***FX airs as analog channel 55, digital channel 116, and HD channel 941 here in Lexington with Insight Cable, or channel 248 with DirecTV.***
FX’s Wilfred finally delves into Jenna’s (Fiona Gubelmann) love life this week. Fans of the original version may be used to the idea that the main girl and the man guy are shacking up throughout. But in the Americanized remake, Ryan (Elijah Wood) is thwarted in his pursuit of her by the fact that she already has a boyfriend – Drew (Chris Klein). In “Conscience,” Wilfred (Jason Gann) helps Ryan break up Jenna and Drew, only to see Ryan have a guilt trip afterward. Will Wilfred allow Ryan to have a change of heart? Or will the dog murder his new best friend?
The Wilfred character, of which even its existence is an enigma, is getting harder to figure out. While in earlier episodes, Wilfred has very clear motivations in retrospect, in “Conscience,” things get a bit murky.
Wilfred wants Drew to go away, but that doesn’t mean he wants Ryan to take his place. Is Wilfred jealously trying to keep Jenna all to himself? While the mutt is played by a human, he shows little signs of sexual attraction to his owner, but instead, a fierce, dog-like loyalty. But wouldn’t a dog welcome someone new to give him attention all the time? And since he spends so much time with Ryan anyway…
Plus, why turn on Ryan so quickly? How come Wilfred can accept Drew’s alpha male role without striking back directly, but goes after Ryan with a vengeance?
The scene that feels most out of character for Wilfred is his mad scientist routine in the basement. It is hilarious that he tries to poison Ryan with chocolate and raisins, which are toxic to canines, but losing the typical voice and mannerisms of the titular character are confusing. It could be argued that Wilfred is slipping into a persona, a reasonable explanation. Instead, though, the script meanders, and it is disappointing how unclear that character has become.Ryan, on the other hand, remains true to the guy shown these past five weeks. He does want to improve his life, and being with Jenna is a goal, but he isn’t willing to make Jenna unhappy, or hurt an innocent guy. Sure, Drew can be a jerk when acting ultra-competitive, but who doesn’t have their faults?
Klein makes the boyfriend sympathetic as he confesses he knows what he is doing wrong and, but struggles to stop it. His apology cinches the deal. Ryan’s compassion mirrors the viewers’, and so he must step in to correct his mistake. Drew makes Jenna happy, so he can’t be all bad.
Over all, Wilfred is quickly winning hearts as a charming comedy. But the dog needs to be nailed down a bit better. His motivations can stay a mystery, as long as they make sense in the larger context. Explanation for behaviors.
Also, remind me again why the perpetually missing Kristen (Dorian Brown) is a main character?
Watch Wilfred Thursdays nights at 10 p.m. ET on FX.
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Article first published as TV Review: Wilfred – “Conscience” on Blogcritics.