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Melanie Scrofano on Facing Wynonna Earp’s Demons and Saying Good-bye

Photo: Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images

The latest episode of Wynonna Earp was a long time coming. The back half of the cult drama’s fourth (and most likely final) season has followed Wynonna’s (Melanie Scrofano) downward spiral in the wake of her less-than-honorable execution of Hoyt Clayborn (Ty Olsson) — an event which alienated her love Doc (Tim Rozon) and has since led to Wynonna alienating herself from everyone else.

(Spoilers ahead for Wynonna Earp season 4 episode 10, “Life Turned Her That Way.”)

While Waverly (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) and Nicole (Katherine Barrell) are getting married, Doc’s setting out to become a better man, and Jeremy’s (Varun Saranga) focused on Black Badge, Wynonna has remained firmly stuck in place, with Peacemaker and a bottle of whiskey as her closest company. Wynonna’s increasing isolation and dependence on alcohol comes to a head in a poorly received intervention, in which the new cracks in Wynonna and Waverly’s seemingly infallible relationship widen. And when Waverly’s demonic other half Jolene (Zoie Palmer) returns, she successfully twists the painful  burden Wynonna has borne as Purgatory’s hero into a means of forcing Waverly to finally claim her own power and  birthright.

Scrofano hopped on the phone with Vulture to talk about Wynonna’s mental-health journey and destructive coping mechanisms, the harsh toll of being a hero, and how she feels about having to say goodbye to Wynonna after four seasons.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length. 

After Wynonna killed Hoyt, her ongoing struggles with drinking and her mental health became greatly amplified. What about this event was so triggering for Wynonna?
It wasn’t so much what she did to Hoyt. I think what really drove it home was Doc’s reaction and the way that somebody she cares so deeply about saw her, and [it] made her reflect on her own actions and see things a little bit differently. I think she felt sort of a hatred for who she’s become and what she’s stooped to, but also [she saw] no other way out. So it was like she felt trapped by circumstance and who she is. She just didn’t see any other way out other than to self-sabotage.

Waverly and Nicole stage an intervention for Wynonna at the beginning of this episode. Can you talk about Wynonna’s relationship with alcohol and how it’s changed this season?
I think it was always a crutch for her. But I think it really came to a head, again, with Doc’s confrontation and her seeing no way out. I think she used alcohol to stop having to think and just to say, “Well, I have to do this. I don’t know if I should be doing it anymore, but I don’t see any other way.” I think alcohol became a way to soften the blow of not knowing how to move forward anymore, but knowing that she still had to. So it just became a way to not have to think about it and just act.

The intervention gets really intense, especially when Waverly accuses Wynonna of turning into their father. Can you talk a bit about filming that scene and all the hurt that gets exchanged between the sisters in it?
In that scene, it’s another person making her feel like who she is is flawed — and not just flawed, but deeply dysfunctional. I think anybody can relate to being compared to somebody that you have no respect for or that you know has done horrible things. It just really messes with your identity, the way you see yourself. I think for Wynonna, it must have been so, so painful. But also then for Waverly, it must’ve been really hard to watch somebody she loves just devolve that way. And I think it was really brave of her to confront it instead of act like it wasn’t happening.
Everyone else in Wynonna’s life is moving forward, and you’ve talked about how Wynonna can’t see a way out of her current situation. What do you think is making her feel so trapped?
It’s like, she’s damned if she does and she’s damned if she doesn’t. If she does what she has to do, people will judge her and get upset with her. And if she doesn’t do it, then they’ll die or they’ll be unsafe. She says it at the end of [“Hell Raisin’ Good Time”], she’s like, “I’m sick of feeling guilty for what I am when what I am is necessary.” And I think that her being necessary is also what’s causing her a lot of pain.

Why do you think it was so important for the show to directly explore the burden that being a hero has had on Wynonna and her mental health?
I would like to know what [creator] Emily [Andras] thinks. For me, it was something interesting that Wynonna always drank. And I always was interested in the fact that … she’s always deflecting pain or trying to dull pain with her words, with her drinking, or with killing … I love the idea that sometimes we have to do things in life we feel are important, but we didn’t ask to carry that burden. And so what does it look like for people who have to carry a burden in their life that they didn’t ask for, that they have no way out of? What does that do to them? And I think there’s a lot of real-life examples of that.

