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Thursday, May 23, 2024
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TV Interviews

Wynonna Earp: A Look Inside the Show

Warning: Contains spoilers from last week’s episode.

I really felt like I should’ve seen this twist coming, especially since we never saw a dead body of Willa.  The way the reveal was executed though had my mouth open!  Wynonna’s (Melanie Scrofano) reaction at the police station around the end of the episode was so heartfelt that I felt like giving her a hug.  I probably would have had that shocked devastated look myself.  Showrunner Emily Andras definitely said it best when I interviewed her, “Things are going to change.”

In this week’s episode, titled “Landslide,” Wynonna and Waverly try to adjust with an amnesiac “Willa” back home.  I think this is another great episode that has me going ‘what the hell’ again at the end. I feel like I will be doing that for the rest of the season.  Talking with Andras and Scrofano was a treat and it gave me a better understanding of the creative process of a TV show.  While my questions mostly focused on the events from episode 9, they could also apply to episodes 10 and 11.

Emily Andras Wynonna Earp WonderCon Premiere
Emily Andras from Syfy’s Wynonna Earp press event at WonderCon 2016.

I admire Emily Andras for the many hats that she wears: showrunner, head writer, executive producer.  Geez, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself with that many roles! Knowing that she has headed shows like Lost Girl which recently wrapped up its final season, and wrote for Killjoys (which I love), the show Wynonna Earp is in good hands.  Here is my talk with the showrunner!

TNE: How many episodes did you write?

Emily Andras (thinks for a few seconds): I wrote 4 of 13.

TNE: So as the head writer do you assign characters to different writers or do you…I guess what I’m trying to figure out how that works because I was always curious.

Emily Andras: Right, no problem. So we have a room full of writers and it kind of goes like outwards in. So the first thing we do is we talk about what the show is, like literally what is the show called.  Is the show funny is it not?  Is it sexy is it gory? What do we want this show to be? Then we talk about the season (speed run) So okay what kind journey exactly do we want these characters to go on? What was our first season? And then we start to actually break down episodes: So that’s literally like, what do we want to have happen in Episode 1, what do we have on tap for episode 2 all the way through the end of the episode then we have landmarks like do we want to end on a cliffhanger or big move.

Then we break each episode by scene. Like what happens in the teaser, what happens next, what happens here. Usually that stuff is assigned to a specific writer.  It’s not really done by character it’s literally done by script because writers should be able to write most of the characters.

Now that’s not to say that we don’t have a room full of people.  People have different strengths.  Like one person could be coming up with ideas in the story room. Some people are a little quieter but are very strong with writing dialogue.  Some are very good with structure to make sure that the pages are good.  People may be good at writing Doc but not so good at writing Waverly.  So you really want to think of a writing room as like a baseball team. Kind of want to get a bunch of people with different skill sets.  The other thing is like the deadlines are crazy and it gets to the point where you want to kill each other by month 7 ya know? We have to get along and laugh and really be supportive of each other.  At least that’s what I want to see on my writing team as a showrunner.  Other people may have a different system but I would take the writer that makes me laugh and delivers a B+ script that I can fix vs someone that’s a complete jerk who thinks they’re an excellent writer.  I’ve never met a writer to justify being a jerk in the room let me just put it that way.

TNE: You can’t be the end all be all right?

Emily Andras: Exactly. It’s just like dealing with an unpleasant person I think that’s what one thing people don’t understand about TV writing vs writing a movie or writing a novel it’s very collaborative and very social actually so while the writing’s hard because yes you are alone in front of a computer like the rest of us but it’s a lot more of a team effort than I think people realize. So even though there’s one name in front of the script there may have been many different people making passes on that script. We tend to pass scripts around a bit.  That way we know It’s a way to put our best foot forward.

TNE: You know as a viewer sometimes we think that something doesn’t make sense, we think why didn’t they think of this, this or this? For me I feel like, you can only do so much.

Emily Andras: Yeah sometimes it’s amazing. Like think how many people read the script. By the time it goes to screen it might be at the 10th draft, but it doesn’t mean that stuff doesn’t get missed. It’s a very grueling season so you have to keep 13 episodes in your head so like even for me sometimes I’m in the editing room and I’m like ‘Oh God, did we edit enough of this [Episode]?  It’s remarkable how many balls you’re juggling as far as story point. And then it it’s like maybe there’s an explanation coming you know or so you as a writer think you’ve got a great explanation but there’s too subtle or too much subtext… or it’s all relative.

WYNONNA EARP -- "The Blade" Episode 104 -- Pictured: Melanie Scrofano as Wynonna Earp -- (Photo by: Syfy/Wynonna Earp Productions)
WYNONNA EARP — “The Blade” Episode 104 — Pictured: Melanie Scrofano as Wynonna Earp — (Photo by: Syfy/Wynonna Earp Productions)

TNE: Is Season 1 is more [focused towards] world building? [For example] just getting to know Wynonna Waverly and even Doc and Agent Dolls…. before you maybe branch out into different characters that have been featured in the comic or even just made up characters?

