‘Louie’ -‘ Subway/Pamela’: All you need is love

Senior Television Writer
07.29.11 36 Comments


A review of last night’s “Louie” coming up just as soon as I hang my jersey from the rafters…

“I think I’m going to live a thousand years, which is how long it’s going to take me to have one thought about you, which is ‘I’m crazy about you.'” -Louie


Pain. Pain. Pain.

What made “Subway/Pamela” a special episode of this special show was just how much it hurt at the end when things didn’t go Louie’s way, even though we all knew it wouldn’t. The series is too full of self-loathing for Louie to ever get the thing he wants most, even if only briefly. But his reaction to Pamela’s lack of reciprocation to his love, and especially his primal scream at realizing how badly he blew it in her apartment, stood out not only because they showed just what a good actor Louis C.K. has become, but because Louie never reacts that way to anything.

One of the wonderful, sad, running jokes of the series is that Louie is so accepting of his misery – so convinced that he deserves it – that he lets it all just wash off his back. He has fantasies of being a hero on the subway, but he knows he’ll never actually do it. He just goes through life, impassive, acting like one thing is just as bad as the next – that the juxtaposition of the beautiful violin playing with the horror of the homeless man bathing himself on the platform(*) is no better or worse than that time his airplane almost crashed on the way to Alabama – and is just running out the clock on his life like the guy he describes in the closing stand-up bit.

(*) I also liked how that sequence served as a parody of famous movie stripteases and dance scenes (the water bottle bit reminded me very much of Jennifer Beals in “Flashdance”).

But Pamela? Pamela is the one adult thing in his life that lets him have hope. And though hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, according to my good friend Andy Dufresne, hope can also hurt you far more than when you don’t have expectations. Louie expresses his love for Pamela in a damned eloquent fashion, letting himself believe that if he puts the words in just the right magic order, she’ll finally see him the way he sees her. And she doesn’t – at least not in that moment. And he’s so understandably put in a funk by that initial rejection that he doesn’t even realize what’s going on back at her apartment. And he gets mad – furious – at himself when he realizes.

“Louie” is not a serialized show. Certain relationships continue, but there’s no carryover from one week to the next. And 99 times out of 100, I’m totally on board with that. This show does its own thing and it does it brilliantly.

But I kinda want to see a next episode that’s all about Louie in the days after what happened here with Pamela. Don’t you?

What did everybody else think?

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