Louie 4×07-4×08 ‘Elevator Part 4/Elevator Part 5’: Keeping us apart

Louie 4x07_08 Cover

One of my favorite facets of this Elevator arc is how it takes the elements of a movie and the elements of an episodic television arc and blends them together into something’s grander than each individual storytelling medium.  Put together, all six Elevator episodes would make an amazing film, but splitting it into episodes makes it easier to utilize Louie’s vignette style to focus on specific ideas as the story progresses.  Put together into one cohesive film, it would be harder to justify spending seven minutes on one side character’s monologue.  But in the case of “Elevator Part 4” and “Elevator Part 5”, two of the arc’s finest episodes, that episodic approach makes all the difference.

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Source: FX

For example, “Elevator Part 4” doesn’t even feature Amia, instead focusing only on Louie and Janet’s marriage and why it fell apart in the way that it did.  It shows us how Louie is always willing to take the easy way out, how he’s constantly faced with difficult decisions that he’s not willing to actually face in any real way.  When he has to fight his ex-wife about Jane going to private school, he can’t actually fight with her in a meaningful way.  He figuratively escapes from their conversation by (not literally) walking over to the window and letting out a primal scream.  He’s so constrained by his anxiety that all he looks for is a release valve; he’s unable to even consider looking for progress.  We also learn in “Elevator Part 4” that Louie and Amia haven’t slept together yet, that there’s something holding him back from committing to that level of intimacy.

Louie 4x07_08-2

Source: FX

And, in one of my favorite scenes from this season of Louie so far, Young Louie and Young Janet’s interactions, we see how sex carries a certain pain with it.  Sex is something that has the capability to create connection when we least want it, and it requires so much communication in order to live up to the experience that we want it to be.  When Young Louie and Young Janet are miserable and considering getting a divorce, they decide to have sex one last time, if only as a sendoff to each other (It was interested that they both came so quickly; it was as if they were both so relieved to have one more experience disconnected with change).  They’re unwilling to cleanly break in the way that they need, and they suffer the consequences for it.  Young Janet becomes pregnant with her and Louie’s first child, and they stay together for many more years until their relationship really goes to hell.  If this short vignette is meant to show us the damage that connection can do, it also shows us the damage sex can do.  Louie is afraid of having real, emotional sex because he’s afraid of the ramifications.

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Source: FX

And the ramifications can be heartbreaking.  After being repeatedly prodded to have sex with Amia, he believes that it’s the right thing to do.  He does it not only because he believes it’s what will bring them closer, but also to appease the voices of those around him.  Louie is a peacekeeper, if only to keep the voices around him from inflicting pain on him (which they inevitably will do anyway).  So, when he has sex with Amia, he’s committing to an action that requires a great deal of conversation.  And, even though he thinks he’s built this relationship that transcends language, it doesn’t.  They’ve only known each other for a few weeks.  When something concerning the sex goes wrong, Louie isn’t able to have the necessary conversation.

Louie 4x07_08-3

Source: FX

This all goes back to the idea that Louie chose Amia because she was the easy way out.  She was the option where Louie was able to experience the beginning and end of a relationship without all of the real stuff in between.  He’s missing out on the true connective part of a relationship, where people not only learn about each other, but learn to co-exist within every facet of the other’s life.  “Elevator Part 4” and “Elevator Part 5” work so well because they look at Louie’s life from so many different angles that the ending of “Elevator Part 5” is that much more tragic and that much more inevitable.  Look at the vignette in “Elevator Part 5” where Barry, an older single comedian, tells the story of his day.  He’s able to tell it in a way where, at the end, everybody is applauding him, but it’s still unbelievably sad that the highlight of his day is having his name spelled right on his dressing room door.  The highlights of his day are meaningless, things that people fixate on when there’s nothing else in their life.  And that vignette works to show us why Louie tries so hard to connect with the women around him, but why he fails at it.  The stakes are so high (dying alone) that anxiety overtakes the desire to take real action.

Assuming that “Elevator Part 6” isn’t a complete flop, this six-episode arc has been a huge success.  Louie has dissected the idea of human connection with more authenticity and depth than ever before, and he’s used both the medium of film and television to amplify the individual parts of this story, making them work both as TV episodes and as a cohesive whole.  We all know that Louie and Amia aren’t going to have a “happily ever after” ending, so it’s a matter of what Louie learns from all of this.  If there’s one thing we can do with failure, it’s learn.  Because being engulfed in your failure and sadness is only holding you back from becoming the best person that you can be.  Human connection is about reaching outside of yourself, considering those around you for what they truly are instead of what they can possibly do to you.  And just maybe Louie, at the end of this Elevator arc, will take the next step towards understanding just that.

So what did you think of these segments of the Elevator arc?  Were they as impressive as I thought they were?  And is this season of Louie living up to your expectations?  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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