With the final five episodes of the fourth season of Louie, Blake (B.I.C) and I felt like another conversation over the remainder of the season was in order. So. For your perusal, here is part two of our ongoing email conversations on this season of Louie.

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Blake: So there are two main story lines that must be dealt with to complete our coverage of this season of Louie. One is the about Pamela (who has been a love interest of Louie’s off and on throughout the seasons) and the other is a couple of episodes that deal with Louie’s middle school years and his juvenile experimentation with marijuana. Let’s start with the latter—“Into The Woods, Part I & II.” What struck you about those two episodes?

Howie: Those two episodes were easily my favorite episodes of the season. There is so much going on within the narrative of the flashback that it really deserves a post of its own. It seems that the thrust of the story surrounds what happens when Louie and his friends finally get caught for using, buying (which entailed Louie stealing scales from the science lab to trade for pot from the drug dealer) and selling—or giving out—marijuana to others in the school. The principal’s response towards Louie strikes an incredibly powerful image of substitutionary atonement when he tells Louie that he won’t press charges against him even though they both know he is guilty. “I can absorb this, you can’t.” Louie, at this point, has no control over his own situation. It takes someone on the outside who is willing to take the hit for him. Someone who is in opposition to Louie’s antics, much like Christ was in opposition to our antics. Some truly powerful stuff there.

Blake: Yeah, I totally agree. That scene was pivotal for the profundity of this season. I think the science teacher who was so loving towards his students played an interesting role at the end as well. I loved his character, but I am not sure what to do with his final scene, when Louie tells him that he stole the scales. Every particle in my body wanted him to absorb his anger and hug Louie or say it was “okay” or something. But he just turns around and goes back to cooking and that is all we see. I find that interesting. The principal who was “against” Louie during those two episodes is the one who made atonement for Louie, and the science teacher who was this great guide and mentor to his students does nothing, offers no absolution. Part of me found that a little off-putting, but I am wondering if Louie did that for a reason. What do you think?

Howie: I thought the same thing. The teacher’s daughter was standing there too (who the teacher had been wanting Louie to ask out on a date). Perhaps the teacher was embarrassed, and had to be a father (to his daughter who seemed to want Louie to ask her out) and “absorb” for his daughter—which in that case meant avoiding both extremes, (chewing Louie out or showing Louie grace). I’m not sure that’s how C.K. wrote it, but that’s how I viewed it. Perhaps the less “relationally vested” principal was in a better position to atone. It’s an echo of why the Gospel is always “true and better”—the most relationally vested one (in history) chose to be the atonement for us.

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Blake: That is such a terrific observation, Howie. And I know you absolutely adored the non-flashback ending to the Into The Woods episodes between Louie and Lilly after he had caught her smoking pot—which led to his own flashback in the episodes.

Howie: Louie making bacon for her! Watching the show over the 4 seasons, that is so out of character for him. He’s always making his daughters healthy snacks and meals. But in the “grace moment”, all he could think of was to try to connect with Lilly by making her the best tasting treat on the planet! I love it.

Blake: So what about the Pamela episodes (parts 1-3)? You rightly pointed out that there is a visual alliteration in this season where Louie finds himself waking up, both, Amia and Pamela on a couch? What do you think that is all about? What is he trying to point out there?

Howie: With Amia, he’s never seen her before in his life, she’s wearing only underwear, and in an emergency he has to wake her up. He’s SOOO careful not to nudge her unless he puts a blanket over her first. It’s a very gentle, beautiful introduction between the two characters, especially looking back on it after we see their relationship evolve. But, Pamela, a woman Louie has been intimate with (and pledged his love to a few years prior), had just sacrificed her evening to babysit for him—for free! She has been awesome, putting the kids to bed, and is now sleeping peacefully on the sofa. If ever there was time to be gentle with someone you know and love, that’s it.  What does Louie do? He sees that moment as a good time to aggressively (with borderline sexual assault moves) seek a kiss. What’s the point of the alliteration? We take advantage of the ones we have pledged love to (unfairly).

imagesBlake: So true! Speaking “borderline sexual assault moves,” that whole scene where he was grabbing and holding and dragging Pamela made me so uncomfortable. With all of the recent talk about rape, rape culture and so forth lately, it just felt so, I don’t know. I was cringing the whole time. And I can totally see why that scene was criticized. Louis C.K. was walking, maybe, a tighter line than he even normally walks. But I felt that tension was released when the “kiss” took place. I guffawed. At that point, it felt more like he was speaking more about intimacy and less about intentionally coming off as a rapist. But, like I said before, I think scenes like that are tough calls, especially when women have been objectified and brutalized in real and horrible ways. What did you think?

