What if this episode were all about the song at the end and not the eyeless, bald, face-sucking monster in human form hopping all over Louie’s nightmares? This episode was supremely fucked-up, and there really isn’t a more gentle way to say that.
It’s so easy to zone out when people tell you about their dreams; everything is decontextualized and, since it’s not your own psyche, nothing matters. But the great thing about this episode, which hops back and forth between Louie’s conscious and subconscious mind, is that you feel just as crazed watching it on the screen as dreams sometimes feel when you’re in them. It was hard to tell when Louie was awake or asleep — and the only signifier that you’re in the dream world was that slick, leaping creep popping up out of nowhere — but the episode takes you in and out of reality in a way that’s just as tense and infuriating as the real-life desire to wake up from a bad dream.
Watching someone steal your joke must feel like a tiny wave of insanity crashing inside your skull, and when Crazy Glazy (comedian Jon Glaser) performs Louie’s bee joke the night after he uncomfortably grills him about it, all Louie can do is seethe. Not even confronting him is cathartic; all Crazy Glazy says is, “Oh, yeah, that joke is so funny!” over and over again, refusing to acknowledge his egregious offense. Louie hops onstage and glares at everyone, but it’s a sort of impotent rage because he knows he has bigger problems.
One of those problems is Jane. Louie takes his role as a parent pretty seriously, and Jane might be Louie’s strangest child. When she was describing the rash on her arm to the doctor (welcome back, Charles Grodin), it spun out into a tale about her ability to sweat on the inside of her face and watching electrons collide in mid-air. Grodin, never missing a beat, tells her she’s just dehydrated, but Louie is scowling at her the whole time. It’s hard to tell if he’s heard one too many of these stories and just wants Jane to get on with it, or if he’s really freaked out that she’s so strange. Lily isn’t inspiring confidence in him as a father, either; when they go to pick her up from a sleepover, not only does he find a distraught single mother who breaks down after he refuses to help her move a fish tank, but he finds out that Lily watched A Clockwork Orange. (The funniest part of the episode for me was when he pulls the blanket over the mom’s entire body while she sits on the end of the bed and sobs.) Louie has plenty of stuff to keep him up at night.
The creepy licky jumping man is a portent, and Louie’s dreams just keep getting weirder— a woman bites his hand and his dick turns into a curled-up, flesh-colored croissant (they kept the freckle pattern, which made it so much funnier), he slides down a red hallway in a den of inequity right before he humps and makes out with his rabbit-head-wearing brother, everything turns black and white for a minute. Louie’s dreams are stressful, and his friends (Todd Barry and Nick DiPaolo) are unsympathetic, telling him to shut his ugly face and stop complaining if he’s not going to try to fix the problem. DiPaolo finally cracks the code when he asks Louie what was causing the nightmares, and in the next shot, you see Louie at the single mom’s house. Not only does he help her move the fish tank, but he does all of the “man about the house” stuff she needs him to do, like changing lightbulbs, fixing sinks, and boning her on the kitchen counter. Is it strange that something so boring and domestic was the key to Louie getting a good night’s sleep? It wasn’t the joke that made him antsy but his insensitivity to this woman, this stranger.
As he finally drifted off to sleep, an unusual song played in the background, which I only keyed in to because it suddenly mentioned dead babies and diarrhea. The twangy tune was meant to sound old, but the lyrics had to be directly from Louis C.K., right? Google doesn’t tell me anything about it, but I wouldn’t put it past him to have an original song created to keep us confounded to the bitter end.
I dreamed of little monsters crawling on my leg
I fear they’ll come again if I go to bed
I wish that something else would be in my dreams
Here come those little monsters crawling on my leg
I dream of dying babies and why do they smile
I hate those dying babies, why don’t they just die?
Their smiling faces give me diarrhea
Please, die, you dying babies in my diarrhea
My dreams, my dreams, my dreams