Louie: “New Year’s Eve”
Louie finishes yet another strong season.
September 28, 2012 5:56 pmSam Lindauer
This last week of Louie was a wonderful amalgamation of what the show does best. It can turn observational comedy to the absurd to the melancholy to downright sad. It’s all over the place as a show and that’s what we love about it. While the three-parter from the last few weeks was fairly focused narratively, “New Year’s Eve” takes us in all directions with many of the problems that plague us during the holidays.
The episode starts as pure ridiculous observational humor with Louie looking on as his kids enjoy opening their Christmas presents. He looks on exhausted as he went to the ends of the Earth to wrap and find these gifts. Maybe the biggest laughs of the season came when we’re treated to an extended look at the surgery Louie does on one of his daughter’s dolls, which has lost its eyes. He starts gently with chopsticks than eviscerates the thing, shouting, “Shit on my father’s balls!” A battle cry for the exasperated parent if I ever heard one. He saws and melts and paints and his joy is practically orgasmic when he finally gets the eyes in, which causes a cavalcade of other problems.
Louie’s youngest daughter receives a book as a gift, “The Story about Ping” a book I vaguely remember from my own childhood about a wandering duck in China. The gist of the story is Ping, a duck, gets lost from the rest of his family and wanders alone on the Yangtze River. His daughter comments on how nice it looks to live on that river, Louie agrees foreshadowing what’s in store for the show.
Things turn sour quickly when Louie’s ex-wife and her current boyfriend come over. This new guy awkwardly exchanges pleasantries with Louie. The kids seem happy to see this new guy, literally and figuratively darkening Louie’s world. Before they descend in an elevator, Louie frames them as this beautiful bright happy family. He quickly cleans up the wrapping paper and dumps the tree out the window. Louie shuts out everything and goes to sleep.
Louie wakes up to a phone call from his sister, now played (to my great joy) by Amy Poehler, and he’s grilled about being alone. She asks Louie to come to Mexico to visit their grandmother. His obnoxious brother-in-law tries to convince him by being kind of an asshole. His sister is clearly worried about him and Louie knows it. He also hates that people are getting on him about being alone on the holiday, something that is seen as the most depressing thing in the world. Louie passes out in bed and has a dream about a dreary meeting between his grown children who talk about being artists or something with careers. It has all the ambiguity that comes with dreams. They talk about seeing Louie all alone eating cookies. Louie’s fears of being alone are transplanted on his kids, he’s worried he’s screwing up his kids for being alone.
CK drives this home with two newscasters (perfectly named Fanny and Flappy) who talk about the huge suicide totals during New Year’s and how there are a bunch of New Yorkers probably offing themselves right now. Hearing this Louie showers and packs his things to go to Mexico, because who needs to be in New York wanting to kill yourself.
On the bus to the airport we see Liz, Louie pulls the old switcheroo, making us think this will be a fairytale reunion, but Liz immediately starts bleeding from her nose and is taken to the hospital. In about as dark a turn as the show’s taken, Louie tries to calm her down, but her hear fails and she asks, “Bye?” before being pronounced dead in the room. Louie leaves the hospital room as people outside count down the New Year and everyone is coupled up. The one woman Louie thought could keep him from loneliness just dropped dead. The whole sequence feels like a dream, especially since CK plays the whole death so cool. If it wasn’t so quick it would be a much sadder sequence, but it felt more bizarre and surreal, though its perfectly in the vein of what the show would do.
Louie proceeds to the airport and finds a bench to awkwardly sleep on. When he wakes up he looks up at the big board and sees Mexico City, but his eyes are drawn to the flights to Beijing. He remembers “The Story of Ping” and how wonderful the Yangtze River seemed in the book. In maybe the biggest surprise the show has given us, Louie actually goes to China. He goes around asking locals about the Yangtze River. I can’t help but feel these are improvised as these are shot at a distance and are so off-the-cuff. Louie wanders around a small image trying to find his way to the river, he eventually finds a man with a truck full of ducks like Ping. The man is telling him something in Chinese, and he agrees to get in his truck which will hopefully take him to the river. When he arrives, the man points to a small stream and Louie is kind of disappointed to find that the man has taken him to this small stream. It’s picturesque but not what Louie was expecting.
CK wanders around before finding a small shack with a woman who welcomes him and invites him inside. It turns out to be a large family meal and everyone is more than happy to have him to eat. They give him food, and get him to parrot some words he doesn’t understand, but at least everyone seems to be laughing and generally happy. He needs to go to the other side of the world, but Louie is happy to have finally found some people to be with, and we end the season with Olde Lang Syne playing out our hero who has found some measure of happiness.
“New Year’s Eve” took us all over the map, and delivered some of the biggest laughs of the season and some of the strongest emotional notes of the entire series. It saddens me that this season of Louie is over, but I’m glad that it’s remained at such a high level. To add to my already warmed heart is the fact that the Louie won at the Emmys, winning best writing for a comedy and another for his stand-up special, have recognized CK. After this season, don’t be surprised if he needs to make room for more statues.
|FIND YOUR GEEK RATING
out of 10