‘Louie’ Review: “So Did the Fat Lady / Elevator Part 1″
FX's ‘Louie’ season 4 keeps the dramedy rolling with tonight's double-installments "So Did the Fat Lady" and "Elevator Part 1," the first half of which sees Louie confronted by his own hangups about dating a heavyset woman (Sarah Baker), while the second installment finds a frightening subway experience with his daughters taking a toll, after which an older woman (Ellen Burstyn) becomes trapped in his building's elevator.
Last week’s ‘Louie’ premieres “Back / Model” saw Louie dealing with problems of his advancing age, after which the sadsack comedian bombed at a benefit and rebounded with a beautiful model (Yvonne Strahovski), before things went terribly wrong. So how do "So Did the Fat Lady" and "Elevator Part 1” continue the cycle of amiable misery?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Louie’ season 4, episodes 3 and 4, “So Did the Fat Lady” and "Elevator Part 1"!
Louie jokes about his appreciation for the manner in which women gently reject men, after the set of which a heavyset waitress named Vanessa (Baker) makes clear her interest, and asks Louie out. Louie sheepishly declines, though she remains in good spirits about the ensuing awkwardness. The next day, Louie and Robert Kelly lament their respective weights and resolve to begin working out, though not before a “bang-bang” binge meal of Indian food and a diner visit.
Louie and Robert gorge themselves at both locations, though when a waitress recognizes Louie, he becomes embarrassed by Robert’s explanation of the “bang-bang” concept. After the meal, Robert asks if the intend to follow through on working out the next day, but Louie invokes his children as a reason to put it off.
Louis offends one of the Comedy Cellar’s waitresses by awkwardly asking her name, before Vanessa arrives and again asks Louie out, pointing out her persistent interest. Louie again declines, though later finds out that Vanessa quit her job, having been made full time at a law-office. Vanessa offers him two expensive hockey tickets that she no longer has use for, wanting them to go to someone she likes, the gesture of which moves Louie to invite her out for coffee the following day.
Vanessa and Louie bond over their family histories, watching a game of street hockey and more before Vanessa laments the difficulty of dating in New York as a fat girl. Louie insists that she isn’t fat, but Vanessa takes offense that someone like Louie would downplay her weight, perpetuating its overall stigma even further. Insisting that only insecure men like Louie have difficulty dating or flirting with fat girls, Vanessa wishes only that she could find a nice guy unashamed to hold her hand publicly, prompting Louie end the argument by taking her hand, as the two stroll off telling fat jokes.
"Elevator Part 1"
Louie’s daughter Jane has a bad dream that wakes her in the night, though even when Louie comes to her aid, she still believes herself to be dreaming. The following day, Louie practices the subway safety rules with his daughters before entering the station, and boarding the 6 train. Still believing herself to be dreaming however, Jane steps off the train at the last moment, sending Louie into a panic as the train leaves the station without his daughter.
Lily reminds her pacing father that Jane knows to remain in place until they retrieve her, as Louie plots for them to race out at the next stop, and board the first downtown train. Meanwhile back at the station, a stranger asks Jane if she needs help, though she again believes them all to be in her dream regardless. Louie and Lily race back downtown to find Jane still waiting at the station, for which Louie furiously admonishes his daughter that they aren’t dreaming, and she can never do something so foolish again. Afterward, Louie drops the girls off at their mother’s apartment, relaying the experience to Janet, who similarly yells at Jane not to risk her safety ever again.
Sometime later, an older woman (Ellen Burstyn) returns home to Louie’s building, but finds herself stuck in the elevator a short distance from the lobby. Louie arrives in the middle of the commotion, as the super pries open the door, and insists the woman remain put while he calls the fire department. Still somewhat panicked, the woman asks Louie to go upstairs and retrieve her pills to bring down to her, to which Louie reluctantly agrees.
Upstairs, Louie enters the woman’s apartment and retrieves the pills, noticing on the way out that a younger woman remains sound asleep on the couch. Louie returns downstairs with the pills, and coaches the woman not to be scared, revealing that there was a woman sleeping at home in her apartment. The older woman asks Louie to fetch her niece, though when Louie returns upstairs to wake the younger woman, she panics, not speaking enough English to understand Louie’s explanations of his presence in her home.
Sometime later, Louie finds the younger woman knocking at his door with a pie, both an apology and appreciation for their misunderstanding earlier, though she still can’t fully communicate with Louie. Inviting her in, Louie enjoys the pie as the two do their best to share company. Later at the comedy club, Louie jokes that oftentimes the best sign of love between a man and a woman is an ability to share their innermost racism.
It’s going to prove increasingly weird to review two episodes a week in this manner, particularly when it doesn’t always seem as if the two have any real kind of thematic link as to comprise a whole. Sure, “So Did the Fat Lady” and “Elevator Part 1” had bookending standup bits about Louie’s unorthodox appreciation of women, and even a few overlapping themes of image and perception proving problematic, but nothing that might have been quite so effective as to place “So Did the Fat Lady” with last week’s “Model,” given the latter’s backlash in comparison to a similar ‘Girls’ episode. The weekly double-doses aren’t necessarily intended to connect, and we’re still not sure why FX chose to unveil the season as such, but that temptation to link the two will remain.
As for the individual episodes themselves, “So Did the Fat Lady” will undoubtedly inspire a wave of think-pieces and cheers in the coming days, and rightly so, as Sarah Baker is afforded a magnificent spotlight with which to question our ideas of external perception. It’s a bit bittersweet in the end, considering that ‘Louie’’s vague continuity rules leave a hanging question as to how much we’ll see of Vanessa going forward, given the ultimately sweet bond between the pair tonight, but the first half of tonight’s hour is no less rich by it. We’ve all struggled with image in one way or another, and it’s a refreshing blast of honesty to see Vanessa’s weight is heralded as something not to be ignored, but rather honest and direct about, especially in a manner that promotes acceptance over shame.
“Elevator” proved a bit more disjointed, in that both the subway and elevator halves of the installment proved gripping and poignant in their own right, but not in a manner that felt particularly related to one another. I’m not a parent mind you, but Louis C.K. does an excellent job in conveying the panic and desperation of a nightmare scenario like being separated from one’s children on the subway, later letting Jane have it in a manner that would seem cause for concern to the casual onlooker, but feels completely justified in context. The latter half with Ellen Burstyn boiled more down to a comic series of misunderstandings with an ultimately sweet resolution, but given the next few installments bear the “Elevator” title as well (through part 6), we’re only really seeing a small piece of the puzzle.
“So Did the Fat Lady” will surely go down as one of the stronger episodes of the series to date, though of the four we’ve seen from the current season, “Elevator Part 1” might be the least cogent. Moderate ‘Louie’ is still better than most, at least.
AND ANOTHER THING…
- My stomach hurts just thinking about the “bang-bang” dining experience.
- Not sure if I like the fact that Louie at first only agrees to go on the date as a sort of pitied gratitude, but Vanessa’s adorable fist-pump nicely complemented the moment.
- Come on, Louie. Two open seats in the subway car, and you didn’t give the last to your youngest daughter?
- “Here’s to you, Mrs. Pee-Pee Face…”
- I’m curious to see if the various stand-up bits tonight had always been cut in their respective places, given that they clearly intended to bookend tonight’s airings, while the closing bit about his daughter’s sex-change seemed like it could have been cropped from anywhere.
Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of awkward ‘Louie’ laughs? Did tonight's installments hold up to last week's premiere? Let us know in the comments and check back next week for more all-new ‘Louie’ episode recaps of "Elevator Part 2," and "Elevator Part 3" on FX! Yep, seriously!