Louie, Ep. 3.03: “Miami” a tragicomic travelogue

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Louie, Season 3, Episode 3: “Miami”
Written by Louis C.K.
Directed by Louis C.K.
Airs Thursdays at 10:30pm ET on FX

One of Louie‘s emerging strands over its two-and-a-bit seasons is that it occasionally takes the form of a travelogue. Whether Louie finds himself in Afghanistan (actually a military simulation ground in Texas, but whatever), New Jersey, Alabama, or in this week’s case, Miami, Louie takes pleasure in taking Louie out of his comfort zone and into strange new directions in unfamiliar environments.

For future reference, if you ever want to stay lily-white and not have any idea where a forthcoming season of Louie will take you on a thematic level, you need to avoid watching CK’s public appearances. One of his late-night promo interviews, with Jay Leno, featured a very funny bit about heterosexual men, and their unique, crippling need to be identified as such; that bit appears in identical form as the capper to “Miami,” in the season’s only tidy piece of thesis-stating so far. Maybe it’s partially due to the familiarity of the gag, but compared to the first two episodes, the underlining of CK’s pet theme this week felt a little too pat.

With that said, “Miami” is still a very fine 22 minutes of TV. The nearly-wordless first few minutes are fairly standard-issue Louie (if such a thing exists): Louie finds himself in a beautiful, sunny city he’s been to any number of times before, surrounded by beautiful people who make him feel like shit, resulting in a binging-on-room-service incident that feels akin to the ice-cream incident from Season 1. (This is followed by one of the episode’s most wonderfully surreal moments: the cabal of freed, overweight, middle-aged men who take over the beach after peak hours have subsided. They emerge like members of an ancient, secret order.)

“Miami” arrives at its true subject when Louie is “not” rescued by Ramon (Miguel Gomez), a young, fit, handsome lifeguard who eventually comes to see Louie perform, leading to the two striking up a friendship. In a bit of real-life synchronicity, Louie reveals to Ramon that he’s fluent in Spanish, having lived in Mexico until he was seven (also true of CK); Ramon, deciding Louie checks out, decides to invite him to a family shindig in order to show the traveling comic the “real Miami.”

“Miami” employs the same wonderfully freewheeling vibe of Season 3’s other episodes so far, every one of which features at least one sequence of Louie on the road. If there’s a common thread to the season so far, it’s the notion of discovery, and this week finds Louie grappling with the limits of new adult friendships between men. After all, Louie is in his forties and divorced; don’t most people assume by them that they’ve made all the significant friends they’ll ever have? Louie is as unprepared for meeting and “falling for” Ramon as he is with breaking it off with his girlfriend in “Something is Wrong”; if anything, he’s even less articulate here. There’s something almost tragic about their last scene together, with neither party getting at the truth of what’s just happened between them; as usual, it’s up to Louie in stand-up form to cut to the heart of the situation.

Simon Howell

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