dog watch

Keeping an Eye on The Old Man’s Dogs

Hey, it’s Carol and Dave! And that old man! Photo: Prashant Gupta/FX

If I asked you whether your favorite character in FX’s The Old Man was Jeff Bridges’s grizzled former CIA operative Dan Chase or John Lithgow’s grizzled FBI director Harold Harper, your answer would be wrong, because that’s a trick question. Your favorite characters are Dan Chase’s two dogs, Dave and Carol. “They have people’s names, those are people’s names,” notes a bemused doctor in the first episode, trying to make sense of these two perfect Rottweilers lying in his office. Chase brings these dogs everywhere: restaurants, apartment rentals, gun fights with much younger CIA dudes — and they are very good in each scenario, yes they are!

But their addition to the cast also creates a great deal of tension for those of us who would rather be in a minor car accident with no injuries than see a good dog die onscreen. What will become of this good boy and good girl? We’ll be keeping track in this very specific recap of only things that happen to or are done by the dogs.

Episode 1

The Old Man’s dogs get their first big moment in the doctor’s office, where they remain polite, even as the doctor rudely marvels at their “people names,” as though these dogs aren’t better than almost every human Dave or Carol you’ve ever met.

They’re also perhaps the quietest dogs you’ll ever see, and go into full stealth mode when an assassin breaks into Chase’s home later that night. Nary a bark escapes the lips of these buddies as they hunt down and rough up the dastardly killer, who only escapes the jaws of the beast when Chase calmly calls out “Aus,” revealing that the dogs also speak German — they are dogs of culture!

Later, the dogs accompany Chase to a local diner, where they again remain polite even as the waitress declares “Service animals only!” “Warming my feet’s not a service?” Chase asks, in a way that would be annoying if it weren’t in defense of such extremely good li’l buds. Later that night, the dogs end up in the midst of a real dustup when Chase confronts two CIA operatives — they come to his aid with a whistle, and they chomp a guy!

Are the dogs alive? Yes.
People chomped: 1

Episode 2

“They are exceptionally well-behaved dogs,” Chase offers as he pleads with his new landlady, Zoe, to not throw him and the dogs out of his no-dogs-allowed apartment. For some reason, Zoe is obsessed with the idea that the dogs will eat her ex-husband’s couch. It’s unclear what unresolved trauma she has around dogs and her ex-husband’s couch, but she eventually realizes how good the dogs are and decides to look the other way — ex-husband’s couches be damned! The next time we see the dogs, they’re getting to go in the car (!!) as Chase considers leaving landlady Zoe, to whom he fears getting a little too close.

Are the dogs alive? Yes.
People chomped: 0
Sofas chomped: 0

Episode 3

This episode suffered from being more about juicy character development and big reveals than about giving me what I want — a look at those dogs! There is really only one big dog scene, and it is unfortunately a big fight in which the dogs do chomp but also take several punches to the face. One of them even gets thrown right through the glass part of a door! It then decides to just lie there for a while until Chase comes to check on it and see that it’s fine. It makes sense, because once you get thrown through a door, you might as well just take a rest until the fight is over. These dogs are very smart!

Are the dogs alive? Thankfully, yes.
People chomped: 1
Doors broken through: 1

Episode 4

Dave and Carol make their way to a luxury Los Angeles condo with Chase and his former landlady turned girlfriend/kidnappee Zoe, and they immediately make themselves at home while Zoe remains mostly catatonic from the shock of it all. Chase leaves the three of them alone together to go to some business meeting, and Zoe finds she is ill-equipped for this new life of dog luxury. Dave (identifiable by his dark-green/blue-for-boy collar) does his best to show her the ropes. “Bark!” he exclaims to her — which we all understand is dog for “Food, ma’am, if you please.” It takes Zoe a minute to understand this, as she clearly does not speak dog, but once she does, Dave and Carol finally get their dinny-din-dins.

“Why am I apologizing to you?” Zoe asks them as they nom-nom on their num-nums. “I was kidnapped, and now I’m apologizing to you for not doing a better job of seeing to your needs.” Neither Dave nor Carol (nor I) see a problem with this series of events, but it drives Zoe to drink — and she seems to fully embrace her status as wine mom to these dogs as the three of them cuddle with a bottle of red on the condo’s luxurious sectional.

Then, perhaps being reminded of her ex-husband’s sofa and its complicated history with dogs, she gets an idea. During dinner later that night, Zoe demands half of Chase’s assets be transferred to her under threat of blackmail. It’s the realest, most meaningful marriage proposal I’ve ever seen. (Truly, rings are whatever, bank transfers of half of all your assets are forever.) We then pan out to see Dave and Carol lying next to the dinner table quietly, but it cuts to black before we know whether either of these people are going to drop them a chunk of what looks to be a delicious roast chicken. A cliffhanger!

Are the dogs alive? Oh yes, they are L-I-V-I-N-G.
People chomped: 0
Blackmail attempts witnessed: 1
Nums nommed: 1 (each)

Episode 5

“Rich folks don’t explain shit,” declares Dan Chase as he sends Zoe into a middle-of-the-night business meeting in UGGs and a hoodie. It’s clearly his motto, since this comes on the heels of his leaving Dave and Carol behind in a parking garage with some lady holding an envelope. It’s not clear to the audience who this woman is — a hapless condo employee? A cruel dog orphanage owner à la Miss Hannigan?? We can’t know, because Chase doesn’t explain shit. Not to us, and not to Dave and Carol, who bark after him in despair. Why aren’t dogs allowed to go to Morocco? Does this envelope-holding lady even speak German? Has he checked her Rover or Wag reviews? What if she doesn’t let them up on the furniture or starts a Dave and Carol Instagram account to exploit them against their will (I would follow)?? What then, Dan Chase?? You may be rich, but no one is rich enough to not explain this particular shit.

Are the dogs alive? LAST I SAW, BUT WHO CAN SAY NOW?
People chomped: 0
Abandonment issues developed: 2

Episode 6

Somehow there is not a single dog in this episode. However, as a dog expert (I have petted many dogs), I can safely deduce that the dogs were probably sad with Envelope Lady for like a day, and now they’re hard at work figuring out how to get New Human to give them treats.

Are the dogs alive? I’m choosing to believe yes.
People chomped: We can’t know!
Deep sighs when it became clear we weren’t gonna see the dogs: 3

Episode 7

Usually a season finale lets us check in with all the major characters, but I guess Dave and Carol booked another gig! Listen, I get it, the dogs can’t be in every scene, but maybe a dog could be in most scenes? Like, other people can have dogs! As long as nothing bad happens to them! This was fun, but in all seriousness, season two better have some more dogs.

Are the dogs alive? They literally won’t tell us — we are left to wonder. Why this torment!!

Keeping an Eye on The Old Man’s Dogs