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

Wilfred: “Resentment”

Illustration for article titled Wilfred: “Resentment”

As far as I can tell, “Resentment” is the first episode of the second season of Wilfred not to refer to Ryan’s father in any way. Dad’s been an ominous presence floating around the second season, with Ryan doing everything he can to avoid him, yet confrontation seems inevitable. Combined with Ryan’s relationship with Amanda, this has given the season an overarching structure. “Resentment,” on the other hand, deals with Ryan’s relationship with Jenna and Drew, which was very much the focus of the first season. I think we’re resolving the initial form of Wilfred and moving into something new.

This is, I think, a good thing overall. Ryan’s crush on Jenna had a limited appeal. Will-they/won’t-they is fairly played out at this point in television history. Chris Klein’s goofy charm as Drew has turned that character into someone I certainly didn’t want to see driven off the show, and I think fans and producers felt the same way. So I’m pleased to see Ryan again succeeding at resolving a situation.

Drew and Jenna are preparing for their wedding, which Ryan is unhappy about. It’s not because he still has his crush on Jenna. That was resolved last episode. Instead, it is because their apparent love for one another reminds him of his romantic failure with Amanda. This manifests through Wilfred, as he “accidentally” swallows the ring when Ryan is left in charge of it, after which Wilfred then “accidentally” shoots Drew in the thigh.

In terms of the metaphysics of Wilfred (PRETENTIOUS LINE ALERT!), the episode moves in a fairly new direction. Wilfred may or may not be acting as a manifestation of Ryan’s insecurities. He’s a dog, catching things that are thrown at him and swallowing them, or getting inexplicably “jealous” at the presence of other dogs. Those things happen to trigger bad behavior, but the bad behavior is not simply an extension of Ryan’s mind. Both Wilfred and Ryan have agency here, which makes the end result—Ryan realizing that he needs to talk to Amanda—less of a lesson imposed on him, and more of an organic result of the arc of the storyline.

There’s an elegant construction to “Resentment.” It uses the “Chekov’s gun” idea multiple times, including in the literal sense, when Drew comes home from hunting with a gun that eventually shoots him. Wilfred catching things with his mouth is also amusingly foreshadowed when Drew, stoned, starts tossing popcorn at him. I enjoyed seeing the formal craft of the episode, this time, although I’d worry that Wilfred derives such power from its anarchy that formality will only take it so far.

Of course, I’m also happy that Allison Mack made another appearance.

As time goes on, I find that I end up reviewing Wilfred as a serialized drama more than a comedy. This episode was not one of the show’s funniest, though it had a few moments. But I think Wilfred has decided that it wants to be a serialized hybrid of comedy and drama. In “Resentment,” it demonstrates why. This is an episode that ends one major storyline, resurrects another, and sets up the end of the season with… what? There are a dozen different directions that Wilfred could go, because it’s completed one of its major previous stories. These are the mechanics of a serialized drama, and they’re working well for Wilfred right now. I’m certainly intrigued by the myriad possibilities of the end of the season.


Stray observations:

  • “Good point. You’re the ring bearer. You take it.” I really enjoyed the casual way this scene played out. I think the show has a good grasp on Wilfred and Ryan’s interactions, and from that point, everything works.
  • “Calm down; I’m just cleaning it.” “Gah!”