Wilfred Season 1-04 ‘Acceptance’ Recap

This week’s episode deals with self-acceptance, and dog-abuse. But in its usual tongue-in-cheek style, the dog abuse in Wilfred consists of a man who likes to spread peanut butter on his balls and have dogs lick it off.

Ryan (Elijah Wood) and his high-energy sister Kristen are usually at odds, and this weeks sees Ryan getting fed up because Kristen is still trying to run his life. She doesn’t accept him as he is, and she keeps trying to change him. She brings him meals and leaves them on his porch, lectures him about his career failure, and takes him to the hair salon for a haircut.

When Wilfred (Jason Gann) and Ryan decide to stake out Ryan’s house to try and catch Kristen in the act of leaving food on his porch, she trips over one of Ryan’s guitars that Wilfred left out on the stairs and sprains her ankle. This leads to Ryan having to drive her around and spend time with her in an attempt to show her he‘s changed, and she uses his guilt over the accident as leverage.

Meanwhile Ryan and cute neighbor Jenna (Fiona Gubelmann) take Wilfred into a doggie daycare while she’s at work and Ryan is taking care of his sister. The daycare manager (played with cheesy friendliness by guest star Ed Helms), is a dog abuser. He uses peanut butter to get Wilfred to do unspeakable things to him. Wilfred doesn’t want to, naturally, but he can’t resist the peanut butter.

Wilfred exhibits typical victim habits, like acting out as a cry for help, taking long showers, and not wanting to go back to the doggie daycare. When Ryan puts the pieces together, he’s appalled. But as Wilfred finally tells him everything, Ryan begins to suspect Wilfred is lying and is trying to play on his sympathies and guilt, just like his sister.

Kristen has been trying to get Ryan to distance himself from what she sees simply as his neighbor’s dog, and when Ryan thinks Wilfred is tricking him, he decides to go hang out with his sister and ignore Wilfred. But as he endures his sister’s lectures, he starts to remember little things he saw at the doggy daycare, and he suddenly believes Wilfred.

He stands up to his sister, and they come to an understanding about loving each other the way they are. Then Ryan runs to the daycare and rescues Wilfred, breaking him out using a realistic-looking squirt gun. When he brings Wilfred home, he decides to accept him as he is instead of trying to break him of his bad habits (like rubbing his butt on everything).

It was fun to see Helms as the special guest star this week, and his pervy dog-sitter was spot on. Helms does a great smiling goof-ball that is likeable and weird at the same time. This is only the first of some great guest stars slated for this season of Wilfred, so we should be seeing more big name surprises.

This episode wasn’t as targeted as other episodes as far as tackling a major theme, but I still thought it was one of the better episodes. Maybe this had something to do with Wilfred’s character, for once, being in a vulnerable position. It’s a place audiences don’t often see the obnoxious man-dog, and as the victim he’s more of a sympathetic character, which allows Ryan’s character to act more as the rescuer for once.

The crude humor was also a little more explicit and heavy-handed in this episode, which wasn’t so great. There were plenty of ball jokes and the whole dog-abuse angle was just icky. That being said, I enjoyed the juxtaposition of Ryan and Wilfred’s roles and that relationship dynamic, which was a fun change.

Check back next week for our recap of episode 5.