Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Wilfred: “Intuition”

Illustration for article titled Wilfred: “Intuition”

And there we have it. Ryan's father, his bugaboo, the grand villain promised by Wilfred for well over a season now has shown up, and he appears in a simple dream sequence quickly and without ceremony. It's not initially presented as a dream sequence, but rather as a straightforward scene where the two characters interact directly for the first time, before the increasingly obvious twist is revealed. And then it happens again. And then it happens again…except it's not a dream.

There are several ways that Ryan's father could have been introduced. The one I expected was a straightforward dramatic reveal, appearing at the climax of a critical episode with plenty of fanfare. And now that that didn't happen, and given my understanding of Wilfred's willingness to toy with audience expectations, I wonder why I ever thought that was likely. Having him be an unannounced dream, and then a real, bizarre climax to the episode makes so much more sense than anything conventional.

I'm glad Wilfred did it this way, and I was intellectually impressed by the way that it used the structure of the individual episode to do it. The title “Intuition” initially seems to refer to the way that Wilfred believes that a neighbor has killed his wife, but he twists that into a moral about how Ryan's intuition was correct in assuming that Wilfred was up to something. That was true—Wilfred was masking that he'd had his friend/rival dog Jelly Beans killed—but where that normally would have been the end of the matter on Wilfred, it masked yet another turn. Wilfred's building up of Ryan's intuition turns horrifying when it triggers Ryan having a mental breakdown in front of his father, and in a public space as well, almost exactly like Wilfred set up Jelly Beans to be killed. And the final shot of Wilfred standing ominously makes it quite clear that this structure was not an accident.

Even more subtly than that, I thought it was fascinating how “Intuition” dealt with the divisions of how Wilfred has been structured this season. Last week I talked about how apparent it had become that Wilfred was narrowing its scope and number of characters who would appear in each episode and how that corresponded to a narrowing in the show's engagement with a wider plot. In “Intuition” there were two scenes with multiple characters and in different sets—a dream intervention for Ryan; the confrontation with the father in the grocery store—that had an expansive feel to them. Jenna, Kristen, Ann, and Henry all exist for the “mythology” but not for the episodic murder plot. That murder investigation was as tightly confined as other episodes.

The problem with “Intuition,” though, was that while its construction may have been elegant in an intellectual sense, it wasn't particularly effective as an episode on its own. The murder investigation never gets off the ground, probably because the supposed murderer has just a handful of lines across the entire episode, yet it takes over most of the middle of “Intuition.” This ends up making it feel more like a clever puzzle that could lead to great things later than something that stands on its own.

Stray observations:

  • Ryan's dad is indeed played by James Remar, who had supplied the voice on the phone earlier this season. It's not the super exciting stunt casting we'd brainstormed last season, but he seems like a good choice.
  • “She's classy, and not just classy, but a long list of synonyms that also mean classy.”
  • “It's too late. We'll never catch up.” “Nah, we'll definitely catch up.”
  • “You called me the s-word! That's the most racist character ever created! Ruh-roh? Who talks like that? And Scooby's constant need for scooby snacks, like all dogs think about is food? It's a goddamn minstrel show!” This was a fantastic parodic monologue from Wilfred.
  • “I said it was cute?” “Exactly! What was I supposed to do, not kill him for his bandana?”
  • Amusing touch—when I was watching the credits, I noticed that the grocery store clerk was played by another Remar. Doing a favor for his son, or perhaps nephew? It was also interesting with all the father-son stuff of the episode.