After a trippy trip into Ryan's dream-state in last week's fantastic "special preview" episode "Progress," FX's Wilfred snapped out of its daze and back into reality tonight with "Letting Go," the official start of Season 2. And apparently the episode's message was, "Let's just forget about everything you saw last week," because if you tuned in looking for more answers regarding the basement of mysteries or any of the other questions that were raised in "Progress," you didn't get them (unless one of your questions was "What does Wilfred look like in a Packers shirt?").
"Letting Go" pretty much let go of the metaphysical and existential themes of Wilfred in favor of good old situational comedy. And while that's not so horrible and no one is going to lose a finger over it, it's a bit deflating given the rapid ascension of the mind tricks and f*cks the show has been dealing out since the later episodes of Season 1. The end of Season 1 got me hooked on this story about a man that might be losing his marbles and his dog that may be a man. So "Letting Go" was a bit of a regression for the series, though that's not a big knock as the regression just means Wilfred goes back to being merely a very, very funny show. And this was inevitable, as "Identity" and "Progress"—episodes that twisted our noggins every bit as much as out-there sci-fi dramas—were probably overachieving episodes for the series because this is still a show about a man in a dog suit and not about lost souls on an island or a detective who wakes up in a different reality every time he goes to sleep.
Those themes will find their way back to Wilfred eventually, but in the meantime, Wilfred himself has some doggy obstacle courses to tackle. "Letting Go" was the real reunion of Wilfred and Ryan after Wilfred's literal run-in with a car, and oh how things have changed. Wilfred and Drew, Jenna's dense husband-to-be (how great is the Chris Klein casting choice, btw?), have become BBFs (best bros 4ever) in the aftermath of Wilfred spending several months recovering in Wisconsin with Drew... much to Ryan's chagrin. The bond between Wilfred and Drew seemed flimsy, but every time that thought crossed my mind I had to remind myself that Wilfred is a dog, and all Drew really had to do to gain his trust and companionship was feed him daily and throw a tennis ball his way every now and then.
I'm not totally sure why Wilfred pretended not to know Ryan at first, nor was I sure why Wilfred was so quick to welcome him back. Or why Wilfred was running on the beach by himself and how Ryan knew he was there. Jenna isn't exactly the best dog owner, is she? This episode probably needed to split its storylines over two episodes: one where Ryan worked his way back into Wilfred's good graces and one with the very entertaining doggy obstacle course competition Wilfred competed in to win Drew's favor as the ripped, agile pooch he thinks Drew wants. Instead, it jammed the two together and taped them up with good jokes, leaving us with the wrong kind of questions to ask. It certainly was not the tightest of Wilfred episodes.
But Wilfred running and destroying the obstacle course was so worth it, and Jason Gann continues to be one of the funniest men on television playing one of the funniest characters on television. The high quality of the jokes covers up some of the holes in the script, and good comedies do that. But great comedies layer high-quality jokes on top of a great script. Tonight, Wilfred was good, not great.
What I did like was Ryan's slow realization that interfering with Jenna and Drew's business was douche work, and that maybe he should step back a bit. It was about halfway through the episode that I said to myself, "Ryan! Dude! Chill!" And by the end, he agreed. That's good character work for a guy to have that self-awareness, and well done so that we the audience picked up on it first.
We also got a peek—just a peek!—at Ryan's new work environment and love interest Amanda (Allison Mack). I guess "slow" is an accurate way to describe how the show is introducing us to this new part of Ryan's life, but that was quite a greeting by Amanda, wasn't it? She did everything but climb under the desk in her effort to woo Ryan. But the brief office encounter felt like another patch added to the episode's quilt, and only got some meat in the end tag when Ryan said he asked her out to dinner. Good for you, Ryan. It'd be silly to pass up a sure thing like that, but beware of banging the crazy girl in the office. You'll have to see her crazy stalky eyes 9 to 5 on weekdays whether you like her or not.
I don't have much else to add, so let's just talk about some of Wilfred's best lines.
– "Hells yeah! Catch is the shit!" Bro-Wilfred is pretty damn funny.
– "Let me see your papers you filthy immigrant!"
– Plus that whole bit about the two "guys," with one being the naked furry guy.
– Are you okay with Ryan giving up on Jenna for now and giving things a go with Amanda?
– What do you think of Chris Klein now? Do you forgive him for all his past mistakes?
– Did you say "Holy shit, Patrick Swayze isn't dead!" when his brother Don came out as the steroids dealer?
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom