Wynonna Earp gets to be a pregnant badass, and that matters

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Jul 17, 2017

If you’re not fully caught up on Wynonna Earp, or you haven’t had the chance to watch the last two episodes yet, you may not realize that the show just managed to pull off one of the most badass things in its short history.

Episode five, “Let’s Pretend We’re Strangers,” was withheld from review screeners, so fans and critics alike tuned in together to watch the second season’s much-hyped 42 minutes last Friday -- and at the end of it all the big reveal wasn’t an evil demon or a new enemy for the Earp heir to face. The episode concluded with Wynonna herself sitting on her bathroom floor, knees drawn up toward her chest as she turned over a positive pregnancy test in her hands. That’s right. Our whiskey-drinking, Peacemaker-slinging, take-no-crap-from-anybody Wynonna … is pregnant -- and just like the rest of us, it seems like she has absolutely no idea what’s going to happen next.

It was a creative decision born out of real-life necessity; in a joint interview with Variety, star Melanie Scrofano and showrunner Emily Andras revealed that the choice had been made after Scrofano told Andras she was pregnant, shortly before the second season began filming. Rather than try and shoot around a baby bump (as many other shows have attempted in the past, with varying levels of success), Andras decided to write it into the show -- and the result is a story arc undoubtedly positioned to send Wynonna into terrifying yet true-to-life territory.

Within the supernatural, pregnancy tends to adopt more otherworldly implications; movies like the ongoing Alien franchise depict the reproduction cycle of the xenomorphs as particularly grisly and violent, while other classic cinema offerings such as Rosemary’s Baby offer a different take on the literal evils that could be gestating within. These films frame pregnancy in a horrifying light, as something to be afraid of rather than celebrated, as a state that is forcibly visited upon the womb -- and more than likely without a woman’s consent.

On television, supernatural pregnancies as a result of possession, demon impregnation or other mystical forces have played out on a variety of shows, from Angel (Darla and later, Cordelia) to Star Trek: The Next Generation (Deanna Troi) to Supernatural (wherein a woman literally conceives the Antichrist). On The X-Files, co-lead Gillian Anderson’s pregnancy was written in as part of an alien abduction arc for her character, Agent Dana Scully. However, contemporary films -- such as Alice Lowe’s Prevenge -- have more effectively addressed the psychological horrors that can prey on an expectant mother’s emotions, rather than anything being done to her physically. Prevenge subverts the trope that pregnant women are essentially helpless victims; any bodily harm inflicted over the course of the film is delivered by the lead character rather than to her.

The main difference for Wynonna Earp in particular, and why this show feels entirely poised to do things differently, is that it has been breaking with tradition already. Recent storytelling decisions to circumvent some of the more unfortunate television trends have put the show head and shoulders above many of its associates within the medium. With characters like Waverly Earp and Officer Nicole Haught, the series bucked the “Bury Your Gays” trend that has seen several LGBTQ characters killed off on prime-time shows over the years (most recently The 100’s Lexa), especially at the end of Season 1, when Nicole literally thwarted a bullet meant for her by wearing a bulletproof vest. It may have been a tongue-in-cheek lampshading of television’s frequent treatment of queer characters, but it also represented Wynonna Earp’s method of addressing tired tropes: by sidestepping them altogether. As a badass hero, Wynonna’s frequent modus operandi is taking the road less traveled; the show’s pregnancy storyline for her, by extension, is only keeping in line with her character. It’s what we least expect will happen to her, so of course it would be the logical next step.

Time will tell how Wynonna will cope with the pangs of unexpected motherhood, but if there’s one thing we know about her already, it’s that she tends to hurl herself into most situations with surety and confidence -- and all while throwing a middle finger up at the world, obviously. Now, thanks to a Sandman spell that took place in Episode 6, she's also found her pregnancy unexpectedly accelerated, but as she so matter-of-factly informs Dolls, this "doesn't affect [her] ability to send evil s***-tickets screaming back to Hell." With this new storyline, Wynonna Earp joins the ranks of television shows that are finding ways to cleverly incorporate an actor’s real-life pregnancy -- with a potentially awesome payoff.