Fans of the sci-fi/western show Wynonna Earp took over New Orleans recently for EarpExpo, a convention dedicated solely to the cult hit. The three-day event featured panels, photo op and autograph sessions with cast members and show creator Emily Andras, and other #Earper shenanigans.
To kick things off in style, a registration party was held Thursday night at the Bourbon Street bar Bourbon Cowboy—a perfect choice given its Earp-esque features like cheap drinks and a mechanical bull. (You bet this writer rode it, because Wynonna would). But the formal start to the con came Friday morning, with Bonnie Ferrar and Kevin Bachelder, hosts of the fan podcast Tales of the Black Badge, serving up opening remarks at the con host site, the Downtown Marriott at the Convention Center.
Ferrar and Bachelder ushered in the weekend with two major messages. The first addressed the frustrating hiatus the show’s been on thanks to production company IDW Entertainment’s financial troubles. Ferrar urged fans not to press Andras and the cast about the situation, but to have hope that the #fightforwynonna campaign was approaching success. Then Bachelder advised everyone to take time during the con, since it can go by in a blur, to digest the experience and enjoy the moment. With that, the floodgates to fun and fan frenzying were opened.
The first full panel of the con came around mid-day Friday. Dubbed the “Villains” panel, it featured three actors who play some of the show’s biggest baddies: Michael Eklund (Bobo Del Rey), Dani Kind (Widow Mercedes), and Meghan Heffern (Widow Beth). Ferrar moderated, beginning by summing up what the villains mean to the show, and praising the actors for their work:
“Every story needs its heroes, but in order to have heroes we must have villains, and in Wynonna Earp we’ve got some of the best villains on TV. They were funny, sarcastic, and yes, a little bit crazy, but the actors who played them never lost sight of the fact that they were human… [and this humanity] came through in every one of their performances, and made us love them even more.”
From there, Ferrar deftly steered a discussion that was both humorous and heartwarming throughout.
On the heartwarming side, a theme emerged in the panel about loneliness—first mentioned when in response to a question about what her character’s biggest fear is, Kind said: “loneliness, and lack of love… [lack of love is] such a universal thing and it makes chaos in a lot of peoples lives.”
Eklund said loneliness is Bobo’s biggest fear, too.
“He’s always alone… and everyone Bobo cares about stabs him in the back,” said Eklund, who admitted loneliness is his own biggest fear as well—prompting the audience to break out in sympathetic awws.
On a somewhat lighter note, Ferrar at one point asked a question that became a fan favorite and resurfaced in later panels: What would the actors’ own personal warning label say.
“Proceed with caution,” said Kind.
“Very emotional,” said Heffern. “I always Tweet about crying all the time.”
“Do not touch… expires after this date,” said Eklund.
“Talks too much,” said Ferrar, abashedly answering her own question at Kind’s insistence. “May have multiple side effects.”
When asked what they think about doing the convention, Kind said that Earper conventions have changed her perception of cons. She wasn’t a fan of them, in part because selling photo ops and such feels grimy to her, but her first Earper Con, EhCon 2018, showed her it could be a way to truly connect with fans and it could feel more human, which she appreciates. Heffern remarked how pleasantly surprised she was to learn fans have started dating and gotten married from meeting at a con.
“I thought we were making a funny Western show about demons and vampires,” said Eklund. “And then one by one I got to meet each of you… and [realized] this is about something bigger than some TV show, this is about unity and family and identity… it’s not a convention. It’s an experience.”
Here are some other highlights from the Villains panel.
On Bobo being a villain
Eklund: Bobo is an interesting character because he has the Robert Svane side and he has the Bobo Del Rey side, so he battles between the two… I don’t think Bobo is a villain… and I think every villain does believe they’re doing the right thing, for themselves.
On their favorite villains in pop culture
Kind said She-Ra and Hercules villains, because “every villain in those cartoons was epic and terrifying.”
Heffern said zombies. Eklund said Skeletor (from Masters of the Universe) and James Bond villains, adding, “I think that’s why I like playing villains so much… every show or movie needs a great villain.”
On which castmate they would want to switch roles with
Kind said Bobo, and praised Eklund, saying: “You’re just so animalistic in that role… not a lot of actors [commit so fully]—people want to do that, but you DO it and you execute it amazingly.”
On who’d win in a fight between Mercedes and Beth
Heffern said, to the crowd’s seemingly unanimous agreement, that Widow Beth would beat Widow Mercedes but human Mercedes would beat human Beth.
On what their characters would do if they ruled Purgatory
Kind: I would make everyone dress better.
Eklund: Bobo does rule Purgatory doesn’t he? …Everything’s free in Purgatory while Bobo is President.
Heffern: I feel like it would be a priest-free town—they’re gone.
On what they would erase from the real world if they could
Kind, in a star moment that made the audience erupt: Trump, probably.
On the biggest takeaways from their characters
Kind: Love looks like many different things in many different people. Like the way Mercedes loves Wynonna is hard and kind of guarded... everybody loves differently, so we just have to all be open to receiving it differently in whatever kind of form it takes.
Eklund: His devoted love for Waverly… Whatever that is, that’s the heart of the relationship with Bobo and the show. He does protect the Earps, just give him a chance.
Heffern: Beth is just really devoted to her husband [Bulshar].
On what they think of the #FightforWynonna (the rallying cry to get IDW to make Season 4 happen as promised. It’s a Twitter campaign that’s extended beyond, to Time Square billboard ads and more).
Heffern: It’s amazing.
Kind: It’s reaching all the right people… you’re broadening the audience… the ripple effect of what you guys are doing is massive.
Eklund: If you guys don’t think what you’re doing matters or is working, it does, massively.
Eklund then told the story of when he thought he and Tim Rozon (who plays Doc Holliday) were meeting for coffee in front of Times Square just because they both happened to be in the area, but really Tim surprised him by showing him the billboards, with Earpers on scene to greet them.
It was amazing to see [the passion and devotion] first-hand, live. It’s keeping this show alive…The life that you guys are breathing into it is keeping the show around, is keeping the blood going.
On how the show has changed the actors personally
Kind: It keeps me grounded in my weird f*n job where it’s filled with ego… this whole experience of doing this show… has just made me feel grounded and human and let me do my job better.
Heffern: It’s very humbling… I don’t know what to say without crying.
Eklund: I think it’s enhanced who I am… And I’m a lonely guy…but you guys make my life feel less lonely.
Other odds and ends
There were some microphone problems—Heffern and Eklund had to share, and kept fumbling them back and forth. The problems prevailed all weekend but it was a pretty comical (and forgivable) flub.
Eklund hinted that Bobo’s story isn’t done, even though it seemed like he died at the end of last season.
Kind’s sister was at the con, and beaming, Kind brought her on stage to say hello.
Meghan confessed she was surprised people cared about her coming to a con—it was adorable and was met with responses assuring her she was wanted. #feels
In talking about how Earpers have had his back in a social media scrape, Eklund said, “Earpers have turned into an Earp army, you don’t mess with you guys.”
During the panel, Eklund tried to call Rozon, who was in South Africa at the time, but he didn’t answer. Regardless, it was a sweet way to end the first panel, emphasizing the bonds between the cast.
Overall, the Villains panel set the bar high, and luckily, the other panels followed suit. Check back soon for more recaps, and to view the full Villains panel, click here.