Emily Andras: There is still a lot of world building to do and so much exposition with people trying to explain the mythology, explain the rules explain how the gun works explain who all these characters are. But at the same time you know that can be really boring.  So you have to make sure that it’s really fun, the cases are really good. People fall in love with the characters, that’s the most important thing.  Whether you have a genre budget of 500 million or whether you are making something like The Avengers or you’re making like you know a sort of underdog Canadian show which is what we’re doing. People in genre or part of that audience are very sophisticated and they still come for the characters. And once they fall in love with the characters they’re a little more forgiving about whether your special effects are a little subpar or if our action budget isn’t as huge as a major movie so world building is very critical first season.  The truth about Wynonna is it’s just getting started and we certainly have a plan if they let me I feel like the show could go for five years or earlier. I think the Ghost River Triangle is a world of secrets and the rules are always clear which we’ve seen already, it’s not black and white it’s not clearly defined.  Things that might seem evil are really good and vice versa.  So I really think we’re starting very sectionalized. And if we’re lucky enough going then yeah we’ll continue to bring on surprises and explore this insane pocket of paranormal activity in the middle of the West.

TNE:  Okay that makes sense. It seems like your world building introducing like Bobo. I don’t know if he will be defeated in Season 1 or if he’s just going to or if there’s going to be a major cliffhanger.  You don’t have to tell me but…

Emily Andras: I do know, but I’m not going to tell you because I want you to keep watching.

TNE: Of course you do!

Emily Andras: He’s a very formidable foe Bobo Del Rey. I think we’ve only just started to see just how dangerous a vermin Bobo Del Rey is.  He’s played by Michael Eklund who’s phenomenal. But you know now that Wynonna has defeated the seven she has to take on the big guns and that is Bobo Del Rey and I think he’s going to prove so much craftier and dangerous than even Wynonna realizes. We are in for one hell of a show now.

TNE:                      I’ve watched Episode 10 and I’m like crap!!!

Emily Andras: There are so many surprises coming down the pipeline for the Earp girls.

TNE: Oh wow.

Emily Andras: It gets crazy girl!

TNE:                     I know I just felt so bad for Wynonna.

Emily Andras:  I know Melanie Scrofano can make you cry just reading a cereal box.  She’s so vulnerable in that episode. It’s like what does this mean now.  It could mean a million things. Do we even know if this is true? It’s so crazy right? Like how is this even possible?

TNE:   Okay. Not only that but just like when Wynonna started at the beginning of the season and up until this week’s episode, she just seems so vulnerable. At the same time, she tries to act all tough –

Emily Andras:   Like a real woman.

TNE:   Yeah, like a real woman. So I guess I’m trying to figure out where her head is at by the time episode nine comes around because she seems really traumatized after confronting Jack of Knives and she seems to cope by drinking but is there another way that she’ll eventually be able to cope when stuff hits her hard?

WYNONNA EARP -- "Diggin' Up Bones Episode 105 -- Pictured: Melanie Scrofano as Wynonna Earp -- (Photo by: Syfy/Wynonna Earp Productions)
WYNONNA EARP — “Diggin’ Up Bones Episode 105 — Pictured: Melanie Scrofano as Wynonna Earp — (Photo by: Syfy/Wynonna Earp Productions)

Emily Andras:  That’s a great question. And this is kind of an ongoing theme in the story. Wynonna is not a healthy pony. You know?

TNE:    No.

Emily Andras:           She’s had an incredibly traumatic childhood. She’s been through a lot. I think she’s been through things we don’t even know about yet. But this one hit her hard. We’ve all been through this though. Let’s say, you have something really important that you need to conquer like exams. When you finish exams or you’re finishing a job or you hit a deadline, you think you’re gonna go party. You think you’re gonna feel good. But more often than not, you actually feel a bit depressed because you’ve worked so hard towards this one thing and then it’s over.

Wynonna had a very clear goal, which was to vanquish the seven who attacked her homestead and killed her father and her sister. But now that that’s over she still has to contend with the curse and it almost is, like, because her mission is over, she might be forced to look inward and examine herself. Yes, these things are demons but they still look like humans and they once were humans. So what does that do to someone? I think through all of Wynonna’s facets, we see how huge her heart is and how much she feels deeply and cares. Yeah, I like that she has a little bit of PTSD and that she’s struggling to cope.

That makes her more real to me. You know? One of my favorite things about Wynonna, which I say all the time – what separates us, I think, as well, from other comic books is she’s not actually a superhero. She’s kind of a girl who inherited this terrible curse and got a big ass gun. Right?

TNE: Yeah.

