Louie 4×09-4×10 ‘Elevator Part 6/Pamela Part 1’: Connect and disconnect

Louie 4x09_10 Cover

“Elevator Part 6” and “Pamela Part 1” are two sides of the same coin, where one ends in an uplifting goodbye between two people who have discovered the importance of connection, and the other ends with an extremely unsettling scene of assault where the desire for connection pushes out any possibility for connection.  It’s fitting that Louie would balance the sweet nature of “Elevator Part 6” with something more grim, especially considering that “Pamela Part 1” continues the heavily serialized nature of the plot this season.  Both are solid episodes in their own way, but “Elevator Part 6” is clearly the more memorable of the two, if only because its harrowing central scene is a brilliant mixture of intense, disconcerting, and darkly funny.

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Source: FX

Louie has been pushing at its boundaries ever since the beginning of this season.  While it’s still a funny show, complete with great stand-up bits and hilarious dream-like sequences, it’s trying to dig deeper into the ideas that it has been infatuated with for its entire run.  “Elevator Part 6” consists primarily of two scenes: Louie braving the hurricane and Louie and Amia’s goodbye.  The reason for this juxtaposition is obvious: those whom we care about are immensely important to us, however long we’re with them, and we will do anything to hold onto those who we have.  Louie is willing to brave a deadly world to rescue his family, and even though the dismal citizens of this deadly world are painted in a way to make them humorous (the stationary shot of Louie rolling up his window on the deranged man was wonderful), we can see just how dangerous this world really is.  Without Louie’s connections, without his family, he doesn’t have anything to validate his existence.  He isn’t contributing in any way.

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Source: FX

And so when Amia delivers the letter to Louie, through the medium of the waiter, we see the thesis of these six episodes.  Connection isn’t always about forming long-lasting relationships that will last a lifetime.  It’s about simply reaching out and touching the lives around you, changing them in your small way.  Louie and Amia were always able to converse with one another; they just felt too withdrawn and scared to air their feelings out in front of other people.  It was why Amia became so angry after Louie tried to employ her aunt as a translator.  When Louie hears the goodbye letter and holds Amia’s hand, it’s a recognition that the connection that he feels, even if it is fleeting, is worth anything in the world.  We’ll endure suicide missions to be with the ones that we love.  Connection is what keeps us human and what keeps us alive, and the “Elevator” arc goes out reminding us of just how important that is.

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Source: FX

As I said, “Pamela Part 1” wasn’t nearly as uplifting.  It’s certainly a messier episode of Louie, one that likely feels that way because it comes right after the “Elevator” arc.  However, it’s that serialization that makes “Pamela Part 1” the great episode that it is.  When faced with Amia’s absence, Louie turns to Pamela as a source of potential connection.  But when he finds out that Pamela doesn’t want him anymore, he’s not willing to believe it.  He’s heartbroken, in pain, and he’s considering lashing out in order to find the connection that he wants.

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Source: FX

So it makes sense that Louie does a strong five-minute stand up bit in the middle of the episode, because it’s immediately juxtaposed with the most uncomfortable moment in Louie’s history, a moment that I’m surprised hasn’t gotten more attention online.  After Pamela babysits Louie’s kids for him, he propositions her for a kiss, and after being turned down, he chases her around the apartment and corners her, pushing his kiss on her anyway.  He tells himself that he does it because he knows “deep down” that she still cares for him, but he doesn’t realize that, in exerting this kind of male aggression, that he’s obliterating any chances he ever could have with her.  In exerting his male entitlement and male aggression, he’s proving to Pamela that he’s a man that can’t be trusted to keep his privilege in check.  Because, as a man, he has the power to do great harm to women.  And, as long as he has that power, he has the capability to utilize it.  So, when he forces himself on Pamela, he’s so consumed in his suffering that he’s willing to commit extremely destructive behavior in order to feel like he’s connected to somebody.  The final scene is the epitome of the episode, where Louie is berated for spitting on the bus even when he called out somebody else for doing it.  Often, exerting your power only gets you in trouble.

While I was very satisfied with “Elevator Part 6” and “Pamela Part 1”, I’ll be excited to go away for another two-parter that seems unrelated to this arc.  Because part of the magic of the show is being exposed to a new idea every week, sometimes multiple ideas in the same episode.  That’s not to say that this serialized arc isn’t good.  The “Elevator” arc was one of the best things Louie has ever done, and I’m certainly excited to see where “Pamela” goes next.  As for now, Louie has kept up its ambitious streak by reminding us that the Louie character is damaged and destructive, like we all are.  But, more than that, Louis C.K. is reminding us that, in a world run by white males, we can’t forget that us men are all destructive when we don’t get what we want.  Even if we think we’re the “good ones”.  And it’s only when we set aside that privilege, at least a little bit, that we get to make the connections we want so bad.

So what did you think of these latest episodes of Louie?  Was “Elevator Part 6” a satisfying ending to the “Elevator” arc?  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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