Spoilers for this week's double dose of "Louie" brilliance after the jump:
I believe I've already said this, but in case I didn't it bears repeating: "Louie" has without question become one of the top comedies on television, improving dramatically from its excellent but uneven debut season. The two episodes that aired this week couldn't be more different, but both rank among the very best the show's done so far.
"Come On, God" opens with a lengthy sequence where Louie goes on TV to defend masturbation that is one of the funnier things I've seen recently. That can be said of the entire episode, which does a fantastic job of juxtaposing "Louie's" typical insight with what is, quite frankly, a topic that really doesn't seem to demand much. It's fascinating to watch C.K. wring interesting observations from a subject like masturbation, only to abruptly discard them at the end as he returns to his usual routine.
It's also interesting to watch how he treats the character of Ellen, the woman Louie initially debates the subject with. It's obvious that both the real Louie and the fictional one disagree with her point of view (most people do), but the show is careful not to portray the character as some kind of monster. She comes across as warm and friendly, and the two of them actually find themselves kind of attracted to each other. Obviously this doesn't go anywhere, but it's an interesting path for the show to take: and one that helps keep the vulgar humor grounded.
"Eddie", on the other hand, is something far different. It's arguably the darkest episode the show has ever done, rivaled only by season one's "Bully" and "God". Those are both brilliant episodes: each stellar in the way it explores its topic. But I personally found the personal nature of this installment even more compelling.
Obviously we don't know whether Louis C.K. knew a guy like Eddie, though I'd say the odds are pretty good (well over fifty percent) given how real everything in this episode feels. But regardless, this is an extremely personal episode because of what Eddie represents: namely, the direction Louie's life could have gone if things had worked out differently. They didn't, though. And now Eddie's planning to kill himself after doing one last show in Maine.
It's revealed that Eddie in some ways blames Louie for everything that's happened to him. The scenes of the two of them wandering the streets of New York are broken up by flashbacks (shot in a similar style to the subway sequence a few weeks ago) to the time when the two of them were close friends trying to break into the stand-up business. Now one is successful, and the other's ready to quit on life in general.
A lesser show would offer some moment of hope: a scene where Eddie realizes (maybe with Louie's help) that life's still worth living. Instead, Louie refuses Eddie's attempts to draw him into his web of despair. All he tells Eddie is that he hopes the other man doesn't do it. He then walks away, and Eddie drives off. This being "Louie", we probably won't ever find out whether he takes those pills. I'd like to think he doesn't. But this show isn't going to let us off that easy, and it's all the better for it.
- Louie asking if God masturbates while watching us was terrific. As was the entire stand-up sequence right after, and the tag scene. I'd say this was easily the funniest "Louie" of the season, although I actually preferred "Eddie" a bit more overall.
- In "Eddie", C.K. is careful not to paint his fictional self as too good of a guy. There is some truth in Eddie's claim that Louie abandoned him. Perhaps not a lot, but some.
- "Louie" was renewed for a third season. I'm so glad that a series like this can exist and thrive in today's TV landscape. It's kind of remarkable.
Both Episodes: A