Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer TV Rewind: Wonderfalls 1.05: "Crime Dog"

“You are insulated. You wear your trailer park hillbilly lifestyle around your neck like a ring of garlic. Are you trying to ward us off?”

“Crime Dog” is the episode most Wonderfalls fans point to as really solidifying what the series should be. Unfortunately, it was never broadcast before the series was cancelled. The episode really focused in on the Tyler family and their relationships. We learn a lot more about how Sharon, Aaron, and Jaye were raised and what they think of each other. Aaron and Jaye were always closer to each other than they were to Sharon, and this seems to have given Sharon a chip on her shoulder in her interactions with them. Oh, and they were also all raised by a faux French Canadian live-in housekeeper named Yvette. How a random Niagara Falls family with three kids has money for a housekeeper, I don’t know. We don’t actually see the Wonderfalls store or the Barrel Bar sets and characters much in this episode, because, as I said, this is really all about firmly establishing the Tylers and their history and relationships. I wouldn’t want every episode to be like this (gotta love Eric and Mahandra), but I think as one episode, it’s quite effective.

The structure of this episode is definitely unique. It’s sort of in media res with an extra twist. Normally, in media res shows the climax, then we go back to see what led the characters to that point. In “Crime Dog’s” version, we go back and forth between moving the story forward and flashing back to show how everyone got to the first moment we see in the episode. The episode begins with all three of the Tyler children at a police station. Sharon’s talking to one cop, presumably in a lawyerly capacity, and Jaye and Aaron are both being straight-up interrogated. There is talk of a body being found in Jaye’s trunk and problems related to immigration and Canada. And a cow creamer. This will all make sense as the episode plays out.

We then flash back to twelve hours before the arrest, where the Tyler family is enjoying a Rockwellian breakfast moment. Except that Jaye doesn’t really want to participate. She just wants to drop off her laundry and get out of there. The cow creamer, acting as a Muse, of course, has other ideas. It tells Jaye to have a pancake. The lovely fig pancakes are being cooked by Yvette. Jaye keeps saying under her breath that she doesn’t want a pancake, but the cow creamer is relentless. Aaron notices Jaye’s agitation and starts questioning her about why she’s talking to the cow creamer. Meanwhile, Sharon is insistent that Yvette needs to leave the house immediately. Jaye, thanks to the Muses, is just as insistant that she wants a pancake. While this argument is playing out, some INS (this episode was pre-ICE) agents arrive and say that Yvette is to be deported. Apparently she’s been living in the US on an expired visa for years. Karen knew about this and didn’t want to say anything, and uber-Republican Darrin is horrified that he’s been harboring an “illegal alien.”

Jaye is at first content to just let things play out (although she’s pissed at Sharon, an immigration attorney, for letting this happen), but then the muses start saying “bring her home.” Jaye interprets this as meaning that she and Aaron (with a little help from Karen) need to smuggle Yvette back across the border and bring her back to the Tyler home. Jaye and Aaron do indeed cross the border, and Aaron brings the cow creamer with her to confront Jaye about how she interacts with it. Jaye thinks this is pretty ridiculous, and she denies hearing the muses. This was one of those times when I really wish we had gotten more episodes of Wonderfalls, because it planted the seeds for one of the future plots Bryan Fuller said he wanted to explore. If the series had continued beyond the first season, Aaron, who is a PhD candidate in religious studies, would have formed a cult based around Jaye. The seeds of his obsession with her communion with the Muses are clearly visible in this episode with how he keeps hounding her about the cow creamer. By the end of the episode, he beheads the ceramic creamer, which is kind of creepy and funny at the same time.

Anyway, once in Canada, Aaron and Jaye find Yvette pretty easily at a Toronto bus depot. Yvette doesn’t really love the idea of being smuggled back across the border, but Jaye is pushy about it. Then the Muses start interfering again. They tell Jaye to make a right turn onto a one way street, and after careening down that street, Jaye winds up running into a very nicely kept front yard and garden. It happens to be the home of Yvette’s parents. Yvette is actually Cindy, a daughter of rich, Ontario parents, not the French Canadian orphan she pretended to be with the Tylers. It turns out that Cindy’s parents are kind of grumpy and self-centered. They really didn’t want a child, but they put on an air of putting up with Cindy. The only real affection Cindy knew growing up was from her own family’s French Canadian housekeeper named Yvette. Cindy’s parents continue to treat her horribly even after this reunion, so Jaye and Aaron get her out of there, intending to take her back to her true home, the Tyler house.

At the border crossing, everything seems to be going okay. The border patrol officer seems only mildly suspicious, and after giving a once over of the interior of the car with a flashlight, he waves the Tylers through. They don’t get far before they are stopped by a police barricade, though, and leading the charge, appropriately draped in fog and cigarette smoke, is Sharon. It appears that the outcast sister has squealed on her siblings. Jaye, Aaron, and Cindy are all arrested and taken to the police station, where we found them at the beginning of the episode. There’s plenty of time spent on both Jaye and Aaron’s interrogations, and it’s looking like Jaye is going to be facing some serious jail time. The issue isn’t so much smuggling an undocumented immigrant over the border but the damage done to Cindy’s parents’ lawn. Apparently they pressed charges, and the usually docile people of Canada are outraged and want justice.

Surprisingly, considering his stance on illegal immigration and all, it’s Darrin who saves the day (with a tea-brewing assist from Sharon). When Darrin was at his most upset, Sharon brewed him a cup of tea to help calm him down. First, he writes a very large check to Cindy’s parents to cover restitution for their messed up yard. This leads to the criminal charges against Jaye being dropped, although Canada still never wants Jaye to cross their border ever again, so she gets a restriction on her Passport. Second, Darrin has golf with a bigwig politician friend, the upshot of which is that Cindy will be able to stay in the country. At the end of the episode, we see the Tyler family again enjoying a nice breakfast, this time with Cindy studying for the citizenship test as she cooks.

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