One of the reasons that Louie is the best comedy series on television is that it completely subverts its medium. Its narrative, through both structure and story, never behaves in the way you would expect. Storylines can last five minutes or extend to three episodes. Louie's day can spin wildly from glorious to shitty to glorious in a matter of moments, or sometimes the mood is simply as ambiguous as reality.
With the "Late Show" trilogy of episodes (which concluded Thursday night), though, Louie took an approach that was more conventional, albeit with a healthy dose of surrealism. There was never really any question that Louie wouldn't get the Late Show gig, of course, because then what would the show become but an episodic narrative? Of course, there was always an outside chance that Louie would eschew continuity, with him getting the job only for that storyline to be completely abandoned in the next episode. In this case, though, Louie went with the obvious move: he didn't get the job, but it didn't destroy his career. Instead, the experience, as harrowing as it was, built up his self-confidence. It was refreshing to see Louie gaining a little self-esteem, though his sad-sack ways will undoubtedly remain in some capacity.
We also said goodbye to David Lynch, who brought a characteristic enigma to his character, producer Jack Dahl. Though this episode didn't pay homage to his disorienting style of direction as much as his introduction last week, he still remained a baffling figure -- one who appeared to be completely out of touch with comedy but instead understood Louie perfectly. His barking directions ("Interview!") actually served some purpose besides comedic value -- they decimated what remained of Louie's confidence, only for Dahl to build them back up by sharing a little respect and some tips for Louie in his final scene.
Also, "Please leave this room," was a perfectly delivered line.
The episode featured some great cameos, about which there's not much to say, other than the fact that Louie telling Susan Sarandon that she was the first woman he masturbated to was, in typical Louie style, both repulsive and touching.
I also really loved the way that the series gently lowered us back down from the world of the studio to the dingy comic nightlife. Having Louie's comedian friends poking fun at him in the bar also proved to be a gentle reminder that Louie can be happy without success -- though really, there was no greater reminder than his daughters, was there?
Finally, it's interesting to note that the boxing scene that ushered out the closing credits featured Louie back at the boxing gym, which he presumably continued attending even after not getting Late Show. As with most of Louie, the cathartic nature of boxing is taken right out of C.K.'s life -- it's how he got back in shape after his divorce.
"I trained with Micky Ward for a while, who's this guy they're making a movie about. I think it's called 'The Fighter,'" C.K. told NPR's Fresh Air back in 2010. "I met him, and what I learned is that... it's just training. You just got to train. You just got to be in shape. That's all it is. It's just getting in the gym and being dedicated enough to do the grunt work and the boring, constant training so that you'll be fit enough to take the beating."
So, with one episode left in the season, the question remains: what's next for Louie after this emotional roller coaster of an arc? Will he take another beating, or will he achieve another victory? I'm still hoping to see the return of Parker Posey's Liz in the season finale, "New Year's Eve."
What do you think? Did you like "Late Show, Part 3?"
Louie's season 3 finale, "New Year's Eve," will air Thursday, September 27 on FX.