Spoilers for the"Louie" season premiere after the jump:
The opening episode of "Louie's" second season finds Louis C.K. in complete control of his show's format as well as its themes. Unlike the early episodes of season one (which typically featured two completely different sketches), the two separate plots of "Pregnant" combine to tell a cohesive story about the value of family and friends. It's not one of the show's all-time best installments, but it's a strong start to what should be an excellent season.
In the episode's first scene, Louie's younger daughter tells him she loves her mother more than she loves him. She does this matter-of-factly, not realizing that what she's saying is hurtful. Louie doesn't react. He continues brushing her teeth. And then he makes an obscene hand gesture behind her back.
If you've never watched "Louie" before (and you truly can jump in anytime with this show), that scene should tell you all you need to know about whether or not the show's for you. Some will certainly find it appalling. But in that scene, C.K. is already beginning to explore an uncomfortable truth: no matter how much parents love their kids, sometimes they hate them as well.
This eventually leads into one of the best stand-up scenes I've seen on the show so far: in which Louie discusses the perils of having two kids of different ages. At one point he talks about his 5 year-old's fear of the water, which persists despite his assurances of her safety. He asks the audience why she would think he'd lie to her about that, given that there are far easier ways to kill a young child: such as pinching her nose shut for four minutes while she sleeps. This is a rather horrifying observation, but since we all know he's not serious we can laugh at it.
And that's good, because there aren't many laughs to be found in the second segment, which involves Louie needing to take his pregnant sister to the emergency room. That's okay, though: it's not supposed to be funny. It's scary, actually, to see Louie go into complete panic mode and freeze up at the exact moment his sister needs him. Fortunately, his neighbors are there to help him snap out of it. After it's revealed that Gretchen's pain was merely gas, Louie thanks them for their help. That's what neighbors are for, after all. This is a profound realization to the generally isolated Louie.
Lots of great stuff, right? Well, there are also a few scenes in the latter half of the episode that just don't land. The extended fart joke did elicit a laugh from me, but it was a "really, that's where you're going with this?" laugh instead of a "wow, that's hilarious and clever" laugh. And the second stand-up sequence (while it does keep within the episode's theme) just wasn't particularly funny. That's okay, though: I have little doubt that the season will improve as it goes on. C.K. knows what he's doing.