We’ve met Ryan’s sister, Kristen. Tonight we meet his mother, Catherine, played by the wonderful Mary Steenburgen. Anyway, it is revealed that Catherine has voluntarily spent the last twenty years institutionalized, effectively absent from Ryan and Kristen’s life. It seems like Ryan should really just officially adopt Wilfred from Jenna, since she primarily exists to dump him off on Ryan for various reasons; this week she and Drew are headed off to Las Vegas to ‘work on their relationship’ because he ‘loves it there’ and everyone knows how therapeutic a trip to Vegas can be on an already troubled relationship.
Seeing Wilfred bond with Catherine as an always uncomfortable Ryan looks on is always funny. Same goes for Wilfred’s interaction with other animals, which was on display all throughout “Compassion” as Wilfred had run-ins with a cat named Mittens and some ducks. Anyway, Catherine’s free-spirited attitude turned out to be a bit much for the already anxious Ryan, after dealing with her doing interpretive movement painting in the front lawn, to dropping family nuggets (who knew Kristen was into black guys?) to a very uncomfortable discussion during lunch and so she is re-admitted back to the institution where it is revealed she “suffers” a very similar condition to Ryan himself. Let’s hope they toy more with that idea in the future and have John Michael Higgis return as Dr. Cahill as well. And it’s only a matter of time, before Ryan’s benefactor father shows up. “Compassion” displayed a fantastic range of humorous situations tonight, getting away from the pot-heavy stuff. The trend of featuring broader comedic topics is one that will definitely ensure Wilfred sticks around even longer than just announced second season renewal.
Final Grade: A
“Isolation” showed no signs of slowing down following momentum “Compassion” started. “Isolation” dealt with Ryan’s hermit-like tendencies and how that perception spreads like wildfire in his neighborhood. Wilfred keenly observes that ‘if you turn your back on the pack, then pack turns their back on you’, an accurate statement that crosses dog-human boundaries. While “Isolation” began like earlier episodes which seemed to set out to demonstrate how much of an ass Wilfred could be to Ryan and still tolerate it, the tone shifted quite a bit by the end and I realized how much more invested I get seeing them cooperate rather than at each other’s throats. While I use the term ‘cooperate’, there must still be the requisite ball-busting that keeps the show fun, rather than unpleasant to watch. Lately Wilfred has demonstrated improvement in balancing between the two. Some great guests showed up tonight also including Peter Stormare as the homeless man called “Trashface” and a slightly creepy turn by an uncredited Eric Stoltz as Doug, a neighbor who appeared in Ryan’s dream. Is he in fact a real neighbor? Or just a figment of Ryan’s unconsciousness?
Final Grade: A