Wynonna Earp Postmortem: Emily Andras Talks “Jolene”

*** Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on The TV Junkies and has been republished here with the consent of its author and Emily Andras. ***

*** This article contains major spoilers for the Wynonna Earp Season 3 episode “Jolene” ***

While her smile was like a breath of spring and her voice was soft like summer rain, make no mistake that Jolene (Zoie Palmer) was up to nothing but trouble in Purgatory this week. It was a busy and wild week on Wynonna Earp in “Jolene,” written by Shelley Scarrow and directed by Paolo Barzman, but in the end we got a lot of answers about Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) that many fans have been wondering about for quite some time. Doc (Tim Rozon) also made a huge decision to stand up and fight Bulshar head on and Mama Earp (Megan Follows) looks like she’ll be hanging around the Homestead awhile longer.

Yes, Lost Girl and Dark Matter alum Zoie Palmer blew into Purgatory and left quite the lasting impression as Jolene, the demon that has been attached to Waverly for years now. Jolene and her baked good caused quite a ruckus but allowed for many secrets to come out into the open. In our weekly discussion with showrunner Emily Andras, she talks about why this was the perfect role to bring Palmer in for, why it’s always a great time to see Bobo (Michael Eklund) and what effect Mama Earp sticking around a bit longer may have on Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano) and Waverly.

The TV Junkies: Well, you promised us the Full Palmer and I think it’s safe to say you delivered. Wow, what a performance for Zoie to come in and give!

Emily Andras: If I’m bringing The Palmer on set I don’t want to just sprinkle some Palmer in one corner of the screen like Calamity Jane. I want The Full Palmer! I know Zoie’s range, and have for years, so I wanted to entice her as well by giving her a role that only she could do. She was amazing and I thought her confidence in moving from one end of the spectrum to another was delicious. It’s just so joyful to watch. You could watch that whole episode and just cheer for Jolene because she’s one step ahead of everybody and making all these moves that are so hilarious and fun. Then she’s so full of rage, but also kind of weirdly empathetic and we feel weird about it at the end. Her fate is also so horrific that you can’t help but feel like all this demon has done is suffered her entire life and now this is her end? I feel a lot of mixed emotions about it in a weird way. I really loved Jolene and would love to do a Jolene spinoff. Jolene’s Pies!

TTVJ: That really is how I felt. On one hand you have Jolene coming in and being so mean to Waverly, which how dare anyone be mean to Waverly! But then Zoie makes her so enjoyable to watch and really does make you feel for her in the end, despite yelling at Waverly to kill herself.

EA: It was a really interesting character, right?

TTVJ: I just don’t think you can pull off a character like that on many other shows. I was just like ‘wow!’ Kudos to Shelley Scarrow as well for writing this craziness.

EA: Shelley was the perfect person to write this episode. She had such a handle on what she wanted Jolene to be. She has the best mean girls stories and told a story how, even as an adult, she felt kind of bullied by someone who gets away with murder in everyday society because the rest of us are following some dumb societal rules. Shelley really defined Jolene’s voice and once you had that, everything else really fell into place.

The other thing that I thought was really good is that even when we love someone, occasionally we have a dark feeling about them or an annoyance with them, even if it’s temporary. So I think Jolene really highlighted truths that the characters feel about each other, even though their love for one another supersedes those truths. Everything felt earned, and even when people were angry at each other, it was not entirely a lie, which was very interesting. Only at the end, when Jolene is yelling at Waverly saying ‘nobody loves you and you’re not special,’ that’s when she overextended and Waverly was like ‘no, that is a lie!’

TTVJ: That scene was amazing with Dom and Zoie!

EA: It was so hard! We have some behind-the-scenes footage of it and I believe Dom talks about it in the iTunes feature for this episode. It was grueling! Dom found it difficult to go to that place, and I think Zoie separated herself from Dom because she had to be so abusive. To get into the headspace where you’re yelling at this beautiful person and telling them to kill themselves is a dangerous place to live as an actor. I think they were full of adrenaline but also exhausted. They had to match one another’s fierce energy and it’s such a powerful scene.

TTVJ: One of the other highlights was the insane bar brawl with Zoie singing karaoke. There was so much going on in that moment so can you just discuss orchestrating everything in that scene?

