“The thing that lies at the foundation of positive change
is service to a fellow human being.” – Lee Iacocca
Wilfred: Service brings Mary Steenburgen back as Ryan (Elijah Wood)’s mother Catherine Newman. Dorian Brown is also front and center as a very pregnant Kristen. We almost have the entire family dynamic present in this episode. We have yet to see Ryan’s father, though I’m certain he is due for an appearance very soon. Things get a little crazy this episode, literally.
Service opens on a scene in the conference room of Ryan’s office, complete with a coffee-drinking Wilfred (Jason Gann) joining the meeting. Jeremy, Ryan’s boss has bad news in that a competing company has beaten them to the final stages of testing for their new cancer drug. He follows the bad news with a rousing speech, inspiring all his workers to push on. He excuses himself so he can “go call his wife” and instead shoots himself in the face, quite obviously not following his own advice of moments before to “take this as an opportunity to do even better…change the world”. A familiar sight throughout this episode, Wilfred appears with bloody teeth and though not wanting to make a bad situation worse, lets Ryan know someone might have eaten some of Jeremy’s brains.
We find Ryan a couple of weeks later in the basement smoking from a homemade bong. He is withdrawing after finally moving forward with his new job, he has already lost his relationship with Amanda and is slipping back to where he was when we met him. Kristen is getting close to giving birth and is upset with Ryan because he is suddenly unable to be reliable and missed an appointment that he promised to attend. It’s hard to tell why she is so upset, is it because he didn’t show or because since he didn’t show everyone in the waiting room was looking at her like she’s a slut. Wilfred is determined to pull Ryan out of the hole his is sinking in to and tries to encourage him to go in for a boy’s weekend. He tells Ryan when he feels like giving up he just goes and does something good for someone. For example, the previous week he mauled a kid’s face to help him on the way to becoming the next Seal. Wilfred, always thinking of others.
Ryan doesn’t have time to digest this information as his mom calls in he and Kristen because she lost her own version of Wilfred, her cat Mittens. The two siblings and Wilfred visit Catherine at the clinic and try to comfort her. Jason Gann throws in one of his spot on dogisms by battling Catherine for paw/hand superiority. Catherine hears how much trouble Kristen is having getting help with the baby and offers her assistance, citing that she delivered Mitten’s kittens and most of them lived. The doctor in charge of their mother’s care shares with Kristen and Ryan that she is taking another down turn due to the loss of Mittens. Wilfred appears again with bloody teeth stating that though it may not be the right time, he needed to let them know that someone might have dug up Mittens and eaten part of the corpse.
Catherine shares that with Mittens she always felt like she has a purpose, but not that she doesn’t have the cat to care for, she feels useless. She talks about wanting to just take off and forget about everything, just run away on a whim. Ryan feels the same way, just as he has the same attachment to Wilfred as Catherine had to Mittens, once again leaning toward his possible shared psychosis with his mom. The two crazy kids pack up and decide to drive to Mexico. Wilfred is against the idea, but you know dogs, one jingle of the keys and he hops right in the car.
Kristen is alone and pregnant now, trying to track down the only two people that are supposed to be there for her, but Ryan and Catherine have little regard for anyone but themselves. The wacky pair stop at a market and Catherine starts sounding a little more like herself, talking about the energy vortex and how strong it is at the market. She seems to be slipping but Ryan can’t see it. While talking to Kristen he claims that their mom is not unstable, she’s just eccentric. A statement that totally disregards where she has been for these many years past. When Kristen mentions Catherine’s meds and that she needs to take them, Ryan looks in her purse for them, but only finds kitty litter and cat poop.
Immediately after this discovery, I assume out of a fear of her losing it, Ryan allows his mom to drive his car. I started seeing shades of Thelma and Louise at this point in the show, imagining the two of them driving off a cliff together. To heighten this imagery, there is suddenly a police officer in the rear view. Catherine seems to be handling herself relatively well, but that is short-lived as she backs into the police officer’s motorcycle and takes off. When Ryan scolds her for what she is doing and tries to take the wheel, she mistakes him for his dad and leaves without him in the car, but with Wilfred still in the backseat, calling him Sneakers.
Ryan has to swallow his pride and call Kristen to help find and wrangle their mother back to the home. When they see a free kitten sign on the side of the road, Ryan knows exactly where to find her. Catherine is fully lost to them when they find her, she tells Kristen that they should come up with some wacky way for her to die. The stress of the whole event seems to cause Kristen to go into labor. Neither Ryan or his mom is able to help Kristen initially, but Wilfred pulls Ryan out of it so he can help birth the newest member of the Newman clan. The difference being that Ryan can still be brought back, but his mother cannot. Not without her meds that is. She takes her pills and comes back to herself. She is upset about losing it and agrees to go back to the home, where she presumably belongs. And then there’s Wilfred, with bloody teeth, again. Hating to be a “Debbie Downer”, he notifies Ryan that it seems someone may have eaten Kristen’s placenta.
The episode ends with Ryan’s mom back at the clinic and Ryan visiting her, all seems well again, but we are left with lingering questions. Is Ryan’s relationship with Wilfred the result of a psychosis he shares with his mother? Did he inherit the condition from her? What does Mittens’ death mean for Catherine and Ryan? What would happen if Ryan lost Wilfred? So much to think about, to resolve, so little time to do so.
Couch Moment: We see Wilfred and Ryan on the couch as Wilfred sleeps and is having doggie dreams. He is kicking his feet and whimpering and suddenly takes off running on to hit the wall and wake up. He says it was his Hilary Swank dream and whimpers as he shares that she was wearing a g-string this time, lamenting “Ryan, it was so real”.
What do you think is really going on with Ryan?