Why 'Wynonna Earp' Season 4 has been the best season yet

Melanie Scrofano and Dominique Provost Chalkley in Wynonna Earp
(Image credit: Michelle Faye/Wynonna Earp Productions, Inc./SYFY)

It's no exaggeration to say the fourth season of Wynonna Earp very nearly didn't happen - complicated licensing issues, filming delays, and a literal pandemic all combined to ensure an unexpectedly lengthy break between seasons three and four. Fans rallied to save the show when its future looked grim, and with the series officially cancelled by SYFY during the mid-season four hiatus, they're rallying all over again in hopes of seeing the show find a home at another network.

Yet, without taking any of the behind-the-scenes chaos into consideration, what we are left with is perhaps the best season of the series so far. The wild cliffhanger from last year left our hero’s chosen family scattered and reeling, which has given us a season of the gang getting back together. Doubling down on the emotional resonance of previous seasons, introducing compelling new characters, and bringing back some fan favorites from seasons past, there’s no denying that this has been a season to remember.

Varun Saranga, Melanie Scrofano, and Dominique Provost-Chalkley in Wynonna Earp

(Image credit: Michelle Faye/Wynonna Earp Productions, Inc./SYFY)

Where Season Four Began

Last season ended with Wynonna’s younger sister Waverly trapped in the Garden of Eden, doomed to spend eternity alone, guarding this apparently deserted pocket dimension. Doc Holiday leapt into the vortex that transported her there to keep her safe, knowing that Wynonna would be shattered by the loss of her sister. Wynonna had drugged most of their friends, including Waverly’s girlfriend Nicole, to prevent them from following her on what she considered to be a possible suicide mission. This attempt to protect them sadly left them vulnerable to being raided by the secretive government agency Black Badge.

When Wynonna returns from the mysterious vortex in the woods, she runs into Nicole, who had leapt from a moving train after being captured by Black Badge with the assistance of the vampire Kate. Wynonna and Nicole go looking for new ways to find Waverly, which leads to Wynonna vanishing for what, to her, seems like only a few hours while Nicole is left to fight for her life with the new recruit to the gang, Rachel.

Back in the Garden of Eden, the mythical Eve takes the form of Nicole to trick Waverly into freeing her from the garden, but Wynonna and Doc are able to help her and they return to their own reality. Little do they know, no less than eighteen months have gone by, and things have changed, to say the least.

Katherine Barrell and Dominique Provost-Chalkley in Wynonna Earp

(Image credit: Michelle Faye/Wynonna Earp Productions, Inc./SYFY)

What Makes This Season So Great

As heavy as a lot of the subject matter has been, Wynonna Earp seldom loses sight of its sense of humor, and this season has expertly pivoted from cosmic threats to irreverent comedy with surprising ease. When the show starts to feel a little too serious, the melancholy is broken up by hilarious episodes like Love’s All Over, in which an embittered Cupid allows love spells to go awry throughout the town of Purgatory, or Crazy, where Waverly and Wynonna lose their memories and are forced to attempt to piece their incredibly weird lives together from a handful of clues.

Yet, the show never loses sight of its horror-themed roots. Wynonna has survived extensive trauma throughout these seasons, from losing her other sister to losing her child and more, and it’s here that we finally see it begin to wear on her. She spends her days drinking herself into oblivion and hunting demons, to the point that Waverly and Nicole feel compelled to stage an intervention. Wynonna reacts badly, and the sisters fight, but it’s obvious why Waverly is concerned. Wynonna and Doc’s relationship grows only more strained after she shoots one of her enemies in the back, and his absence causes her a lot of pain. By actually showing the after effects of Wynonna’s PTSD and her unhealthy coping mechanisms, the show gives space to survivors. The people that love her are there for her, but it doesn’t stop her from feeling that the world is on her shoulders alone, which makes her only that much more relatable.

Finally, Wayhaught, the fan favorite ship between Waverly and Nicole, has blossomed in some new ways. This season started with the two torn apart by fate, but when they find each other again, their reunion feels all the more meaningful. This season features a fairly graphic sex scene between the two, which are still uncommon for a same-sex couple on TV, and before the show took its mid-season hiatus, the two became officially engaged. Even amid the chaotic events of this season, the last episode of the show is set to revolve around their wedding.

Savannah Basley in Wynonna Earp

(Image credit: Savannah Basley in Wynonna Earp)

Those Amazing Guest Stars

As always, much of Wynonna Earp’s strengths lie in the supporting cast, but the guest stars of season four have been the best yet. The morally complicated Rosita, who played a major role in season two, returns. The last time we saw her, she had betrayed Wynonna and Doc, but as a demon who was destined to die at the end of the Earp Heir’s pistol, this was actually a fairly reasonable action for her to take. Here, Wynonna is still hurt and mistrustful of Rosita, but they learn to forgive one another in a way that feels right. Meanwhile, Waverly’s antagonist demon counterpart, Jolene (Zoie Palmer) returns with a vengeance, having spent months within a reality altering fog that has warped her beyond all reason.

A new character named Rachel Valdez shows up on the scene, attaching to the struggling Nicole as a mother figure when her own mom dies. Nicole is eager to please her new found family, but she is independent as well. She asks Wynonna to train her, then struggles to cope with the reality of Wynonna’s role as the protector of a doomed town. Longtime recurring character Mercedes becomes a vampire while Black Badge worker Jeremy burns his remaining bridges with the agency to help his friends.

Even the villains are easy to root for. New addition Cleo Clanton is a mostly unrepentant villain, but she’s played with such vigor and her dialogue is so good that it’s easy to find yourself taking her side more often than not. Though the bar-owning vampire Amon is clearly a monster, he's still a ton of fun to have around, and his withering quips are among the best the show has seen. Earp writers have always excelled at bringing morally complicated, entertaining villains to the screen, and that is more true now than ever before.

Dominique Provost-Chalkley and Katherine Barrell in Wynonna Earp

(Image credit: Michelle Faye/Wynonna Earp Productions, Inc./SYFY)

The End?

Wynonna Earp’s dedicated fanbase is continuing the fight to keep this show on the air, and it just might work. In the words of Executive Producer Jordy Randall, “They’re a formidable group. They have the ability to create situations and outcomes for the show that I’ve never seen before.” So it won’t come as a huge surprise if this series finds a home elsewhere, and with such a compelling fourth season, it would be nice to see its many ideas further explored.

Yet, if this is the end, it’s a heck of a note to go out on. The last scheduled episode is set to debut Friday the 9th at 10pm EST on the SYFY Channel, and will feature the wedding of Nicole and Waverly. For a series that has gone to such epic lengths for its fans and vice versa, chances are that whatever the last episode has in store for us, it’s going to be an episode to remember.

Sara Century

Sara Century started writing through personal and music zines and pretty much just ran with it. She loves a lot of things, including but not limited to pets, comics, museums, libraries, and horror novels. She's the co-host of the podcast Bitches On Comics and the co-founder of the Decoded Pride queer speculative fiction anthology. 

Find her on  queerspec.combitchesoncomics.com, and decodedpride.com.