Review: 'Louie' - 'Elevator Part 6/Pamela Part 1': Any old port in a storm
A review of tonight's two "Louie" episodes coming up just as soon as I can name the first president that women voted for...
For a while, I've been wondering about the scheduling of this six-parter and how "Elevator Part 6" would play leading into the next episode. As it turns out, "Pamela Part 1" may as well have been called "Elevator Part 7" in the way that everything in it flowed out of things Louie dealt with in his relationship with Amia, up to and including his decision to use the stairs rather than the elevator, and his stop in Ivanka's (mostly) empty apartment.
In fact, if you take the self-contained "Model" and "So Did the Fat Lady" out of the equation, this entire season is playing out as one huge story about Louie's crushing loneliness. Dr. Bigelow's speech about how lucky Louie should feel to be experiencing such heartbreak, for instance, plays beautifully off of not only the previous six episodes, but the Louie we saw in the season premiere, who seemed incapable of feeling much of anything. His time with Amia, and his struggles with Janet and the girls, brought him out of that funk — sometimes for happiness and sometimes for misery, but always in a way in which the feelings were real and palpable. And if he and Amia couldn't make things work out, at least they were able to communicate at the end, with the tearful Hungarian waiter serving as translator until both Louie and Amia recognized they could handle the rest on their own.
The serialized nature of the season also means that "Elevator Part 6" didn't have to bring all the Louie/Jane/Janet material to a complete close, though his rescue of Janet and the girls from the great terror of Hurricane Jasmine Forsythe(*) was a nice mixture of surreal comedy (the guy looking for "a" dog) and plain suspense, and it allowed Louie to play hero at a time when he's been feeling awfully powerless.
(*) Which has so far, if I have it right, killed LeBron James, the rest of the players of the Miami Heat, 12 million other people in and around Miami, and two different sections of western Brooklyn. Hoping we get a complete death toll by season's end.
Pamela's return, meanwhile, was a reminder of the awful hold she has on Louie, and of what an absolute putz he turns into around her.
The scheduling of this season means we've had two weeks in a row of Louie refusing to take no for an answer from a woman he's interested in. His attempt to do it with Pamela was played for comedy in a way the scene with Amia wasn't, and it also had her acknowledging the gross undertones to it — "This would be rape if you weren't so stupid!" Pamela bellows at him. "God, you can't even rape well!" — but I wouldn't be surprised in the slightest if this was too much, all at once, for some of the audience. That the sequence ends with that clumsy kiss, her horrified reaction, and then Louie doing a triumphant double fist pump could come across as C.K. making fun of his fictional alter ego, or it could come across as wildly insensitive and tone deaf. And it was definitely among the more uncomfortable moments I've had watching this show.
Because the bulk of this season has been telling one big story, it's tougher to come up with judgments on individual segments of it — even the alleged conclusion to a six-parter like "Elevator Part 6." And in the odd way C.K. has arranged the episodes, we don't get "Pamela Part 2" next week, but rather 90 combined minutes of TV called "In the Woods, Part 1 & 2" — which, I'm guessing, will still involve his complicated relationship with Pamela and/or things with Jane. I don't always understand the arrangement of episodes, but I remain caught up in this bigger sad tale of unlucky Louie.
What did everybody else think?
Alan Sepinwall may be reached at email@example.com