Emily Andras:   She’s just a person trying to cope…She has to contend with things the rest of us hopefully never will…But I think Wynonna is going to have to find a better way to cope but I think it’s just going to be an ongoing theme of the season. Like, how long can you fight evil before you lose your own humanity? And that is going to be a struggle. We see that in a character like Doc Holliday. Even Dolls. These people have secrets and part of them has been hardened by what they’ve had to face down and that is the danger. That’s why the lines between good and evil blur.

But I can’t think of a better character to follow along on that journey than Wynonna because she’s just such a fascinating, delicious woman worth fighting for and worth carrying on.

WYNONNA EARP -- "She Wouldn't Be Gone" Episode 110 -- Pictured: Dominique Provost-Chalkley as Waverly Earp -- (Photo by: Michelle Faye/Syfy/Wynonna Earp Productions)
WYNONNA EARP — “She Wouldn’t Be Gone” Episode 110 — Pictured: Dominique Provost-Chalkley as Waverly Earp — (Photo by: Michelle Faye/Syfy/Wynonna Earp Productions)

TNE:   Waverly has had to go through a lot of stuff too. She has her sister coming back and then she also has to deal with not being the heir. And it kind of addressed it – I can’t remember if it was episode five or six, but it seemed like they were at a good place. But will that still come up from time to time?

Emily Andras:   Oh, definitely. The tension between the sisters?

TNE:  Yeah.

Emily Andras:   Oh, definitely. 100 percent. Well, I mean, you’ve seen something that might act like a certain level of tension. But also, it’s funny to me. They cope in completely opposite manners. Right? Like, Wynonna is sarcastic and she seems like a cynic. And sometimes she pretends that she doesn’t care, but she cares deeply. Waverly, on the other hand, is very cheerful and lovable and an optimist. She’s a little bit of a Pollyanna about everything. She acts like there’s no problem that a smile can’t fix. But we’ve heard Bobo Del Rey say to her, “You’re so angry. You have so much rage underneath that sunny little disposition.” So I think it’s interesting.

I think the sisters don’t really know each that well. As much as they adore each other, they haven’t been grownups together. They’ve been kids together. They don’t know each other as well as they think they do. They certainly love each other and they don’t necessarily know themselves that well. Waverly’s obviously going through a ton of changes….really challenging who she thought she could be and her world is opening up in some ways. And the truth is as much as Waverly would like to be the heir, I feel like she doesn’t necessarily understand what Wynonna has actually been through. So that’s gonna be a challenge.

But they know that they love each other so much that I really, truly believe they’re going to make it work. They have to. They have to. They’re all that each other has. Really, at the end of the day.

(Something tells me that sisterly bonds are starting to be tested in the next few episodes.)

WYNONNA EARP -- "Landslide" Episode 111 -- Pictured: Melanie Scrofano as Wynonna Earp -- (Photo by: Michelle Faye/Syfy/Wynonna Earp Productions)
WYNONNA EARP — “Landslide” Episode 111 — Pictured: Melanie Scrofano as Wynonna Earp — (Photo by: Michelle Faye/Syfy/Wynonna Earp Productions)

TNE:   Yeah. Yeah, totally. And Jack of Knives actually mentioned something about Bobo and their dad being friends even. And that was something – is that gonna be addressed later on or is that something that’s kind of like maybe waiting in the wings to do a spring on us and be like, “What!?” even more?

Emily Andras:   Maybe both. I mean, was Jack telling the truth? He’s sort of a manipulative sociopath, right?

TNE:   Yeah, so it’s like, “Is it true?” Or is that like – was it always – but then I was talking with Michael about the fact that Michael – was the invisible friend for Waverly. I’m like, “Why was that?” And so it kind of teased a little bit but it’s still one of those questions that are like, “Well, is there any truth to what Jack was saying?” and “why Bobo would become an invisible friend for Waverly? Just to keep her company?” I know he’s manipulative too so there’s that and so I just have all these questions.

Emily Andras: I will tell you this. I think that part of the reason that Bobo became friends with Waverly was revealed in episode two which was he needed an Earp to manipulate the Gary the talisman to capture the ammonite bedrock so that the Revenants could come on the homestead and basically foster the attack on the family. Right?

TNE:   Yeah.

Emily Andras:  So, on the surface it looks like he just used her. He just was evil. On the other hand, I think we can see that he definitely has an unhealthy interest in the Earp girls and almost like a weird fascination with Waverly, which I think is interesting. I definitely think we’re gonna get more Bobo Del Rey in the back half of the season so many, many answers will be answered. Questions will be answered, let me say. And I think it all ties up in a way that’s really satisfying and yet continues to intrigue. I’m pretty proud of it actually.

Thank you Emily Andras and the rest of the creative team behind the show! Watching these characters grow has been a highlight for me every week.  Syfy please renew this show! Stay tuned for my interview with Melanie Scrofano!

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