May 8, 2015

TV Recap: Louie - "Untitled"

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.
It would seem problematic that C.K. has entered a dreamlike state once again. Last season saw this happen in spades with troubling results. However, it ended up producing one of the weirdest and best episodes of the short short season. It may not produce the greatest plot, but it captures something even greater about Louie that we haven't seen before. Through the lucid dream state, it creates a wonderment exploring his anxiety and creating something that captures the feeling almost flawlessly. For that and many other reasons, it is a tough episode to beat this season.
After doing a comedy routine at the Comedy Cellar about bees, C.K. runs into Jon Glaser, who compliments him on the routine before going on stage to do his set. C.K. takes off to pick up his daughter Jane (Ursula Parker). She takes her to see the doctor (Charles Grodin) about a rash. His diagnosis is that she is fine and simply dehydrated. C.K. then decides to pick up Lily (Hadley Delany) from her sleepover. Here he meets a mother who wants to move a fish tank, but he is reluctant to help because he considers it to be too much work. During a brief trip to the store, C.K. becomes appalled when he discovers that Lily watched A Clockwork Orange.
When he arrives home, he falls asleep and immediately falls into a series of dreams. He imagines that Glaser is stealing his routine. He imagines that his genitals have become mutilated. He is being attacked by a random faceless man. He has his hand bitten by a random woman and assaults someone with a large rabbit head that might be his brother Bobby (Robert Kelly). In between these  moments, he keeps waking up in a panic, wondering why he can't get a good night's sleep. He tries to consult his peers, who suggest medications, but he is unable to get any closure.
When he figures out that it might be tied to the mother and her fish tank, he decides to help her. When he's done doing this, he helps to do other various repairs around the house. The two also have sex. When he leaves, there's a sense of accomplishment that runs through him and he is able to have the sweetest dreams that he has ever had.

Rating: 5 out of 5

It may be tough to properly grade this week's Louie largely because it isn't like any episode that has been done. Even the fact that it is called "Untitled" suggests that there's something noncanonical to it all. However, there's a flip side that revels in the fact that this may be the most realized that C.K. has been able to  make his show. While it has been highlighted as this series that exists in a dreamlike state, very few episodes feel like they embrace that. If they do, it is mostly in a certain sense of realism or lacks any deeper thematic resonance.
Here, there's so much going on that it doesn't all need to make sense. It is a look into the mind of someone who constantly struggles with the struggles of success, raising a family, and being someone of value. This episode exists in a state where his anxieties are explored in abstract mannerisms that don't always make sense, but end up feeling more concrete as a result. We all live in a world where our nightmares don't always make sense. Sometimes we are randomly attacked by a faceless man for no reason. Someones we think that we are in a state of consciousness when we are not. This is what the episode manages to perfectly pull off.
For a show that has gotten into the habit of finding new ways to talk about grand political and social themes. This isn't so bad, but sometimes it feels like you don't get the chance to better understand what C.K. is like. He almost exists in a preachy landscape that is more about making something confusing than explaining it. With "Untitled," it manages to find the inexplicable drives that haunt C.K. and why we have always been rooting for him. While it is sometimes worth dissecting what third act moments are real and fake, they all tie into a realism for C.K. mentally. His friends don't like him and people steal his jokes - the latter of which was recently explored on the series. There's continuity even in the sporadic moments that makes this a little more than just a surrealist nightmare.
I don't necessarily believe that I want Louie to get more abstract, but I'd encourage it to continue its quest on pushing boundaries in interesting ways. While we have seen him do it on different subjects, I feel it could work to better explore the character in ways that we wouldn't exactly expect. He is a conflicted character and one that isn't always easy to love. However, this episode manages to explore why that is without making it into something preachier. It may be too crass and nonsensical at times, but that is part of its charm. This is C.K. at his most realized. If nothing else, it is one that immediately stands out as something wholly different from what he has done before.

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