Anyone looking for closure from last week’s episode with a Part 3 of "Daddy’s Girlfriend" didn’t find it here. The free-spirited and fleeting Liz came and went. But, seeing how this installment of Louie opened, one might jump to a catastrophic conclusion.
I could be wrong, but this is the first time we’ve had a totally different open. Instead of hearing the hook, we get something out of a foreign black and white film from the 50s. Louie makes his way through a cemetery alone – the wind howls and a flute (or clarinet?) plays a somber tune. It’s morose and downtrodden.
While Louie’s regular intro touches on death, it has a lighthearted, upbeat rhythm to it. This is the reality of death. But who is Louie going to see? Could it be Liz took her own life?
He arrives at the burial site and is joined by one other man. Robin Williams. Wait. Robin Williams?!? Robin’s comedic style diametrically opposes Louie’s. He's high energy; a non-stop, thrill ride that can best be summed up as a stream of consciousness tsunami induced by drugs.
On the other hand, you have Louie... a man who painfully labors through his set, anguished as if he has a hernia.
In the past two decades, we’ve seen Robin transform and take on ‘against-type’ roles where he can flex his dramatic muscle. On ""Barney; Never,: we see him restrained and balanced, neither Mork and Mindy nor Good Will Hunting. Turns out the man whose funeral he and Louie attended was a comedy club owner named Barney who also happened to be the brother of Robin’s ex-wife.
The two share stories about how everyone hated Barney over a coffee at a diner. The two comedic icons take us through a gambit of emotions – the awkwardness of a first encounter (despite being extremely successful comedians who perform in front of large audiences of strangers), finding and bonding over a common ground. But, what is Barney’s purpose?
We discover Barney is somewhat of a wake up call. Though, each man felt nothing (maybe relief?) that Barney had passed, seeing him buried with no one in attendance scares them. Neither man wants that. So, what can they learn from Barney?
We find out – to a certain extent – when talk of Barney’s strip club forays makes them crave a visit. Ironic that the name of the strip club is “Sweet Charity." Barney was known for stiffing comedians and stealing from his family, but it becomes clear that he dropped a good amount of coin at the club.
Once Robin reveals to the overly aggressive dancers that their deceased friend is Barney – word spreads and the entire club mourns – dancers weep, the DJ pays tribute with a song, patrons shake their heads. But why weren’t any of them at the funeral? One could say he ‘bought’ his friends or that the strip club was his family. Sweet irony.
While Louie and Robin laugh about the mind-blowing chain of events they witnessed, they agree to attend each other’s funeral. What’s worse? Not feeling anything, feeling dread or pity? Throughout the rest of the episode I was left wondering: what effect will Barney’s death have? How does it fit in?
Cue Never, a fat boy who’s in Louie’s oldest daughter Lilly’s grade. Never’s mom has an emergency consultation to have her vagina removed (elective surgery, it turns out) and she wants Louie to watch Never. Lilly protests... which we assume is cooties-related or because he’s not "cute," but we soon find out the kid is an absolute nightmare and, as if we couldn’t tell from the emergency elective vaginal removal consultation, his wacky mom is to blame. She NEVER says no to Never and he can’t eat anything with carbon in it. Then, it hits me. NEVER IS BARNEY!
While Lilly continues to protest, Never pushes a baby stroller into the street causing a pile-up that involves a tanker carrying hazardous chemicals and a cameo from Artie Lange as the truck driver fleeing the scene screaming (possibly the funniest moment of the year). Everyone runs. Louie takes it in stride. Par for the course.
Back at Louie’s apartment, Lilly holes up in her room while Louie tries to find something for Never to eat. He can’t have a peanut butter sandwich because his mom says he’ll die. He can’t do eggs. He hates carrots. An apple? Nope, he’ll die. But he can have raw meat in a bowl. Makes sense.
Then Louie’s manager Doug calls and says he needs him to do a live radio interview with some FM radio show in Kansas City, which Louie hates but reluctantly agrees to doing. I couldn’t help but notice that Doug’s a young redhead – a hot shot in dork’s clothing with a hot girlfriend. Perhaps this is a subtle cue as to the path Louie could’ve taken? Or more of a nod to Barney.
Meanwhile, Never throws rug out the window. Louie yells down to the people taking his rug, and they give him the finger. In a conventional sitcom, we’d see Louie’s character get more and more frustrated and upset until he hits a boiling point. But, this is Louie – it’s as if he saw this coming.
We find out Never can’t watch TV because it’s inappropriate, yet he wants Louie to give him a bath. Louie relents and tells him he can take bath by himself.
Once Louie gets Never settled, he takes the call from the radio show. We hear typical high energy wacky DJs ramble gibberish but we don’t need to know what they’re saying – we get the gist. Point taken, Louie. We can assume they ask the same ol’ canned questions and Louie gives the same ol’ canned responses and the hosts overreact in typical fashion.
But then they ask for Louie’s opinion about Kansas City and we can see his reply from a mile away. It’s “the worst town [he’s] ever been… the worst city in North America and that includes Mexico and Canada.” Dead air. The now much more serious-sounding host coldly thanks him for coming on and hangs up on him. Louie has shit the bed. Ironic since soon after, Lilly says there’s a bad smell coming from the bathroom. Never has ‘diarrhea’d’ in the tub. Shit has now hit the fan. Still, Louie doesn’t panic or lose his cool.
Post clean up, Louie and Never sit on the couch – it’s somewhat reminiscent of the scene from American Pie when Jim and his dad sit at the kitchen table with the mangled pie between them. This is where Louie tries to reach out to Never; to make a difference, so the real life incarnation of Eric Cartman doesn’t turn out like Barney.
He knows the kid doesn’t have a father figure and he offers to be that father figure. But it’s lost on Never. He’s a lost cause. Though he ‘failed’, Louie ultimately wins. He knows he’s tried his best. Never, on the other hand, will die with only a strip club weeping over a lost revenue stream.