Pamela Part 2/Pamela Part 3
Episodes 13 and 14
Photo: KC Bailey/FX
Oh, so that’s what’s going on this season — Louie has been leaking his fucked-up frustrations about his ability to love on everyone within arm’s reach.
Let’s start with the first of last night’s two episodes. Pamela, the alpha-girlfriend with a heart of quick-drying cement, is back to finish out the season. Every single time Louie calls her, you feel like he’s lost a bet against himself; no one makes him more uncomfortable, but also makes him laugh, and you can see the confusion of her pulling at his face in every scene. After defending her right to free time (“What is it with guys where if you can prove you’re not doing anything, you have to blow ’em?”) she agrees to go out with him, which starts the ball rolling towards the end of this strangely spectacular season.
The date was New York–y without being obnoxious about it. They go to a gallery full of strange art — a bag of shit, neon nooses, a papier mâché dog sniffing the butt of a faceless statue in an Emo Philips wig, a man in tighty-whities called “Diarrhea,” a black box titled Jews, and a line of naked men facing the same dead end. It was a relief to see Louie and Pamela behaving the same way a lot of us do when confronted with the absurd: They laughed their way through it. If you can move past their awkwardness, Louie and Pamela are a good team.
You have to wonder what’s up when the pair goes to get Chinese food only to have Louie ask for “that thing he left” (a bag) and they end up in Central Park at night. Pamela still busts his balls (“Is this your move?”) when he has them sitting around a picnic, but Pamela softens when she sees he’s timed their outing to a meteor shower. When she grabs his face to kiss him, it’s completely on her own terms. What does a successful date look like for Louie, after all?
It was ultimately weird to have this moment after the violence of their last encounter. I don’t feel like Louie fully addresses the rape-y scene from a couple of weeks ago, but he starts to address their shared ineptitude about love. When he corners her against the front door again, Pamela says, “You can’t just make people do things!” and compares their relationship to little girls or frogs. Obviously dejected, he comes up with a way to finally tell her how he feels, saying, “Either you want to hurt me or you don’t care, but I don’t want to be with either person.” Pamela decides to lighten the mood by taking a picture of her underwear. They take pictures of their crotches and send them to back and forth to each other for a few beats before moving to the bedroom, and that’s about as eloquent as it gets for Louie. He never talks about his entitlement or the physical imposition of their last encounter, but when he lets Pamela choose the speed and direction of their relationship, it goes exactly where he wants it to go.
But did he let her choose? Or did he just wear her out? When they wake up next to each other the following morning, you know that she’s there because she chose to be, especially when his kids come barreling into the room and call her “daddy’s girlfriend.” He’s happy to denigrate his own body for the sake of their laughter. He’s happy that Pamela is finally, on her own terms, in his life.
MOMENTS OF BRILLIANCE
- “I want to take you out.” “Take me out of what, my comfort zone?”
- Next room, a bunch of clothed people stacked up against a wall makes Louie shocked. They go eat.
- “No one goes into Central Park at night!”
- Shutting the door in Patrick’s face when he asks to use the bathroom was hilarious, particularly since Patrick rarely speaks and certainly never asks for anything.
- “Look at him, he’s a monster, who looks like that! I deserve better. Look at his body — a mailbox on two tree stumps with a melon on top. Look at his ass — he has zero ass, legs and then a back. I’m supposed to have a boyfriend with no ass?”
Did Pamela fix decades worth of emotional damage with two sentences?
It’s moving day! And everyone knows but Louie. Pamela decided that all of Louie’s furniture was horrible, so she had it carted away. When he comes home in the middle of the act and asks where he is going to get new stuff, she says, “That’s your problem — that shit had to go, man” as she finishes up a round of handball with the girls in his empty apartment. At first he’s seething, but then he laughs; Louie has long been at the mercy of women who want to change him, but never one who is so completely correct, and he’s powerless against her.
