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Wilfred – Identity

The season finale of Wilfred is here, and it went out in the same bizarre fashion that it began. Unlike the pilot though, “Identity” wasn't providing the big laughs that came with our first introduction to these characters. It was, thankfully, not from jokes missing their mark, but as with last week's episode, simply because there weren't enough. In fact, the plot of Ryan's return to the cutthroat mentality of his days as a lawyer resulted in more head-scratching confusion than comedy. Of course when you're paying homage to Lost, you have to leave the audience at least a little befuddled.

Over the past dozen episodes the dislike for Wilfred's evil doings has turned into full blown hatred, but with “Identity” the series took a break from the norm and focused on making Ryan into a character to be despised. In doing so, the episode showed that perhaps there is something to the yin and yang relationship the pair have. It's still crazy -even crazier than conversing with a dog in the first place- that Ryan would have dealt with Wilfred for this long, but maybe he needs a companion with no moral compass to remind him to keep an eye on his own. It's hard to be immoral when your cleaning up the messes of someone who brings new meaning to the word. Ryan may have willingly put his history as a unscrupulous lawyer aside, but he showed here that he still has it in himself to be a bad guy. So if Wilfred can keep Ryan on the straight & narrow, or at least not blazing his own crooked trails, than he might just be worth all the trouble he causes. Which is why this series could have life into a second season; if it manages to find the funny again.

“Identity” wasn't laden with tasteless sex and fart jokes, and as stated, Wilfred wasn't drawing ire with his over-the-line actions, so it did avoid the two biggest problems of the series. However, the episode did suffer from a new issue that just started with its predecessor. Some of the best comedies aren't known for constant jokes; in fact Wilfred's companion piece, Louie, is a prime example. But Wilfred isn't introspective like Louie, it doesn't have the heart or substance to keep viewers entertained without the humor. These last two episodes have sacrificed comedy for plot and it hasn't worked out for them. “Identity” was by no means devoid of laughs, but as far as memorable jokes go, they could be counted on one hand, and a couple of those came with knowledge of Lost as a prerequisite.

Despite the punchline being ruined in the previews, Wilfred's farce about Ryan being stuck in limbo brought on the episode's first bit of mirth. In fact, the Lost-inspired lie was uproarious with just the setup. Wilfred turning up the jazz music so they aren't overheard, along with Ryan's wide-eyed stare, played perfectly into Wilfred unfolding the greatest conspiracy since the Dharma Initiative. Once he overplayed his hand by yelling about a smoke monster, there was nothing left to do but inquire as to what Ryan himself thought of Lost's controversial ending, and get a great laugh while doing so. In addition to its own humor, the scene also made up for Wilfred's pompous persona while writing his will, which fell flat because his little characters are becoming rather stale after the series has already used that gag far too often.

It wouldn't be until well after Ryan had begun his descent into darkness by using the “black file” to get Jenna her job back that the episode would start being funny again. Kristen's reaction to Ryan demanding her urine(“It's not how I expected this conversation to go.”) just moments after she confesses to cheating on her husband, made me wish she wasn't going to be heading off to India. Not a wise move writing out the second funniest character on the show, not to mention the only funny female. Of course, Kristen's travel plans may change if Ryan's bait-&-switch with the samples is ever revealed, or if she finds out on her own that she's pregnant. Using the ridiculous sitcom standby of a drug test revealing way more than it ever would was contrived even for this series, but Ryan's plan had to fall apart somehow.

Kristen is separated from Leo and en route to India, Jenna now feels she has to marry Drew since she believes she is pregnant, and after leaping in front of the car, Wilfred doesn't know who Ryan is anymore; not exactly a chain of events brimming with comedic potential. But the episode still had one ace up its sleeve, and though it would be every bit as confusing as it was funny, it still sent the season out on a high note. Either Ryan really is losing his mind, or the writers are trying to make the audience think they have lost theirs(in this case, the man behind the adaption, David Zuckerman himself, who took the reins on writing the season finale). Whichever it is, the ending definitely brought up some questions. If the basement isn't real, and Wilfred doesn't know who Ryan is, then what the hell have we been watching for the past few months? Potential retconning aside, anyone who has seen an episode of Lost couldn't help but laugh as the music built in intensity before cutting out suddenly with the Wilfred title card.

Who can say what the second season of Wilfred holds, but hopefully the answers it brings will come with better jokes – and more of them. Because “Identity” can be summed up in the same way the entire first season can: it was wholly deranged and occasionally funny, but didn't produce the kind of consistent entertainment that would place it among television's greatest comedies. Although, Wilfred wouldn't be the first show to see a massive increase in quality with its second season, so there is still the possibility of it rising in the ranks.



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