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Wilfred Review: Amends & Consequences
Let me first start by saying that since Wilfred's new season was announced I was miffed by several sites which stated the show had been canceled. If a television show is concluded with a resolution, then it ends. When a show has been cut down in the middle of the season, or just as its about to tell who committed the crime, or the characters are left hanging and the viewers are pissed enough to start "Bring it Back" petitions, then it's canceled.
Wilfred will see its proper ending and with the first two episodes of a slightly shortened season, fans of the dark comedy will begin to know that the answers they have been seeking are forthcoming.
Not two minutes into the first screener episode "Amends," I was in perplexed state. How the last season ended is exactly where the new season begins. At the close back in September, Ryan discovered the symbol on an addressed envelope and went to find more. On his quest, he stumbled upon a crumbled statue that looked much like Wilfred.
Start of the new season, in the wooded area Ryan is confronted by other beings he thinks he's familiar with. Their presence alarms him and he takes off and runs into another being he's very familiar with. From there, the plot transports to the end of season three and all one can do is wonder. I call it their "two steps forward, one step back" approach.
Just as it takes an alcoholic to openly admit they have a problem, for the first time we hear Ryan admit to someone else that he's not well. As much as Wilfred tries to help Ryan in his own twisted, manipulative ways, nothing can be resolved until the afflicted accepts their demons. In "Amends," Ryan has come to completely forgive his father while dismissing Wilfred and that doesn't sit will with the pooch. But as Ryan attempts to distance himself from his problem, that being Wilfred, he's coaxed back by the very thing he wants to ignore, that again being Wilfred. When you scold your dog and tell them to go away, they feel the distress but they always return and forgive the situation.
Together Wilfred and Ryan set out to find more about the symbol and discover one of the oddest things that may or may not be the answer to everything. This is all very vague and perhaps confusing and I don't want to disclose any more but there is a piece of revealing evidence Ryan uncovers in his father's office that brings viewers closer to what has Ryan reacting to Wilfred the way he has for the past three years.
Now working in his father's office, Ryan is compelled to go on a deeper search from the evidence he found that could explain Wilfred's existence. But that gets overturned when Drew comes along with him. Of course Wilfred tags along too.
After a day of hiking in the woods, Drew, being the overgrown boy scout breaks out the guitar and sings a song he wrote for Jenna since she's been so distant from him. He strums the guitar while laying his lyrics on Ryan and at first I thought he feels awkward by Drew's singing but came to realize his homemade ballad relates to Ryan as well.
Wilfred still thinks he's leading Ryan to the answers but an unfortunate mishaps brought on by Wilfred puts the trio in a predicament which forces Ryan to tell Drew about what happened between he and Jenna. Those consequences now frays the once close friendship between Ryan and Jenna.
One thing to take note of is we need to watch out for Henry's law partner this season because something is going on there. I sense it and I think Ryan senses it as well. The final scene in the episode confirms my feeling. Slowly but surely we're inching our way to what is going on.
Because I've been focusing on the plot and drama, I haven't mentioned the comedy in these episodes but rest assured they are in abundance. Wilfred twisting how he sees Ryan as a person when everyone else sees him as something different, how Matt Damon is referenced as a deity, Wilfred concluding he's a god himself going solely on the letters of his name, Ryan being led blindly and hysterically by Wilfred and a priceless exchange between Bear and Wilfred had me in tears.
With the first two episodes there are no visceral changes with the characters however there is a noticeable difference in Jenna. We could always count on her to bring a steady stream of bubbles in any situation with her smile, laugh and shining eyes. Toward the end of last season, Jenna lost all of that. Not one genuine smile. Not one glimmer of spark in her eyes. Even her walk suggests she's no longer light-hearted. She's very discontent, torn between her feelings for Ryan and her marriage with Drew. Maybe this will change as the season progresses. But the writers have given Jenna more darkness and strife to deal with and it's showing wonderfully through Fiona Gubelmann.
Ryan is a contraction within himself making the character a very complex individual. Many times he doubts the actions of Wilfred, who is a talking dog for crying out loud, figuring he's only using Ryan for his own gains. But there are times where Ryan is conscious of things around him but doesn't stop to act upon them. All it takes is a simple, sometimes obscure gesture viewers have to recognize to notice that something deeper is going on. This can either be overdone or done too subtly but Elijah Wood plays that fine line with perfection. Three times in the first two episodes did I catch on to this. Oh yes, something is definitely brewing in Ryan that we'll see by the end.
Wilfred on the other hand isn't as complicated. He may be the least complicated character on the show. Well, besides Drew. At his core, Wilfred is a dog who just wants to be around the people (or stuffed animals) that makes him feel comfortable and Ryan does that for him. I say this as my own dog lays by my feet. Okay, she's not actually my dog but she feels the need to be near me all the time and spends little time with her real owner. When I have important things to do, that's the time she wants to romp and play and make no mistake that she wants to do it with me. This is the same for Wilfred. He vies for Ryan's attention and doesn't care what else is going on. If anything is complicated about Wilfred, it's Jason Gann. He instinctively knows how to play this individual who is both human and canine and no one else should attempt to wear the suit. Ever.
We see little of Kristen in "Amends" but Dorian Brown still portrays the brash and condescending character impeccably. Thankfully we get to spend plenty of time with Drew in "Consequences." Chris Klein plays this oafish character that starts off being so unlikeable but Chris' Drew seamlessly gains my approval becoming a lovable dork with a heart.
The writers of Wilfred are masters that led viewers right to the brink of finding answers. Some expressed their complaints that the story was going nowhere but were they really paying attention? The first season focused on the relationship between Ryan and Wilfred. Season two set on a path of many questions and the third season was the start of answering those questions.
I have spent three years dissecting the enigmatic Wilfred, finding clues and looking for hints that sometimes even isn't there. But in the end I have always visioned the answer being rather simple. Wilfred's work with Ryan is done and is no longer needed. They have their goodbyes and Ryan walks away with Wilfred gazing at his accomplishment. Ryan then hears the panting of a dog but dares not turn to look. He just knowingly smiles to himself and leaves. Then the audience finally sees what everyone else has seen. A big, scruffy, lovable pooch wagging his tail, slobbering.
It has been a blessing and a pure delight to have Jason Gann's vision of Wilfred come to American audiences. I really have no idea where and how Wilfred will end. I don't know if the reason behind all this will make any sense but what I do know is that the past three years have been some of the best television I've watched. Let's just hope it all hasn't been a dream. Wilfred is more clever than that.