Louie insists Pamela come with him to drop off the girls and meet Janet, and it’s as awkward as you can imagine. Louie doesn’t know what to say about Pamela or how to introduce her — is she a girlfriend? A friend? Confusion wrapped in an interruption? — and, probably due to their recent friction, no one else knows what to say, either. Pamela breaks the ice by saying, “Jesus, is it always like this?” and high-fives Lilly when she says, “Pretty much!” but there was nothing productive about this encounter. Was it another chance for Louie to feel inept, which seems to be his default setting?
When they get back to his place, Pamela pushes him on the floor and tells him they’re going to have sex and then shop for furniture, and that’s exactly what they do. She hates everything in the store that he loves, of course, but it’s less a sign that they’re not right for each other and more a vote of confidence in her ability to know what works for him, even when he does not. It seems a little matriarchal, but I don’t know — doesn’t Louie seem to always need a mother, anyway? Isn’t that the great disappointment of this character’s life with women?
He invites her to see him perform at the Comedy Cellar one night, but it throws off his rhythm when he doesn’t see her laughing. He keeps the bad mood going through dinner with Nick DiPaolo, Todd Barry, and Marc Maron, particularly when Maron tells the crew that his show got picked up for a full season. He gets a chance to parrot back what Louie said in their interview on Maron’s podcast a couple of years ago, namely that real-life Louis C.K. felt like Maron abandoned him when he needed him the most, even though they came up together and were best friends. Maron has been on the show before in a similar capacity, but never before in such explicit terms, saying, “You’ve been a shitty friend and it hurt me.” It’s clearly Louie coming through Maron here, and not just because we’ve all heard that interview before, but because that brand of hurt belongs to him so completely.
Louie tries to get Pamela into his bad mood by insisting that he is, in fact, a bad friend, but she flips the script on him, telling him the only reason he can’t handle Maron’s success is because he’s unhappy in his own life. She makes the valid point that none of the guys he works with is special or magical — some just work harder than others and are luckier. When she tells him “you have to decide to do it,” he hugs her like she saved his life, because in that moment, she really did.
Back at her (well-appointed) house, Louie stays crabby for a little while, but eventually tells Pamela he loves her. He blurts it out, and keeps saying it, only to have her say, “I … something … people.” He knows that she will never be the girlfriend he wants; she thinks feelings are “disgusting and gross and boring.” When Louie calls her an asshole and leaves, he means it. What’s interesting is that they’re both telling each other exactly how they are damaged without listening to one another — Louie loves too much, too quickly, and Pamela feels love without expressing it. It’s less about being mismatched, and more about how to get two emotionally stunted people to find a common ground.
When she calls Louie back, Pamela has already drawn a bath and lit the bathroom with tons of candles. She orders him to take his clothes off, but he’s uncomfortable, having somehow never taken his shirt off in front of her yet. She tells him to be proud of his body, but this all hearkens back to “So Did the Fat Lady,” and his (somewhat misguided) monologue about fatness and dating as said through Sarah. It’s amazing how little a sense of humor Louie has about himself, but no one likes being exposed and vulnerable.
When he finally takes off his shirt and crawls into the tub, the too-full tub overflows, spilling gallons all over the floor. They laugh, and trade stories about their first kisses: Louie was kissed on a dare by one of the most popular girls in school but it didn’t faze him because he got to kiss her, and Pamela’s doesn’t involve a kiss at all, but the promise of a kiss that ends with her punching a boy and beating him with her lunch tray. Both scenarios are completely in line with who they are now — the hopeful romantic excited to get a chance to be with a woman, and the ballsy loner who would rather kick your ass than do anything against her will.
In the end, Pamela asks Louie, “Is it okay to just be here? Liking each other?” and in the perfect end for this season, Louie doesn’t answer.
MOMENTS OF BRILLIANCE
- One of the funnier moments last night was Pamela pointing out the very obvious fact that Janet is black, and asking how their kids are so “translucently” white. Louis C.K. has talked about this in interviews, but no one has ever addressed it on the show before.
- “Get those off your face right now.” His glasses really are way, way too dark for his features and coloring.
- I like that he wanted to buy her the 19th-century French clock, but then balked when he found out how much it cost.
It’s been an absolute pleasure recapping this show with you! Have a great summer, everyone.