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‘Downward Dog’ S1 Ep 4 review: Learning to love yourself

In ‘Downward Dog’s’ latest installment, “The Full Package,” Nan and Martin learn about acceptance of oneself and others. Nan broke up with Jason because she feels like he is holding her back and fears his nonchalance will be detrimental to her budding career.  When she meets Eric (Timothy Omundson), she believes to have found the best of both worlds because he seems like a sophisticated and mature version of Jason. Eric represents her aspirations, but that doesn’t mean he’s perfect. Meanwhile, Martin feels insecure around Eric’s dog, Hunter, a majestic canine with “brains and brawn.” When Martin and Nan take a walk on the posh side, they realize something that they’ve really known all along.

For starters, let’s gush over Mr. Omundson! It is always a delight to see him grace our TV screens. Eric is another memorable and flawlessly portrayed character in his colorful and charismatic repertoire.  In some ways, Eric ends up being the opposite of ‘Galavant’s’ King Richard. He looks like the perfect catch at first sight: handsome, cultured, responsible and charming. However, the more you get to know Eric, the more you realize this dude has issues. Nonetheless, even at his most awkward and uptight moment, you still can’t help but feel for the guy. That is the magic of Omundson. Bravo on another job well done, Sir.

Check out my podcast interview with show-runners Kat Likkel and John Hoberg for behind the scenes scoop on how they cast Omundson as Eric, fun ‘Galavant’ easter eggs hidden in the episode, and more goodies.

Jason and Nan meet up at the dog park where Martin likes passing judgement on inferior and “stupid” dogs while playing fetch with his human buddy. When Eric and Hunter demonstrate their prowess across the lawn, Nan and Martin can’t help but stare. Martin was wrong. Hunter just proved that it is possible to be athletic and intelligent…”The full package.” Ironically, Nan looks at Eric and thinks the same thing (bow chica wow wow). Jason mocks her for shamelessly gawking at “a James Bond super villain,” but the girl is clearly smitten.

Eric gives her his card and says he’d be happy to train Martin. Nan not-so-subtly says she’ll put him down as “handsome dog park Eric”…real smooth. Allison Tolman is phenomenal on this show! Her facial expressions, daily struggles, and fun sense of humor are all so relatable. Tolman and Omundson are also really great together in this episode.

Martin feels inspired by Hunter and runs rampant around the house when they get home, so Nan calls Eric and sets up a date. Jenn and Nan google Eric at the office and skim over his crazy impressive resume, which includes “playing King Richard on Galavant.” I love it! @Lassie_Fan transcribed the fine print, so you can read his full bio here:

The more she reads about Eric, the more excited she is about their possible romance. She gets all dolled up for dog training over at Eric’s immaculate and modern house. He’s clearly a minimalist, except when it comes to braggy photos of himself displayed on his pristine mantle. (‘Galavant’ fans, Did you notice Gareth’s dog jousting painting hanging on Eric’s wall?) He wastes no time getting down to business.

Martin watches Hunter complete the obstacle course with ease and thinks this’ll be a piece of cake. Then Nan tries to walk him through it and he is a hot mess. Poor Martin feels so ashamed and considers himself “an empty package.” How heartbreaking! He wallows while Nan and Eric chat over a glass of fancy red wine or as Nan puts it, “whatever gets you drunk.” Hilarious! Eric is taken aback by her wit, but eventually comes around and says, “that’s funny.” Again, we see parallels between Nan and Martin’s struggle.

Eric isn’t getting her sense of humor. Instead of laughing he says’s “that’s funny.” Does he even think it’s funny or is he just saying that after the fact to make her feel better? It’s a legitimate pet peeve that she even brings up to Jenn. Still, it’s not a deal-breaker.

She agrees to go with him to the foo-foo gala full of big wigs and mucky-mucks. This is a huge relief to Jenn because she wants her friend around when she checks out the embellished venue as a location for her wedding. Of course, superficial Kevin would die to be there and ultimately lucks out.

Before heading to the gala, Eric prepares a ridiculously gourmet meal for Martin and Hunter. Nan warns him about Martin’s sensitive stomach, but he ignores her. We can already see where this is going…

It’s funny to see how the dogs reflect their owners too. While Nan and Eric are away, Hunter stoically sits still waiting for his master’s return, whereas Martin is ready to party with his new bud and ends up bored to death. Meanwhile at the gala..

