‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’? Wynonna hasn’t had much of a welcome home to Purgatory yet, but she and Waverly moving back to their family homestead seems like such a lovely idea! Doesn’t it? In this episode ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’ isn’t just a nice platitude: it’s necessary to survive the demon shadow-assassin! For demons, would their “home fire” be hellfire?
If you haven’t seen the episode yet, be warned: this review is full of spoilers.
The episode began with Wynonna still trying to connect with Agent Dolls on a personal level, and with him still determinedly refusing to crack a smile. “There’s something wrong with you!” However, I’m sure many of us responded to the humour of Wynonna shouting “Crazy chick with a gun!” and firing, in a nightclub, on her “discreet, undercover” mission. And Dolls’ “not happy” response: “She’d better be dead…You flew over the radar in a flaming pink jet.”
It seems that Red was intentionally taunting Wynonna, because they were trying to take Peacemaker (again!). Fortunately/unfortunately, she had a different gun. Wynonna just can’t stop wisecracking, even while battling demons: “Ugly and dumb. You sure we haven’t dated?” Maybe it helps to distract her from the fear, to focus on the task at hand?
Perhaps one of Wynonna’s enduring (and endearing?) qualities is an inability to give up. She still wants Dolls to buy her dinner. She was, after all, right: “government issue” guns don’t have the ability to permanently kill Revenants, they’re only temporarily wounded. When she shot the demons with Peacemaker last episode, a symbol on them lit up with fire. That didn’t happen when she shot them with the other gun.
However, Dolls still trains her to shoot with the various Black Badge weapons, which might come in handy later on. It’s also an opportunity for us to catch up with some of the background story from Dolls, and yet another opportunity for Wynonna to try to establish a personal connection. I’m wondering what deep hurt underlies Dolls’ “I don’t do relationships.” Perhaps he was close to someone in New Mexico, who was bombed by the Government to keep the demons a secret, so he is keeping people at an emotional distance as self-protection. So far, besides being “very good at killing very bad guys”, he’s doing a reasonable impression of Sheldon Cooper: “The penalty for treason is death. [The death threat] was implied.”
Hank/Henry/Doc Holliday has been doing quite the opposite. Last episode we saw a man climb out of the well after Wynonna retrieved Peacemaker. It would be unlikely that he had been buried in the well, so perhaps that was his “re-entry point” because of his connection to Peacemaker? We recognised him from his ring (which is on his left hand, so: is he married?) when he spoke to Wynonna in Shorty’s. We know from press interviews and the imdb credits that he is Doc Holliday, played by Tim Rozon.
We learn, this episode, that Hank/Henry/Doc Holliday is still a man, not a demon. He can enter the Earp homestead and touch Peacemaker without being harmed. We don’t know why he has been resurrected for the first time now, after 130 years, but not before. The demons have been returning every time an Earp heir turns 27. Wouldn’t Doc Holliday be there as the heir’s backup/offsider?
In episode 1, Malcolm said that each time the Revenants return they are a bit more demon. Perhaps because this is Henry’s first time, he’s still human. Perhaps this means that all of the 77 could have lived as humans when they first returned, if they hadn’t been killed again by the Earp heir? The first time they were resurrected, were they killed because they were recognised as men who were executed before, or did they squander their second chance by behaving in a way that got them sent back to hell, turning them into demons? ‘Killer Miller’ was probably responsible for the most murders, out of the 77 Revenants. He is now “as far from human as you can get”, and has become a “shadow”, a light-sucking demonic force. Levi is a demon, but, apart from the fact that he’s been killing Earp heirs, he seems like a basically nice guy. If Doc commits atrocities, will he become more demonic?
Doc has been charming the people he comes in contact with, both human and revenant. He starts by convincing the antagonistic demons to let him play cards with them, and is summoned to talk with the “boss man”. Doc seems to be staying near the demons because: “It’s just a matter of time before [the Earps] figure out who I really am, and what I did to their great-great granddaddy.” What DID he do? Did he betray Wyatt Earp? Worse: could he be the reason for the curse on their family? Perhaps he’s even afraid of retribution from Wynonna and Waverly? As Levi said: “What would [Wyatt Earp] say if he knew you were joining forces with every man he ever put down?”
Perhaps reassuringly for us, the “boss man” demon (Bobo Del Rey, played by Michael Eklund) says: “You ain’t one of us”. Nevertheless, Bobo sends Doc to get “something of [the Earp’s]”, and Doc agrees.
Doc, on his mission to collect Earp belongings, was obviously resurrected complete with clothes and money from his time: he tried to pay Shorty with “pirate booty”, which was presumably 130 year old coins from his pocket. Doc’s exchange with Waverly at Shorty’s revealed many things about both of them. Interestingly, Waverly tells Doc to back off far more clearly than when she awkwardly, half-heartedly, fended off Nicole Haught’s advances, although she still gave him strangely mixed signals. Despite having “a big burly boyfriend”, it seems that Waverly is keeping her options open. Considering Champ tried to have sex with Wynonna, even knowing that she is his girlfriend’s sister, it’s amazing that Waverly is still with him at all!
Something that struck me was all the shirt-changing that the Earp sisters do! They must keep spare shirts handy wherever they go. Perhaps this is due to the warm climate. They’re quite matter-of-fact about changing in front of strangers, or perhaps it’s just Police officers. (Waverly in front of Haught this episode, Wynonna in front of Dolls last episode.)
