Spoilers for Thursday's superb "Louie" after the jump:
I liked last week's premiere well enough, but this... this is what "Louie" is all about. It's unique, bizarre, funny, and serious all at the same time, and just about all of its many tones were on display here. The episode didn't feel messy or out-of-control, though. As usual, the two distinct storylines were linked by a common thread: namely, what a forty-three year old single guy has to go through on his quest for love (or even just companionship).
In the first storyline, Louie arranges a date with a woman named Janice. The scene where he asks her out is in and of itself a small masterpiece of awkward hilarity, as he tries to get the words to come out of his mouth for what seems like an hour. He finally succeeds, but things don't go as planned when an insane man tries to attack him as he's walking to the date. He sidesteps the guy, who goes flying into the street and is decapitated by a truck.
This is darkly funny enough by itself, but what happens after that is even more interesting. Louie continues on to his date, but is distracted. Eventually he begins talking to Janice about how death is only a moment away from all of us and other happy topics such as this. Surprisingly, this makes Janice feel a connection to Louie, who she admits she had agreed to date only because he might someday be famous. And then Louie tells her what happened. That doesn't go over so well, and she leaves.
The second segment, "Blueberries", is even stranger and more compelling. Louie meets a woman named Dolores at his daughter's school who asks him if he'd be interested in a casual, no strings attached fling. He says yes, and what follows is both funny and weirdly melancholy (yet another example of "Louie" juggling multiple tones at once, and doing it perfectly).
First she sends him out to pick up a bunch of sex-related stuff, plus blueberries (leading to a hilarious scene where he asks a store clerk where all of the different items are). It then becomes clear during sex that Dolores has some serious emotional problems, and the segment ends with her and Louie awkwardly discussing his plans for middle school while she eats the blueberries.
This is material that no other comedy on TV (at least that I know of) would touch, but the episode's dark edge isn't the only reason why it's so good. Far more important is how Louis C.K. is able to extract meaning from these two romantic encounters. Sure, the meaning is little more than: "romance is completely messed up when you're an out of shape forty-three year old". But somehow it feels deeper and more profound than that when you're watching it happen, as well as when you're thinking about it a few days later. I'm still not entirely sure why.
- The stand-up scenes were pretty minimal this week, but they were pretty good. The only one that had me laughing out loud was the one at the end, though. Loved Louie telling the audience to "stop relating to this!" even as he (and we) know perfectly well that they can't. His material is just so easy to relate to.