Every good comedy show needs its punching bags, and this second episode of Running Wilde has done its diligence to establish what they're going to be. The plot of "Into The Wilde" is simple enough: Steve wants to go on vacation with Emmy, and decides the best way to demonstrate his affinity for wildlife is to take her to a decrepit cabin in the woods—really get away from it all. The cabin, though, is on Wilde property and has been tirelessly rehabbed by Mr. Lunt over a 10 year span, with all that hard work going out the window when Wilde decides to make it more rustic. Andy, David Cross' character, shows up unannounced via a garbage barge and rightfully has a major problem with Emmy spending so much time with Steve. And Fa'ad—thinking he's one step ahead of Steve, or maybe he really is—swoops in on Emmy when Steve goes missing, and fails gloriously. The show has figured out how to make Mr. Lunt, Andy, and Fa'ad funny: Make them the butt of the jokes.
In the basic setup-punchline sense, Running Wilde has improved from the pilot in the punchline department. The jokes on "Into The Wilde" were quicker and more pronounced than before, mixing quippy one-liners with grander physical gags—like the claustrophobia on the treehouse ladder (multiple people trying to go up/down at once) and Emmy/Fa'ad discovering Andy wrapped in a cocoon of packing paper. The show has also done a lot better with peppering already comical moments with additional laughs. When Migo enters Mr. Lunt's cabin to turn it into a shithole, he dismisses Mr. Lunt's room full of China dolls as "really not the right kind of creepy."
Laugh-wise, "Into The Wilde" was a big improvement. Story-wise, it felt like the episode was still laying groundwork. In order to establish the antagonistic relationship between Steve and Andy, the show had Andy concoct a scheme in which he'd kidnap Steve and make some ransom money. And rather than kidnap in the traditional sense, he sends off a note to Steve's father and invites Steve on a friend camping trip with ol' Candy Cheeks. Steve, meanwhile, is only going along with the whole thing to get some alone time with Andy under the guise of being his friend because he believes it'll actually drive Emmy closer to him. Emmy's understanding of the situation comes in waves, and it's not always clear what she's operating against or really how Fa'ad fits into the equation.
There's a lot of build-up to the final moment with Steve in the cabin, but the only pay-off comes in learning that Steve's dad did get the ransom note and decided not to pay. It harkens back to the first scene in the episode, with Steve explaining the odd version of hide-and-seek he used to play, where part of the fun was that he wouldn't even tell people to look for him. The rest of the episode, though, doesn't fit in as nicely, and thus feels ancillary. There's always going to be stuff that falls by the wayside in any comedy, but it's especially noticeable when those loose ends involved a lot of explaining upfront.
To be fair, though, the relationship between, say, Andy and the rest of the cast is an easy one. He's an oblivious guy who has a fake beard tail and the "waste of a continent" following him around like Pig Pen. The relationship between Emmy and Steve—really Steve and anyone—is going to take a lot more time to flesh out. But the laughs are coming, and the punching bags are there, so I don't mind waiting.
- The Mr. Lunt character works best, I think, when he's like Lupe on Arrested Development. Maybe a few episodes off here-and-there, and just a few solid parts in the episodes he does appear in.
- "He cared, he just chose not to show it with words or actions."
- "Are you saying it rhymes with Candy Cheeks or it is Candy Cheeks?"