*** Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on The TV Junkies and has been republished here with the consent of its author. ***
Despite her successful relationship with Waverly, Officer Nicole Haught has not been that happy on this season of Wynonna Earp. She’s been struggling with being on the outside of all the fun and action taking place with Black Badge, instead left to deal with the mundane tasks that go along with being one of Purgatory’s finest. Upset is not something we’re used to seeing out of Nicole. During the first season she was always cheerful, always upbeat and always seemed to have a smile on her face — and not just around Waverly! That’s changed in Season 2 as we’re seeing a very upset Officer Haught and one that is very vocal about the fact that she’s not being used to the best of her potential.
All that frustration really came to a head in this week’s episode, “Gonna Getcha Good,” written by Brendon Yorke. Officer Haught and audiences were introduced to Grade A creep Tucker Gardner. Tucker is the exact character — a white privileged male — that too often is let off the hook by society. While demons may be running around, it turns out Purgatory isn’t all too different from the world we know, because even after taking pictures up girls’ skirts, Sheriff Nedley let Tucker off the hook without even a slap on the wrist. It was a decision that set Nicole off even more, as she couldn’t understand why Tucker would not be punished and, even worse, why Nedley was apologizing to him.
Sheriff Nedley: “Tucker’s parents were good people, important people to this town. Boys will be boys.”
Officer Haught: “Whoa, I’m sorry did I hit my head and wake up in patriarchal bullshit land?”
Thankfully, in the end, all of Nicole’s pushing and insistence that there’s more forces at work in Purgatory than just strange coincidences finally paid off. By the end of the episode she confronted her boss about not only the strange supernatural happenings, but how actions such as letting Tucker go should not be tolerated. To everyone’s surprise, Sheriff Nedley admitted that she was right and that there are demons in Purgatory. It was a well written, touching and supremely gratifying scene in which Nedley also fessed up that he specifically recruited Officer Haught to replace him as Purgatory Sheriff one day. Katherine Barrell and Greg Lawson turned in stellar performances and both conveyed so much heart as Nedley conceded to let her work with Black Badge on future cases.
Sheriff Nedley: “You graduated top of your class in the big city and I need someone smart to take over when I retire.”
Officer Haught: “You want me to be Sheriff?”
Sheriff Nedley: “Why do you think I worked so hard to recruit you?”
Nicole has always felt that she could do more, she could be more and that, frankly, Purgatory was below her skill-set. These facts have always been clear to the audience as well and it was satisfying to hear exactly how and why Nicole ended up in Purgatory — because Nedley knew and saw all these things as well. He also knew she was a good, honest and brave cop and that being a good cop is something that truly mattered to Nicole. But she doesn’t want to be just a good cop. She wants to be great and help more, do more. It’s so satisfying and refreshing to see a show like Wynonna Earp allow one of its female characters to not only speak these desires out loud, but to also not punish her for that drive.
There’s been a lot of harsh truths and realities that have come to the forefront thanks to Donald Trump becoming President of the United States, but one glaringly obvious one was that many in America still do not like an ambitious woman. Hillary Clinton lost out to Trump for a wide variety of reasons, but one in particular was painful to confront as a strong willed, aspiring woman myself. There exists a large number of people who would rather have an unqualified man in charge than a woman who is much more experienced and suited for the role.
Despite the fact that we’re now in the era of Peak TV, when there should be plenty of room for all stories to exist, we’re still seeing so many examples of ambitious female characters that are looked down upon or end up punished in some way for wanting to succeed and be good at their jobs. Just look to shows like UnREAL or The Good Wife to see women who have an extreme drive to be the best at their jobs, but who also can come off in an extreme negative light because of that drive. Often female characters that have this want to succeed and who want to do well at their job are shown to suffer in other areas of their lives like failed marriages or drug addiction. Whereas audiences cheered the antiheroes given to us in shows like Breaking Bad and Mad Men, women who are ambitious and want to succeed seem to still be looked at through the same awful lens through which society looks at ambitious women.
Thankfully, Wynonna Earp proved once again that it’s a show that has no interest in tropes, continuing to go against them time and again. Not only does giving Nicole more power and more to do at work, while validating her skill-set, provide a storyline for her that’s completely separate from being Waverly’s girlfriend, but it allows for a positive light to be shone on a woman with ambition. Instead of confirming society’s fears about the ambitious woman, Wynonna Earp let us empathize with her, understand her and what drives her, what upsets her. Exceptional writing and Barrell’s soulful eyes and multi-layered performance also go a long way in driving those points home.
Now more than ever we need stories about female empowerment that tell and show women it’s a good thing to be ambitious, it’s a good thing to be proud of your skills, it’s a good thing to stand up for yourself and it’s a good thing to speak up and ask for what you want. No, doing so won’t make you look evil or suffer an unfortunate fate. In fact, if you’re anything like good old Officer Haught, it might just get you exactly what you wanted and needed most! Thankfully there are shows such as Wynonna Earp not afraid to tell that story, convey that message and prove that we all should go after what it is we want.
What do you think of Nicole’s storyline this season? Add your thoughts below!