to get us home? Never mind, I didn’t ask, I didn’t ask. Do you want to hear my sob story?
Nicole: Uh-huh, I do, really.
Wynonna: Peacemaker actively rejected me today.
Nicole: You want me to frog barf on her?
Throughout the episode, Wynonna has been chomping at the bit to take on the Claytons, and now with Nicole "dead," Waverly will not only egg Wynonna on but join her sister.
Yes, things are going to come to a head next episode, and with any luck, Cleo will be the first casualty.
This episode also sets up an interesting dichotomy between Wynonna and Doc.
Ever since Wynonna Earp Season 1 Episode 1, Wynonna and Doc have been opposite sides of the same coin.
Even when they were on different sides or had slightly different agendas, both characters have been relatively similar -- impulsive, headstrong, hilariously inappropriate at times, heavy drinkers, and fiercely loyal and protective to the point of self-sacrifice.
It's what makes WyDoc such a compelling pair because even when they're fighting, they're always seconds away from finding a better use for that pent up frustration.
That's because no matter what happens, at their core, Wynonna and Doc are the same.
However, now Doc seems to be questioning some of the things that make him and Wynonna a perfect match.
Whether's it's some sort of wisdom that comes with longevity or hearing Wyatt recount some of their "heroic" gunfights, Doc has started to wonder whether he's the good guy in all of this.
Wynonna: Being the Earp Heir is the only job I’ve had that I was good at besides strip club DJ. Just because you’re rejecting your legacy, doesn’t mean I have to reject mine.
Doc: Fine pair we are: blood on our hands and both too stubborn to wash them off.
Or at the very least, he's started to wonder if all this bloodshed is necessary.
After over 150 years of killing and revenge and boiling rage, it's only natural to wonder if there's something else out there.
Maybe it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to hang up his proverbial gunslinging ways and enjoy a quiet life, just leave the Ghost River Triangle behind and be one big happy family.
The life of an immortal vampire and his demon-slaying baby mamma will never be normal, but it certainly can be less violent.
Doc is no longer sure that the path he and Wynonna are on is the right one, but Wynonna just doesn't have those same doubts.
If anything, no longer being the heir has made her more steadfast in her beliefs.
When Wynonna broke the curse, she had the opportunity to leave all the demons and supernatural stuff behind her.
There was nothing magically or mystically tying her to Purgatory and forcing her to send all 77 revenants -- well, I guess now, technically 76 -- back to hell.
After she saved Waverly and Doc from the Garden, she could have walked away.
Wynonna: I guess it makes sense. I’m not the heir anymore, now that the curse is broken, or much of anything.
Doc: You are everything.
Wynonna: What did you mean at the museum, that I might not be proud of Wyatt?
Doc: We were immortalized as heroes for murdering families in ne’er-do-wells.
Wynonna: The Clantons were dickheads, took whatever they wanted. They murdered people, took their land.
Doc: It was the Old West. Only difference between them and us was the stars pinned to our chest. I’ve often been left to ponder, Wynonna, whether or not this legacy of bloodshed will be the ruin of everyone we love. Perhaps we should take our cue from our ironically named blunt line. Could be we should aspire to make peace.
Sure, demons had taken control of Purgatory and the townies needed her help, but there's always going to be a reason to stay and keep fighting.
At what point does it become enough? At what point does she get to pass the gauntlet to someone else?
This could have just said 'enough is enough' and been on her merry way, but she didn't.
And why not? Because she loves this life.
It comes with plenty of complications, but when Wynonna's kicking demon ass and being the hero, she feels needed.
Being the heir is a big part of her identity, and she's not ready to let that go.
She doesn't know who she is without that, and she has no intention of wanting to find out.
Even if the Clantons weren't a threat, Wynonna would still find a reason to fight the good fight.
Like she told Doc, being the heir is the only "job" she's had that's she good at.
Without that, who is she, and what value does she have to her family if she can't protect them and keep them safe?
Wynonna: Peacemaker, where you at, mama? It’s me, old girl. It’s Wynonna. Peacemaker come.
Nun: Perhaps the weapon is rejecting you because it’s duty to you is complete.
Wynonna: Now you listen to me, god… gosh doink-it. The curse made be broken, but they still need me. All right, everybody still needs me to keep them safe, so this thing between you and I ain’t over until I say it’s over.
Nun: Perhaps it’s time for you to choose a life of peace.
Wynonna: How? When the monsters keep coming and coming, how am I supposed to live a normal life? Why the fuck would I want to?
With Doc heading down the road of self-reflection, it's only a matter of time before he and Wynonna find themselves at an impasse.
At some point -- maybe in the near future -- this evolving divide may drive a wedge between them that can't be fixed so easily.
When that happens, it'll be interesting to see where the pieces fall and what becomes of their relationship.
Elsewhere, one of the unexpected delights of the hour was the fleshing out of Holt.
