Season one of Louie ended on September 7, 2010, with two episodes, beginning with “Gym.” In it, Louie attempts to pick up Pamela (again), but she’s not having any of it (again). She bluntly asks, “What makes you think I’d want to sleep with you?” Louie responds, “I don’t think you would…I just…want to, and I was hoping you would let me.” That episode was coupled with “Going Out,” where a babysitter sobs because of Louie’s single parent lifestyle, and she forces him to have a night on the town, even though he’s perfectly resigned to eating ice cream all evening. Which is to say, he’s fine being a single parent.
Season two of Louie ended on September 8, 2011, with “New Jersey; Airport,” the second half of which dealt with Pamela leaving the States, so that she could try to make things work again with her ex-husband in Paris, because her kid wants to. The “New Jersey” segment, like “Going Out” before it, has Louie ready to call it a night after his comedy set, because he has to be a single parent the next morning and that’s what single parents do, until a homeless-looking Steven Wright makes him stay at the comedy club to pick up women.
Maybe it’s because of the similarities between the two episodes (throw in “Eddie,” too), but “New Jersey; Airport” didn’t do it for me. And by “it,” I mean laugh uncontrollably. It was a half-formed episode, particularly the first half, and it wasn’t until the final minute that it felt on the level of most of season two.
But we’ll get to that. First up: the Garden State. As previously mentioned, Louie’s dejectedly looking for some tail, but when the women in Caroline’s pay him no attention, even after his great speaking-in-tongues-blowjob bit, he’s ready to go home. But outside is a gorgeous femme fatale, waiting for him, luring him into her car with her siren call of “I want to show you my pussy.” Yes, says Louie’s penis, and they’re off, not to uptown Manhattan, or Brooklyn, or even Queens. BUT TO NEW JERSEY.
What awaits is not a sexy suburban adventure, but rather, Antonio Salieri himself, Oscar-winner F. Murray Abraham. He and his wife (UH OH) are looking for a threesome, and they’ve chosen Louie as the third amigo. He’s not interested, however, and Louie’s kicked out of the house at 2 a.m., without knowing how to get home. Good thing his buddy Chris Rock lives nearby, though, and that his fellow Down to Earth screenwriter is (sort of) willing to pick him up, but in a much less sexy manner than the fatale did Louie.
Back at his house, Chris (who gives a fine, understated performance) and his wife, Mrs. Chris (not so much), scold Louie for his stupid mistake, telling him that even though he has kids, he still needs to grow up. He’s too old to be stepping into cars driven by strangers, possessed by the sweet scent of, well, y’know. Thing is, this was a subject that had been tackled on the show before, and often much better. I liked that Mrs. Chris was never fully shown on-screen, kind of like the nanny on Muppet Babies (the exact thing Louie was going for, I’m sure), but she was just too much of a caricature; having the demanding wife mad at both Louie and Chris felt as obvious and unfunny as having a pair of black women talking loudly at a movie theater.
Likewise, it took awhile for “Airport” to get going. Much to Louie’s credit, even though we’ll go weeks without seeing Pamela on-screen, due to the show’s lack of continuity (WHAT HAPPENED TO THE NIECE?), we still care about her, and about them as a couple, or how they’re not a couple, or whatever. (Futurama, for instance, hasn’t been able to do this one-week-they-are, one-week-they-aren’t tension with Fry and Leela since “The Devil’s Hands are Idle Playthings,” the last pre-cancellation episode.) Either way, she’s leaving to film the new season of Californicat — I mean, to go to Paris to be with her son, and Louie feels like shit. He honestly believes they’re meant to be together, and it is only with the Droopiest of expressions does he let her go. It doesn’t help his self-esteem that she says there’s never any way they’re getting together, shared-bathtub hints aside.
She gets through security, and turns around to look at Louie. She gets on the escalator, and turns around to look at Louie. She gets off the escalator and is nearly out of his sight, and she turns around to look at Louie. This time, though, she yells, “Wave to me!” Being hundreds of feet away, however, Louie hears, “Wait for me!” (Maybe he was listening to the Hall & Oates song of the same name earlier?) He walks out of the airport a new, confident man; if Louie were a musical, he would have started singing, “Oh, I’m in love with a gorgeous girl/I feel so happy, I could twirl.” But that feeling isn’t real, and god is that depressing. Which begs the question: is it better for Louie to feel great now and awful later, or awful the entire time?
It was a well shot, painful, and hilarious ending, to a well shot, painful, and hilarious season, one of the best TV has ever seen. (Personal favorites: “Bummer/Blueberries,” “Subway/Pamela,” “Oh, Louie/Tickets,” “Come On, God/Eddie,” and “Duckling.”) Thank you for reading, and until next recap, have a miserable year.
Josh Kurp is happy he doesn’t have to differentiate between Louie and Louis until 2012.