This article contains spoilers.
If you’ve foolishly ignored all of the advice to get your shit together and start watching Wynonna Earp, you might’ve missed one of the best queer television scenes in recent memory, which aired during Friday night’s episode. Don’t fret, though — I’m happy to catch you up.
In Episode 9, “Bury Me With My Guns On,” we find Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano) struggling with the aftermath of killing the last of the Seven Revenants who took her sister and killed her father. Expecting to find relief from her anger and finding none, she’s trying to work out what comes next in the quest to end the Earp Curse.
Wynonna’s not the only one trying to find her footing in changing tides, though. Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley), who reunited with her sister, split up with her long-time boyfriend, maybe, sort of married a skull, and went toe-to-toe with the Stone Witch in a matter of weeks, is now contending with her fair share of change, too. But perhaps the biggest change comes with her feelings for Officer Haught.
Following their charged first meeting at Shorty’s, it’s become increasingly clear that Nicole Haught (Katherine Barrell) has her own kind of Earp Curse, its just one that she’s not quite so eager to put to bed.
At least not with Peacemaker.
You know what, let’s just shelve that for now.
In what stands out as one of the best introductions to a queer character in recent memory, Officer Haught strode into Shorty’s in Episode 2 with confidence and charm that, if we’re being honest, makes most iterations of Prince Charming look like frat guys at last call. She knew from the moment she set foot in Shorty’s that she wanted Waverly Earp and since then, Haught’s interactions with Waverly have been sweet and sincere, if brief.
Nicole Haught made it clear where her heart lies, but she also proved that when it comes to Waverly, shes patient and plenty willing to wait for her to work out her feelings in her own time. And that’s exactly what happened — after a few speed bumps, misunderstandings, and a mention or two of unicorns.
Their first big scene together in the episode comes outside of the police station. Officer Haught’s Haughtsense is tingling, telling her that there’s something rotten in the state of Purgatory. Despite Nedley’s (Greg Lawson) attempts to steer her away from the truth, Nicole wants answers. Fate seems to lay a hand when she runs into Waverly, who’s just about the best person to go to for answers when it comes to Purgatory’s seedy underbelly, but it turns out they’re on very different wavelengths and the conversation goes south to the tune of, “I get it, you’re a lesbian, not a unicorn, right?”
Later, Waverly’s doing a pretty good Shackleton impression when Haught catches up to her with her modern-day noble steed and convinces Waverly to get in so they can talk/so that she doesn’t freeze to death. Once again, though, they don’t totally understand each other and come to a somewhat tense agreement to be “just friends.”
That doesn’t last long, though. After Gus reveals that she’s sold Shorty’s for a considerable chunk of change and gifts some of the money to Waverly, dubbing it “freedom,” she tells Wave to go after what and who she wants with a knowing wink.
Shortly after, Waverly finds herself back at the station, where she pulls Nicole into Nedley’s empty office and proceeds to tell her that, “When I think about what I want to do most in this world…it’s you.”
Then, naturally, they make out. Nicole Haught’s a smart girl — what the hell else are you going to do when the girl you’ve been highkey crushing on tells you that you’re what she wants? You don’t have to be a lesbian or a unicorn to figure that one out.
The scene, like the arc that set it up, was sweet, romantic, sexy, genuine, funny and, to put it bluntly, one of the gayest things I’ve ever seen on TV. I mean that in the best way, because it speaks to exactly what’s special about Wynonna Earp.
Waverly and Haught’s storyline wasn’t just about coming out or realizing that you’re not straight. Sure, that was an important part of it for Waverly, but it wasn’t fraught with self-hate and angst, and it wasn’t steeped in endless agonizing about “what it all means,” which is what too many queer storylines are reduced to.
The through line of their arc thus far has been that having feelings for someone and being brave enough to act on them is high risk, high reward. It’s been about the fact that even though they live in this bizarre little town full of demons, two people still can find something special in each other, and in the current landscape of queer female characters, that’s a beautiful thing.
There are subtle winks and nudges that make it clear that Wynonna Earp understands who’s watching and taking meaning from #WayHaught, which is what the fandom calls the ship. But more than that, the fact that this storyline is so normal (you know, save for the demon stuff), relatable and sincere speaks to an ever deeper understanding on the show’s part that queer audiences are hungry to see the characters they love and identify with treated like everyone else’s faves. What we want is exactly what everyone else wants: we want to be a part of the story and we want to see people like us doing cool shit and maybe falling for other people like us. That’s it.
Prior to last Friday night’s episode, The TV Junkies released an exclusive photo from the episode, and the Earp fandom promptly lost its collective shit. Showing Haught pulling Waverly in (like, way, way in) by her scarf, it was exactly what WayHaught fans wanted and maybe even better than anything they’d hoped for. Which is pretty much exactly why there was a lot of speculation (read: fear) that it was a dream sequence.
Thats how rare scenes like this are — despite how normal they feel — and it speaks to the way that LGBT fans are often treated by television. We’re used to not seeing the things we hope for. We’re used to seeing our ships and characters relegated to things like dream sequences and subtext.
But Wynonna Earp gave us more. It wasn’t a dream sequence or some toothless, chaste scene. It was hot. It felt earned, with a slow burning set up that gave us a pay off that was well worth the wait. Waverly decided that she wanted Officer Haught, then she went and got the girl the Waverly Way because that’s who she is: kind, funny, optimistic, smart and brave, even when she doubts herself.
Wynonna Earp gives us the representation we deserve with Waverly and Nicole, who are both fully-realized characters that are integral to the plot and have a real part the story outside of their sexualities and outside of each other. Haught’s character isn’t limited to the role of love interest. She has her own scenes outside of Waverly, perhaps most notably in her developing relationship with Wynonna. Waverly is a key part of the narrative, and her story encompasses so much more than her love life. They’re exactly the kind of queer characters we need, and that’s what makes WayHaught so signfiicant. It’s a credit to creator and showrunner Emily Andras, the writers, the actors and the team that works to bring something special like Wynonna Earp to life.
“Bury Me With My Guns On” showed us that Waverly’s journey to understanding her feelings was important, but that having feelings for someone and realizing that you might not be straight isn’t the end of the world. Things don’t come screeching to a halt, your entire life doesnt have to come crashing down around you. If you can summon the bravery to own your feelings Waverly Earp-style, you just might end up lucky enough to make out with a really Haught girl. That’s the kind of queer storyline this world needs.