The season finale of Wilfred was somewhat disappointing. It lacked the bite (no pun intended) of previous episodes, and didn’t deliver on some hinted at revelations. There were some great self-referential moments but the great dark humor that makes Wilfred so watchable was pretty muted. Instead of learning the truth about man-dog Wilfred, Ryan begins to act like an asshole to get what he wants and Wilfred ends up hospitalized.
The finale opens up with Wilfred writing his will, a secretive project that sets up plenty of foreshadowing and things to come. Ryan starts to get fed up and asks Wilfred why he’s there. Wilfred dims the lights and puts on some smooth jazz and launches into a Lost parody, whispering about Ryan’s existential crises and the things on the island not being real. Then he yells ‘smoke monster’ and Ryan is left with all his questions unanswered; as usual.
After Wilfred manipulates Ryan into going to court and representing cute next door neighbor and love interest Jenna, Ryan turns to the dark side in a big way. Wilfred tells Ryan to tap into the part of himself he hates to get Jenna re-hired, and that if he does Wilfred will help him win Jenna. When Ryan goes “there” and lies/blackmails for Jenna in court, Wilfred refuses to help him with Jenna.
So Ryan tells Wilfred that he’s been taught an important lesson by him. He’s learned to do whatever he has to in order to get what he wants. And he starts doing just that.
While Ryan is launching a campaign to break Jenna up with her current boyfriend/fiance, he also starts shutting Wilfred out of his life, deeming him an enemy of sorts. It’s interesting that he begins turning his back on Wilfred, the catalyst for so much existential growth, at the same time that he begins becoming a total jerk and reverting to his old self.
Ryan sets up a big dinner, inviting his sister and her husband and Jenna and her boyfriend. At dinner, he strategically places a few pointed words that cause his sister and her husband to have a major fight, and plant doubt in Jenna’s mind about getting married to her fiance Drew.
With his new conniving persona in tow, Wilfred continues to try and break through to Ryan, but Ryan is hell bent on making Jenna his. The next step after he wins her case is to get her out of a court-ordered urine drug test. The problem is, Jenna really did take drugs (unknowingly) and Ryan tells Wilfred he has to do whatever it takes to distract the insurance rep collecting Jenna’s urine sample.
Wilfred takes a long moment to decide, then agrees with Ryan about doing whatever it takes to save her. The only option left is to throw himself in front of the insurance rep’s car to provide the distraction Ryan needs to switch the pee samples. Of course, Wilfred ends up in the doggy hospital, and when he wakes up he doesn’t recognize Ryan (or, at least, he pretends not to).
This leads to Ryan feeling some major remorse, and Wilfred’s secretive will from the first scene in the episode coming into play. It holds some majorly powerful secrets about what to do if Wilfred ever dies, and it looks like those secrets will only be revealed in the Season 2 premiere.
While the pop culture references and even the open mention of existential crises was fun, given the concept the show, the jokes just weren’t as sharp or dark as in early episodes. And the lack of any definitive answers was annoying to say the least (but given the Lost references, I’m not surprised that they not only didn’t answer any questions, but raised even more).
Elijah Wood can do “conniving” as well as he can do “sweet, sensitive guy”, and in this episode we really get to see him spread his wings and play a different kind of character. It’s a fun change, though it’s hard to see the normally loveable Ryan as a conniving liar.
Jason Gann was on point as usual. His obnoxious Wilfred is delightfully quirky and, in a bizarre way, completely believable. Fiona Gubelmann has been getting a lot of screen time in the past few eps, and her Jenna is cute and perky and everything you could hope for in a secondary love-interest character. She did deliver some genuinely funny moments in last week’s episode when she unknowingly ingested ‘shrooms and felt herself up on live TV.
I hope next season brings back the dark witty banter and sometimes uncomfortable humor that makes Wilfred such an intriguing show. It’s a brilliant concept that offers something fresh, with some of the existential nonsense of Lost but none of the pretension.