Waverly further shows her naiveté when she tells Doc a number of details that she probably shouldn’t be broadcasting, such as: that she has Wyatt’s holster in her room upstairs. When she pays for Doc, she says: “I’ve got a good feeling about you, and I’m an excellent judge of character!” To which he responds, out of her hearing: “Sweetheart, you really aren’t.”
Doc then goes to Waverly’s room. He also has a sense of humour, muttering to himself as he searches Waverly’s things: “What does one get for the demonic sociopath who has everything? A braver man would suggest mouthwash.” He steals a photo of himself (Waverly somehow doesn’t recognise him, though!) as well as Waverly’s book of notes about the 77 Revenants, a pair of Champ’s jeans, and possibly other items. Wynonna walks in, calls him a Revenant, but only grazes his ear with a bullet, because he escapes by shooting Peacemaker out of her hand. Wynonna seems impressed with Doc’s speed.
Waverly later recognises that Doc is wearing Champ’s jeans, which means that he is the man who stole from her, but she STILL thinks “he’s one of the good guys”! Wynonna thinks he is attractive, but/therefore thinks he’s “one of the bad guys”. Considering that these girls are from a long line of demon-killers, they’re remarkably forgiving! Perhaps Aunt Gus’s hypocrisy (the alcohol, “nutsack”) is an indicator of an Earp upbringing: full of contradictions!
Earlier, when Wynonna showed Waverly the recovered childhood drawings, she called her Frida Khalo. I didn’t understand that reference, so I looked up Frida Khalo. The feminist reference doesn’t really seem to fit, and I don’t think it was about selfies, but perhaps the last line in this Frida Kahlo biography video (3:54) sums up Waverly’s sunny disposition: “She represents strength and resilience and a joie de vivre”. With everything Waverly’s been through, and everything she knows, she’s still optimistically trusting, exuberantly enjoying life.
When we later learn that Bobo, head of the demons, was Waverley’s childhood “imaginary” friend, who persuaded her to bury the talisman at the homestead, allowing demons to attack, we realise that Waverly has been naively trusting during her entire life. This might explain why she’s still with Champ after he tried to sleep with Wynonna.
Fortunately, Waverly also has an excellent memory. She remembers where the talisman is buried, and she remembers that the shadow-assassin-demon must be Miller, who wore an armoured plate, so Wynonna knows to shoot him from behind. Miller knew that Waverly was Bobo’s friend, and that Bobo would be sorry to lose her. I wonder if that is significant in some way.
Dolls had discovered that the bedrock of Ammolite under the Earp homestead is what had kept it safe from demons before, and that the talisman Waverly buried counteracted it. Removing the talisman made the homestead demon-proof. The most obvious evidence of this was Levi flying through the air off the property.
Disturbingly, Doc had agreed to send the assassin after Wynonna. Perhaps this was partly because he thought Wynonna might get the better of the assassin. He tells Levi “She might surprise you.” (It seems she impressed him too!) Both Malcolm and Red underestimated Wynonna, and she sent them both back to hell with Peacemaker. Because Bobo and Levi didn’t explain properly how to give Miller “his orders”, Doc accidentally made Waverly his target. Levi assumed it was on purpose, and, since everyone knows Waverly is adorable and harmless, says Doc “must really hate the Earps”. Levi seems none too bright, really, not noticing Doc’s distress, and following along on a series of disastrous missions. Still, it seems unfair that he is so cruelly punished, being dragged beyond the line to burn slowly and agonisingly from the inside.
At the end of this episode we still don’t know which “side” Doc is on. He’s friendly to Wynonna and Waverly, and puts up a new letterbox for them, because the old one had graffiti like his trailer. This is, of course, perhaps to soothe his own conscience for having sent the shadow-assassin after Waverly in the first place! He’s is also currying favour with Bobo and living near the demons, even though he indicates privately that he doesn’t really like them. He’s “officially in business” with Bobo, doing as he’s asked, and anticipating “revenge”, and “the woman who changed [him]”. There is obviously a whole lot of baggage that Doc needs to unpack. Hopefully, we’re going to find out more about this soon!
Some of the background details that we learned this episode:
- The Earp homestead is built on a bedrock of Ammolite, a fossilised mineral, which repels demons;
- When Waverly was 4 and Wynonna was 10, their parents were fighting a lot, and their mother left. This was around the same time that Bobo persuaded Waverly to bury the talisman which counteracts the Ammolite. (Did their mother really leave, or was she taken by demons?);
- For some reason, Waverly wasn’t included in the height measurements of the Earp children marked in the Homestead. Waverly hints that she always felt that her mother didn’t like her, and that’s why she wasn’t included;
- When Waverly was 6 and Wynonna was 12, Willa was taken by demons, and Wynonna shot their father. Another source outside the episode (CHCHTV site) includes a brother, Ward, being shot in the head at the same time; (Update: Ward is Wynonna’s father, and we know he was shot in the back with Peacemaker, by Wynonna, who was trying to shoot the Revenants)
- Peacemaker is the only gun that sends the demons back to hell;
- Demons burn from the inside when they touch Peacemaker, and also when they cross an invisible line around the town, “the triangle”;
- The demons want to “feast on everything and everyone”, and are digging their way out of the town.
If you’re interested in some more background on the show and cast, here’s an article from Wondercon 2016.
The full cast list on imdb doesn’t include Michael Eklund, nor the character Levi. I wonder who else has been left off the list?
Featured image from Syfy.
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