Wonderfalls: Crime Dog

Objects: Cow Creamer, Crime Dog
Missions: “Have a pancake,” “Bring her home,” and “Right on red”

‘Crime Dog’ is a fantastic episode, centered around the Tyler family’s efforts to save their beloved housekeeper, Yvette, from deportation. In a nutshell, when Yvette gets caught up in a local crackdown on illegal workers, Jaye and Aaron team up to go find her in Canada and smuggle her back into the country (with Karen’s blessing and all the cash in her purse). Along the way, they meet Yvette’s family and discover she’s actually Cindy, the neglected daughter of well-to-do Toronto parents, who ran away from home when she was 16. After a violent altercation with Cindy’s parents, Jaye and Aaron get arrested attempting to cross back into the U.S. with Cindy/Yvette in the car’s trunk. In the end, Mr. Tyler comes to the rescue, securing freedom for Jaye and Cindy and restoring family order.

I enjoyed Yvette’s story, especially the fantastic reveal that Yvette is really Cindy and the incredibly awkward and surprisingly emotional scene at her parents’ house. Poor, woefully neglected Cindy. “I wasn’t gone two hours and these children came to another country to find me. But you ... I spent four months in a local youth hostel praying you’d find me. Did you even bother to call the police?” Sadly, the answer is no. Harsh. It seems the only one who truly cared about Cindy was her family’s housekeeper, Yvette. What a sweet (and yet heartbreaking) scene when she brought out the sandwiches and told Cindy she remembered her winning word from the fifth-grade spelling bee. No wonder Cindy emulated the real Yvette when she started her new life!

Although Yvette and her troubles are the main plot driver in ‘Crime Dog,’ the Tyler siblings and their dynamic are the heart of the story. Aaron, in particular, comes to the forefront in this episode, as he beings to notice Jaye’s disturbing new fixation on inanimate objects. I think it is awesome that the guy who couldn’t care less about his sister’s ‘sode in the pilot, seems to have developed a genuine concern for her sanity. He tried so hard to get her to talk about her issues, despite getting repeatedly slapped down and shut out. Then he got downright angry when Cindy’s parents suggested Jaye was crazy, probably because deep down he was beginning to think she really was losing it. (And given that, at the time, she was locked in a car yelling at a cow creamer, how could he not?) I loved that in the end, Aaron did what he could to help Jaye by breaking the head off the cow creamer.

Sharon also got some quality screen time this week, but she generally wasn’t painted in a very flattering light. From her hilarious “evil smoking” scenes, to her asking in a sinister tone “how far down” Jaye could go for her latest stunts, Sharon was often presented as a pretty vindictive bitch. But all the while, she was really trying to help Yvette and her siblings. I feel pretty bad for Sharon. She always seems to be stuck on the outside looking in, trying to be a good sister, but rarely getting any recognition for it. Especially from “mean-spirited” Jaye and Aaron, who spent the better part of the episode referring to her as “what’s her name,” “bitch,” and “horrible, horrible person.” At least Yvette defended her. “She has a good heart. That maybe beats too fast.”

Jaye’s lesson this week is that maybe her “overbearing” family isn’t as bad as she seems to think. In fact, letting them into her life might just be a good thing. She spends most of the episode resisting all of Aaron’s and Sharon’s attempts to help her, and doesn’t seem to comprehend why they’d want to come to the rescue instead of sabotaging her. “You’re my sister,” is all the explanation Aaron and Sharon need, but Jaye just finds that perplexing. At least she starts to come around in the end. Of course, it takes almost getting jailed in a foreign country for her to see the light, but it was still nice to see her reach that point where she actually wants to have a pancake at the family breakfast.

Other Thoughts

‘Crime Dog’ uses lots of quirky storytelling and visual techniques, but the arrest scene is the visual highlight of the episode. Everything about it clicked: from Sharon getting out of the car and blowing smoke, to Jaye and Aaron doing the slow-mo perp walk past Sharon. “You were all backlit and evil smoking, like that guy on The X-Files!” I loved the lighting, the hazy smoke, the kitschy music, and the looks that Jaye and Aaron shot Sharon as they were led away in handcuffs.

My main quibble with this episode is that we are expected to believe that Yvette means a great deal to the entire Tyler family, but we’ve never seen her before. We are five episodes in and we’ve spent a fair amount of time at the Tyler house, but not only have we never seen Yvette, no one has ever made mention of her either. Is she really their live-in housekeeper? If so, why haven’t we seen her before?

