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‘Louie’ Review: “Late Show Part 3″

Louie Late Show Part 3
FX

Louie’’s epic trilogy comes to a close, but does he come out on top?  ‘Louie’ season 3 has a ‘Late Show’ showdown in its twelfth episode of the year, as Louie gives his all to succeed in his ‘Late Show’ test show, even as Jerry Seinfeld shows up to let him know the offer might not be what he thinks.

Last week’s ‘Louie’ episode “Late Show Part 2” saw Louie finding that his chance at David Letterman’s job proved to be an uphill battle that even his closest friends might betray him for, if he’s not careful.   So how does “Late Show Part 3” conclude the legendary saga?

Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Louie’ season 3 episode 12, “Late Show Part 3!”

We open on our hero Louie valiantly jogging by the river, along with his young daughters.  They question why he’s suddenly decided to lose weight, disagreeing with the notion that Louie would have to change himself for his potential new job, but the man explains that some things in life require significant effort.  The girls realize on their own that the job means Louie would only see them on weekends, Lilly despondent that despite the job’s unlikelihood, her father still wants it.

The next day in Jack Dall (David Lynch)’s office, the man gets off the phone to tell Louie he’d be best served as the host of ‘The Late Show’ if he were funny.  Louie reminds the man that he makes a living as a comedian, something Jack genuinely didn’t even know!  He presses Louie to make him laugh on the spot, though Louie insists he doesn’t do that kind of humor.  Dismissing him as a scared rookie, Jack throws Louie out of the office and ends their partnership, before Louie caves by attempting to act funny with a bizarre dance routine making fart noises and calling Jack a “pencil penis parade.”  While seemingly unmoved, Jack agrees to give Louie another week, dismissing both Louie, and (evidently) Doug.

On a mock ‘Late  Show’ set, Jack presses Louie to conduct an interview, but with no one around he’s forced to bring in the cleaning lady Elena.  Louie awkwardly questions her about her mother’s background as a dancer, before the woman reveals that her mother died very young, and bursts out into tears.  Jack rolls his eyes and insults the comic for his latest failure.

After another workout of being pummeled in the boxing ring, Louie paces in his apartment in front of a mounted camera.  Changing into a suit jacket, Louie attempts to film himself in front of an imaginary audience being funny on a dime, until a knock at the door interrupts him.  Louie’s ex-wife Janet brought the kids over at their request, who made their father a card wishing him luck on his big audition, moving the comedian to tears.

After some more running, which Louie clearly begins to enjoy and succeed at, the big night finally arrives.  The test audience piles in as Louie waits in his dressing room, and Jack brings in a custom suit he had made for the comedian.  Jack says his goodbyes, as if Louie wins the show they’d likely hire a younger producer, and admits he supports Louie as a good man even if he isn’t a fit for the show.  He leaves a bit of parting wisdom in his three rules of show-business: always look them in the eye and speak from the heart, you’ve got to go away to “come back,” and anyone in show-business asking you to keep a secret means the secret is a lie.  Without shaking hands, the producer departs.

Next, who should arrive but Jerry Seinfeld!  Jerry wishes him luck , but explains his reason for coming down that he’s already signed to do ‘The Late Show’ that morning, and he felt it cruel they would make Louie do a test show without informing him of its futility.  He graciously offers Louie a spot on the show whenever he’d like, but on his way out asks Louie to keep his ‘Late Show’ contract a secret.  As Jerry leaves, both Louie and Doug realize from Jack’s words that the former ‘Seinfeld’ star must have been lying!

Fired up by the revelation, Louie begins his trial hosting gig on a very strong note, delivering good opening jokes, and segueing through a few successful bits with his mock guest.  Even more than that, both Susan Sarandon and Paul Rudd drop by to be guests!  In his distinctly ‘Louie’ fashion, the comedian manages to make both tales of his first masturbation to Sarandon and jokes about Rudd’s daughter’s name seem sweetly likeable, to the uproarious enjoyment of the audience.  From the TV in his office, the president of CBS nods in approval, thanking Jack over the phone and officially crediting Louie has an option.

Following the show, Louie’s poker friends all congratulate him on his success, when Doug arrives in the bar.  An announcement comes over the TV that David Letterman has decided to remain as host for an additional 10 years, as Doug laments that CBS used Louie to get Dave to drop his salary from $60 million to $14 million.  To add insult to injury, the Letterman folks refuse to ever have Louie on the show again.  His friends comfort him by assuring him he was at least good enough to take millions of dollars away from David Letterman, and he leaves the bar.

Out walking, Louie stops in front of the Ed Sullivan Theater once more, and raises his fists to the sky in triumph.  Shouting  “I did it!”, Louie curses out David Letterman and walks away, having at least had his own personal victory.  Over the credits, Louie continues taking boxing lessons from Alphonse.

It’s interesting to look back at ‘Louie’s “Late Show Trilogy,” surely a run of episodes that will be remembered as a highlight of the series for years to come.  On the one hand, we mostly knew there was no way Louie would actually win the show (unless continuity completely bottomed out next week), though complete failure might have been too depressing, even for the notoriously dark series.  Instead, there’s a happy medium as Louie lost out through no fault of his own, and still managed to make significant progress in his life, re-igniting that spark he so often lacks.  It’s a wonderful triumph of a faded human spirit, and a staunch reminder why the series belongs in this Sunday’s Emmys.

Did you get your fill of awkward ‘Louie’ laughs?  What did you think about the episode? Let us know in the comments and check back next week for another all-new ‘Louie’ episode recap of season finale “New Year’s Eve” on FX!

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