‘Wilfred’ Recap: Conscience

Chris Klein WilfredS1E6: Well, Wilfred may squander a few opportunities here and there, but the show certainly doesn’t waste someone like guest star Chris Klein. We met Jenna’s long-distance boyfriend Drew (Klein) back in episode 2, and it seemed that he’d likely be out of the picture, but he’s back carrying Jenna like “a Viking on a rape quest.” Oh, Wilfred. Such colorful descriptions.

“Conscience” stopped a little short, but was at least made entertaining by Klein’s adept douchebaggery and Wilfred’s adorable, doggy sociopathic tendencies.

“Your death will be my holiday.” -Wilfred

Jenna invites Ryan over for a barbecue with herself and Drew and we finally get to see just about much of a “dick boyfriend” this guy is. Jenna confides that Drew gets too competitive and that it bothers her so much sometimes she stops talking to him altogether. I thought this was a little much to suddenly share with Ryan at an afternoon barbecue when Drew is standing right in front of them, but it got the plot rolling so I’ll allow it.

Though he can’t help but obey his every command, Wilfred hates Drew, so Ryan and Wilfred decide to break up the couple. They trick Drew into playing a game he’ll lose at – ping pong; Ryan is a champion – so he’ll flip out and Jenna will dump him. Though Drew actually turns out to be great at ping pong, he broke his promise about giving up competitive sports and he’s such a gloating winner that Jenna dumps him on the spot.

“I still can’t believe you poisoned me.” –Ryan

“I still can’t believe you bopped me on the nose with a newspaper.” -Wilfred

While Wilfred celebrates the breakup, Ryan feels incredibly guilty. It only gets worse when Drew shows up on his doorstep to confess his past wrongs, apologize to Ryan and lament that he really wants to be better for Jenna. And here come the crashing waves of guilt.

To turn things around, Ryan takes a page out of Drew’s playbook and starts disciplining Wilfred with a newspaper. Of course when Wilfred obeys, he’s really just got an evil plan in the works; he poisons Ryan. The scene with Wilfred sitting behind a chemistry set and cackling like an evil genius was a bit much for me, but maybe they were trying to make us feel a little disoriented too. Unfortunately for the mad scientist, it turns out he poisoned Ryan with chocolate and raisins because for dogs those things are toxic. This bit was simultaneously awful and adorable. When Wilfred is in the hospital and the doctor says Ryan just ate chocolate, Wilfred gleefully and hopefully exclaims, “I put raisins in it too! What about the raisins?” You’ve got to give kudos to Justin Gann for his uncanny ability to capture that adorable, innocent eagerness that is so characteristic of the canine crowd.

Finally, we’re just dropped into the tag without so much as a brief wrap-up. Before Wilfred starts humping his bear, we get a quick line about “well, Jenna and Drew are back together” with no explanation as to why. I guess we could argue that we knew it was coming so we needn’t bother with the explanation, but it still felt a bit disjointed.

While it wasn’t the main idea of the episode, I enjoyed that they were playing with the notion of disciplining a dog. Ryan treats Wilfred like a person and seems to be almost offended when Drew yells at Wilfred and the dog obeys with a look of utter humiliation. Granted, part of the reason Ryan treats Wilfred the way he does is because he’s a very passive person and Wilfred is incredibly demanding. Still, the instance opened this question about how dogs perceive our commands and behaviors. Is it better to be their friend and let them walk all over us? Or is it better that they obey us, but secretly hate us? And when they’re obedient and we think it’s because they love us, are they really hoping someone will come along and dash all our little hopes and dreams, or better yet, put us in an early grave? It’s little ideas like this that I’ve been hoping to see more of on Wilfred, and it’s fantastic that they are slipping them in without letting them overpower the plot.

Even so, this wasn’t my favorite episode thus far. It’s called “Conscience” and Ryan doesn’t even wrestle with his for that long. And everything is fixed without his participation or suffering. Suddenly we’re back to square one, and we’re not sure how we got there. I complain, but the show really seems to be actually using the fact that Wilfred is in fact a dog for depth instead of just relying on it for cheap gags (look he’s shaking water onto girls in bikinis; look he’s putting his nose in that girl’s breasts; look he’s smoking pot!). That’s something I’ve been lamenting all season, and this was a step in the right direction, so let’s hope it keeps going that way.