Vecchio: Is that your father’s rifle?
Vecchio: Why don’t you let me do this for you?
Fraser: No. He’s my wolf.
— The Wild Bunch 1x15
Fuck Yeah, Due South! Thursday
1x15 The Wild Bunch
So hay Tumblr, this once-weekly feature makes a return (though it might be brief); there’ve been a number of RL factors that have meant no episode reviews for a while - a big one being that this episode cuts a little close to home for me personally, having had to make the final, horrible decision for a cat that was my closest companion for 13 years very suddenly and under great duress. I’m still not over it, and it’s been over 4 months. I’m not sure I ever will be. But anyway, I have a profound emotional connection and it breaks my heart to watch this episode, though at least for Diefenbaker, the outcome is a happy one.
There’s a few critical elements to the story this time round; there’s a definite sense here of the beginnings of Fraser’s understanding and faith in the law and the justice system in particular being tested, along with the reality of life in a city versus that of the Northwest Territories. After all, given that he couldn’t obtain a ‘wolf license’ several episodes ago, it’s really only a matter of time before that, combined with the fact that Diefenbaker is never on a leash or even has a collar, catches up with him, and it does in a big way here.
Due South does at its core present some conflicting issues, having to strike a balance between what one can suspend one’s disbelief about and what’s conceivable, like most shows. The premise itself is ridiculous, after all— a Mountie running around Chicago with a police detective trailing in his wake— but not all shows deign to even acknowledge their own absurdity. This episode is a poignant attempt to lampshade that, as well as providing a unique insight into the dynamic between Fraser and Diefenbaker. Fraser is forced to face some unpleasant and ultimately almost fatal consequences, consequences he surely could not have been completely oblivious to. But one of his key weaknesses is that he trusts in his closest friends and companions so completely (something we see yet again in the next episode, The Blue Line) - he simply cannot believe that Diefenbaker would do such a thing as bite someone unprovoked, cannot even fathom it. His loyalty is unfaltering, but as the evidence mounts against Diefenbaker’s bizarre actions, he realises that ultimately, the responsibility is his alone - or rather, that if his wolf should be put down, it will be at his hand, and under his own terms, rather than by a stranger who may well fuck it up.
Simply put, Fraser’s irresponsibility and uncharacteristic, almost willful disregard for the city ordinances (there’s no reason he wouldn’t know about leash laws by now, given what he knows about Animal Control officers) - something he usually prides himself on adhering to and knowing - is what puts Diefenbaker’s life on the line. Willie after all is just a boy [side note, I would watch the fuck out of a Willie and Diefenbaker spin-off, just sayin’], and cannot be legally held liable for Diefenbaker’s wandering.
Another question is, how much do we really anthropomorphise our animal companions? Diefenbaker rates much more highly than a pet to Fraser; he’s a tracker, a partner, and he’s saved his life more than once. Given these circumstances, it’s odd that he didn’t perhaps make Diefenbaker an official K-9, which would have thoroughly justified and given credence to his actions in bringing down criminals - perhaps his deafness was an issue, but we’ll likely never know. Fraser is considered a solitary man by nature, but he really does seem to need companionship of a kind; Diefenbaker has been a substitute for a human for some time, it seems, and Fraser has projected human qualities rather overmuch onto him as a result, and treated him accordingly - losing sight of how the law views him in the process.