Review: ‘Horace and Pete’ says goodbye to a regular, and to ‘Act 1’ of the story

Senior Television Writer
02.29.16 13 Comments

Louis C.K.

A few thoughts on the latest Horace and Pete coming up just as soon as I see a baby commit suicide…

Along with this latest episode came one of the longer emails so far from Louis C.K., which managed to be very entertaining despite revealing almost nothing about the series' future. He mentions that he has a tour coming up soon, which, since he's making each episode days before release, would suggest a hiatus. And given that episode 5 ends with a title card announcing the end of “Act 1” of the series, maybe we've already arrived at the break.

If so, we've arrived there with one huge loss to the series in Uncle Pete and another potentially big one in Marsha. Several of you speculated that the lingering shot of the door at the end of last week's episode signaled that this would be the last we saw of Uncle Pete, and you were right. Why did he kill himself? Maybe, having finally imparted one piece of fatherly wisdom to the son he refused to acknowledge for far too long, he decided he'd had enough of this miserable life. Maybe his sour disposition was emblematic of a deeper depression that he never got over. It's clear his family doesn't know, and likely never will, but Alan Alda's presence is going to hang over the rest of the series for however long it runs. Man, he was great, and so was Jessica Lange, whose Marsha may or may not return to the bar even with her latest patron dead.

But Horace and Pete – both the bar and the show – is about a passing down of tradition from generation to generation, and Uncle Pete's death forces Horace, Pete, and Sylvia to again grapple with what to do with the place. And the idea proposed by Horace at the end – of Sylvia becoming a partner in the business as a break from that tradition – suggests we could be getting a lot more Edie Falco going forward, which wouldn't be a terrible trade. And the episode dealt nicely with all the complicated emotions everyone was feeling about Uncle Pete, the bar, Sylvia's cancer, Pete's mental health, etc.

Yet for all the ambiguity about what's coming next, for us and for the characters, the two title characters found a brief moment of equilibrium and contentedness at the episode's end, when Horace put Dion & Paul Simon's “New York Is My Home” on the jukebox and the two simply enjoyed working the bar, right after Pete (to the great amusement of the barfly played by the great Tom Noonan) shut down Kurt's latest nihilistic rant by pointing out that “Maybe it'll get better.” For all that both of the leads are presented as miserable guys trapped in this family situation, this bar is also their home, and their belief in that is going to keep getting in the way of Sylvia's attempts to sell the place.

What did everybody else think? How much will you miss Uncle Pete, and possibly Marsha? If this is the last episode for a while, does this feel like a good note to pause on? What are your expectations for “act 2”?

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