"There can be no progress without head-on confrontation." Christopher Hitchens
Not to start on a depressing note (although it certainly fits with the show's wonderfully bipolar tone), but Wilfred is in the doghouse. No official word has come from FX, however, former showrunner and current executive producer David Zuckerman has taken to twitter to share the series' seemingly dire circumstances. In his words, "we need big ratings to get to Season 4!" So, if you're not already pushing the consistently engaging dark comedy on others, now's the time to start. And watch it live. Plus set your DVRs. Sorry, if I'm coming on too strong but the episode's quote, and then "Confrontation" itself, compelled me to come right out and tell everyone to make sure the network doesn't put the bizarre, beautiful and very funny series down. Wilfred's been on a really solid run this season, always good for a laugh while also slowly burning the serialized storyline(s).
"You've always said he was a manipulative bully, now's your chance to stand up to him. Perhaps in the form of a 'Beat It' style knife fight?"
After putting the mysteries surrounding Wilfred's existence aside in the season premiere, the last few weeks have brought them back into (deep) focus by forcing Ryan to deal with his family issues directly, especially the complicated past he has with his (thought to be) Machiavellian father (James Remar). Last week's installment featured Lance Reddick as therapist Dr. Blum and, using an Eternal Sunshine-like journey through Ryan's memories, he helped change our troubled hero's, uh, "Perspective" on the contentious relationship with his dad. And just in time for Kristen's Christmas party. Christmas in August! Just because your show airs off-season doesn't mean you can't have holiday episodes. "Confrontation" opens at Santa's Workshop with Ryan and Kristen taking baby Joffrey to see the jolly fat guy and the party is immediately brought up by the older sister. Turns out Ryan will be hosting the event at his place because Kristen won't have Wilfred over any more, in light of all the fish juice, and both seem pretty nervous about having all the family in one place. Yep, all the family, meaning not only is their infamous father attending but also their institutionalized mother who was granted a day pass from the duck sanctuary.
"Well. I guess it wouldn't be Christmas without Wilfred."
Wilfred tries to join their siblings in Santa's Workshop but an elf informs Ryan of the strict no dogs allows policy, making this just the first of many times that the best friend is excluded from the fun. All he wanted were a a few gifts that he could use to harm Father Christmas. And a mitt to make fun of the neighbor's private parts. Good thing those goons were there to hold the dog back or things could have gotten messy. Cause we know that Wilfred's really just scared and would end up pooping himself. Like he does later. But first he has to play the tough guy and convince Ryan not to be so nervous about the party. He should take the opportunity to finally confront his dad about their troubled past and bring the family together. As long as Wilfred can join since Jenna and Drew left him behind. Poor dog. Excluded from the family vacation and then forced to stay in the basement with a big bag of weed and an Arnold Schwarzenegger flick. Jingle All The Way. Wilfred agrees very quickly. Too quickly. While Ryan and Kristen nervously wait for their father to show, a couple of Indian carollers stop by and divert dad to the backdoor. Henry's got an answer for everything.
"'To the Newman family.' Who's it from?"
I don't know about you, even after all the air is cleared I still don't trust him. I'm with Wilfred on this one. I don't trust Wilfred either. Before things get too awkward without her, mom shows up to join the 'fun' and is brings her caregiver (date) Andre along for the ride. Cause she has to. Catherine is played by Mary Steenburgen (whose previous appearances include S1's "Compassion" and S2's "Service") and she does a great job bringing the crazy to counter Remar's extremely 'together' character. The parents' bickering begins immediately and the siblings plan to use Joffrey to diffuse the volatile doesn't pan out, Catherine repeatedly paralleling her son's experience with her own and determined to keep Ryan out of Henry's clutches. Wilfred suddenly barges in (surprise) dressed as Rudolph and is able to break to the tension. After working the room for a few minutes, Wilfred retreats for some eggnog and to warn Ryan about his father before they strike up a deal. The dog will keep up with the distracting as long as he can be part of the family photo. And when dinner deteriorates into the parents bringing up old holiday wounds, Wilfred does spread some joy with a song. Doesn't mean he's getting invited into the official pic. Photo-bomb!
"Oh. Well. This isn't your drawing..."
Next up is the presents and mom is nice enough to buy Ryan a knife. Hm. Wilfred did advise a musical knife fight. The dog also came with a gift for the entire family, the drawing. Oh. The plot thickens! A smirk is the straw that breaks the camel's back and sends Catherine off on Henry forcing Ryan to momentarily trade sides. When they're alone, Wilfred convinces him that the whole thing was orchestrated by Henry as a way to get Ryan in those clutches and this leads to the real showdown. It's a great scene between Wood and Remar, with the son coming clean about his suicide attempt before the dad apologizes and promises to change. Meanwhile, Andre can't get Catherine to come out and ends up taking away her access to wasabe funions. She comes out quick for Ryan though and they end up having that family photo after all. Wilfred included... well, he would have been if Henry didn't don the Santa suit and literally scare the shit out of the dog. All is resolved. The family has a nice enough Christmas. But what about the drawing? Turns out, Ryan wasn't the one who drew it, it was Kristen. Cue the creepy music. Seriously, that music creeped me out but in a good way. What do you think it means that sis saw Wilfred when they were kids?
Wilfred returns with Episode 10, "Distance," next Thursday at 10 p.m. ET on FX.