The middle of this story arc is sort of about Louie’s trouble with women, but more about reconciling how he feels about himself in relation to the women in his life. This is one of those episodes that sort of connects the dots about Louie’s approach to life, and it definitely feels like a bridge to the final installment.
Louie doesn’t understand any of the women around him, and it’s not for lack of trying. It’s easy to compartmentalize his situation with Amia — that she doesn’t speak English and he doesn’t speak Hungarian — as a cultural failing, but he also doesn’t seem to want to know that much about her, right? He’s doing that thing he’s always done, sort of idealizing her before they even get started. He took Amia to Russ & Daughters for an impromptu date, and as they guzzled down fish Heathcliff-style, I remembered that he did this exact thing with Liz, Parker Posey’s Manic Pixie Completely Goddamn Crazy-Person Girl. Liz introduced Louie to Russ & Daughters; they had a full-on bacchanalia-style food-grazing date that seemed to make him see stars, and now he’s looking to replicate that with Amia. There’s a lot of uncertainty with Amia, though — he tries to hold her hand but she doesn’t feel it through her glove, and she sort of hates that fish. At the end, when she’s miming a hairdryer to him, it’s clear that she’s a better communicator, and Louie is still, always, fumbling.
Ellen Burstyn’s character (in the next episode we learn her name, Ivanka) is a revelation, and Louie can’t help but flirt with her, either. When he was picking out all of that food at Fairway, I thought for sure it was for him, like a more personal version of the Bang Bang, but he was making a gift basket for Amia that he ended up sharing with Ivanka. If the entire episode was the two of them sitting at the table talking, I would have been thrilled. Louis C.K. always writes to the strengths of his guest stars in a way that is never pandering or obvious. Plus, one of the only obvious jokes of the show was from Ivanka, trying to remember the sex-infused song she used to sing for the troops.
The real lady-based strife comes from Jane, who got in trouble at school for pulling down a teacher’s skirt and making her cry in a fit of frustration after having to deal with the “stupid” people in her school. Jane is the sort of advanced child that freaks teachers out. When they’re sitting on the bench and she says, “Christopher Columbus is a murderer and they want me to draw a picture of him smiling,” you can tell it sort of freaks Louie out, too, but in a way that forces him to realize just how much of his daughter this kid really is.
The real kicker comes when he has to talk about Jane with Janet, who wants to send her to private school. His reasons for railing are all about his own baggage, namely that he grew up working-class and currently can’t afford to send them to private school. Janet calls that out immediately, but also tries to pull rank because she makes more money than he does. Louie being Louie, he makes a comparison between private school and the Hitler youth, but then quickly retreats to his default place of self-loathing, yelling about how out of line he is, how right Janet is, and how he’s too emotional to contribute any more to the conversation. He’s self-aware enough to know when to quit, but far too emotionally charged to know how to end it, so they just sort of leave it hanging.
Moments of Brilliance
- “I’m not trying to one-up her or anything.” Even when he’s making a kind gesture, he’s still rooted in doubt.
- I loved the school admin’s entire attitude. “Jane! Jane! You better RELAX!”
- Louie saying to Ivanka, “My daughter is in trouble … my daughter is causing trouble.” I’m sure you could analyze that sort of statement until your eyes bled, but the self-correcting sort of exemplifies the kind of parent he tries to be.
- When they were talking on the bench, the creaky swings in the background sounded like the countdown clock from 24.
- His cannibalism joke — that he would eat an old black lady’s tits first because it’s the furthest thing away from who he is — was funny, but tits are mostly bags of fat. Always start with the ass, man.