While the beginning of the episode directly explores Wynonna’s drinking and destructive dependence on demon-killing, the focus then shifts to rescuing Waverly. Will we get more of a resolution to these issues Wynonna’s dealing with?
I think that we’ll get to the core. Oh, you know, I just realized another thing that’s going on for Wynonna, is that while she’s having to do everything, Waverly’s getting married … She’s committed herself to someone other than Wynonna. And I think that that isolation, along with Doc choosing another path in life, has left Wynonna feeling really isolated. I think her isolation has always been the core of her problems. I think moving forward, certainly, Wynonna will have an opportunity to look at that isolation more close up with Waverly and really face those feelings with her at some point.

After Waverly gets taken by Jolene, Wynonna is ready to rush into the fog to save her, but Nicole insists that it’s her turn. This was a small moment, but a really powerful one. What was it like for Wynonna having to be the one left behind for once?
I guess it is a small moment, but in my mind it was always a huge moment too, because it’s like Wynonna’s being replaced in Waverly’s life. It’s something that she has to decide on her side to allow, because she can’t always be the hero to her sister … And so that was a big moment for Wynonna, for a lot of reasons, to give Nicole the go-ahead and be the one to take a step back. I think that would have been, on so many levels, really deeply hard for her. Not that I think she processed it in the moment. But I think certainly her knee-jerk to be the one to go and then the difficulty in saying, “Okay, you go ahead,” would be really symbolic and really difficult for her.

When Waverly first encountered Jolene, it was the love between the Earp sisters that helped Waverly find the strength to fight her. But this time, Jolene weaponizes that relationship. Does the fact that Jolene is able to so successfully manipulate and hurt Waverly using Wynonna mean that there is truth in what she’s saying?
I think that part of why Jolene’s words were so powerful was because there was truth to them … She points to Wynonna’s isolation, essentially. And I think she really reveals to Waverly the depth of Wynonna’s isolation, and I think that would be a really painful thing for Waverly because I don’t think she’s ever looked at Wynonna in such a harsh and truthful way before. So that’s kind of the genius behind the way that Jolene’s part was written, was just that it’s actually not that far off. Waverly gets to be the good guy all the time and Wynonna has to carry this burden and kind of look bad doing it, and that must be a really lonely thing.

The episode ends on this huge twist of Waverly becoming a dark angel. Such a big theme of this episode was the sisters’ dynamic and who makes the sacrifices and has to be the hero. So how will Waverly’s transformation shift the dynamic between the sisters and play out moving forward?
For better or for worse, Waverly takes full possession of the place she was given in life. And it kind of makes her independent of Wynonna, really, in a way she’s never been before. I do think it would show Wynonna that she’s not her little baby girl anymore, and that she is her own entity, whatever that entity is, and that she kind of has to let go.

I know Emily Andras is still trying to find a new home for Wynonna Earp. But if this season really is the end, how do you feel about where the show and Wynonna leave off?
I’m really happy with it. I think that the way it ends would be a great ending. I think if we had to come back, there would be a really interesting way to come back, because it seems neatly tied up but in my mind there’s always a way to mess it up, you know? And so I think it’s a brilliant ending. I’m really happy with it, but I also think that Emily just put so much heart into it. It felt like she opened up her heart and just let everything spill out into that script.

What has been your biggest pride or joy in getting to play Wynonna for these four seasons?
Oh my God. I’ve never loved a character the way I’ve loved Wynonna. And I think it’s because not just of who she is and of what she represents in terms of like, a perfectly imperfect person, but because of the relationships she’s had and the relationships that we’ve developed as a result within the show. I think I just learned so much about myself and about what it means to be part of a family … My love for Wynonna is like, she’s the most important woman in my life. And I’m so grateful to have met her and loved her and been her.

Melanie Scrofano Talks Facing Wynonna Earp’s Demons