Howie: I sympathize with the criticism, but I think it misses the point of what Louis C.K. was going for in that scene. When Pamela says “you don’t even rape well,” it was meant to be funny, and if you take it that way, it completely deflates the tension and takes the scene in a good direction – speaking to the risks of intimacy. But if you take it as Pamela  thinking that Louie really is trying to rape her, then it becomes pretty disturbing. So I see how the criticism could be made, but more than that, I appreciate the risks that C.K. is willing to take to say something important about that level of intimacy.

Blake: Okay. So the big question. Who do you think is the best for Louie? Pamela or Amia? They are about as opposite as two people can be. I think Amia is what every guy would want (whether they recognize it or not!) and that Pamela really isn’t. But I like Pamela from a female character standpoint because I really do believe that women still get pretty consistently stereotyped on TV and movies. They, in my eyes, don’t seem terribly complex most of the time; they’re not allowed to be both caustic and warm. So I like her and I don’t, for completely different reasons. Amia, on the other hand, is very graceful and gracious. She is attuned to Louie’s daughter and not just as a friend but as a mother and mentor to them. I think, from my perspective, Amia is the one Louie would ultimately be the happiest with, but I think Pamela’s story will change. I doubt she will stay static.

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Howie: I think your analysis is dead on, and I especially like what you say about Pamela, but that’s also my problem. Amia (except for the not speaking English part) embodies the type of wife (relationally) that every guy would want: thoughtful, giving, easy to be with, etc. Pamela, on the other hand, is more of “the guy” in the relationship than Louie, which (at least in my generation) is not as endearing. Yet, I still love her willingness to speak wisdom into relational tension and awkwardness (the scene w/ Louie’s ex and her boyfriend) and into the stupidity of why so many friendships are damaged (the jealousy Louie held toward the Marc Maron’s TV show [btw, that situation is true, but completely reversed between the two in real life]).

If Amia had stayed, could they have been happily married? (assuming she learns a “bit” of the language?). I actually think so, simply because she would be low maintenance (at least where it matters) and great for Louie’s daughters. Could Louie and and Pamela be married? I can’t see that working as well. They could live together and be a mess and be fun to watch, and Louie’s kids would become a mixture of awesomeness and semi-glorious-ruiness. But truthfully? Flip a coin on which is better—not morally, but relationally—for the long haul for those two awesome daughters. Louie wants (I’m surmising) both the grace and romance that Pamela can’t give, as well as the wisdom for navigating the other aspects of his life that Amia can’t give. Maybe he’s concluding that the one who is “present” is the one that he will choose.

Blake: I think you are right on target with the idea of presence. It almost does feel like in the world of Louie, “presence” is 90% of love. And, you know, there is definitely some wisdom in that. It seems that Louie is telling people, “You know that list of what you look for in women/men? Yeah, it’s all BS. That person doesn’t exist outside of your imagination. Be real. Someone will come along that will completely surprise you, murder your expectations and you will fall hard.” At some level, this season showed Louie that getting all wrapped up in “finding love” can lead to disaster and cause you to miss out on what’s going on with family and friends. I thought it was interesting that a season so focused on love is also the season where Louie’s two girls end up having their own problems growing up. Not to mention the therapy session between him and his ex-wife. It was a subtle point that he was making: if all you are doing is daydreaming about “finding the one that will fulfill your dreams and every need” then you will miss out on all of the real opportunities to love the ones you are present with in each moment.

Howie: Terrific insight. I think that is shown most expressly in the moments this season involving Louie and his daughters—the violin scene, the “making bacon” scene (at the end of “In the Woods”) and the deep love Louie showed to Jane (through anger) on the subway at the beginning of the “Elevator” episodes. All this to say, I can’t wait til next season.