‘Downward Dog’ S1 Ep 2 review: Power trip

This week’s episode of ‘Downward Dog’ tackles “Boundaries.” Martin fights against reasonable constraints placed upon any dog, while Nan realizes she needs some structure in her on-again/off-again relationship with Jason. As expected, they learn some valuable life lessons along the way.

The episode opens with Martin’s hilarious version of the Creation story, in which Nan is his god. One day she realizes how empty her world is and finds herself a cuddly “emotional mentor.” Yeah, Martin thinks very highly of himself, especially for a pooch who feels trapped in his own home and is still scared of a cat (aka “evil”). He wants more out of life, like the ability to open doors for himself.  He’d also appreciate some stability.

Martin is baffled by Nan’s relationship with Jason. He’s there for a while, then he’s gone, and then he’s back again. The irony is that Nan is also confused about her feelings for Jason. She loves him, but she also feels like he’s holding her back. She’s trying to take her job seriously and he keeps sucking her back into their relaxed routine. Martin observes that Nan keeps repeating her mistakes, like locking him in the “sex room.”

The next morning, Nan runs late for work. She rushes into the project meeting and her clueless boss, Kevin, asks what they’re selling. After collective eye-roll by the group after Kevin leaves, her team gets to work on their ad campaign. While on a break, she fills Jenn in on her trouble with Jason. He’s “like crack” and she needs to figure out a way to quit him.

Nan’s solution is to install a doggy door. This way she gets the best of both worlds: Jason can walk and play with Martin without coming into her home and ending up in her bed. You can’t help but feel bad for Jason when she breaks the news to him. She is setting boundaries on their relationship, but they are very vague. By the end of their conversation they reach one conclusion: “It’s clear that we’re intentionally leaving things unclear,” Jason says. Awww, the poor guy looks like a wounded puppy. This can lead to some messy situations.

While Nan sets boundaries, Martin realizes he is capable of breaking down his own. He wakes up from a nap and discovers the doggy dog. He thinks he’s controlling it with his mind. He becomes drunk with power and realizes that he’s had supernatural abilities all along, he was just afraid to use it. The funny thing is that he’s still scared.

Martin wanted freedom and now that he has it, he’s too afraid to walk out the door. Instead he makes Jason “grovel” at his paws by giving him no choice but to crawl through the doggy door. (Martin would’ve been S.O.L if I was on the other side of that doggy door. Props to Lucas Neff!)  My how the tables have turned. Martin exercising his power by walking Jason instead. Martin really enjoys giving Nan and Jason hell in mischievous ways.

When Nan returns home after a frustrating day at work (Kevin isn’t on board with her mirror idea because…wait for it…he still doesn’t understand the concept of her vision. Oh yeah, and he wants models, which defeats the ad’s purpose and meaning). She realizes Jason is using her dog as sex-bait and confronts him. While they talk it out, Martin finally musters the courage to walk out the doggy door.

Two steps outside and Pepper scares him off. Martin runs back through the door and the cat follows him into the house. Nan picks up Pepper and puts her back outside. Martin is in awe of his god. After seeing Nan “battle demons with her bare hands,” he realizes how wrong and foolish he’s been. Hilarious and adorable!

Jason and Nan clearly have feelings for each other, so they need labels to sort out where they stand with one another. She doesn’t want to blow this huge job opportunity, so she decides they should remain friends. Jason will still be part of her and Martin’s life, they just won’t get romantically involved anymore. How long do you think this arrangement will last?

As the episode ends, Martin worships Nan for being the “strongest and most beautiful thing that ever existed.” But that still doesn’t diminish his value. As we saw in the pilot, Nan showers Martin with even more attention when Jason isn’t in the picture as her boyfriend. As she snuggles up with Martin, he realizes that he’s once again, “the most important thing in the world.” Yup, there’s no deflating his ego.

“Boundaries” was another stellar episode. Nan and Martin are both in a state of flux. They are learning more about themselves, pushing themselves to tackle new challenges and are trying to be better claiming their power (whether it taking charge of her career or opening doors with his mind). The cute parallel is that they both seem to need Jason in their lives, although they try pushing him away (for different reasons, obviously).

What did you think of the episode? What are your favorite moments or lines? Could you relate to the characters’ dilemmas? Share your thoughts below!

Martin’s Musings

  • “In the beginning, Nan made everything…there was nothing cuddly or amazing. So then Nan found me.”
  • “She made me her emotional mentor”
  • “Evil entered the world in the form of a cat.”
  • “I think I opened a portal with my f***in mind.”
  • “It’s a lot of change…It’s a lot to find out you have literal supernatural powers.”
  • “That’s just a lot of responsibility.”
  • “The best place to process things is far away from that door.”
  • “It’s really fun to watch him grovel at my feet.”
  • “Unlimited power is literally the only thing I’ve ever wanted.”
  • “Today he’s not walking me, I’m walking him.”
  • “I’m the one in charge. I’m not listening to anyone again.”
  • “Nan battles demons with her bare hands…I was a fool.”
  • “Nan is the strongest most beautiful thing that ever existed, but in these moments I’m the most important thing in the world.”

In case you missed it, here’s my conversation with ‘Downward Dog’ creators, Samm Hodges and Michael Killen:

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