EA: The choreography was crucial because everything had to be mapped out to the nth degree to make sure it all worked. It’s also fun to get to third season and realize we never had a real, knock ‘em down bar brawl at Shorty’s with our own characters. So it was an excuse to pit the characters against each other and have an old-fashioned bar brawl. In a weird way, though, it did feel really fun, which was important because they were releasing all this tension after losing one of their own, giving away the baby and all this other stuff that happened.

Honestly, everyone was so good in it, but special shoutout to Megan Follows for showing up and just going for it. Anne of Green Gables drunk, swearing, punching people and jumping on people’s back is my sexuality. It was amazing!

The other people who deserve credit in a scene like that is the crew. It’s so difficult to stay out of the shot when so much is happening — all the camera people, guys working the boom, the gaffers trying to move all the wires — it was nuts! It was so hard to stay off camera. We definitely used up a lot of our budget on breakaway bottles that day, but the end result was so fun.

Cheater, Cheater” is another winner selected by Andrea Higgins [music supervisor]. I think Noelle Carbone has had that on repeat in her car for like 8 months. She won’t deny it. She was listening it on the way home from EH Con and sent me a snapshot. Again, Zoie was game. Not only did she have to come on and play this villain, go from sweet to sheer villainy with some seduction in between, but then I was like ‘do you mind coming and singing?’ She said ‘I guess so,’ and had a bad cold, but came and recorded it and it was great. That’s her singing! She’s basically my favorite person.

TTVJ: You really did throw everything at her and made her interact with everyone! You even recreated the WayHaught meeting scene at the taps.

EA: I didn’t want her to come and not have fun. But that moment was so fun and I can’t wait to be online for it. I feel like people will be mad, but in a delicious way, not a mad Waverly way. I like Jealous Waverly. It reminds me of Season 1. That was pretty fun!

TTVJ: We’ve been wanting answers about Waverly for a long time now and finally got some real concrete ones in this episode, like discovering her father is named Julian. Why was it time to finally pay off some of those and can you explain what’s next for Waverly?

EA: We have definitely heard Mama and Bobo say some things about Waverly and heard Mama talk a little about her love affair with Julian. We will have concrete answers about Waverly this year. You’ve been waiting patiently for three years and you will get some firm answers. Whether they are the answers you want, or whether they are answers that will make you scream, stay tuned!

TTVJ: It is really nice that we have Bobo stuck in the well so we can go and have some Michael Eklund injected every now and then. He does know quite a lot about Waverly, but is hard to trust. Why was now the right time to bring him back into the fold?

EA: I feel like we had so much to do in the first half of the season to be honest. I don’t know if you watched the first half of the season, Bridget, but a lot has happened. So it’s kind of nice that we have this Hannibal Lecter character in his cell, and I knew when we brought him back I’d want to make it dramatic and not anticlimactic. The best use of that character is, whether we hate him or not, he knows things about Purgatory, about the revenants and about the Earps that we do not. That is his power and negotiating tactic. When all else is lost, he may be the only other person we can go to ask questions.

I would also say that Bobo shares a lot in common with Doc in that he’s always going to look after Bobo and what’s in it for him. Again, take it with a grain of salt, and we will see how Wynonna deals with the information next episode. Michael Eklund is so delightful though when he shows up on screen and such a welcome part of Wynonna Earp. You almost don’t realize how much you miss him and then you see him and it’s such a treat. That’s the best part about Bobo, you can’t count him out and he’s going to show up when you least expect it.

The cast on this show feels rewarded now in third season because they see the fans are buying into what they are putting out there. So Michael knows he can play within the realms of this character and we’re going to eat it up. He knows he’s free to try all sorts of things, and I hope is what he adores about the show and why he keeps coming back to the show. We’re all for it! I just want to see him lick more things.

I also just love how he’s still in the straight-jacket in the well. It was Michael’s idea to take one of the laces from the jacket and tie it around Bobo’s hair to keep it back. He’s such a physical performer and not pretentious or stubborn at all, but really takes joy in working with hair and makeup and wardrobe to develop the look of this character. He loves coming in every year and figuring out how we can showcase where Bobo Del Ray is at emotionally and psychologically through how he’s looking. I think he relishes it. Who would’ve thought that Bobo would end up at the bottom of the well at the beginning of first season? I hope it’s a gift for an actor.

