I’ve been slacking in my coverage of ‘Wilfred’ lately. I’m still watching the show, but don’t always have time to write about it. Last week gave us a two-fer of new episodes, and I still have my notes from the week before that I didn’t bother writing up. So, without further ado, here’s a quick look at the last three episodes of the show.
“Anger is like herpes. You’re not meant to keep it to yourself.” And thus we have more sage wisdom from Ryan’s imaginary talking dog. In this episode, Ryan’s sister Kristen is mad at Ryan (again) and hates Wilfred. Ryan won’t stand up to her. Wilfred starts wearing an old dog collar that he finds in the basement, and acts like he’s possessed with the spirit of Ryan’s childhood dog Sneakers, an annoying yapper whose favorite phrase is “Yippidee doo!” Ryan (naturally) assumes that Wilfred is just toying with him, but Wilfred keeps up the act long enough that Ryan is no longer sure.
Sneakers drowned in a pool when Ryan was a boy. Ryan has felt responsible for this because he left the backyard gate open. Wilfred/Sneakers tells Ryan that it was really Kristen who left the gate open, and she’s been lying to him ever since. Ryan doesn’t want to believe this.
Kristen has to host a party for her boss (Nestor Carbonell). For some completely unexplained reason, the party has an Indian theme, and she wears a sari. Kristen is (of course) a raging bitch. Wilfred causes chaos at the party and knocks her into a pool. When Ryan finally stands up to her, Kristen has a breakdown and admits that she really did leave the gate open all those years ago, and passed the blame onto Ryan because she felt so guilty about it. Wilfred eventually returns to being Wilfred, but Ryan has a vision of the real Sneakers and we’re left wondering whether Wilfred’s possession act was real after all.
Mary Steenburgen guest stars as Ryan’s mother Catherine, who’s been institutionalized in a mental health clinic for the past twenty years. Now she’s getting out of the clinic into Ryan’s custody, much to Ryan’s dismay. He still blames her for abandoning him, and doesn’t want to have to take care of her now. He also worries that he may inherit her mental illness.
Wilfred has his own abandonment issues. He decides that he’s mad at Jenna for going out of town for the weekend, and that he loves Catherine and wants her to be his new mother. Ryan finds all of Catherine’s free-spirited eccentricities (like full-body painting in front of his neighbors) a major source of embarrassment, and basically acts like a total jerk to her. When Ryan tries to send his mother back to the nut house, Wilfred sets him up to look crazy in front of the doctors, so that they’ll hold him for mandatory observation.
The episode is pretty clever in the way that it leads the viewer to immediately assume that Ryan of course isn’t really crazy, because Wilfred is just playing a trick on him. It takes a minute to process the fact that Ryan believes that his neighbor’s dog is really a man in a dog costume that only he can see or talk to. In the final scene, Catherine voluntarily returns to the clinic, where she’s sarcastically welcomed back by a cat, played by Rhea Perlman in a cat costume.
In this one, Ryan is forced to participate in a neighborhood block party. He’s already reluctant enough to do this, but things get a lot worse for him when he fails to show up for a community meeting and, coincidentally at that same time, someone breaks into all of his neighbors’ cars and steals items from them. Since Ryan was the only one who didn’t go to the meeting, and his own car was conveniently unaffected, everyone assumes that he did it, and he becomes the neighborhood pariah. Ryan knows that Wilfred framed him, but that’s not something he can explain to anyone else. This is all allegedly part of a plan to drag Ryan out of his shell.
Wilfred has a rivalry with a young neighborhood kid named Andy who constantly teases him. When Wilfred sets Andy up to look like the thief, the kid gets hauled off to juvie and everyone in the neighborhood starts being nice to Ryan. Of course, Ryan feels guilty about framing this poor kid (no matter how obnoxious he may be), and tells Wilfred that he’s going to confess to the crimes. Before he can, Wilfred shifts the blame to crazy homeless guy “Trashface” (Peter Stormare), who is found dead with one of the neighbor’s laptops on him. (Wilfred explains that he didn’t kill Trashface, but may have given him $20, which Trashface may or may not have used to buy booze and drugs.) Thus, the neighborhood likes Ryan, the obnoxious kid doesn’t have to go to juvie, and Trashface takes one for the team. Lesson learned: “The pack protects its own.”
(Also, Eric Stoltz shows up for a one-scene cameo as a jerky neighbor. This is so random that I have to wonder if he’s going to turn up again as a regular.)
‘Wilfred’ is a very unusual show, and unfortunately pretty hit-or-miss. This season seems to have hit its zenith with the wild giraffe orgy episode from a few weeks back. None of these three newer episodes is quite as dark or hilarious as that one. Though they do each have some share of laughs, they all fall on the side of being more weird than actually funny. Still, you’ve got to give the series points for audacity.