Louie: "Elevator (Part 2)"/"Elevator (Part 3)"

(Episode 3.05, Episode 3.06)

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<em>Louie</em>: "Elevator (Part 2)"/"Elevator (Part 3)"

The primary theme of Louie has always been miscommunication, which is both the butt of most of the show’s jokes and the cause of so much of its drama. Louis’ character and the world he lives in are rarely in alignment, and much of the show’s surrealism comes from giving us his everyman interpretation of events in contrast with what’s really being said or done. It’s difficult to say how aware the show’s creator is of this fact, but making one of the main characters for a plot arc literally incapable of understanding anything Louis says has been a solid fit for the show, not to mention an odd commentary on what Louis C.K. is looking in for a mate.

“Elevator Part 2” also came out strong in the way it contrasted verbal communication with nonverbal—for instance, the food he offers as a gift at the beginning of the episode—not to mention how this plays with Louie’s increasing problem with writing believable (or even existent) dialogue. Rather than conversations, Louie has become a show of monologues, primarily rants, whether it’s on the date in “So Did the Fat Lady” or his daughter on the bench or Louis speaking with his ex-wife about what to do with Jane. It’s a move that has the show grandstanding more, telling us how to think about situations rather than laying them out, but there’s also a weird self-consciousness about this fact. When Louis the character begins telling us about how he’s unable to think when he’s so wound up and emotional and shouty, it’s impossible not to see this as a commentary on the show itself, which is becoming increasingly shouty as well.

That being said, for all its ranty problems, Louie’s lack of any conclusion (or even much of a direction) about what to do with Jane was something you rarely see on television. There isn’t necessarily a right or wrong decision as to where Louis and his ex-wife should send Jane, and the communication breakdown between these two people who love her is an interesting note to leave the story on. This carries over into “Elevator Part 3,” when both parents are asked to speak seriously about Jane’s future and they both just begin playing on their phones. It’s a cheap gag, but still pretty heartbreaking considering what’s at stake here.

Louis’s complete inability to communicate even continues when his friend and crush Pamela returns to town and wants to see him, even if it’s on a romantic level. Instead of screaming, Louis is almost catatonically unable to speak up. The problem with communication is such an issue at this point that Louis makes an excuse and leaves their restaurant in order to stop hearing her or avoid responding. Later in the episode, when he believes Amia is dumping him, he pulls almost the same move and leaves before hearing out what exactly she has to say. Amia and Evanka literally have to track Louis back to his apartment and force him to listen to them.

The “Elevator” storyline began a bit disappointingly because the hook, that Louis is interested in a Hungarian woman who speaks no English, wasn’t very strong. Parts two and three have at least made this interesting, but still never quite compelling, as their romance gets displayed through a typical montage and their attraction seems like just that—attraction and little else. The drama of what’s happening with Jane on the side is much stronger, but the contrast between the two manages to work, keeping the show from becoming too twee or too dark.

There’s still very little narrative drive to this serial story, not much reason to believe that Louis should be with Amia, but I prefer Louie’s meta-commentary to what came directly before it. If the show’s going to keep lecturing us, at least the lectures are more integrated into what’s going on in the show. I was hoping that the long hiatus between seasons would bring us a newly revitalized Louie, full of more surprising surrealism and dark sensibility. Instead, most of what we’ve been given is a decent, but not extraordinary, romantic comedy.