Louie Season 4, Episodes 5 & 6 “Elevator (Parts 2 & 3)”
Written by Louis C.K.
Directed by Louis C.K.
Airs Mondays at 10pm ET on FX
“You know the only thing happier than a three-legged dog? A four-legged dog.”
Things can always be better – and then again, things can always be worse. It’s the great balance of our weird existence, this constant need for us to both seek happiness and express dissatisfaction, often in the same breath – and in the fourth season of Louie (much like the third), this idea’s come through with Louis C.K.’s examination of his relationships with women, the singular forces on our planet that (speaking as a man, of course) both give life and enrich it, bringing beauty and giving definition to a world that would otherwise be dominated by bang-bangs, homoerotic jokes (which would eventually turn into shit-flinging fistfights), and penis-measuring contests.
The only problem is, we really have no idea how to communicate with women (like Amia and Jane, who reach perfect harmony after speaking only a single word of Hungarian), if we’re all being honest. And that honesty is what’s driving the amazing, deeply philosophic journey of Louie‘s fourth season: it’s only when Louis is able to develop a crush on a woman that he can’t verbally communicate with, pointing out that when he does talk to women, he’s a sweaty, middle-aged mess who, at his best, is babbling shit at himself to get out of his own way (as he does in front of his ex-wife, after Jane rips the skirt off her teacher on the playground). When that barrier breaks down, however, Louie finally begins to enjoy the world around him: his issues with Jane quickly fade into the background, and we see a certain spring in C.K.’s step, the kind that only happens when he’s smitten with a woman he’s recently met.
As Louie often does so well, “Elevator” captures the specific emotions of every moment, delivering pointed dialogue and using his camera to give overt definition to his actions, but without sacrificing the authenticity of the situation. If anything, it adds a layer of surrealism to the show, best seen when Louie talks to Dr. Bigelow about three-legged dogs or when we see Amia mime taking a shower to express to Louie that she’s looking to buy a hair dryer (a beautiful little vignette I could watch over and over again).
In the aforementioned conversation with the family practitioner, Louie is given an important koan about enjoying life: if we’re always looking for life to be better, or to find the perfect situation in the world, we’ll miss everything beautiful about being alive. All the while, Louie’s trying to explain to the doctor Amia’s situation – she is returning to Hungary with her aunt in a month’s time – and try and figure out what he should be doing, rather than taking part in the life that he’s living now. It points out an important dichotomy in how most people live their lives and how they view them: if everything is always meant to be a building block to something else, how can you ever finish constructing your existence – and more importantly, actually enjoy it? If you’re looking outside on a partly sunny day, bitching about the fact it’s never sunny enough out, you’re never going to be able to enjoy the sun: it’s only when we live in the immediate present (like Dr. Bigelow’s dog) that we’re actually living life. The rest of the time, we’re just worried about what could go wrong or not happen.
Of course, four seasons of Louie have taught us this is exactly how Louie applies himself to any situation involving women, or his daughters: his desire to share with the former and guide the latter distract him from his own journey through the world, one he’s completely willing to let stall out, because it just feels like it’s going nowhere (like an elevator stuck between floors, one might say). The return of Pamela speaks volumes about this: in the past, he wasn’t able to appreciate the relationship he had with her, and it eventually drove her away. When she returns to begrudgingly be with Louie (after telling him “Nobody wants you, Louie!”), it points out an important fact Louie never noticed himself before: being with Pamela was the ultimate version of settling, of parking himself in the broken elevator with a bucket to shit in and a lot of Twinkies to eat. She’s rude, selfish, demeaning: and this is the woman Louie spent numerous seasons smitten with, until the dreamy Amia appeared in his life and swept him away with her broken English and ability to cook baller tarts.
Dr. Bigelow’s coda that closes “Elevator” appears to be a bookmark for the season as a whole: it recalls the events of “Model” and “So Says the Fat Lady”, two episodes that featured Louie missing out on special people because he was unable to let go of the insecurities and paranoia that drive him. As a whole, Louie‘s fourth season is about how empty a Louie’s life is without women (that includes his daughters), and the endless cycle of self-torture, doubt, and rejection that follows him every time he stops living in the moment and considers everything in context (ALWAYS the second a new, interesting woman appears in his life). Definitely a man’s story, but one that both appreciates women and gives them a voice in his quest to understand ever-lasting dichotomy between us and our much smarter genetic counterparts – and as always, fascinating television.
– another thought about Louie’s views of the male and female gender: who are more interesting characters (in general) in this season’s episodes? It’s certainly not Louie’s friend, who this week, insists he knows how to fix Louie’s Blackberry.
– I have nothing to say about Ursula Parker (Jane) in this episode than she’s fucking brilliant, and I cannot believe how much stronger Louie‘s child actors are than every other show on the planet.
– speaking of Jane, her scene with Amia – in which they play violin in unison together, proving that all women speak the same language, one we’ll never quite understand – is just perfection.
– Dr. Bigelow is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters on television. I’m a sucker for a good seer.