While Louis CK routinely kills audiences with his brilliant standup, consistently firing insightful and hilarious material that often leaves crowds gasping for breath between fits of laughter, some casual fans have long derided his FX series for being unfunny. To some extent, this is true, as Louie often aims for experimental storytelling rather than the gags and quippy dialogue associated with more traditional sitcoms. By that standard, season four has easily been the show’s least funny to date. Though frequently brilliant and occasionally thought-provoking and emotionally affective, Louie has rarely been laugh out loud funny this season and has felt more like a drama at times, featuring spanning story arcs focused on Louie’s often difficult and alienated relationships with the women in his life.
As a season closer, “Pamela Pt. 2 and 3” (picking up with his attempt to rekindle his possibly burgeoning relationship with Pam from the storyline’s first installment two weeks ago) was frequently funnier than any of the season’s previous episodes and, in what has to be a first for the series, Louie finally gets the girl. Yet despite the happy ending and thanks in part to the still problematic relationship between the two, “Pamela Pt. 2 and 3” served as a somewhat unsatisfying capper and it’s hard to celebrate the long-awaited coupling of Pam and Louie with the congratulatory fist-pump favored by the show’s star.
“Pamela Pt. 2” opens with Pam’s somewhat reluctant (but totally consensual – it seems that their awkward encounter from two weeks back was just as I had initially interpreted it, not an attempted assault, but Louie’s misreading of Pam’s purposely mixed signals) acceptance of Louie’s invitation to go out on an actual date. Playfully nastiness is still Pam’s standard mode of communication, but when we see her in a boutique contemplating a lovely dress to wear on their date, it’s clear that she’s looking forward to it at least a little bit. In an uncharacteristic success, Louie plans essentially the perfect date, bringing her to an avant garde art gallery and then a late-night picnic in Central Park with front row seats to a once-every-seventeen years meteor shower.
The ridiculously pretentious and scatological art gallery was the perfect forum for Louie and Pam to revel in their mutual sarcasm and was packed with a ton of hilarious sight-gags, including an “artistic piece of art…called “Bag of Shit” and an old-timey radio that hurls a poorly-timed racial epithet when Louie pushes the button. Later, Pam is awed by the beauty of the meteor shower (it’s rare to see a single star in the city sky, let alone a cavalcade of shooting stars) and seems genuinely touched by the intricate planning Louie put into making it all happen. It’s the warmest, most affectionate we’ve ever seen Pamela and when she finally kisses Louie – passionately and without grimacing in disgust for a change – it really is a pretty romantic moment.
Had the date ended there, it would have been an unquestionable romantic success, but Pam is Pam and goes back to her standard mode of disgust towards Louie once they get back to his apartment apartment and she tries to flee rather than “do things” of a further intimate nature. After their seemingly meaningful encounter in the park, Louie’s too hurt by her sudden rejection to try to sway her, realizing, “You either wanna hurt me or you don’t care and either one is a person I don’t wanna be with.” Pamela does respond to his obvious pain and winds up spending the night and opening up to Louie, but her inherent nastiness is what makes the final two episodes of the season problematic for me. Sure, Pam is sexy, smart, and sarcastically funny – all traits which would obviously appeal to Louie – but she’s also cruel, cold, and childish. Her staunch refusal to show any warmth towards Louie because “feelings are gross and disgusting” illustrates not so much intimacy issues, but a deeply-entrenched and chronic immaturity, an “EW! Boys are icky!” attitude more befitting a twelve year-old tomboy than a grown woman and mother.
Yes, Pam’s uninhibited candor and ballsy approach is sometimes refreshing and helpful, as is the case when she breaks the stifling awkwardness upon her introduction to Janet and her new man (I laughed at her blunt question, “How is your ex-wife black? How the hell is she the mother of those almost translucent babies?,” if only because it gave voice to a question that’s undoubtedly gone through the head of almost every audience member during the run of the show) and with her non-nonsense advice to Louie after his uncomfortable encounter with ex-friend Marc Maron. Her playful, mean-girlishness also makes her a big hit with Louie’s daughters and she has an easy, big sister-like rapport with them. I loved when the three of them ripped on Louie’s appearance and her observation that he has absolutely no ass (Jane: “Yeah, Daddy poops out his back.”) was dead-on, as is unfortunately proven later in a sight I can’t unsee. If they gave Emmys for most uncomfortable nude scene, Louie would be a lock this year unless Danny Devito claws his way nude out of another leather sofa on this upcoming season of Always Sunny.
While Pamela is certainly captivating, her immaturity more often feels like the cause of her intimacy issues rather than a symptom of them, as when she resorts to texting Louie underwear pics from the next room rather than simply undressing before him, more comfortable to hide behind a screen then express genuine feeling face to face. More annoying is that sometimes, like season three’s ill-fated Liz, Pam veers into manic pixie territory, doing weird, crazy girl shit like selling all of his furniture without permission and then getting turned on by his newly-barren apartment and initiating sex on the floor. Yes, she’s fun and charming and represents the fulfillment of a long-time crush, but she’s also selfish, mean, and by episode’s end, still won’t concede to give Louie the verbal confirmation of affection he craves. As a result, even though Louie finally gets what he wants, it’s hard to be happy for him when he gets awkwardly naked and climbs into that comically overflowing bathtub with her (a great callback to their missed encounter from season two). Pam’s still playing power games with him and one can’t help but think Louie will be right back to his miserable, lonely sad-sack self whenever season five rolls around.
Kimberlee Rossi-Fuchs is a Senior Writer for Pop-Break, regularly covering Game of Thrones, Louie, Futurama, and Boardwalk Empire, as well as other delectable nuggets of TV, film, and music throughout the year. Since graduating with Highest Honors from Rutgers University with a degree in English, Kimberlee currently finds herself in a financially comfortable, yet stifling corporate environment where her witty and insightful literary and pop culture references are largely met with confused silence and requests to, “Get away from me, weirdo.” Still, she’s often thought of as a modern-day Oscar Wilde (by herself) and one day hopes her wit, charm, and intellect (again, self-perceived) will make her a very wealthy, very drunk woman. She’s also the mother of a darling little boy, Charlie Miles (aka Young Chizzy) who she hopes will grow up to not be too embarrassed of all of the baby pics she relentlessly shares of him on various social media sites.