Stars: Elijah Wood, Jason Gann, Fiona Gubelmann, Dorian Brown, Brad Dourif, Gil Birmingham
Writers: Cody Heller & Brett Konner, series created by Jason Gann & Adam Zwar, adapted for American television by David Zuckerman
Director: Randall Einhorn
Network: FX, Thursdays at 10 PM
Original Airdate: August 30, 2012
It’s possible that WILFRED the show can’t get to the heart of what Wilfred (Jason Gann) the character really is without coming to a halt, but that doesn’t mean it can’t tease the question now and then. In “Questions,” writers Cody Heller & Brett Konner come up with a reasonably satisfying bait and switch on the issue, not resolving it but addressing a smaller elephant in the room.
When Kristen’s (Dorian Brown) baby boy cries, she keeps telling him not to cry and he goes on crying anyway. The infant’s incessant weeping triggers panic attacks in Ryan, which in turn infect Wilfred, causing the dog to rip fur out of his tail (or whatever that is out of his dog suit). In an effort to calm down, Ryan and Wilfred go to a marijuana dispensary, where the desk clerk tells them of a fabulous South American drug known as “the Teacher.” Go with it and it can change your life – but trip on it and give in to fear or ask the wrong questions, and you can be trapped inside your head forever.
Ryan purchases some of the drug, but then thinks better of it. However, Wilfred is there to secretly dose him with it anyway. Ryan finds himself in a beautiful outdoor landscape (which will be familiar to Southern California residents as any number of local hillsides) with a pseudo-Native American spirit guide, Red Wolf (Gil Birmingham), who points out that his stereotypical appearance is based on the movies floating around Ryan’s subconscious.
Red Wolf agrees to help Ryan find out what Wilfred is, but before he can do that, Wilfred kills the guide. Wilfred insists that he can be Ryan’s spirit guide, but he can’t – but what Wilfred wants Ryan to find out is why Ryan is having panic attacks. When Ryan finds a man (Brad Dourif) in a surreal photo darkroom, the man gives Ryan a vision of his childhood, where Kristen was telling him not to cry.
Ryan realizes the panic attacks aren’t triggered by the baby, but rather by Kristen trying to calm the baby – Ryan has been suppressing his own emotions too long. Waking up, Ryan realizes that he’s sad about breaking up with girlfriend Amanda, and perhaps sad about his job loss and his boss’ suicide. He wants to cry. Wilfred hugs him – although, the dog reminds Ryan, he’s really got to go outside to relieve himself soon.
Since Ryan really does need to deal with his emotional state even more immediately than he needs to find out Wilfred’s true nature, this is a case of all’s well that ends well. It’s fun seeing Red Wolf stand up to Wilfred, and it makes sense that Ryan’s inner psyche is littered with old Western clichés (even if it does give the show an excuse to indulge in some race-baiting from Wilfred).
Kristen’s decision to name her baby Joffrey after the ballet, with Ryan wondering if that’s the best moniker for a male infant seems to prove that nobody involved in this series watches or reads GAME OF THRONES, because of course most of the audience will immediately want to yell, “Don’t name your poor little infant after a monstrous evil boy king!” It seems like an opportunity was missed there.
It is nice to see that Wilfred can show Ryan some affection now and then, and having Wilfred flip out in reaction to Ryan is something that will make sense to pretty much anyone living with a dog or cat. As to having Brad Dourif turn up in Ryan’s subconscious – the actor turns up pretty much everywhere else, why not there?
“Questions” answers some, leaves some unanswered, but overall serves the spirit of WILFRED well.
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