The SyFy series Wynonna Earp has trod a rocky road on the way to its fourth season, much to the frustration of its loyal fanbase (“Earpers”). First, the start of S4 production was delayed until late 2019, due to financial troubles at IDW Entertainment. Shooting finally commenced this past January in Alberta, Canada, and was nearly complete when the coronavirus pandemic led to the shutdown of all film and TV productions. Showrunner Emily Andres and her determined team have nonetheless managed to complete the season, and we now have the first trailer (uncensored, with colorful language fully intact), and an air date: July 26, 2020.
(Some spoilers for first three seasons below.)
The original comic book series created by Beau Smith in 1996 had Wynonna roaming the world hunting down revenants and other demons; the TV series mostly keeps her in her hometown of Purgatory (primarily for budgetary reasons). As I wrote when S3 wrapped way back in October 2018, Wynonna is the the Anti-Buffy: “She’s a hard-drinking, foul-mouthed, promiscuous, bar-brawling free spirit with a chip on her shoulder. She never even had a shot at being Homecoming Queen in high school.”
Instead of battling vampires, Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano) takes on “revenants,” the repeatedly reincarnated outlaws that Wyatt Earp killed. They won’t stay dead until the Earp heir—Wynonna—offs them with Wyatt’s famous 16-inch barrel revolver, dubbed Peacemaker. She’s also battled witches, vampires, vengeful spirits, nutty sister-wife cults, possessed neighbors, and killer trees, among other threats. She is not without allies, however, including the immortal being, Doc Holliday (Tim Rozon), with whom Wynonna becomes romantically entangled. Then there is her baby sister, Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley), who falls for local deputy Nicole Haught (Katherine Barrell)—a popular pairing dubbed “Way-Haught” by shippers.
In the first season, Wynonna sought out the band of revenants responsible for the deaths of her father and sister, only to find her sister’s fate was something quite different. In S2, she wrestled with her mother’s mysterious abandonment of the family while contemplating her own impending motherhood, courtesy of Doc. At the same time, she discovers that Waverly might not be an Earp after all. In S3, we got some answers, as Wynonna discovers her mother, Michelle (Megan Follows) is a patient in a high-security psychiatric hospital, and Waverly—well, Waverly turns out to be half angel, thanks to Mama Earp’s affair with an angel named Julian (Sebastian Pigott). Wynonna also finally had the chance to confront the demon Bulshar (Jean Marchand), the one who cursed the Earp family (and by extension the revenants) in the first place.
Wynonna Earp has a small but very loyal audience, and hence there’s never any guarantee of additional seasons, despite the critical raves. Perhaps that’s why Andras decided to really raise the stakes in the S3 finale, which pretty much blew up the show’s original premise. The Earp curse appears to be lifted, the revenants have vanished, and Peacemaker is no longer a gun but a flaming sword that serves as the key to a portal leading to a lost Garden of Eden.
Alas, the victory is Pyrrhic at best. Everything comes with a price, and the personal sacrifice required was particularly high this time. Waverly was forced to remain in the Garden of Eden as its prisoner to keep the portal closed, and Doc—now a vampire, and frankly needing to make amends for some very bad S3 behavior—volunteered to remain there as well, to keep her safe. Asked where, exactly, Doc and Waverly are, Andras told the Hollywood Reporter, “If I get the budget I want, they’re in Hawaii, and we all have to go get them. Spoiler alert: They’re probably not in Hawaii. But we will have an adventure getting to them regardless.”
Judging by the S4 trailer, Doc and Waverly are definitely not in Hawaii, and it’s clear that Wynonna and her remaining allies pulled off a successful rescue operation, because both characters feature prominently in the footage. It opens with Wynonna having a crisis of confidence, having lost everything that made her such a formidable force in the prior seasons: Peacemaker, Waverly, Doc, even Nicole, who is understandably angry with Wynonna for how S3 events played out.
“Demons running amok, mystical portals to an otherworldly realm—it’s just so good to be home,” Wynonna says. She’s trying to get the gang back together, but they’ve got some issues to work through in the process: Nicole responds to Wynonna’s proffered hug with a punch to the face. But Sheriff Randy Nedley (Greg Lawson), supposedly retired, pitches in, and we soon see Doc, Waverly, and Nicole on board and ready to kick some demon butt and take back Purgatory. Just repeat Wynonna’s battle mantra: “Clear eyes, full bra, can’t lose.”
The fourth season of Wynona Earp premieres on Sunday, July 26, 2020, 10 PM/9 PM Central on SyFy.