S2E6: Something Louie really embraces this season are episodes comprised of completely separate vignettes as opposed to vignettes strung together by a single plotline. Perhaps this is because Louis CK wasn’t sure if he’ll be getting a third season and he figures he’ll just do whatever he wants for now, or perhaps he’s just a genius.
These little bits and pieces, while mostly unrelated, are poignant, meaningful moments and it’s wonderful to see that they’ve found an audience on national television. The first is a short one representing the “Subway” half of the title wherein Louie encounters a classical musician in fancy garb playing a jaunty tune while a dirty, homeless man graphically washes himself in the background. This scene is so perfectly executed though a bit hyperbolic; even so it’s a simple and highly accurate metaphor for New York as a whole. That same juxtaposition – granted without the urgency provided by the soundtrack – plays out every day in the city. It’s something we tend to get used to and ignore, but leave it to Louie to give it such weight.
Finally, Louie gets on the train and witnesses typical subway sights: a 14 year old boy praising himself and hitting on young girls and a seat filled with a puddle of unidentified brown liquid. After seeing these unsavory subway occurrences, perhaps Louie feels someone should fix this, so he has a little fantasy about using his own sweater to clean up the mess and receiving heaps of gratitude from the other passengers. Of course, when a hot girl just kneels down before him, we know he’s really just sitting idly on the train (though the black and white and slow motion told us that too), but it’s a well-done representation of the daily thoughts and sights one encounters while enduring the monotonous commute in New York. I’m not sure this is something national audiences can appreciate, but as a New Yorker, I must say, it captured those ever-present emotions just about perfectly.
“I’m sick in love with you, Pamela. It’s like polio.” –Louie
Next we had the “Pamela” half of the episode. It’s always been clear that Louie has some level of feelings for her, but when this week’s friend-date starts going really well, he dives back into date-y behavior, something Pamela (Pamela Adlon) strictly forebode. He finally convinces her that no matter what happens, he’ll still be her friend but he really just needs to tell her how he feels and then he can shut up. This speech, though lacking any natural eloquence, is one of the single sweetest speeches of a romantic nature I’ve ever seen on television (even if it did include that “born to be with you” bit — terrible) and the complete look of defeat on Louie’s face was far more crushing than any romantic disappointments on some basic cable drama about doctors.
Finally, Louie schleps out of Pamela’s apartment after completely missing her invite to take a bath with her. When he calls back, she matter of factly says he’s too late and we find Louie screaming in the street like an apprentice of Darth Vader’s last scene in Revenge of the Sith. And there is my one complaint from a season and a half of Louie. One.
The agony of one-sided feelings that the episode captures is so genuine and visceral, it was almost uncomfortable, but only because it sent each and every one of us who’s experienced similar defeat back to the moment it happened. There are no sparkly speeches made instantly better by beers with the guys or the girls the next day; in real life we fumble through clumsy bundles of words in hopes that the person we’re spilling our guts to might maybe, possibly feel the same and when they don’t, we stumble home alone wishing we could yell like Darth Vader but really feeling like the only option is to crawl into the fetal position under a mound of blankets. Somehow in 7 television minutes, Louie captured the exact feeling romantic comedies have attempted to gloss over in 90-minute increments for years now.
It may not have clean-cut episodes every week, but Louie almost always says something or makes us feel something other than a few cheap giggles. It’s daring and charming and soul-crushing and hilarious all at once, and that’s why we love it.