Only Louis C.K. can turn a story about punching a woman into a parable about class, and a parable about class into an allegory for violence against women, all while still being funny.
I like the way that Jerry Seinfeld invited Louie to open for him in the Hamptons like he was giving instructions to a toddler (“Can you work clean? Can you get yourself there?”) and Louie still fucked it up, wearing his standard T-shirt and jeans to a black-tie affair and showing up both late and unprepared. It’s like a testament to their friendship and call for help, simultaneously.
I wasn’t sure where things were headed when the only woman laughing at his set catches up with him after the show and whisks him away in her Maserati. I mean, Louie has dated and slept with some bizarre women in his tenure on this show, and I get the feeling that while he has fun with dating, he also thinks most women have an undercurrent of mild hysteria working its spooky magic within them at all times. He’s not entirely wrong; I’ve been a woman for my entire life, and I wake up thinking about the ways I could literally get away with murder every single day, just to take the edge off of living in a patriarchy. I take a sip of coffee and think, could I snap someone’s neck if pushed, like if they don’t move their damn legs out of the way when I’m trying to get off the bus? Probably, guys. Probably.
This manic-pixie crazy person took the form of a carefree astronaut’s daughter who is also a model, and she just wanted to jump in the ocean and then bone (we all went to at least one Lollapalooza in the ’90s, right?), leaving us unsure which one Louie was more uncomfortable with. The real danger happens when she decides to make him laugh by tickling him, and he accidentally punches her in the face.
The knee-jerk reaction is going to be “Oh shit, Louie punched a woman,” but you have to move past that to what he’s actually trying to do. This is somehow, miraculously, a commentary on class. Once he’s at the hospital, he calls Jerry, his richest and, in terms of proximity, closest friend, who pawns him off on a lawyer (played by the wonderful Victor Garber) in an effort to save face. When the astronaut shows up, he punches Louie in the face, and Louie is the one who gets cuffed. The lawyer then calmly explains that Louie is going to have to pay the family $5 million in monthly installments of $5,000, even though Louie tries to explain that they’re rich and he has nothing. It’s not exactly an Occupy protest writ large, but it’s a comical way to expose the fundamental inequality that plagues the nation in the smart, funny way we’re used to hearing from Louis C.K.
The part that stuck with me, though, was when the lawyer said, “You were naked in a bed with a stranger, she didn’t know you were violently ticklish.” It reads as a threat, and my mind immediately went to the language women hear when they’ve been sexually assaulted. I KNOW, THIS IS A COMEDY, and no one was sexually assaulted, and maybe I should dial it back. But I think Louis C.K. is smart enough to frame that argument in this reverse, flipped-around sort of way, using sex and the male perspective in a way that makes you realize how absurd it is to blame victims and dismiss the reality of the situation.
Back in New York with a busted =-up face and bank account, Louie gets a date with the now-sympathetic server who shined him on earlier in the episode, which is what he really wanted all along. This was one of those meandering episodes that leaves you somewhere sweeter than where you started, and my face stretched into a smile during the credits when he was smiling back at us, as content as he can be.
Sparks of Brilliance
- That “Awesome Possum” shirt was adorable.
- “Clean jokes – chickens are dumb.”
- The way he tucked his T-shirt into his pants when he arrived, as if that would make up for the utter lack of refinement, but also showed that he cared just a little? That was great.
- Saying, “This is your soul laundering service” to a room full of trillionaires (“They have trillionaires now?”).
- “That’s a misconception, that the rich can’t sue the poor.”