After last week’s cliffhanger, “Loyalty” acts almost like an extended tangent to the main “Flock of the Grey Shepard” arc. Ostensibly, in its final episodes, Wilfred looks to be wrapping up storylines for all of its major characters and this episode appears to be a conclusion for Ryan’s sister, Kristen. And while it’s a nice story in its own right, it can’t help but feel a bit like small beans after the big one-two punch of “Amends” and “Consequences”
As the episode opens, Ryan and Kristen have just received information about their inheritance from Lonnie, their father’s fiduciary. In the wake of the threatening phone call he received last week, Ryan is searching through his father’s bank accounts for any record of a pay-off involving Lonnie. Finding no suspicious activity, Ryan suddenly finds himself facing a frantic Kristen, who claims that her baby daddy, Dr. Arturo Ramos, now wants full custody of their son Joffrey. Besides wanting to raise their child in a more “traditional” family atmosphere, Arturo also points out several moments of negligence on Kristen’s part, including accidentally losing their son at a mall and letting him ingest a Lego head that was later found in his stool.
Ryan’s attempts to negotiate the situation are, of course, complicated by Wilfred. A subplot of the episode has the man-dog exploring his “cuddling” addiction, which is presented as a comedic take on sex addiction. In addition to constantly wrapping himself around anything (including a sex doll), Wilfred also watches “porn” (i.e. adorable footage of little girls hugging their dogs) and experiences an “intervention” at the hands of his stuffed animal friends. Upon realizing that Kristen’s distress results in her snuggling with him, Wilfred even tries to sabotage the custody arrangement so that Kristen will lose her child and turn to him for comfort. Altogether, it’s one of those concepts that probably sounded better on paper. By the time Wilfred is seen going “ass-to-ass” with Bear, the joke can’t help but feel slightly strained. It really comes across more as a throwback gag to early seasons and, as a result, it’s not entirely reflective of how the show has developed over time.
Eventually, Ryan discovers that Arturo is under financial pressure and offers his substantial inheritance in return for awarding Kristen full custody of Joffrey. Aside from being a nice way of settling Kristen’s story, this plotline also highlights Ryan’s growth over the past few years. Whereas he started the show as a wayward loner bent on killing himself, Ryan is now someone able to selflessly sacrifice his own well-being for his sister’s happiness.
“Loyalty” ends with Ryan realizing that his father has been making incremental payments of $5,000 every month for the past 30 years. When he confronts Lonnie about this, she feigns ignorance but offers him the key to a storage unit in Culver City. She doesn’t know what’s in it, but claims that Wilfred’s father ordered her to destroy its contents after he had died. This cliffhanger only reiterates how much everything proceeding it was merely an attempt by the creative team to bide their time before revealing the next piece of this increasingly complex mystery. Still, while it may be a frustrating last season installment in lieu of the intriguing mythology introduced, it nevertheless remains a nice Wilfred episode by the show’s own standards. It may have felt like filler at times, but it’s to the writers’ credit that it’s entertaining filler.
Mark Rozeman is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.