Apr 10, 2015

TV Recap: Louie - "Pot Luck"

Louis C.K.
Hello and welcome to the TV Recap series on FX's Louie. Join me every Friday as I recap all of the events that have happened over the course of the fifth season. Join as the show reaches new highs and news lows while following the stand-up career of Louis C.K. with his family and friends. Will it be better than the overtly ambitious season four? Will the show produce its best season yet? You'll have to read on to find out all of the juicy details along with plot descriptions and opinions on every memorable moment.
I am so glad to be back on the beat writing about Louie. While I cannot say that I was a big fan of season four's ambitious efforts, I am glad to note that the series is, in some respects, back to normal with a season premiere that features many of the familiar trademarks, specifically that of its theme song that was absent all of last season. I may not think that this premiere was as strong otherwise, but to know that the show is back up to its old ways at least gives me hope that this series has learned its ways and will be back on track for its few episodes this season.
The episode opens up with a stand-up confession from C.K. regarding his interests in extraterrestrial life. He has lost interest and doesn't care if we ever find aliens. In fact, he's convinced that we're the South American planet to some other planet. There's plenty of apathetic worries that lead into the opening where he admits to his therapist that he considers himself to be a boring asshole. He has a revelation that he needs to do something more productive with his life.
That night, he decides to go to a parent teacher association pot luck. He promises to bring fried chicken. At first, he is seen making it unsuccessfully. He later buys a plate of KFC chicken and passes that off as his own. At the pot luck, he runs into odd situations that includes an awkward hug, the room of people participating in an odd call and response moment, and he meets Julianne (Celia Keenan-Bolger), who is serving as a surrogate mother for a lesbian couple's child. 
While leaving, C.K. runs into Julianne outside. She reveals that she is having an Uber driver take her home. She offers to give him a lift and he reluctantly accepts. As he helps her into her apartment, he becomes worried when she begins crying. One thing leads to another and soon he is having sex with her in the hallway. As her water breaks, he panics and takes her to the hospital. This gets the lesbian couple all mad because they planned to have a natural birth at a different hospital. They berate him and he leaves. The episode ends with him making a joke about his friends using Batman villain The Penguin's voice whenever they want to be secretly racist.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Let me start by summarizing my thoughts on Louie season four. As longtime readers will likely remember, I wasn't a big fan of the ambitious "Elevator" and "Pamela" arcs. While I do believe that the series could benefit from telling longer stories, I don't think that the show did them effectively, or at least coherently enough to make me care. In a way, it was the most self-involved and disinterested I have been with the series. Yet I stuck by it because there were moments that struck me as interesting. I think that the show is doing great stuff, but it doesn't seem to be holding on to a cohesive way of presenting that information.
Then there's season five, which immediately hit me as a breath of fresh air. For starters, it opened up with a stand-up routine. To be frank, both routines in this episode weren't that great and even if he just cribbed from his recent release of "Live at the Comedy Store" album, I would likely have enjoyed it more. Still, I felt it was fine with the way that it transitioned into the revelation that he was a boring asshole. These are all fine moments. However, I am mostly glad to see the opening credits sequence back. To me, it was the essential piece to the show that its artsier side ignored last season in favor of artsier stuff.
The rest is probably one of the odder points of the show and what has me worried. For starters, the plot is definitely as absurd as we'd expect from Louie. His sex with a pregnant woman is very noteworthy and perverse. Even the way that it is handled has some comedic moments. However, I do worry that the show's lack of conflict made the episode not all that interesting. The events just end. The only twist is that what started off as a simple pot luck dinner ended up at a hospital being yelled at. I don't necessarily think that there's much wrong with it, but considering how creative the show has been in the past, I was hoping for something greater.
I will admit that of all the ideas in the episode, it felt most fitting for C.K. to just disguise KFC as his own food. It was a nice touch and made his scheming around other people's food a little more humorous. Still, the moments in general were more on the awkward side than comical. I don't entirely get why the whole repetition of the room was all that important or funny. However, it fit into an odd art house film aesthetic that the episode seemed to be going for, especially with a banjo playing man who was arbitrarily thrown into the scenes. It was artful in a confusing way.
I don't hate the episode, but it does have me worried that Louie has officially lost its charm. Where it got by on finding the absurdity in mundane life, this just feels like an episode meant to highlight how creative C.K. can be. I get that it is hard to make stuff work in limited time, especially following the endless content of season four, but I feel like the show needs to find its center again and not just be a series of random moments meant to insight thought without any real context. Again, the pregnancy sex was creative, but what did it all amount to? The show needs to do something more with itself.

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