It’s baffling that last week’s episode of Wilfred was labeled a “preview,” while tonight’s is treated as the official season première. A preview episode implies a more accessible installment, intended to draw in new viewers. Yet “Progress” was probably the most difficult episode of the series, both on its own and in terms of being essentially the second half of the first season finale.
On the other hand, “Letting Go” adopts a more conventional structure: Ryan and Wilfred hang out, manipulate one another, and get into progressively weirder situations, with Jenna and Drew on the periphery. This is what Wilfred looked like for the bulk of the first season.
Things are slightly different, though, and mostly improved. Wilfred begins by ignoring Ryan when they see each other for the first time since the accident. Instead, Wilfred has been spending time with Drew, adopting Drew’s over-friendly, sporty persona—going so far as to call his relationship with Ryan as “bromance.” Initially, it’s an amusing inversion of the relationship, with Ryan demanding Wilfred’s attention, the opposite of Wilfred’s demands in the first season. I also liked the more specific focus on masculinity. Much of the first season involved Wilfred specifically pushing Ryan to be more manly, but when it’s the dog who is challenged, the situation becomes fresh.
“Letting Go” builds irony over its runtime by flipping Wilfred’s statements about Ryan being the manipulative one. As soon as Ryan comes anywhere near doing or saying something that Wilfred has interest in, Wilfred ratchets up the manipulation. What makes it fun is that Ryan never notices. He’s so obsessed with Jenna, Wilfred’s friendship, and using Wilfred’s friendship to woo Jenna away from Drew, that the fact that he’s being played for a fool never occurs to him. Over the course of the season, this might be a problem. But for now, watching Elijah Wood play self-obsessed obliviousness is a lot of fun.
But while it’s conceptually fun, “Letting Go” isn’t all that funny. It made me smile throughout, yes, and scenes like Wilfred destroying the doggie obstacle course were certainly memorable. But I feel like Wilfred has the capability to cause spitting, choking fits of laughter—making it a disappointment when it doesn’t.
The other thing “Letting Go” has going for it is that it continues the budding romance between Ryan and Amanda, his new co-worker. Not having seen Smallville, I never encountered Allison Mack before, but some fans are excited that she’s on the show, and I can see why. She has a deadpan charm, demonstrating awkwardness and confidence at the same time with lines like “Well, I’m just gonna have sex with whomever’s in the men’s room.”
On her own, she’s interesting enough, but Amanda also means good things for the show. With so much of the overarching storytelling devoted to Ryan chasing Jenna in the first season, giving him a different direction to go this season may alter the show’s dynamic for the better. Perhaps she’ll be the one giving chase, or perhaps we’ll see entirely different motivations at work. In that sense, “Letting Go” may be an unconventional episode of Wilfred’s second season, in that it mirrors those of the first. That potential is fascinating.
- “I have a strict policy against taking any drug that’s not illegal.”
- “I want it to be tender like we’re sisters at a funeral.” Just a bizarre, fun scene to toss in the show, and the hug was unbearably, horribly adorable.
- “Sometimes she even let me put it in the armrest” says Wilfred, waxing poetic about old relationships.
- Jenna looks different. More robust. I like it.