Wilfred Manages To Backtrack While Moving Forward In “Heroism”
It’s taken three seasons to get to this point, but Ryan and Jenna have finally kissed, they’ve moved to that next step in their relationship. The only trouble is Jenna’s still very much married to Drew and they’ve even started trying to have children. That last little detail is something Jenna tells Ryan in confidence during a their first neighborhood watch patrol. You see Jenna wants Drew to put in a security system due to the recent break-ins in the area. Wilfred feels this change will emasculate him and cause the other dogs to think he’s a coward and can’t protect his owner, so he puts up a flier advertising a neighborhood watch. Jenna sees it and thinks it’s a great idea. Ryan, however, is reluctant. He’s been avoiding Jenna due to his unrequited feelings for her and spending too much time around her is not something he can handle right now. These feelings are briefly mirrored in one of Ryan’s neighbors, who quits the watch rather than feed his massive crush on Jenna.
Through out “Heroism,” the bulk of the laughs come from Wilfred and his over the top attempts to prove he’s a brave dog. His fear over a family of pigeons was a terrific runner and the gag of him pinning the badge to his body was the single greatest moment I think Wilfred’s ever had. That alone made the episode a delight to watch. But as is often the case, Wilfred brings a little more depth to its comedy world. Wilfred eventually breaks down after starting a fire in Jenna’s house and failing to save anyone – in fact, Ryan ends up running into the house and saving Wilfred. It’s pitifully funny Wilfred would be so distraught over not being able to protect his owner, but it helps Ryan to realize that what he’s been doing – avoiding Jenna – hasn’t been protecting her as he thought it was. She needs his friendship as someone to talk to.
Immediately red flags went out everywhere when Ryan had that moment of clarity. Ryan and Jenna came to realize in Season 2 that their friendship was based on a mutual manipulation and agreed on where they should be as friends. For a television show, that was ground breaking. Usually the will they/won’t they drive dictates everything. But Wilfred wanted to try something new so it split the two apart and Ryan went with Amanda and Jenna stayed with Drew. But then Amanda left and Ryan’s feelings for Jenna came back in full force. I enjoyed Ryan’s decision to alienate himself from Jenna as self-preservation, but it was still a form of backtracking. Ryan had already decided Jenna wasn’t for him and now he thinks she might be again. It feels too easy and after Season 2, which tackled some very difficult subject matter, I don’t think easy suits Wilfred anymore.
My only hope is the kiss at the end of “Heroism” was a mistake on Jenna’s part. A lot happened that evening, what with the fire, Ryan saving Wilfred, and Jenna’s realization that her unwinnable obsession with making the neighborhood safe was her way of saying she wasn’t ready for a baby. With all that going on, it’s understandable she’d kiss Ryan. He was her hero that night. So next week, what I’d like to see is Jenna turning the tables on Ryan and avoiding him. We’re going into the season finale, so I’m expecting a lot to go on, but more than anything I want the Jenna/Ryan relationship to pick a spot and stay there.