"Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go." Herman Hesse
FX's Wilfred returned for its official Season 2 premiere last night. The network decided to bridge the gap between the first and second season with a 'Special Preview Episode' called "Progress".
The preview was perhaps the most insane yet impeccably written, directed and acted episode of the series to date and made the case that there might not be another comedy as unapologetically cinematic as Wilfred. Although I was initially a little confused as to why FX would release what was to be the premiere as a preview, after watching the episode it made some sense since "Progress" neatly (or crazily) returned the series to solid episodic footing for the 'start' of Season 2 and "Letting Go."
"Ry can see clearly now the rain is gone! What's up bro?"
The episode began with Ryan, tennis ball in hand and now seemingly straight on what is the real world and what is a dream, stopping by to see Jenna. Wilfred's back from recovering in Wisconsin which means that Drew is also around bro but not for long since the couple are soon moving to L.A. for real this time to tie the knot-a-roo. When Wilfred finally enters, he runs right past Ryan to 'shake' hands with Drew, seemingly not even remembering his former best friend. Something tells me he remembers Ryan just fine. Alone with Jenna, she not-so-subtly lets slip that her and Drew only got engaged because she thought she was pregnant, which she's not.
Of course, Ryan knows this because he stole, uh, switched her pee last season, something we're soon reminded of in a coming conversation. But first, Ryan catches up with the boys playing a little catch in the yard where the "Drewish Community Center" admits that things are a little tense between him and Jenna. Oh, and he's found these sweet over the counter steroids to help with his core rippage. Chris Klein is pretty hilarious in the role that seems tailor made to his brand of over the top goofiness. Drew's still demanding of Wilfred, but in his eyes, the pup will never be a champion. The man in a dog suit we knew from the first season wouldn't care what Drew thought but after showering together things have changed. Drew was there for him and Wilfred doesn't want to disappoint. Bro.
"Well I don't need you, Ry am woman hear me roar. You're on your own."
Apart from Klein, "Letting Go" also features Allison Mack in her recurring guest spot as Amanda, a co worker and love-interest for Ryan. She was introduced last week in "Progress" but this is the first time, well, she got a chance to actually speak. Adorable, as predicted. She asks Ryan out for lunch but he declines, having brought his from home. But she doesn't care about lunch, the girl with the 94% symmetrical face, dressed-up lab-coat, sex addiction and edgy sense of humor just wants a date. Cut to Jenna, who admittedly has no sense of humor, packing up her car and crying. Fun! Ryan 'jokes' that she should end her eight year relationship and, like I said, no sense. Even though it's not working, she can't, wait for it, let it go!
Ryan soon catches up with Wilfred while he's taking a jog, part of his new work out regimen, and starts up some small talk. Innocent small talk, no agenda or anything. But if Wilfred wanted to share why Drew stormed out tho morning, Ryan is all ears. Too bad the pooch is done listening to Ryan's problems all day long, he's not Dr. Phil (he's Dr. Wilfred, and only when DJing). But there is hope for the bromance yet, it just has to be a two way relationship like Jellybeans has with his owner. After watching Beans make a nice grab, Wilfred realizes a way to impress Drew and Ryan agrees to help him train for an upcoming competition in exchange for help with Jenna.
"Cause that's why bros do for each other. It goes both ways, R R R Ry Sharona."
The first step in training? Wilfred takes to the basement (back to normal, see last week) to watch some game film and he realizes the only way to win is sabotage. Ryan, however, has a better idea and suggests Drew's steroids. A nice way to tie the two threads together, the steroids in Drew's possession aren't illegal enough for Wilfred's code of ethics (he wants the Kathleen Turner shit) and that takes the boys out fishin' for 'roids. Lesson learned, don't go fishin' for 'roids. After an unfortunate misunderstanding between them and a big dude with a naturally small package, they finally find a guy willing to sell them some stuff. Well, first he wants Ryan to slob his knob but they settle for $150 and a tender hug like between sisters at a funeral.
Now that they have the steroids, Wilfred is ready for the competition and just in time for Drew's pep-talk. This also gives Ryan and Jenna a moment alone where she informs him that things are actually getting better for the couple thanks to him talking the dog off their hands. Ryan (rightfully) thinks she's merely tricking herself into believing it's better because, want for it, he can't let go of his feelings for her. If you love something and all that. It takes Wilfred almost swallowing the entire bottle of pills for Ryan to come to the realization and in the end, he stops being selfish. I didn't know they handed out participant badges to those who pee all over the course but hey, he's just a pup. And even though Ryan won't sabotage Jenna and Drew's relationship by sneaking those pills in his suitcase that doesn't mean Wilfred won't...
"... but we showered together."
I mentioned in the introduction how at first I wasn't really sure why FX would arbitrarily decide that "Letting Go" and not "Progress" would serve as the premiere for the second season of Wilfred but after watching the former, it's even more clear. Simply put, "Progress" was probably too crazy or risky (and brilliant) an installment to run as the heavily touted first episode of a new season, one that surely hoped to find a few new viewers tuning in to see what the show was about. And if they tuned into the special premiere, they would have, well, probably tuned out while "Letting Go" was a much more accessible.
That doesn't mean I necessarily agree with the scheduling but I can understand how the toned down "Letting Go" serves as a much more palatable point of entry for newcomers and a comfortable return for those who were still on the fence about the show's capacity to eschew traditional narrative (or TV comedy style) for something more imaginative. Imaginative is dangerous in the television landscape. Just ask all those 'smart' shows that failed to find an audience. Plus, "Letting Go" is probably a better representation of the rest of the coming second season even though I am certainly hoping Wilfred makes more (like) "Progress." Last night was a satisfying but safe official return for the series.
Wilfred returns with Episode 2, "Dignity," Thursday at 10 p.m. ET on FX. It stars Elijah Wood, Jason Gann and Fiona Gubelmann.