After a bit of a lull in the first third of the season, Wilfred appears to be back on solid ground moving forward after ‘Avoidance’, another strong episode following on the heels of last week’s enjoyable ‘Control’. This week’s half hour wasn’t as consistent as some of the show’s best efforts, but the writing was some of the sharpest we’ve seen so far on the show.
Knowing this episode was written by Jason Gann, I was expecting something a little outlandish to occur (some cryptic tweets by Gann and David Zuckerman only furthered this theory). And unfortunately, that bit of humor took up a little too much of the episode for me. For some reason, Wilfred ejaculating all over Ryan is kind of funny (in that weird Wilfred way), but the fact it plays into the crux of the episode’s philosophy on avoidance so prominently felt like a joke given too much mileage.
Of course, the jizzing incident is really just a parallel to Ryan’s situation with his former best friend, the double-crossing James. One of the big things season 2 of Wilfred has danced around is the effect of Ryan’s father on who he is today, and how he plays into the deep depression we met Ryan into in season one. But what Ryan still isn’t fully grasping is imperative to his character arc on the show: he’s learning to let go, and letting go of his hatred for his father is clearly the most important part of this personal transformation.
Getting back to the events of ‘Avoidance’, the one thing I really enjoyed was how the writers constructed the events of the episode to convey thought processes and realizations through action, rather than dialogue. On some level, it’s important for Wilfred to relay some of this information to Ryan (it’s safe to assume that Wilfred’s presence is at least partly influenced by his subconscious) in most episodes, but by letting Ryan realize things on his feet, and cutting all around the all-revealing speech, the pacing and arc of the episode’s plot felt a lot more natural.
And it makes the conversation between James and Ryan that much more pleasant in the end: instead of watching Ryan enact the lessons he’s been told by Wilfred, we see Ryan taking an active part in his own transformation, and swiftly – Ryan and Wilfred’s conversation in the basement cuts quickly to Ryan having a beer, and hearing what his father’s been saying about him (in a bit of a forced bit of story, where Ryan’s father is apparently pining for his son to return, despite the stubborn nature he’s been described with to this point).
Like I said, there are some beats of the episode that just don’t work: the jizz scene and Kristen’s presence in particular. I’m not really sure what she was doing in her scenes this week, except to update us on what’s going on in her life (which we as viewers, aren’t really invested in too much at this point). Her character’s regressed in her few appearances this season, nothing but a giggly, annoying pregnant woman in her third-wheel role this episode.
But the Wilfred/Ryan parts were strong (minus the sperm), and more importantly, showed some promising signs for the show moving forward by being less preachy with its life lessons and revelations. It’s raunchier moments were largely unnecessary, but that’s not what I tune into Wilfred for. What makes the show so interesting and engaging isn’t really the humor, but the emotional notes and philosophical layers underneath all of the stuff the show gets attention for – and that’s where ‘Avoidance’ was the strongest.
- this was the episode they showed at Comic-Con, hence the Comic-Con shout out in the middle. Which also meant no Amanda this week
- Wilfred’s logic involving churros is the backbone of training any canine to do anything. Definitely the funniest bit of the episode.
- misunderstandings are always the laziest form of comedy, and the jerking hand motion felt like a poor use of a misunderstanding to drive comedic conflict. Watch some episodes of Frasier from season 8-10 to see what I’m talking about.
- the closing scene with Wilfred and Ryan enacting a dream dance sequence was beautiful, and reminded me of the closing moment of ‘Anger’, when Ryan has a reconcilatory moment with good ol’ Sneakers.
- dance montage! Every comedy has one at some point in its run, and Wilfred is no exception.
- Just like the jizz jokes, Wilfred losing his virginity by way of raping a dog after it had been hit by a car felt unnecessary and tasteless simply to be tasteless.
What did you think of ‘Avoidance’? Feel free to leave your thoughts/comments below!