Jenn desperately wants to tell her fiance, Dan, that the venue sucks, but she can’t because it is undeniably stunning. Nan and Jenn take in their surroundings and banter with Eric and others. Nan says something witty and once again Eric replies, “that’s funny.” Kirby Howell-Baptiste and Tolman’s reaction is absolutely perfect in this moment. Their subtle scoffing eye contact is exactly what women do with their friends in those situations. It’s one of my favorite moments. Actually, all of Omundson’s “that’s funny” moments are fantastic. Thanks to  @Lassie_Fan for this stellar compilation from the episode:

Later, Kevin is pestering Nan when Eric approaches. Eric’s reputation precedes him. In classic Kevin form, he mutters, “You’re like a sexy old Jesus.” Eric pays him no mind and tells Nan he has to be home by 9 to kennel Hunter. So off they go.

Eric gives Nan the most awkward and non-passionate kiss. Then he says the least sexy thing ever: “Thank you for kissing with me.” I guess he gets some points for good manners, but really? Virgin King Richard kissed Roberta better than that, so what’s Eric’s excuse? Unless he’s a unicorn magnet as well…hmmm???

The moment they step foot through the door, Nan recognizes that foul smell. As expected, the gourmet meal did not agree with Martin’s tummy. Eric is quick to scold and discipline Martin, while Nan sweetly comforts him. When Eric insists on making this a teachable moment, Nan tells him to back off. Guess we found her deal breaker: do not mess with Martin. She’ll do with him as she pleases and it is not Eric’s place to judge or reprimand.

Eric apologizes and finally realizes how uptight he really is. After Nan leaves with Martin, Eric commands Hunter to jump up on his lap to cuddle. Awww, looks like Eric still has some lessons to learn, despite all of his vast adventures.

Nan is giddy when Jason calls and she joins him for burgers. She is happier in that moment with him than she ever was with Eric. Sure, Eric and Hunter may have kickass skills and stuff, but they still pale in comparison to Jason and Martin. They just have what Nan needs and they truly understand her. They’re soulmates. Sigh…True Love.

The adorable thing about that scene is Ned, the dog who plays Martin, actually ate the burger! Lucas Neff and Tolman are laughing for real. It’s precious and one of my favorite moments from the series.

As the episode ends Martin believes that “choosing to love yourself may be the bravest thing attempted in the history of the world.” ‘Downward Dog’ leaves viewers with another beautiful and meaningful message.

“The Full Package” is my favorite episode yet! I love learning more about these characters and having an outsider like Eric interact with the gang offers us a new perspective. Omundson is wonderful as always and his chemistry with the cast is made the episode even more enjoyable. It is so satisfying to see life lessons presented through such a quirky, fun and heartwarming vehicle. ‘Downward Dog’ is full of meaning even at its silliest moments.

What did you think of the episode? Did you love Omundson’s guesting gig? Do you hope to see Eric again? What were your favorite moments or lines from the episode? Did you feel bad for Martin? Have you ever commanded your dog to cuddle? Share your thoughts below!

Martin’s Musings

  • “A lot of dogs are just really, really stupid. And that’s fine, like, I don’t think it’s wrong to be stupid, but sometimes I feel like that stupidity is almost, like, celebrated.”
  • “Sometimes dog culture feels almost like a breeding ground of anti-intellectualism and I just want to say, like, it’s not a sin to be smart.”
  • “And it sucks because it’s not like I wouldn’t enjoy feeling athletic, you know…Sometimes it’s hard not to wonder, like, what it would be like if I had it all, you know? Brains and brawn, like, the full package.”
  • “I decided to take responsibility for own training.”
  • “Of course I failed physically…Nan kept saying things that were meaningless to me.”
  • “I’m not smart or athletic. I’m not the full package. I’m an empty package.”
  • “I’ve always been the teacher, but maybe I have something to learn.”
  • “I’m kind of a mess. I get that…I finally let go of that desire to be impressive.”
  • “The important thing is to love yourself…When you’re as flawed as me, choosing to love yourself may be the bravest thing attempted in the history of the world.”

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.

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