The writers could have lumped him up with Cocaine Cleo and thrown the remaining Clanton siblings into the background, but instead, they chose to give the newly ousted sheriff some depth.
When we first met Holt on Wynonna Earp Season 4 Episode 3, he had this nonchalant attitude, like someone who's too apathetic to care about the intricacies of his certifiable sister's inane antics.
He was menacing in his own right, but he didn't have to be over the top to scare others.
Wynonna Earp Season 4 Episode 4 softened the gruff former sheriff a little, as he was clearly concerned over the fate of his younger brother, but he still appeared somewhat detached about everything going on.
However, now that we've gotten to know Holt a little better, we can see that what lies beneath his cool exterior is a desire to be free of his family's vendetta, free to make his own choices.
Doc: We have not been formally introduced.
Holt: I know who you are. You know who I am. So what do you actually want?
Doc: Well, there are more traditional spots for a man like you to wet his whistle.
Holt: I’m not a traditionalist. Look, I just wanted a beer.
Doc: You are a bold sorts. I will give you that, the whole Clanton lot.
Holt: You keep my family’s name out of your mouth, you hear.
Doc: You would be dead before you drew.
Holt: This whole ‘ fastest gunslinger in the west,’ that something you proud of? Shooting people who don’t have a chance to fight back?
Doc: Some people deserve to be shot.
Holt: Who decides that? ‘Cause the history books say one thing; my family says another. So you tell me, do you deserve a bullet or do I? Maybe, I’ll let fate decide.
Doc: Whatever side we fight on, the blood we shed to win the war, will damn us all.
Holt: It’s not a war, Holliday. It’s just a town filled with women who would have us both fight to the death.
He seems to have begrudgingly accepted the hand he's been dealt, but in his brief exchange with Doc, there were just hints of wishing things could be different.
He's not the type of person to make a move against his family or align with the Earps, but if the blood feud ended tomorrow, he wouldn't be sad to see it go.
He doesn't have the same bloodlust to see the Earps and Doc punished as Ma'am does or the impatience of Cleo.
Holt's just a 'go with the flow' type of guy who's caught up in something he has no control over.
It makes Holt a much more dynamic character and one that I'd like to see further explored in the back half of season 4.
And heck, if that means he has to take out Cleo, just for him to get some more screen time, then I'm all the more for it.
Lastly, in a slightly unrelated note, how has no one thought to ask Nicole if the awful thing she did was give away Peacemaker?
It seems like someone should have at least brought the possibility up, as it doesn't take a genius to realize the 'terrible thing Nicole did' may have something to do with the disappearance of Wynonna's gun-sword.
Nicole: I need booze.
Nedley: You look like you need an ambulance.
Jeremy: Whatever’s wrong with her, it can’t be fixed with modern medicine.
Nedley: Have you tried chicken soup and a “One Day at a Time” marathon?
Nicole: Tequila. I got to get the taste of frogs out of my mouth.
Nedley: Did you say frogs?
Jeremy: Oh boy, did she ever.
Waverly: Apparently she did something terrible, but every time she tries to tell us what it is, she throats up.
Nedley: So we’re dealing with what, some kind of hex? With all the new creatures in town it could be anything – a warlock, an incubus, a SpongeBob.
Waverly: Ah, you did research. Sort of.
It would explain why Wynonna hasn't been able to find it since she's been back, and why Nicole couldn't locate it during the 18 months if she gave it to Ma'am and forgot about the bargain.
Nicole did say she would do anything to get Waverly back, and giving Ma'am Peacemaker does qualify as a steep price.
After all, Wynonna can hardly take on the Clantons if she doesn't have her magic gun-sword, and Ma'am has proven herself to quite the formidable enemy.
Some stray thoughts:
As soon as we saw the picture of Rosita at the museum, who else guessed that our not-so-favorite baby stealing revenant would be making a "surprise" appearance, somehow, someway? While I have no idea how Rosita is still "alive," does this mean that the Earp curse isn't technically broken?
Don't all 77 revenants have to be sent to hell for the curse to break, or was that requirement bypassed when Bulshar broke the curse himself to get into the Garden?
Was the literal interpretation of a frog in my throat a little too on the nose for anyone else, or did you appreciate the pun?
Also, when Nicole was throwing up frogs, was anyone else reminded of that scene from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets when Ron tries to curse Malfoy, but the spell ends up backfiring, and he's the one spewing frogs instead? No, just me?
I get that Rachel didn't want anyone to know she was at the Clanton ranch, but considering the Clantons have control of a reaper, shouldn't she at least have told someone just in case she went missing?
So what did you think Earpers?
Is Nicole truly dead?
What do you think of Doc's change of heart?
Is there more to Holt than meets the eye?
Hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. If you happened to miss the latest episode, remember you can watch Wynonna Earp online at TV Fanatic.
Jessica Lerner is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.