TTVJ: I really loved how we got so much bonding time this week between Mama Earp and her daughters. I know they were all possessed by Jolene, but does any of that bonding time stick and will we see Mama now being around more?

EA: Now we realize that Mama wasn’t just crazy, right? She was telling the truth and trying to protect Waverly from this demon. Mama gave up everything to protect her daughters! She went to prison knowing that was what was best and going to keep her baby girl safe. Wynonna, who just gave up a baby last year, can only relate to that. Now it’s almost like all their expectations, feelings and theories about Mama have to go out the window. So they are really rebuilding their relationship and getting to know each other.

Next episode there’s definitely more of that now that those things have been removed. They need to find out what kind of person Mama is and what she wants in the world. She’s still a fugitive, let us not forget, but there’s definitely going to be a little room for Mama and her girls. I think the sisters deserve that. They deserve a parent who maybe loves them and wants to know them as the women they are without expectations. If you like Mama Earp, then you’ll definitely like next episode.

TTVJ: You liked Mama jumping on that guy’s back in the bar brawl, but I enjoyed her slugging back whiskey and calling Jolene a “sexy bitch”.

EA: That was pretty great. I also like how she imitated Waverly when she was all sad. That and the drunk tank were pretty great. I love all of it. Give me all of it! She’s also really funny with Doc and yelling at him. Doc needs a little bit more of that and I think he’s intimidated by Mama Earp. I love watching that. She just shakes things up and is so amazing.

I hope I’m giving Megan enough credit. She has just defied all my expectations of what Mama Earp would be. She’s so believable as both of those girls’ mother from the way she looks to the way she acts. It makes me realize Wynonna and Waverly are not the same, but I totally buy that Megan Follows is Michelle Earp and both of their mom. She’s just completely elevated the show.

TTVJ: A lot of Doc’s secrets came out this week as he revealed he went to Hell to Wynonna and Jolene told about Kate being his wife. How are those things going to come back on him now that the craziness of Jolene has settled a bit?

EA: I think Doc has to have an honest conversation with Wynonna about what he wants, and I think Doc needs to decide what he wants. What does he want now? So he’s been to Hell, his wife is back in town and a vampire, Wynonna Earp is mad at him, but she’s still the mother of his child and the great great granddaughter of the best friend he ever had. Doc has some big decisions to make and in the background we don’t know if he’s already made a decision. He had that encounter with Bulshar last week but we never saw the outcome of that. We don’t know if they made a deal, if they had a talk or if Doc just found himself back at the car. I would definitely say the ball is in Doc’s court the next couple of episodes. He had some big time decisions to make and he certainly makes some big moves.

TTVJ: Well, he put on the ring and looks like he’s ready to fight Bulshar head on now. I’m very worried about him.

EA: Didn’t it make you feel good to see Doc back to his defiant and sexy self? He’s not going to take any bullshit from some fake authority. I thought it was great to see Doc be like ‘go F yourself! I’m keeping this ring and protecting the Earps!’ It made me want to cheer. He’s been down in the dumps so I kind of loved that moment. It was unexpected too. He found the ring in Waverly’s room but for him to make that choice, at least in the present, seems to be a good choice for Doc. It seems to be back on the side of righteousness. I am happy about that. I like Doc when he’s heroic but also defiant. I think that’s when he’s his strongest and the most comfortable state for himself.

TTVJ: Tim was really good in that scene too.

EA: Yeah, he looked fine. I think that was one shot. He and Paolo [Barzman] went into the woods, did it one time and it was perfect. Then they just came back like ‘we got it!’ Tim is just so consistent, so good and knows what he wants to do so perfectly. Kudos to him!

TTVJ: It’s going to be tough to follow up this crazy madness, but what can we expect in next week’s episode?

EA: Next week’s episode is delightful and will fill your heart with joy, cheer and possibly eggnog. Ho-ho-hold onto your hats! It’s a very relationshippy episode, for those of you who care about the relationships on the show. I don’t know if there’s anyone. Of course that’s always mixed in with some terrifying supernatural activity at the happiest, most wonderful time of the year. There’s some yuletide fun with eggy rum and fairly cute elf cosplay. In August! Just how Wynonna Earp does it.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Share your thoughts on “Jolene” below!

Wynonna Earp airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on SYFY and Space Channel.


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