I thought I'd check in on FX's Wilfred with a mini-review of last night's great episode "Intuition," a return to the mentally unstable comedy's darker side. Written by former showrunner David Zuckerman, "Intuition" went for a walk and departed quite a bit from the straight canine comedy that has dominated the first half of Season 3, with a focus on Ryan and his crumbling psyche.
Wilfred has been used in many different ways throughout series, but I've always found him best featured as a reflection of Ryan's psyche rather than simply a comic foil. Though the show is called "Wilfred," it's really and completely about Ryan. And you can argue the specifics (is Wilfred is a mythical creature, a figment of Ryan's imagination, or a manifestation of Ryan's id?), but the show thrives when Wilfred is represented as part of Ryan, whether he's doing good by providing Ryan's confidence or being a bad doggy and self-sabotaging Ryan's daily routine and road to recovery.
In "Intuition," Wilfred and Ryan tracked Old Man Neighbor in a murder mystery, with Wilfred assuming that the neighbor killed his wife. The evidence was there: the old man was burying something bloody at night, the wife missed her 8:45am poop (long and funny story), and the cagey old man ended up dumping a body off a bridge. Case closed! Except grandmom did show up later in the episode and the truth came out. Old Man killed Wilfred's frenemy Jelly Beans after Wilfred masterminded his murder by throwing a tennis ball in front of his car. All (supposedly) because Ryan complimented Jelly Bean's bandana (it was a pretty sweet bandana, you have to admit). First, let me say this: I've always loved the Jelly Beans character and Wilfred's mix of awe and jealousy over those gorgeous Golden Retriever locks. I mean, Jelly Beans was cool, man. Second, I love that Wilfred killed him off. Maybe I'm some sick f*ck, but there's something incredibly funny and satisfying about Wilfred murdering the perfect dog. Also, for what it's worth, I'm a cat person.
But the murder mystery wasn't about Jelly Beans, Wilfred, Old Man, or pooping grandmom, it was about Ryan. It was about Ryan's intuition, his gut, his hunch. It was, in a way, about Ryan mastering his own intuition, and in the end, he failed. Ryan had been dreaming about his dad (finally unmasked as Dexter's dad James Remar, nice choice there) in a series of effective fake-outs as we joined Ryan in figuring out what was reality and what was imagine. In the end when he met his dad in a supermarket for real, Ryan did not believe it and assumed it was another dream. Aided by insomnia and sleeping pills, Ryan cracked and threw a hysterical fit in the supermarket, wasting two perfectly good bottles of champagne in the process.
In the closing shot, Ryan looked outside and saw Wilfred looking back, self-satisfied. It's unclear whether this chance meeting between Ryan and his dad was another one of Wilfred's orchestrations or Wilfred was disappointed in Ryan for not taking Wilfred's advice to trust his own intuition. He's just staring. And then it ends. And that's exactly how it should be. There are more questions than answers. It's f*cked up and fantastic.
– Jenna on the toilet. My mind will never recover.
– Toothpaste juice running all down Anne's face!
– Director Randall Einhorn's use of focus continues to be one of the best visual definitions of a show on television. It really captures the fuzzy dreaminess (is that a word?) of the series' main question.
– That's two episodes in a row with some great downer endings. Last week, it was Ryan unable come to terms with his unearthed feelings for Jenna and a retreat back to the bong. Wifred distinguishes itself form other television, especially comedy, with these and is always better for it.
– Wilfred's rant on Scooby-Doo as the most racist character ever created was great.