Do you remember back in the day when TV shows would essentially phone in a “new” episode by rehashing segments or clips from previous episodes? It was a cheap and easy way to get viewers to tune in without them knowing that they’ve been had... that they’ve been bamboozled into watching what basically amounted to a rerun.
In some ways, "Ikea; Piano Lesson" had that feel to it. But Louie’s better than that, so he gives it his own twist. The theme is the past." More specifically, learning your lesson from the past. Louie’s been through heartbreaks and setbacks, downfalls and falling outs. Yet this episode shows that he hasn’t learned a goddam thing.
The first scene sets up the rest of the show perfectly. Outside of what I assume is his daughter’s school, he runs into Dolores, the woman who asked Louie to spank her only to end up hysterically crying about her daddy. Louie’s gut reaction is one of mortification, but he delivers a transparently over the top greeting, which he scales back.
He does this throughout the conversation until he’s beaten down. He knows better than to let women whittle him down until he’s in the palm of their hands. At this point, we have to think he’s borderline insane.
When Dolores offers to give him a blowjob, it’s as if he’s time traveled back to high school. His reaction is one of never-ending pain, an infinite loop of repeating regrettable history. But he caves in like he always does. No way could this be worse than last time. Wrong. Dolores berates Louie as if he’s her husband and Louie suffers another outburst, which culminates in him tucking her into bed.
For those who are into intense interpretation and analysis: Louie’s commentary on the rug could be construed as his commentary on Dolores, hence the reason she cries. That scene could also have been a peek both into Louie’s last marriage or what a future marriage with Dolores would be like. Though this show focuses on the past, one has to wonder if this is a peek in to his daughter’s future. One has to suspect that thought has weighed heavily on his mind.
Quick side note regarding the young couple who see Louie and Dolores arguing and comment on how it’ll never happen to them: that’s Louie’s cynical take on young puppy love. That’s his middle finger to it. That’s him saying, ‘you’re happy now, but you’ll be where we are now in about 20 years.’
Louie drives Dolores back into the city and politely convinces her she doesn’t have to give him a blow job, stating she can owe him one. I can’t help but think this interaction is disturbingly like that of a father and daughter. Oral sex aside, the negotiation tactic is very parental. And Dolores LOVES it. My mind races feverishly at the thought of what her relationship was like with her dad.
How does Louie move on? By getting piano lessons. Not quite reliving the past, but engaging in an activity typically reserved for someone much much younger. One could say it’s another attempt to regain his youth and avoid the savage ravaging of old age. But he’s not even the first note into his session when he gets a call from Maria Bamford telling him he has crabs. Another blast from the past – in more ways than one we’ll soon find out.
Louie abruptly ends the session and hightails it to the pharmacy where he reveals this isn’t the first time he’s had crabs. Listen, pharmacies are always awkward and Louie captures the demoralization to a tee with the old lady who seeks consultation from the pharmacist. Just as Dolores and Maria have broken down Louie, the pharmacist disassembles the old lady. We can see Louie almost feels better about himself after witnessing that brutal exchange.
Louie races back on his bike and scrubs away in the shower. He’s not just scrubbing away the crabs, he’s trying to scrub away all the absurd and awkward moments he’s endured and witnessed. Once out of the shower, he turns on the TV and sees a clip we’ve seen before – the reality show where the snotty woman gets stabbed by the gay gay.
Then he switches to a channel showing his old stand up special. As his slimmer, younger self with a full head of hair, Louie checks himself out on his laptop’s webcam. Time hasn’t been kind.
Sarah Silverman comes on and Louie loves it, so he calls Sarah. While Louie’s almost a totally different dude, Sarah looks like she hasn’t aged a second. Then, Marc Maron comes on. Louie admits he hasn’t talked to Marc in 10 years and they haven’t made up. Before he’s about to explain, he has an epiphany.
Louie’s to blame. He goes over to Marc’s place to make amends, but after another classic long-winded Louie ramble, Marc reveals this isn’t the first time Louie’s done this – the same thing happened albeit with more crying five years ago. The lesson? Louie will never learn.