Wilfred, at its heart, isn't a buddy comedy. It's a buddy tragedy, because one of the buddies is a depressed head case and the other might not even be real. Even if Ryan actually is talking to a dog, he's not a picture of mental health. He's still the man we first met as he was making a prescription-drug smoothie with thoughts of never waking up.
So it's no surprise that "Secrets," the show's Season 2 finale, was a total bummer (unless you were wearing a Team Drew shirt). I've always had my doubts about Amanda's mental state—remember how she threw herself on the new guy (Ryan) at work seconds after meeting him? True, their brief relationship was adorable through its ups and downs, and we were all rooting for Ryan to find something stable in his life, but we all knew this would end badly. We just didn't know it would end THIS badly.
Too-good-to-be-true Amanda turned out to be too-crazy-to-be-a-girlfriend for Ryan, confessing that she too had conversations with Wilfred. But that wasn't the admission that made us want to tighten her straightjacket. After being pegged with accusations that he sold company secrets and brought down the medical firm, Ryan learned that it was Amanda who sold the secrets for a cool $10 million (I'm still not sure why Ryan's name was on the off-shore account) in hopes that the two of them could abscond to somewhere tropical and spend their days drinking fruity drinks on sandy beaches.
That left Ryan facing the tough decision of whether to turn her in for her crimes and for her own safety. Look ladies, if you've got a pretty face like Amanda's, I'll look the other way while you discuss the weather with a dog. But bringing down a company by selling its secrets and causing the CEO to shoot himself in the head is where I draw the line! But that doesn't mean it was easy to see Ryan's face sink or see Amanda's glow, not knowing that she did anything wrong. Hearrrrt brrreak.
In turning Amanda into a cuckoo clock, Wilfred didn't leave us with any hope of Amanda and Ryan getting back together (unless Ryan ends up being committed to the same loony bin Amanda will be staying in). "Secrets" also chose not to show Amanda being hauled off by authorities, in what would surely have been a powerful scene. It's almost as if Amanda became a scapegoat for a lot of the ills of Wilfred's second season, and the show couldn't wait to send her off. And now that I think of it, I'm not sure her character really worked for the show at all. Aside from Allison Mack's natural charisma, there wasn't much meat to her character, and her relationship with Ryan didn't factor into the heart of the show that much. She was supposed to be Ryan's ideal life that could never be attained because of Ryan's mental issues, but instead she ended up being a back door through which the loose threads of the company problems could escape.
Although, if you want to make the situation mean something for the show overall, it's also a statement on mental illness and adds to the conversation of Ryan's own well-being. If Amanda can be that crazy, then it's all the more possible that Ryan could be insane, too. And that was punctuated at the end of the episode, when the drawing that Ryan assumed was the work of Wilfred actually turned out to be his own. In the drawing, apparently drawn by a young Ryan, a cartoon version of Wilfred could be seen poking his head out from behind a tree—the implication being that Ryan had been imagining Wilfred long before he actually met Wilfred.
It didn't have the same impact that the disappearing basement had in the Season 1 finale, because it essentially told us the same thing, just in a different way. Sure, it's fun to have that tiny mind explosion and say, "Whoa duuuude! He like, totally drew him when he was a kid!" But instead of adding anything new to the conversation about Ryan, it was just a reminder of what we already knew. I'm a little worried that Wilfred will just keep doing the same thing whenever it needs to pique our interest, but will never bring us closer to the answers we're all looking for.
Though Season 2 started off great and had some amazing highlights, I'm not sure I can call this a good season of Wilfred. I love the idea of what the show is trying to do with the question of Ryan's sanity, but I'm not sure it's being executed as well as it could be. Obviously the series can't resolve the issue because it excels when that question is on our minds (and the series would be over if we knew for sure). But this season stayed too close to the middle, i.e. the generic "maybe" that Ryan is crazy, instead of leaning heavily in one direction before countering it in a big way later and keeping us off balance.
The Wilfred writers needed to anticipate our theories—Wilfred is a product of Ryan's id, Wilfred is a byproduct of Ryan's depression, Wilfred actually can talk to Ryan, Wilfred is a secret government conspiracy—and play with those for a bit by exploring some specifics instead of simply repeating the same question over and over. Otherwise, it's just "here we go again" and the idea loses a lot of punch.
But this is a tough task for any show, let alone a half-hour comedy. Wilfred is still great at what counts, and that's being funny.
– One Wilfred fallback joke that continues to work is the fake story pulled from a TV plot. The show has done it in the past with Lost, and tonight it was Battlestar Galactica. Will it get old soon? Probably! But not yet.
– I really thought we would meet Ryan's dad this season!
– This Wilfred quote pretty much sums up the show: "I'm a dog, Ryan. I can't talk to people. How many times do I have to tell you that?"
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom