Progress

Wilfred - Progress Online S02E01If you want more scenes where Ryan (Elijah Wood) is engaging in more odd dialogues with Wilfred, a man wearing a dog costume, then the Wilfred Season 2 premiere will not disappoint. In ‘Progress’ (Season 2, Episode 1) on June 21, the episode opens with Ryan sitting in a surreal meeting complete with a phlegmatic co-worker and a blinking Exit sign. Ryan then wakes up only to find himself a patient at a mental institution.

At one point, early in “Progress” Wilfred asks Ryan if he wants to know who he is, why he can talk, what it all means. Naturally, when Wilfred asks, Ryan doesn’t want to hear the answer. So of course, we never find out. And that’s probably a good thing. The show needs that tension. But it’s also the clearest example of many that “Progress” exists primarily to deal with the mess from the first season.

As such, I quite enjoyed tonight premiere, which set about fixing both of those problems. As to the first, the episode makes it very clear that it’s much more interested in being weird and interesting than it is in being merely funny. From the slightly offset way the word “progress” fades from the rest of the opening quote, to the initial “dream sequence” of Ryan in the office, there’s an obvious sense that the show doesn’t care about attracting new viewers. There’s not much catch-up done – the “previously on” segment is more interested in laying out the show’s premise, and skips highlighting some of the more important events of the finale – and it seems that the show is trusting the audience to follow along and remember on its own. Instead, the episode revels in the weirdness of everything that is happening, and the structure of the entire episodes helps to realize this.

After all, he’s crazy right? So his recovery involves confronting what Wilfred represents about himself in an effort to exorcise him. I can deal with this. Then it all spins out of control. Ryan attacks Wilfred, leading him to shock therapy, where he realizes that his doctor is actually Robin Williams and is quoting movie lines just before the orderly frees him, throws him into a van and reveals himself to be Wilfred and apparently Bear is driving. The hospital has been the dreams and the meetings are reality.

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