Louie 4×05-4×06 ‘Elevator Part 2/Elevator Part 3’: Talk to me

Louie 4x05_06 Cover

If Louie is a show about connection, then this Elevator arc is about the things that keep connection from happening.  Most prominently among those things is communication and how people don’t ever communicate with each other in a meaningful way.  Communicating means being real with one another, and it’s much easier to live in our delusion and avoid reality than to face it head on.  Because it’s not necessarily others’ reality that we’re trying to avoid, but our own.  There are parts of us that we quarantine far away in the back of our minds, that we fend off in order to construct an image of ourselves that we don’t wholly loathe.

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Source: FX

I was initially nervous about this Elevator arc, if only because it’s a massive ambitious leap from Louie’s normal modes of storytelling.  He’s experimented with multi-part episodes in Season 3, most notably with “Late Show”, which ran three-parts and was a mostly impressive entry in the Louie series.  But six parts?  Thankfully, “Elevator: Part 2” and “Elevator Part 3”, quelled most of my trepidation concerning these multi-part episode arcs, as it has given Louie the capacity to slow down in terms of plotting.  These two episodes are certainly middle segments of the Elevator arc, as they’re less concerned with plot and more concerned with building character, laying foundation for payoff later.  They bleed into each other in a way that constructs the Elevator arc more as a large whole than as individual episodic segments.

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Source: FX

There are two major pieces of the story that lay outside of Louie and Amia, the first of which deals with Pamela returning to New York City.  Their re-introduction to one another is literally a kick in the rear, as Pamela kicks him in that department store to say “hi”.  It’s a fitting way to announce her presence, as her interactions with Louie work to both beat him down and call him out on his garbage.  But, when Pamela announces her interest in him, we see how lack of communication has broken their relationship.  Communication between them has always been strained at best, and all Louie can feel when she effectively throws herself at him is shock.  He barely speaks a word throughout their entire conversation, both because he’s finally given what he wanted for so long and because he’s saddened that it’s not what he wants anymore.  He may want to be with Amia, but being with Pamela would certainly be easier.  They at least know how to speak with each other.

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Source: FX

The second and more notable piece of the story that sits removed from Louie and Amia is Louie and his family.  This segment of the storyline both works as a meditation on communication and as a way to show why it is so hard to Louie to communicate with other people.  Louie’s conversation with his daughter and his conversation with Janet mirror each other in one distinct way: one person is afraid to talk to the other, and when they do, it’s a garbled mess.  When Louie asks his daughter what she did in school, she eventually fumbles getting out the story.  When Janet asks Louie about private school, Louie is barely able to talk until he starts yelling.  Both have expectations about communication; staying quiet may hurt more in the long run than speaking up and being yelled at, but it’ll at least keep from hurting now.  So, when Louie has the opportunity to take a chance with Amia, the pain of his family life holds him back from speaking out until he truly had to.  It may hurt more in the long run to keep his mouth shut, but the expected pain of rejection is unflinchingly difficult to overcome when it happens.

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Source: FX

These other two pieces of the story work to show us why Louie and Amia struggle to connect like Louie wants.  Nobody is willing to help Louie in the way that he needs, both because they’re too selfish to truly consider what it is that Louie needs and because Louie isn’t able to reach out.  So why is it that Louie goes after Amia in the first place?  He knows that she is leaving in a month.  He knows that she barely speaks any English.  Louie is so drawn to her, mostly because of the way she interacts with his culture and his life.  She doesn’t perceive the world in the same manner that other citizens of New York City do.  Louie feels that he has a chance with Amia because she doesn’t necessarily see him as the sad sack that he is.  Pamela, on the other hand, talks down to Louie like she’s giving him a rare gift when she agrees to be with him.  Louie also realizes that their relationship is already doomed to fail.  Amia is leaving for Hungary in a month, so there’s no pressure for Louie to keep the relationship going over a long period of time.  It’s the same idea as the way that Louie perceives communication.  Better to go along with a relationship that’s doomed to fail from the start instead of engaging with a woman who would be around long enough to realize the pathetic loser that he is.

It’s horribly difficult to engage in something real and honest.  Doing so means exposing a part of ourselves that is extremely vulnerable, capable of being shattered if it’s brutalized in the way that heartbreak often does.  It’s not that Louie’s feelings toward Amia aren’t real, but they exist as a safeguard against trying something that may be harder.  Amia can’t call Louie out on his garbage the way that everybody else can.  Amia won’t be with Louie long enough to see how deep his baggage runs.  Ultimately, this Elevator series shows why it’s so difficult to engage in something real and honest.  But hopefully, as we move forward, we’ll see more of why it’s just so important to take that leap of faith.  Because even if Louie’s relationship with Amia is doomed to fail, maybe it’ll teach him something that’ll make it easier for him to finally be real and honest with those around him.

So, what did you think of these middle segments of the Elevator arc?  Are you as pleased with this season as the last?  Let me know in the comments!

Michael St. Charles

is just a Michigan State University grad who loves a good story. If he’s not off teaching the young ones how to solve quadratic functions or to write an expository essay, he’s watching old-school HBO shows, indie horror movies, or he’s playing Resident Evil 4.

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