A review of tonight’s “Louie” coming up just as soon as I pine for North Dakota…
“I’m having too good a time.” -Liz
Because “Louie” is such an unpredictable, idiosyncratic show, it’s hard to point to any one episode as representative of the series as a whole. But dammit if “Daddy’s Girlfriend, Part 2” doesn’t come close. The series is one where you never know what kind of episode you’re about to see, and Louie’s date with Liz was the show in microcosm: unpredictable and alternately frightening, uncomfortable, poignant and just plain beautiful. Louie has no idea what this woman is going to have him do next, and seems simultaneously exhausted and entranced by it all, which for once puts him into the mindset of a “Louie” viewer.
Early in the episode, Louis C.K. goes to a place the show hasn’t been all that often, in that we see a moment – Liz’s mortifying encounter with the bartender – that Louie is completely not privy to. But it’s one that informs much of what follows. Louie thinks he’s on a date with the smart, sweet woman from the bookstore, so for him the strange ebb and flow of the date takes much longer to accept. But we know almost from the start that Liz is much more troubled than she seemed to be in “Daddy’s Girlfriend, Part 1,” so her erratic behavior and abrupt mood swings make more sense to us, even as we can’t predict how she’ll act next any more than Louie can.
And because so much of “Louie” is about empathy, it feels right that we got to see life from Liz’s perspective before she revealed herself to Louie as a big, raw nerve with a dark past who spends the night pushing Louie out of his comfort zone. Louie’s a creature of habit, and though he’s often unkind to himself, he’s our only ongoing character – we’re watching this show because we like Louis C.K. and/or this fictional version of him – and I could see this episode going wrong in a hurry if it was just “Louie’s nightmare date with the surprisingly crazy lady.”
And the episode’s tone shifts as rapidly as Liz’s move. There are times when the date becomes terribly uncomfortable (Liz pushing Louie to try on the dress), others where it’s incredibly intoxicating (their stop at New York institution Russ and Daughters was a mouth-watering I Want To Go To There sequence), and others where it’s both at once (Liz goading Louie into taking care of the homeless man played by Casey Siemaszko).
And because of the uncertainty of all that had come before, there was no way to predict how their trip up the stairs would end – and, indeed, the time on the roof pings quickly from the beauty of the view to Louie’s fear that Liz might jump, to him melting at her assurance that she loves life too much, to Liz’s manic energy all dissipating at once.
We’ll probably never see Liz again, because that’s just how the show works, but also because it’s easy to imagine Louie being afraid to ever see this woman again, or Liz being embarrassed enough of all that she let a relative stranger see of her in a single night.
As we’ve seen a few times before, the closing credits are accompanied by outtakes, which in this case take the form of Parker Posey effortlessly shifting between a variety of moods for the camera. It’s a beautiful sequence, but almost redundant, given all that we’ve seen to that point. It’s one of the best performances I’ve seen her give in quite some time, and C.K. works well opposite her as the confused center of gravity around which Liz orbits.
My favorite episode of the season to date, and one of the best of the series. Just beautiful.
What did everybody else think?
(Also, please note that I’m traveling home from press tour next Thursday, so any review of next week’s episode will either be several days late or, perhaps, skipped over.)