Tonight’s installment of Louie is literally a one-joke premise drawn out over an entire episode, consisting of a lengthy set up for the first 95 percent of the episode only for C.K. to revel the punchline in the final scene. When I put it like that, I admit, it doesn’t seem enticing at all, but the result was an incredibly engaging episode and one of my favorites to date.
We get a peek inside of Louie’s comedy show a few times, but he doesn’t revel much of anything, only two very brief snippets (one time he simply says, “I know it’s not popular to say, but I hate balloons,” and the second time is the tail end of his set, signing off with “thank you, you’ve been great.”) Here, C.K. is deliberately making the audience wait, holding back and holding back and making us wait and wonder what the eventual payoff will be.
“Miami” once again puts Louie on the road — like he did most notably in last season’s “Duckling,” where he and his crew went to Afghanistan. This time he lands in a city he’s been several times before. Louie hates Miami, and it’s not hard to see why in the opening minutes when he lands in the airport and is taken to his hotel by the beach. This touristy side of Miami has Louie bored to tears and is something he just doesn’t understand, which is highlighted by a posing shirtless man standing in the hotel lobby for seemingly no reason.
Louie’s fish-out-of-water feeling in amplified at the beach, where he’s surrounded by beautiful people (“this is bullshit.”). So instead of going in the water, he goes back to his room to eat a burger and fall asleep, only to return right before dusk when its safe for old fat guys like him to enjoy the South Florida shore.
He leaves his belongings on a beach chair before going for a swim, then starts waving and yelling frantically at an employee trying to pack up his things. The lifeguard on duty (Ramon) mistakes Louie’s calls for him drowning and goes out to save him (with Louie protesting the entire time).
Ramon comes to Louie’s show and the two catch up afterwards, with the two bonding over a drink over the fact that they both came to America as little kids (Ramon from Cuba, Louie from Mexico). The two spark a friendship and embark on a journey to help Louie uncover “the real Miami.” Ramon rides Louie around on his bicycle (rather adorably) and they stop to eat at little holes in the wall and interact with the locals to see how Miamians live their day-to-day lives. The day caps off with a huge party with Ramon’s family and friends, equipped with authentic Cuban cuisine, music, and dancing, which is pure and unadulterated fun for Louie. The party-goers take in Louie like one of their own (even if he continues to strike out with the ladies). He’s having so much fun that he completely forgets about his show, but in another tender moment, Ramon and his friends round up a car to race Louie across town just in time.
The two new buddies exchange a heartfelt goodbye, but Louie didn’t want this to be the end of their friendship, so he calls his ex-wife to see if she can handle the kids for a few more days while he stays in town. She’s on to him that he met someone, and even if it’s not what she thinks, she’s still happy for him.
The next day Louie surprises Ramon at the beach and they continue to have a great time, going for a swim and throwing the football around like old bros, but later that night when Louie runs into him again, Ramon decides he needs to put an end to this.
Ramon likes Louie, but doesn’t feel comfortable enough getting that close to another straight man. Louie just wants a friend — so much so that he gets nervous around Ramon like he’s on a first date — but he can’t even so much as express the fact that he’s not gay, but just likes spending time with another good person (a very Louie moment when the two have about a minute long conversation where nobody really says anything, just a lot a noises and motions and interrupting and meaningless words). Louie tries to walk the tightrope, and why shouldn’t he? He hasn’t had an emotional connection like this with many people in his adult life. But as a grown man, it’s next to impossible to make new friends, mostly because of the preconceived notion of how heterosexual guys should act in society.
Which finally leads us to Louie in front of the mic, delivering the episode’s punchline — that heterosexual men have a big burden that they put on themselves which is that they want (and need) to be identified as a heterosexual man. Women and gay men couldn’t care less what people thought of them, but straight guys need to make sure that they aren’t mistaken for anyone else. They can’t be nice to another man without suspicion. They can’t even use certain words like “wonderful.”
C.K. is one of the best at picking apart these unwritten social conventions. He doesn’t want to live by them. He wishes he can live in a world where he can have a nice relationship with another straight guy without any subtext or weirdness. But with everyone else living by societies rules, Louie is once again left alone at the bar.
- The fact that Louie wasn’t drowning, but Ramon tossed him on the beach so hard after saving him that he was coughing uncontrollably, was great.
- Louie apologizes to Ramon for stereotyping his journey from Cuba to America, saying “I know nothing.” Ramon absolves him immediately, telling him in Spanish “say you don’t know and then you learn everything.”
- We learn that Louie (like the real C.K.) is half-Mexican, which very few of us could discern just by looking at him. Similarly, Louie’s ex-wife is black, which makes no biological sense considering his blonde and fair-skinned daughters, but it somehow it fits in perfectly with the show.
- Ramon talking about the people in the high-rise condos across the street from where he lives: “Some of them have been living there their whole lives and have never seen where they live. Then you look up and see them on their balconies and they’re alone, and you feel sorry for them.”
- Fun to see another version of the ocean scene over the closing credits, showing C.K. in full-on director mode.