Friday, August 17, 2012
Louie - "Dad"
Another cold open. Another episode without stand-up routines. Another callback episode. But another callback episode that worked. You may recall that I was not terribly pleased with last week's "IKEA" segment. Although it was quite funny and clever, it didn't diverge thematically or tonally from "Blueberries." On its own it was a good segment, but it was mostly just more of the same. (Then again, seeing as both segments are great, I really don't know what I was complaining about.)
This week brought us a few more prominent callbacks: Season 1's poker scene; Chelsea Peretti's helicopter escape of season 1; and the motorcycle ride through the city of this season's first episode. As opposed to last week, though, these callbacks worked for me because they served a purpose: they were reconfigured to fit thematically within last night's episode "Dad."
But before I get into that, I just want to point out that I love the way Louis toys with expectations with just about every damn aspect of his show. Seeing as the episode is titled "Dad" and the first scene involves Louie yelling at his daughter for her virtuoso violin playing (which, holy shit that was good), I thought this would be yet another episode detailing Louie's struggles as a parent. When we later realize that this episode is in fact about Louie's non-relationship with his estranged dad, that first scene, in retrospect, is more poignant than funny.
For reasons never specified in the episode, Louie is no longer on speaking terms with his dad (interestingly, last week's "Piano Lesson" also involved an estrangement—that time from Marc Maron—for reasons never given). Louie's uncle pleads with him to visit his dad. As he illustrates through the wonderful/horrifying condoms-with-hookers-but-not-with-dads analogy, nothing must ever come between a father and a son. But Louie can't do it. Indeed, even the thought of seeing his dad makes him so nervous he has to vomit.
Which brings us to the poker scene. The first time we saw Louie and his pals playing poker in season one, it was a great bonding scene—that turned into an empathy lesson on what it's like for a gay person to hear the word "fag." This time around, it begins as another bonding scene—that turns into a lesson on why Jim Norton has to draw crude pictures of naked women to masturbate. And then Louie vomits. You may have thought this would be a stand alone scene but it has been invaded by thoughts of Louie's dad. We are brought back to the dad story. Because Louie can't escape it.
Which brings us to the motorcycle scene. Or, more accurately, tricycle scene. Or whatever the fuck this is:
But anyway, Louie finally builds up the courage to visit his dad. He travels to Boston, and runs afoul of a Bostonian, which brings back all kinds of unhappy memories, reminding him why he left that city. When he finally does get to the door, when he can see his dad coming down the stairs, Louie freaks out; he makes a run for it.
In the most absurd way possible. He hijacks the tricycle, and then hijacks a speedboat, going as far away as possible. I love the way this show fucks with reality; but a lot of folks don't. Many people, in fact, were put off by a similar scene in the very first episode of Louie. Chelsea Peretti, on an awkward date with Louie, makes a run for it by escaping in a helicopter. Now these scenes may make no realistic sense, but they are great illustrations of the way we feel in certain scenarios. It is almost a childlike wish, when confronted with horrible, awkward reality, to be able to steal a speed boat and get far, far away, as far away as possible.
But here's where Louis reconfigured that helicopter scene. Mirroring the final moment of "Daddy's Girlfriend Part 2," when Louie finally escapes, he lets out a victorious giddy laugh...followed by unspeakable sadness. And the lonely sadness takes us through the entire credit sequence. Even in fantasy, it's impossible to escape.
I wish I had rich parents who could have given me musical lessons when I was a kid.
I was trying to fit the Best Buy scene thematically with the rest of the episode, but I just couldn't figure it out. I would call it filler, but it's so damn funny—and accurate—that I just don't care whether or not it fits. And those performances are spot on.
I was so glad to see F. Murray Abraham again, this time playing Louie's uncle. We've had a few great professional actors this season (Melissa Leo and Parker Posey) and it's been a real treat watching them deliver Louie's wonderful lines. Also, wow, Louie's uncle is an aristocratic douche. The Russian Tea room, that's some fancy-ass shit.
I love the way Louie cringes when his uncle laughs at his own inside jokes. It must be excruciating for comedians to have to listen to citizens try to be funny.
One thing I haven't brought up in my reviews yet is the extent to which Louie is an accurate representation of Louis. I really don't know. One thing that is interesting, though, is that Louie tells his uncle he has a TV show.
One inaccuracy in the episode: I didn't buy that Jim Norton would be ashamed to tell any sex-related story about himself.
Note the disorienting camera move up the steps of Louie’s dad’s house.
“Stop it! Stop it, it’s not time to do that right now!”
“But it’s beautiful.”
“It’s not time to do that right now.”
“Hey, I was helping you.”
“No you weren’t.”
“Is that me? That’s not me. That’s what I look like?”
“When a man has sex with a prostitute and he covers his organ, so that he won’t catch her wretchedness, he is acting in the interest of his family so that he won’t take it home to his wife.”
“That’s a question?”
“Well, he was the kind of man who has a hunting dog by his side, and boots. You know, this kind of man.”
“Well, here’s the thing, rashes and vomiting don’t usually go together.”
“Sir, you can’t throw up on the car.”
“Why are you being such a little pussy about this? He’s your father. It’s not like he touched your dick or something.”
“I haven’t seen my dad since he died. Think about that, you queeah.”