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Wilfred Tries To Be The Lost Of Sitcoms
“The value of identity is that so often with it comes purpose.” – Richard R. Grant
What Wilfred has done through out its freshman season is play around with the idea that the main character, Ryan, learns life lessons from an Australian man in a dog suit. Wilfred’s methods of teaching are unorthodox, to say the least, relying on manipulation and Ryan’s fragile state of mind to make his points. At times it has seemed like Wilfred might not have Ryan’s best interests at heart. The series likes to leave everything rather ambiguous. With Ryan clearly not all there in the head, it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not; where Ryan ends, and where Wilfred begins.
So with the season finale, “Identity,” Ryan and Wilfred switch roles, and in doing so we get our first big clue as to what exactly Wilfred is. Putting Ryan as Jenna’s lawyer is a huge catalyst for Ryan’s mental journey. He’s been running away from his former life as “The Archeologist” ever since the first episode, and he genuinely feels ashamed of his dirty tactics as a lawyer. Things start off pretty formulaic, with Wilfred pushing Ryan to something he’s not comfortable with; in this case it’s going back to his old lawyer ways to secure Jenna’s job. When Ryan initially refuses to go down that “slippery slope,” Wilfred gives him a little push by doing the dirt digging for him. Now, Wilfred wouldn’t know where to look for this kind of incriminating information unless he was a specific part of Ryan’s psyche.
As soon as Ryan decides to use Wilfred’s black file, it’s like the two characters switch roles. Ryan suddenly becomes the one looking to manipulate those around him, and Wilfred is hesitant of doing anything drastic. This gives the impression that throughout the season Wilfred has been the personification of Ryan’s Archeologist personality. When Ryan reclaims that side of himself, the more timid version of Ryan transfers to Wilfred. It’s kind of nuts.
For a comedy, Wilfred is trying to be very mythology based. I think deep down it wants to be the Lost of sitcoms (they even throw in a pretty good Lost reference). But as intriguing as it is to have a comedy that makes me think as much as Wilfred does, it has a long way to go. Adding all the drama towards the end of the episode felt so artificial, as you just know it’s trying to set up a big season finale cliffhanger. But all the nonsense with Wilfred losing his memory and Kristin’s divorce and pregnancy felt like too much. The reveal that Ryan’s basement was also a figment of his imagination was solid and incredibly surprising. If only everything else had as much punch to it.
Dramatically, I was totally into Ryan and Wilfred’s role switch, but things got out of control at the end. Aside from the basement craziness, it’s hard to feel excited for next season based solely on what happened in “Identity.” It was good, just not as good as it was trying to be.
“After I’m gone I don’t want you and Bear fighting over my shit. Or any of my other stuff.”
“If you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna summon my own smoke monster.”
“Hang on, you smell like… you smell like conniving.”
“I’ve got my ears and nose on you. And my eyes too, I guess. Frankly my vision’s pretty shitty.”
“The station’s sending over an insurance rep tomorrow to give her a drug test. Which means–” “We have to disembowel the insurance rep.”