Louie: "Daddy's Girlfriend Part 2" (3.4)
I may have been a little too hard on last week’s episode of Louie, but “Daddy’s Girlfriend Part 2” really emphasizes what was wrong about part one. There are plenty of movies, tv shows, books, songs, etc. about the search for love, and while Louie‘s episode about new courtship wasn’t exactly the standard-issue romantic comedy formula, it was still pretty rote. The journey from bliss to disillusionment that can happen in just an evening, though, that’s material far more suited to Louie, and unsurprisingly it turns into a much better episode.
Parker Posey’s Liz returns, and after a brief stand-up routine, the entire episode is devoted to her date with Louis. She’s essentially a manic pixie dream woman, and after leaving a bar (which refuses to serve her alcohol after “what happened last time”), she takes Louis on a whirlwind evening filled with trying new foods and outfits and even an attempt at changing the life of a homeless man they see on the street. She acts young and vibrant, and is a lot like every other manic pixie dream girl in that she seems to be there in order to infuse her male counterpart with her lust for life.
Only Louis is no longer young, and while aspects of this date are certainly enjoyable, overall it’s kind of a mess and certainly ends on a sour note. She has them head to the top of a building to look at the view, and so that she can stand at its edge. But Louis is winded and upon arrival mostly just afraid that she’ll fall off. He’s too old for this sort of thing, and we’re left with the realization that this woman—who were he 20 years younger would likely have seemed perfect—isn’t for him.
Posey also gives Liz a certain amount of sadness and desperation that’s usually lacking in Hollywood’s MPDG’s. Her past at the bar is an early sign of this, but as the episode continues there’s the implication that something’s wrong here. Her manic is truly manic, which is to say that it signals some real psychological problems, and we’re left feeling that Louis, the party pooper, is acting appropriately. He’s a real human being acting his age and maturity, while she’s only playing a role. We never get a sense of who she really is, that she has much of an inner life, and she performs her stories rather than telling them, like she’s a character in a John Cassavetes movie.
What’s particularly wonderful in the episode is its ambiguity. There is something truly enchanting about people with a real lust for life, which is why that character archetype exists. They’re fun to watch, certainly, and to some extent fun to be around. You can feel that Louis really and truly wants to be with Liz, not just because last week he was desperate to be with any woman, but because he wants to grasp at that part of himself which may now be long gone. But he knows that she’s not, in some sense, real, that she’s more a set of affectations and odd jokes than someone he could really talk to. If it took a so-so episode for Louie to get to this far more fertile ground, then it was well worth the detour.
•This episode featured an awful lot of unnecessary camera movement (especially in street scenes), which felt particularly strange because usually Louie is framed and shot beautifully. I can’t be the only one who found this distracting.
•I didn’t really get into how different Liz seemed here versus last episode, but that’s also pretty important. Louie‘s usual theme of misinterpretation plays into the episode a lot, and much of the slight melancholy of the episode comes from the difference between expectations and reality. He wants her to be honest with him, while she would rather pretend to have a goofy name.
•The big addition to Louie’s crew this season was the editor Susan E. Morse, who was Woody Allen’s longtime editor until they suddenly (and as far as I’m aware, unexplainably) parted ways at the end of the ‘90s. This episode in particular felt very indebted to Allen, and I don’t just mean Annie Hall.