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This week Wilfred fans were treated to two installments of the offbeat comedy, as FX continued to double down on episodes to make room for their fall lineup. Airing first, “Compassion” proved that there is still a little gas left in Wilfred's tank. Which couldn't have come at a better time after last week's episode seemed to be running on fumes. One of their most well utilized guest stars to date -make that two actually, plus a great cameo- also built confidence that the series wasn't done yet.
If Ryan's mother hadn't spent the last twenty years in a mental institution she would have probably warned him that it's not a good idea to let someone that was in a mental institution for twenty years move in with you. But having never received that lesson growing up, Ryan finds himself burdened with a less-than-stable roommate; to go along with the deranged dog he already has. Ryan's relationship with his mother, Catherine, was strained long before she moved in with him(Did I mention she spent two decades in a funny farm?). As is revealed though, it's less from anger at having to put up with Catherine's antics, and more from the fear for his own sanity that her presence brings up that has Ryan on edge. A fear that turns out be completely justified.
The episode kicked off by reminding us that Jenna actually exists, as well as actually addressing the fact that she is rarely around. She wasn't any funnier than she has been in past episodes -beyond when she was barreled aside by Wilfred in that opening scene- so it's safe to say we haven't been missing much while she was away. Her role in the episode wasn't completely without humor, even if it was all on the part of Wilfred. The man-dog's tolerance for Jenna's constant abandonment finally reached its breaking point, and his usual undying love had been replaced with pure spite. His petulant insults were all the funnier because of Jenna's obliviousness to them. It got even worse for her once Wilfred found a surrogate mother in Catherine; who he took great joy in showing his affection for.
This series has given us plenty of off-the-wall situations, but seeing Mary Steenburgen making out with a scruffy Australian in a dog suit was high on the list. It isn't exactly a position you imagine that particular actress in. Baking a pie or tucking someone in, that is more what comes to mind when you think of Steenburgen; but that is what made the role so good. Whoever picked her knew that is exactly how the actress would be seen, which meant the farther they strayed out of that comfort zone with the character, the funnier she would be. Because of that, scenes like Catherine body painting on the front lawn had all the more punch. Astonishingly, locking lips with Jason Gann wasn't Steenburgen's craziest moment and within minutes she was giving us a scene to top it. Mooning the adorably, doe-eyed Elijah Wood was so unexpectedly over-the-top that it left me caught between a laugh and a gasp; which is one of the best reactions a joke can elicit.
Dr. Cahill, the doctor at Catherine's hospital, didn't do much early on, but towards the end of the episode he was a great source of laughs. Played by John Michael Higgins(Community), the character stole a couple of scenes with some hilarious lines. It's beyond me how he can keep a straight face, let alone a serious demeanor, when delivering lines like; “My sense is; Jenna, masturbation, and the post office are all crucial pieces to this puzzle."
There was one problem with “Compassion” and it's the same issue that seems to be escalating episode by episode. The price Ryan pays for the growth he is gaining from Wilfred's “lessons” is becoming so high that it's simply ridiculous that Ryan hasn't done whatever he has to get rid of the maniacal mutt. He's lost thousands of dollars, nearly been arrested for breaking & entering, came seconds away from seeing his sister electrocuted, and now gets committed, all thanks to Wilfred. The benefits he's gaining hardly seem worth the cost. Still, it's easier to forgive an issue like this when the episode is funny enough to make up for it.
A solid episode capped off with an unexpected and uproarious cameo by Rhea Perlman as Wilfred's feline counterpart, Mittens. Poor Ryan, there is no doubt now that the crazy gene passed down to him – not that there was much before. “Compassion” wasn't the funniest episode Wilfred has put out, but it was definitely among the top ranked.