This was the one Louie episode of the season where things go the title character’s way.
As an audience, we’re unaccustomed to this benevolence and good fortune. With every action, we expect an equal and horribly opposite reaction – one that culminates with Louie suffering and in pain. Louie has trained us well and in "Late Show (Part 1)" we only get a very small taste of what has been Louie’s bread and butter and that’s when housekeeping calls to ask if he needs his room cleaned in spite of the fact he has a do not disturb sign.
However, that’s the scene – albeit weirdly short – in which we see the late time (11 a.m.) and we wonder if he bombed or if he killed. When we notice numerous missed calls from his agent, part of us thinks he pulled the same ‘great escape’ stunt he did when about to meet his estranged father.
It’s like when a nerd gets bullied. He sees the fist cocked and he flinches. We’re the nerd, flinching every time Louie presents us with a bully’s fist moment.
But no dice. It’s a very transcendent series of events. It’s as if the torrential downpour has abruptly stopped and the clouds have parted. If you think the metaphor’s a stretch, just take a look at Louie when he’s in the Chairman’s office; the sun is literally shining down on him.
There’s something to be said about that scene – Garry Marshall is considered to be a comic legend, a ‘god’ if you will. Here, it’s as if he’s playing God, coming down from the heavens with rays of sunshine enveloping him as he descends and talks down to Louie – who ironically is NOT the Chosen One... or is he?
Who knows if Marshall is making up Seinfeld’s interest to put Louie at ease? He had him sign a confidentiality agreement – if he wanted to use Louie as a negotiation tactic, couldn’t he just let him go blabbing everywhere that he’s being considered? This is probably why I’m not executive material.
I have to go back to the beginning of the episode because the average viewer often takes his stand-up routines as a nice "break from the action," if you will. But they’re always tied in some way to the rest of the story’s arc. How is that the case here?
Well, he talks about how American parents get to choose when they tell their kids about the tough stuff like war. Then he goes on to talk about how being a consumer is like a job – we’re always seeking the best option, but we’re still unsure of our decision. Louie scoffs and pokes fun at these phenomenon, yet they can be applied to Louie’s character arc. Though we, as Americans, attempt to choose when and where and how we do things, life has other plans.
We can’t control everything. That’s difficult for a lot of people to grasp, even Louie. Despite his gruff façade and pouty, pessimistic outlook on life, deep down, a part of him is a "consumer." He has remnants of consumerism stuck to the bowels of his subconscious.
This is why the decision for him to accept the Late Show hosting gig is NOT a no-brainer. You’d think any comedian or on-stage talent would jump at this opportunity. But, just as we saw twice before in this very episode when Louie thought he was getting bumped, Louie’s been through the ringer and he’s gun shy. He’s said ‘yes’ too many times in the past and been disappointed.
Like many other viewers, I don’t see Louie being a talk show host. Just look at the interaction with the mic guy – “Where’s your jacket?” “I don’t have one, this is who I am.” Then look at how out of place, uncomfortable, overwhelmed, and frazzled he looked while a crew of below-the-liners poked and prodded and sprayed. He doesn’t have that plasticity, that upbeat, vibrant energy and never-ending grin. To us, he’s completely unqualified.
But then the speech comes. The speech that hits on every note, plucking away at Louie’s fears and insecurities. Louie didn’t choose to have Tom Cruise not show up to The Tonight Show. He didn’t choose to do an extended set. He didn’t choose to try out for Dave Letterman’s job. Throughout the entire episode, it feels like he’s being catapulted and pushed through life. Yet, despite appearances, Louie is making choices; choices that he feels will better him (to do a better job, to be a ‘consumer’). Even the Chairman talks about Louie being an option – in his eyes, he does better to have Louie give it a shot because if Louie succeeds, he saves the company money.
After the show ends, we don’t know if this is fate or destiny. And just like previous cliffhanger-esque episodes, Louie refuses to give us closure.
It’s kind of amazing this show is only 22 minutes. It has the look and feel and power of an hour long serial. Of course, as an audience we choose to buy into seeing Part 2, but we know Louie’s hosting gig isn’t in the cards. If we see him do and be better, doesn’t that mean he loses his appeal?
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