Wilfred “Resistance”/ “Happiness” Review (4×09/4×10)

14 Aug

Wilfred_1_1600“Sanity and happiness are an impossible combination.”

These are the words that open the series, and these end up being the words that resonate the most with regards to the ending. There’s a full circle aspect to the events of this finale, and it feels like we’ve been on quite a journey to reach where we leave off with Ryan Newman; essentially, he remains in the same place, but at the same time, he’s learned to cope with his problems, to find something in his life upon which he can build off of…even if he’ll never be fully healed.

Because, in reality, we’re all flawed human beings, and maybe that’s okay. When we look at the word “happiness”, a generic image most likely comes to mind: a smiling family, for example. However, the fact of the matter is that happiness can arrive in unconventional ways, in ways that result not from preconceived ideas, but from the strange places life may take you. It’d be an understatement to say that life’s taken Ryan to strange places, and it’d be correct to say that some of those places have been extremely dark, but it’d also be correct to say that it’s been worth every last second of these last four years watching him navigate his life.

Because he’s a flawed human being, this is an inherently flawed show, and again, maybe that’s okay. The finale isn’t satisfying in the way that, say, the Shield finale was, but when you make a show about a man and a talking dog, you probably aren’t going to find a completely satisfying ending because there simply isn’t one. This is a show about engaging with the world, about living with yourself and taking risks and learning to recognize whatever problems you may be dealing with. Ryan, throughout his life, has in fact rejected happiness, battling outside forces that he’s felt like have been out to get him when in fact, he’s been battling himself. Jenna’s been doing a similar thing, and fittingly, their shared plight at first portrays them as lovers just waiting to take the plunge. At the end of the finale, we realize that Jenna’s the one who’s going to continue to wear a mask everyday, who’s going to continue to reject happiness by retreating to what she knows with Drew and a dog.

What becomes of Ryan, on the other hand? An excellent representation of how his arc turns out would be the contrasting images of a basement and a beach, the former normally associated with darkness and the latter associated with light. It’s certainly not a simple light vs. dark scenario when you factor in all the other aspects of Ryan’s life, but the episode sets the final scene on a wide, bright expanse of sand for a reason. It’s representative of the change in his mental state, the fact that he’s found happiness in Wilfred’s continued presence, and the beach has become his new basement; the couch is, after all, the one we’ve seen in the basement so many times.

The way we get to that final scene on the beach is bumpy and relies a bit too much on both info dumps and Wilfred following Ryan around–I would’ve liked to see a bit more about Ryan moving on on his own, but alas, time constraints–but those are problems I have with the second half. “Resistance”, on the other hand, is a poignant half hour, one of the best the show’s ever produced. The scene is set for the rest of the finale when Ryan and Wilfred talk about their differing versions of happiness, the former believing that happiness ends and the latter believing that happiness exists in the small moments. In fact, when the two are throwing the tennis ball around, that’s happiness; Ryan just hasn’t quite figured it out yet. When Ryan criticizes Jenna for getting back with Drew, he’s actually paving the way for his own happiness. When Ryan runs on the beach and we get a moving montage of him and his dog, that’s happiness.

In the end, it’s revealed that Wilfred does in fact exist solely in his mind, that Ryan’s been taking those from the cult and subconsciously placing them–Krungle, Matamon, Bruce, Richard–into his current life, that he’s adopted and that the Flock of the Grey Shepherd is baloney. Only when he realizes this–only when he can let go of his dying dog, in one of the most devastating shots of the show–can he truly embrace it all.

Is the basement real? That’s left up to us to decide. What matters is that Ryan knows. What matters is that in whatever waters he may wade into in the future, he’ll always be able to find that tennis ball. What matters is that when he looks back, Wilfred will be there. We don’t know if he’ll get better, but what we do know is that we’ve spent four years with Ryan and Wilfred, and should the show fade from memory, there will always be one image that lingers: a man and his dog, having a good time in that basement of theirs.

Hopefully, the world is now their basement.

GRADES: “Resistance” (A), “Happiness” (B+)




-The scene in which Wilfred destroys the basement is so well done by Gann and Wood, both of whom I have to compliment one last time. That scene in particular begins humorously, then turns dark in an instant, and it’s wonderful. In addition, I like how the destruction of the basement coupled with Wilfred’s seizure motivate Ryan to manifest another location for the couch: the beach.

-So…I guess that means Ryan called in a bomb threat…and killed a squirrel…and did lots of other things that, frankly, he probably wouldn’t have been able to do. We’ll just have to accept it.

-Aw, no Amanda, but I’m happy we get to see Drew one more time.

-Good for Kristen! 

-Montages. Damn montages. It is dusty in here.

– “Looks like a good place to curb stomp ducks.” Ah, Wilfred, still got that twisted humor.

-If the basement is whatever Ryan wants it to be, then he should just ask for a basement full of free food.

-At the end of the episode, Ryan and Kristen switch places on the bench, while Ryan and Wilfred switch places on the couch. Just an observation.

-I’ll never get tired of dog jokes. Never.

-That’s it for me. It’s been a blast covering the show, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed picking apart each episode. This was a unique 49 episodes, and I’m happy I watched. I hope you all are, too. Share your favorite episodes, moments, seasons, characters, etc. below.

Photo credit: FXX, Wilfred

2 Responses to “Wilfred “Resistance”/ “Happiness” Review (4×09/4×10)”

  1. Anonymous August 18, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    I love this series and your reviews are great. Thank you.

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