Aug 31, 2013

Wilfred: "Heroism"

By Nico Danilovich


Spoiler Alert: “Heroism” ends with quite the cliffhanger, which I will be referring to throughout this review.

“Heroism” functions mainly as a set up for next week’s season finale. Unfortunately, it isn’t the kind of top-notch tension-building episode that often precedes season finales. The events of this installment feel aimless, exploring an issue fairly irrelevant to the rest of what Ryan has been going through this season. It is only at the very end, when Ryan and Jenna share a kiss, that “Heroism” becomes memorable.

The main problem in the episode is Ryan’s lack of agency. You could argue that Ryan’s main goal throughout the episode is to avoid Jenna, but if that’s the case then he does an exceptionally poor job. Through another one of Wilfred’s tricks, Ryan becomes the leader of a neighborhood watch that Jenna decides to join. However, the only thing stopping Ryan from not spending this extra time with Jenna is his inability to say no to her. Ultimately, the episode finds Ryan and Jenna sharing a heart to heart and a kiss. It’s a nice scene that builds up to Jenna’s decision to kiss Ryan quite believably. However, the problem is that everything in the episode seems to happen to Ryan rather than because of him. Consequently, the events of the episode seem like nothing more than a series of situations that allow the final scene to occur, rather than a dramatic build.

Wilfred, on the other hand, is quite determined throughout the episode to achieve his goal: to make Jenna feel safer. It’s a nice contrast to Ryan’s lack of agency, but it mostly amounts to nothing more than jokes and plot device. In fact, Wilfred’s role throughout this episode is a good example of how the show should not use Wilfred. Wilfred is used best when he’s a representation of Ryan’s unconscious. This allows for his actions to be more closely tied to whatever emotional arc Ryan is going through each week. It also helps to consistently raise the ever-compelling question of Ryan’s sanity. In this episode, however, Wilfred is just another character. His dog-minded actions are cute, provide some good laughs and help move the episode from point A to point B, but nothing particularly interesting comes out of it. Wilfred would do well to remember that Wilfred is not just another character, he is (most likely) an extension of Ryan’s messed-up psyche and should be treated as such.

Despite these problems, “Heroism” is still entertaining and culminates in a solid final scene. The romantic tension between Ryan and Jenna is one of the major dramatic storylines the show is built upon and choosing to deal with it now, rather than in the show’s final season, is smart and bold. Hopefully, the finale will waste no time in dealing with the consequences of Ryan and Jenna’s kiss. If Wilfred manages to do that, the only other challenge the finale faces is tying the issue back to the rest of season three.

Grade: C+

Nico Danilovich is a television enthusiast and amateur filmmaker. His work can be seen at: www.YouTube.com/TheLazyNeighbors

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