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‘Downward Dog’ S1 Ep 3 review: Lowered expectations

Martin and Nan’s relationship gets super real in “Loyalty.” They’ve passed the honeymoon phase and are relaxed around each other. They may even be taking one another for granted. After all, that’s what tends to happen when you get used to each other. It’s all part of being a family. When the excitement fizzles, sometimes one party begins to stray. Martin feels betrayed by Nan when he sees where she goes while he’s left home alone. In a surprising twist, he finds comfort in an unlikely new friend, Kevin.

We already know Martin has some issues. He’s a very sensitive and needy soul. This week, he feels insecure about his relationship with Nan. Is she losing interest in him? Is it because he isn’t food bag model good looking? Why is she seeking companionship and commiseration elsewhere? Is the spark gone? Did he become the boring one in their relationship?

Looking at the series of questions above, Martin sounds like an insecure and paranoid husband on the verge of losing his wife. It is heartbreaking, hilarious and a little disturbing all at once. Nan is just living her life: going to work, venting to friends, trying to keep things cool with her ex-boyfriend, etc. She isn’t exhibiting any suspicious behavior. She just has a lot on her plate at the moment.

Nan has come up with a wonderful ad campaign that sends a hopeful and positive message, but Kevin, doesn’t understand the concept. He keeps trying to dumb it down and turn it into the typical superficial crap we’re used to seeing. She’s expressing her frustration to Jenn and Jason (who keeps making things awkward by addressing their lovers-turned-friends status on a daily basis) when he offers a solution to her Kevin problem. Maybe if he meets Martin, he’ll finally understand Nan’s campaign. Since Kevin is terrified of dogs, Nan thinks this is the perfect way to get her revenge. The game is on!

Martin feels betrayed when he sees Nan’s workplace. She’s been cheating on him with all of these people! He fears that he has become the boring one in their relationship. In the midst of his latest existential crisis, Martin meets Kevin. As expected, Kevin freaks out and runs away to hide in his office at the first sight of Martin. Ironically, Martin is drawn to Kevin, like an exciting new toy. So he starts following the guy around. Nan is bothered by this, wondering if it is bad that she “likes him less for being into Kevin.” Meanwhile, Martin is smitten.

“We met eyes and I saw he was terrified too,” Martin says as they lock eyes. For moment, it looks like Kevin finally understands what Nan has been saying all along. As the light bulb goes off, Martin fantasizes about his budding bromance with Kevin in a hilarious rom-com montage of their greatest moments together. Wow. Martin is falling for Kevin hard. He even replaces Nan’s god-like heroism by imaging that Kevin kills Pepper. What the Hell, Martin?!

Kevin rushes over to Nan after having this moment with Martin. We wait to hear about his epiphany, but instead, he says, “Dog are stupid.” He wants to install skinny mirrors as part of the campaign. Okay, I’m not saying that I’d mind looking into a skinny mirror, but it defeats the purpose of Nan’s message, which is to embrace and love yourself just the way you are…the way your dog does. Kevin won’t even have a conversation about it. He just gives the command and walks away when Nan is trying to talk to him. Ugh.

We’re all thinking: “Stop being such an idiot, Kevin!” But we also realize that he isn’t really a bad guy. Kevin has his own issues. We see how upset he gets during a phone call with his wife. Plus, he was genuinely traumatized by a bad encounter with a dog as a child. His fear is legit and kind of sad. Unfortunately, Nan doesn’t find that out until after sending his draft campaign proposal to corporate. Oops! Nan feels bad and seeks him out.

Meanwhile, Martin’s illusion has been shattered. He realizes that Kevin has been mocking him this whole time. Martin was ready to leave Nan for a “ball tease.” Oh, the bitter taste of betrayal. The tables have turned once more. As Martin’s hero falls, Nan recognizes the humanity in him. She reassures Kevin when he learns of the e-mail mishap and thinks he made the mistake himself. She tells him it’ll all turn out just fine. Cue the most awkward hug of all time.

At the end of the day, Martin and Nan have both learned valuable lessons. Martin regrets breaking their vows and having an emotional affair with Kevin. Nan also seems a bit remorseful for her deceitful actions. Jason even calls her behavior “villainous.” Ouch! But he points out the positive. At least, she’s passionate about something enough to fight (or undermine her boss) for it.

Martin concludes that he is a good dog who did a bad thing. He knows better now and will remain faithful to Nan forever. He’s down for “lifelong monogamy.” Sigh…True Love wins again (#RelationshipGoals).

‘Downward Dog’ delivered another heartfelt, clever and fun episode. The cast is knocking it out of the park. They each bring so much to the table and their chemistry is great. You can tell this show is a labor of love for all involved. Well done!

What did you think of “Loyalty”? Would you be pissed if your dog started falling for someone else? What were your favorite lines? Do you like Kevin a little more now? Will he ever grasp the concept of Nan’s campaign? Was Jason being to harsh when he called Nan’s actions “villainous”?

Martin’s Musings

  • “We’re so used to each other we’ve almost forgotten each other exists.”
  • Talking about his emotional sleeping pad: “I know for a fact its never going to betray me.”
  • “The lowering of expectations is the highest form of love.”
  • Martin may not be food bag model good-looking, but he’d still like to turn heads: “I’m only human.”
  • “Maybe I’m the safe, boring one…the old sleeping pad.”
  • On being drawn to Kevin, “I wanted this toy. Bad.”
  • “We met eyes and I saw he was terrified too.”
  • “I was ready to leave her.”
  • After Kevin mocks him, “I’ve thrown it all away for a f***ing ball tease.”

In case you missed it, here’s my enlightening conversation with ‘Downward Dog’ creators, Samm Hodges (Martin’s voice) and Michael Killen. We discuss the first four episodes, so there are some behind the scenes goodies and minor spoilers.

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