How long has it been since the last episode? In ‘Wound-Up Penguin’ it was winter, and now all of a sudden it seems like spring or summer.

Eric telling Sharon she’s mean cracked me up. “I saw you on the news. You’re a horrible person.”

I also really enjoyed the quick scene cuts with the female interrogator. First when she was brutally cursing Jaye out and the scene cuts just before she dropped her first F-bomb. I laughed even harder when she’s telling her fellow detective how she can tell that Sharon’s a lesbian, and the scene cuts before she reveals just why it is that lesbians keep their nails trimmed short.

Aaron often seems to have his shirt unbuttoned way too much. It’s kind of funny, but why doesn’t anyone ever comment on how inappropriate it is? He looks like a disheveled lounge lizard.

I loved the little moment when Yvette got nostalgic over the “teddy bear blankie” they put in the trunk for her, and Aaron got defensive because “they’re Ewoks.” Note to Lost’s Hurley: guess not everyone hates Ewoks, dude.

Quotes

Aaron: “By emergency do you mean there’s poop everywhere?”
Karen: “Yes, Aaron, there’s poop everywhere.”

Male Interrogator: “I was hoping this was one of those odorless cocaine cows. I’ve never seen one of them before.”

Interrogator: “So. What’s with the cow?”
Aaron: “I like cows. They’re docile and keep to themselves. Most of the time.”

Jaye to Aaron: “I expect the entitled invasion of my privacy from Mom and Dad and what’s-her-name, but not from you.”
Aaron: “This is not an isolated incident. The last time you were at the house, you got mad at those little pig-shaped salt-and-pepper shakers. Is this about farm animals or is it about condiments?”

Darrin: “So you’ve been lying to your entire family about this for 20 years.”
Karen: “I haven’t been lying the whole time. There was that initial lie and then I never bothered to tell you the truth. I’m not proud of it.”

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

Jaye: “I thought you and I had an unspoken agreement never to get into each other’s business uninvited.”
Aaron: “I never said that.”
Jaye: “That’s why it’s unspoken, dumbass.”

Jaye: “’Cindy’? Well she’s just a great big liar. Awesome!”

Aaron (about Cindy's father): “You laid that guy out.”
Jaye: “I barely tapped him. Old people go down easy.”

Jaye: “So you recommend this whole running away from your family thing then? ‘Cause I’ve kind of been considering it.”
Yvette: “Dear, I’ve met your family. You may have wheels on your house---it’s not gonna help.”
Jaye: “I guess you’re right. I think Mom had a lojack surgically implanted in me when I was born.”

Final Analysis: ‘Crime Dog’ is another one of my favorite episodes. With lots of Tyler family focus (including a “family member” we’ve never met), a fun flashback-style narrative, strong sibling dynamics, lots of quotable quotes, and an awesome arrest scene, ‘Crime Dog’ is a real standout. I love it!

Jess Lynde is a highly engaged television viewer. Probably a bit too engaged.

4 comments:

Billie Doux said...

I loved this one. I thought the cow was the funniest animal so far; there's just something so innately absurd about a cow creamer, much less one that can talk. And my favorite scene was Jaye and Aaron in the car talking about how each of them would react if their parents died in a tragic house fire caused by a baby Jesus Christmas ornament.

Marieke said...

I loved this one so much. The family bonding was incredibly cute, and the entire episode put a huge smile on my face. The policewoman was especially hilarious ("You broke the law bitch"/"The blonde one's queer")

Thank you so, so much for reviewing this show. I found a show again, that I truly love to pieces!

Michelle said...

I absolutely love Wonderfalls. I don't live in the US so I discovered this one very late (2009). But I really don't get why they cancelled it. It is SO funny! Especially this episode. I also think that the cow creamer is the funniest one of all. And Aaron asking Jaye if she was talking to the cow creamer was so funny. The look on his face, hilarious if you ask me!

Agree with the review, Aaron does have his shirt unbuttoned way too much. Although I don't really mind since he's good looking haha ;)

I guess this episode is the one I watch most.

ChrisB said...

I love the sibling dynamics in this episode because they are so real. The constant squabbling combined with the no questions asked "I've got your back" rings very true, at least for me.

What has been so well done throughout this series so far is Jaye's character development. I loved her telling the female cop that no one messes with her family. What made that moment so wonderful was her surprise as she said it. I think a lot of kids in their twenties have that moment -- the one where they realize that their family is not quite as awful as they had thought. I loved it.