“Let not a man guard his dignity, but let his dignity guard him.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
In Episode Two of Wilfred Season 2, “Dignity”, Ryan’s relationships with the newest characters are defined and given some meat, while we see him standing up more to Wilfred and struggling to lead his own life despite his relationship with the dog-man. Steven Weber as boss, Jeremy becomes something of a substitution for Ryan to work through his feelings about his father, it’s no secret at this point that he has Daddy (not to mention Mommy) issues. While Allison Mack‘s Amanda is the anti-Jenna, which is just fine with me; there needed to be some counter-balance there for Ryan and I’m glad the writing team put him in a new relationship. Wilfred is still very Wilfred but ventures out of his own comfort zone and joins Ryan at the office in this episode, and of course hilarity ensues.
In the opening scene Ryan receives an invitation to his dad’s wedding with a note that makes it more like a dictum than an actual invitation. This sets the tone of the episode with Ryan’s daddy issues at the forefront. We found out at the end of Episode One that Amanda and Ryan are going on a date. Amanda’s entrance into the episode starts with a joke, which seems to be her signature. Possibly a fair amount of deflection going on? In the midst of discussing their date, boss Jeremy throws down a project for Ryan that he wants done ASAP which delays the date that much longer, as well as our voyeuristic gratification.
Wilfred doesn’t handle Ryan leaving him at home on his own very well. He spends his time calling Ryan and tearing the place apart pillow by plant by wall. After a failed attempt to crate Wilfred (I was disappointed not to see Jason Gann actually IN the crate at least for a moment), Ryan concedes to take the furry man to work with him. It seemed like quite a dangerous move to invite Wilfred into possibly the only part he isn’t involved in, but Ryan takes the risk, showing though he has become more savvy to Wilfred’s ways, there is a still a certain level of naivety to him.
Ryan tries sneaking Wilfred in, but Wilfred is having no part of that. One of the things I love the most about Wilfred is Gann’s interpretation and delivery of what a dog would be saying while acting the way they do. In these moments I can really imagine Wilfred as a dog and it cracks me up. It makes me think of a coaching activity from an improv class, executed perfectly every time. Everyone is excited at the prospect of having a dog in the office, they all think Wilfred is adorable which is a luxury we, as viewers, are not afforded (no offense to Jason Gann).
Having Wilfred in the office evokes different reactions from the two key players in Ryan’s work life. Amanda seems put off and very standoffish, generally uncomfortable when she looks at Wilfred playing around in the office. She doesn’t make any effort to interact with him. Possibly this is something that stems from her work with animals in the lab, maybe not being an animal lover is why she’s well suited for her job, or vice-versa her job keeps her from being able to like animals? Jeremy, on the other hand, LOVES Wilfred. Like, rolling around on the floor, baby talk loves him. The amount of affection that Jeremy bestows on the dog actually makes Wilfred uncomfortable, which is exceptionally hard to do with any dog, especially one as attention hungry as Wilfred. Trust me, I have one of those. Wilfred actually becomes a great buffer for Ryan and mood elevator for the usually hard nosed Jeremy. So much so that Ryan is given a reprieve from his project and is free to go on his date with Amanda.
Things go well on Ryan’s date with Amanda, but things with Wilfred get weird at the office. Wilfred is so desperate for everyone’s approval that he causes more trouble trying to entertain them. Ryan’s reprieve with Jeremy is short-lived and in the middle of the fiasco that Wilfred causes, Jeremy gets pissed off and is on Ryan’s back again. Wilfred’s feelings get hurt and he resigns as office dog.
Ryan backs down when it comes to Jeremy and works through the night trying to figure out how to get all of his work done in time for his unattainable deadline. Wilfred calls Ryan on this and tells him he is backing down from Jeremy just as he has always done with his dad. Ryan and Wilfred try to work through their respective issues, Wilfred trying to figure out new material to use at the office, Ryan trying to finish his project. Their plans come together when Ryan thinks of a great way for Wilfred to entertain everyone at the office, including Jeremy, in hopes that it will put him back in his boss’ good graces. Wilfred works out his routine for the dog with bag stuck on his head bit and just as he is about to execute it, the janitor swoops in and steals his thunder, putting the bag on his own head instead.
In the bathroom after the incident with the bag, Wilfred attacks and injures the office janitor. Though he seems to be slow, he blackmails Ryan into doing his job for him. While Ryan is scrubbing toilets, Wilfred gives him an earful about being a doormat and not being able to ever earn his dad’s respect just as he can’t earn Jeremy’s respect. Ryan finally stands up for himself and conquers his daddy issues thanks to Wilfred, proving that he still needs his friend to move forward.
Ryan storms into Jeremy’s office and lets him know that he will work hard for him and that he needs to set down some rules, starting with needing more time on his project. Jeremy quickly agrees, too quickly, but Ryan takes it and runs with it. Shortly after, Wilfred decides he wants to give Jeremy a piece of his mind as well. The two walk in to the office and catch Jeremy in the act with his janitor. Ryan quickly affords himself a week’s vacation and loses a lot of stress relating to work just like that. We then end the episode where it began, with Ryan looking at the his dad’s wedding invitation, but this time he makes a decision and declines going to the wedding, finally standing up for himself and regaining some of his lost dignity.
This weeks couch moment: After Ryan catches Wilfred cheating at chess in a way only a dog could get away with (by eating a chess piece), Ryan and Wilfred discuss how we know the world is round, Wilfred believes if it were that all the people in China would fall off, except that he figures out they must wear magnets in their shoes so they don’t. The chess set munchies reminds me of my cousins who used to feed Rummikub tiles to their dog to keep from losing. We take our Rummikub very seriously.
“Dignity” opened a lot of doors for the show and started the ball rolling, so to speak. Jeremy and Ryan’s relationship just got a lot more interesting, as did his budding relationship with Amanda. I look forward to seeing where each takes Ryan, along with the return of Ryan’s mother later in the season. The conflict that is sure to arise between Amanda and Wilfred will make for a fantastic arc as Ryan struggles through all the issues that brought him to Wilfred, or Wilfred to him, in the first place.
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