Sheriff Randy Nedley did something no sheriff wants to do in Wynonna Earp 3×06 — he froze instead of going after the bad guy and, because of that, a child went missing on his watch. It bothered him. A lot.
Stress and anxiety can be like that sometimes. You’re fine, you’re fine, you’re fine, and then something happens and you just…freeze — and then you beat yourself up about it. Usually, you process your feelings and you work through it and you come out the other end stronger for it, but the point is, sooner or later, no matter how “okay” you may look with it, the stress is going to catch up with you.
Sometimes, like Nedley, you hit a wall and it sort of stuns you into the realization that you’re not handling things as well as you could be.
Other times, you’re in love with another woman but you get your vampire wife to bite you in your attempt to stave off death and the Hell that awaits you.
And sometimes, your recently institutionalized mother decides to go whole-hog on the Christmas thing and everyone shows up for dinner working hard to be festive while a dangerous demon is out there plotting horrible things and you’ve almost died six times this year.
Totally normal Christmas dinner.
But let’s be honest. Things aren’t normal in Purgatory. Not by a long shot. And this week’s episode found a way to remind viewers of exactly that fact as everyone tried to go about their lives as if they didn’t live in a giant Hellmouth or that their daily lives are affected by any number of supernatural variables.
First and foremost, there’s Michelle Gibson. Two weeks ago, Michelle was locked up with a demon haunting her. A demon that was born at the same time her daughter Waverly was born, who it turns out is the result of Michelle’s love affair with an actual angel named Julian.
Now the demon’s dead and Waverly wants to know all about her daddy, and Michelle, who’s just trying to get everything back to normal, decides to spring BoBo Del Rey because he says he can help.
Then there’s Doc. The immortal man who’s no longer immortal and who’s looking at a deluxe suite in Hell in which he’ll be tortured over and over for all the things he’s done. Doc’s looking for a way out of that future with every bit of determination he has.
Doc’s also dealing with the recent birth and loss of a child (well, for now), the “what the hell are we to each other” relationship with Wynonna, and the return of a wife he somehow managed to totally miss was a vampire. No wonder he’s dragging a tree all over Purgatory trying to give someone some holiday cheer.
I get the feeling Doc’s been avoiding pesky little things like truth for a while now. But I’m not sure getting vampire bit is going to be the fix he’s looking for.
Meanwhile, Wynonna’s working her stress out on the new fire guy, which makes total sense for her, especially when you think about just how much she has on her proverbial plate: half-angel sister, newly non-crazy mother, her guilt over having to send Alice away, the confusion with Doc, vampires, the loss of Dolls, demons with cupcakes and, to top it all off, Bulshar. She has to fight a master demon with little to no resources and, somehow, keep everyone alive.
Then there’s Nicole Haught.
Once upon a time, Nicole Haught was a deputy sheriff new to Purgatory and clueless about what was going on behind the scenes. She’s learned quite a bit in her time there and she’s mostly rolled with the punches. Being as in love with Waverly as she is certainly gives her a reason to fight and, as we learned earlier this season, Haught has her own demons to battle. But she’s taking most of the strangeness in stride and she’s working hard to protect Purgatory and its residents.
For the most part, they’re all “fine.” Wynonna, Doc, Waverly, Michelle, and Nicole are all “fine.” They’re doing what has to be done and they’re putting on a brave face. Somewhere, they’re just making this all work because they have to. This fight is on their shoulders and they’re going to fight it as best as they can.
But Randy Nedley has laid down his sword — and I think that’s 100% okay.
Think about how long Nedley’s been on the front lines in Purgatory.
Twenty years is a long time to know that the town you’re charged with protecting is a hotbed of supernatural activity. It’s a long time to get up every morning and deal with whatever’s going on. And you have to figure that Nedley’s been doing his share of the heavy lifting because Ward Earp’s been dead a while now and Wynonna left town. The fact that Purgatory is still standing is a testament to his hard work and commitment.
Twenty years of finding excuses for whatever happened when a kid disappeared or a building burned or some demon came out to grab a snack.
Nedley thinks he froze out there. Personally, I think Sheriff Randy Nedley has finally realized that he’s only human and that everything happening in Purgatory is one hell of a lot to deal with.
And he’s realized that he doesn’t have to be on the front lines anymore. He’s realized that, in the purest sense, he really is too old for this shit. He’s allowed to stop. He’s allowed to rest.
He’s allowed to acknowledge that he’s tired of fighting this fight and he’s allowed to retire. He’d done his time.
There’s something powerful about his realization in this episode that didn’t hit me right away. Because I, like so many others, am one of those people who just keeps going. No matter what. It’s what so many people do. It’s what so many characters do. Because it’s what you have to do, especially on a TV show. I mean, you can’t have everyone just decide they’re tired of all the drama and give up, right?
But I’m glad Nedley got that chance. And I’m glad that Wynonna Earp 03×06 acknowledged the need for it. In its way, Wynonna Earp tipped a nod to just how bonkers everything is on this show and that they know it’s a lot to deal with.
It’s good to be reminded that you can’t always keep it together and it’s good to be reminded that we all cope as best as we can.
I just hope everyone figures their stuff out here soon — because Bulshar’s coming and he’s coming hard.