WILFRED 1.03 ‘Fear’

Wilfred sets Ryan up to fight his jerk of a neighbor, but the prank backfires on both of them.

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Fear"

Writer: Eric Weinberg

Director: Randall Einhorn

Early in this week's episode, Wilfred (Jason Gann) once again hints that he's a part of Ryan's (Elijah Wood) subconscious. "You, me. What's the difference?," Wilfred asks during a trippy drug induced dream that turns out to be prophetic for the rest of the episode. The only rational explanation behind the premise of this series is that something incredibly damaged in Ryan's mind is causing him to see his neighbor's dog, Wilfred as an Australian man in a cheap dog suit. On the other hand, Wilfred also seems to derive joy out of torturing Ryan by constantly setting him up. And the things that Wilfred does on his own aren't just a product of Ryan's delusion.

Back in the pilot, Ryan and Wilfred got revenge on Spencer (Ethan Suplee), an obnoxious neighbor. After breaking into Spencer's home and stealing his weed, Wilfred convinced Ryan to s*** in the man's boots before Wilfred conveniently  left Ryan's wallet behind at the crime scene. This plays into Ryan's growing paranoia that he is no longer beneath the notice of Spencer and that he somehow knows what Ryan did.

Wilfred's owner, Jenna (Fiona Gubelmann) is completely absent this week as Ryan attempts to build his friendship with Wilfred by giving him an expensive Kobe bone… which Wilfred promptly rejects. This show has quickly turned into a buddy stoner comedy and the previously mentioned marijuana tinged dream sequence was really amusing when Ryan suddenly had baby feet and time went haywire.

When reality catches up to Ryan's dream, Wilfred admits that Spencer knows that they robbed him because he intentionally planted Ryan's wallet outside of the broken window. To hear Wilfred spin it, this is an amazing chance for Ryan to confront his adversary. But instead, Ryan tells Spencer that he was a victim of the same bandit and he makes a new "friend" in the process.

What follows is a hilarious send up of bromance relationships, as Ryan can't shake Spencer's attempts to spend time with him either by "porning out" or by going to the strip club with Wilfred in tow. Spencer himself is kind of an indictment against our collective obsession with pornography. Everything Spencer does seems to revolve around that "interest" in some way. Ethan Suplee is also completely unrecognizable from his "My Name Is Earl" days while bringing life to Spencer in frightening detail. In his own way, Spencer is just as broken as Ryan. And from the way he so willingly latches on to Ryan, it suggests that he's also deeply lonely underneath his a**hole persona.

In the middle of this, Wilfred continually tries to spark a fight between Ryan and Spencer before performing a pole dance of his own at the strip club. Jason Gann is always at his best in the moments when he portrays Wilfred as an actual dog. Spencer's use of a laser pointer to taunt Wilfred into chasing it is pretty dead on. There's also a hilarious monologue earlier in the episode in which Wilfred explains to Ryan how he handles domination in the dog world. Wilfred also made some amusing remarks about his lack of color vision when viewing the world around him. 

After Wilfred is goaded into attacking the red dot on the head of Mrs. Patel (K. T. Thangavelu) — another neighbor whom Spencer had terrorized — all that stands between Wilfred being put down is Spencer's ex-best friend, Jesse (Damon Herriman); whom Spencer betrayed by having sex with his Jesse's mother (!) and then immediately texted him about it. It's pretty easy to see why Spencer doesn't have many friends.

Ryan settles things in classic sitcom fashion and he gets Jesse and Spencer to see each other's point of view. Which is great until they both show up in his house and expect him to be their "third amigo" for life. Fed up, Ryan finally admits the truth to Spencer and he gets pummeled in the process. Wilfred saves the day by clocking Spencer with his Kobe bone and feeding Ryan some threatening lines to get Jesse to take Spencer and run. The more psychotic threats from Wilfred were some of the comedic high points of the episode.

At the end, Ryan has a new sense of confidence when dealing with Spencer and the neighborhood… which should last until someone discovers that Wilfred has framed Ryan for defacing a statue of the Patels' lawn. This raises an interesting question: was it Spencer who defaced the statute or was it Wilfred/Ryan all along?

Within three episodes, "Wilfred" has already established itself as the best sitcom of the summer. Wilfred's ongoing torment of Ryan actually seems to be going somewhere on a week-to-week basis. "Wilfred" is a comedy series that's telling its own version of a long form story; and I want to see where it leads.

Crave Online Rating: 8 out of 10.