In last week’s episode (along with many before it), Louie proved that it can successfully integrate a two-part structure in its episodes, with two different short stories sharing common themes coming together for an entertaining and thought-provoking half-hour of television. But while “Ikea/Piano Lesson” had plenty of memorable moments, I couldn’t help but feel like it left a lot of great possibilities on the table.
Though this is a “slash” episode, it’s actually more of a three-parter (maybe that’s part of the reason I didn’t think it worked as well). The first vignette calls back to Louie’s awkward sex-buddy Dolores, who last showed up in Season 2’s “Bummer/Blueberries” as the neurotic mother of one the kids at school who had emotional breakdown in the middle of their last encounter, events that were utilized nicely with well-timed flashbacks. This time around Dolores starts off the conversation awkwardly by telling Louie that she’s been talking about those events in therapy and wants him to come with her for the next session. Louie flatly says no, and it’s nice to see him have a backbone for once, but then he gets sucked into going to Ikea with her in exchange for oral sex.
At Ikea, we remember why Dolores is so unstable. She picks fights with Louie for not being more helpful, and the two bicker like an old married couple, causing a nauseatingly cute pair (including a girl named Hasenpfeffer) to proclaim that they’ll never fight like that. The fight ultimately leads to another breakdown by Dolores, and Louie deals with it as only Louie could — by tucking her into one of the prop beds and shushing her. The segment had some funny moments, specifically Louie’s rant about the rug, but overall it seemed too rehashed and lazy for Louie standards.
The middle story has Louie’s piano lesson interrupted by a phone call from Maria Bamford, saying that she either got crabs from or gave crabs to Louie (“So, ‘fuck you!’ or ‘sorry’ but I don’t know which one.”). He goes to the pharmacy to get the crab shampoo and is forced to wait through an old lady talking about her bowel movements with the pharmacist before he can get his remedy. Again, this is probably something that worked out better in C.K.’s head than it did on screen.
Following a shower, Louie plops down in front of the TV and stumbles upon a comedy special from the `80s staring him as a young man, obviously much skinner with a full head of hair (paired with a great moment of him pulling up his computer camera so he can view a side-by-side comparison of past and present versions of himself). Though the special originally made him sad, his mood instantly swings when he sees a very young Sarah Silverman. The laughs lead to him calling Sarah and the two share some nice moments making fun of their past selves, but then a new comedian hits the stage: Marc Maron. Louie informs Sarah that the two haven’t spoken in 10 years, but just remembers that it was not Marc’s fault at all but his own, so he feels the need to apologize face-to-face. So Louie shows up at Marc’s house and Marc hears Louie out, but at the end tells him that, while he appreciates the gesture, the two literally had this exact conversation five years ago. Louie apologizes (as he tends to do a lot), and leaves Marc’s place realizing that he’ll continue to make the same mistakes over and over again.
As a weekly listener to Maron’s WTF Podcast, I was thrilled to see him featured on the show, but I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed with how this story was approached. In real life, Maron and C.K. actually were best friends and they really did have a falling out, and much like on the show, neither really know why. (though on the infamous podcast with C.K., Maron takes the brunt of the blame, admitting to resenting his friend’s success. It’s a premium podcast, so it’ll cost you two dollars, but the episode comes highly recommended for any C.K. fan.) But what’s so great about the podcast is that the two verbally work out issues of resentment, anger, life, death, family, growing up and growing old, and this episode allowed for none of that, only having Maron there to accentuate Louie’s memory joke. Maron has a gift for talking things out, and if Louie allowed for more of an open discourse (much like he had with Dane Cook last season), this could have been one of the most engaging scenes the show has put together. Instead, it’s nothing more than mildly amusing, though Maron’s “It’d be nice if you’d call me up for coffee or dinner sometime,” almost saved it.
Even Louie is prone to a subpar episode every now and then. But even so, Louie at it’s lowest is still a better half-hour of television than most sitcoms at their best.
– Louie’s thoughts on the rug: “It’s a rug. It’s fine. That’s the level of passion a rug warrants. It doesn’t solve all my problems, but it doesn’t make me angry. It doesn’t smell bad. It’s flat. It’s blue. It goes on the floor.It’s not coded with AIDS. It doesn’t make me cum, but it’s fine.”
– Can’t tell if Louie is proud of his old jokes or disgusted by them.
– Marc has this awesome photo of him and Louie from back in the day hanging in his house.
– I do appreciate Marc sitting in the therapist-type chair in his boxer shorts and dress socks, considering many of his podcasts unfold with the openness of a therapy session.