Louie 4×13-4×14 ‘Pamela Part 2/Pamela Part 3’: Hold my hand

Louie 4x13 Cover

A few years ago, I was struggling to complete my undergrad education at Michigan State University.  It’s not that school was difficult for me (I always breezed through whatever the professor threw at me), but I deal with some pretty serious medical anxiety issues, and being up on campus always gave me panic attacks.  It was around that time that I was considering taking some time off of school, which meant that I was ready to give up and quit college altogether.  Being so alone in a space that you consider to be so awful will simply crush you unless you can find some way to change your perspective on things.  But, by myself, there wasn’t much I could do to change that.  I was miserable and, after dealing with that misery for two years, I was ready to up and quit.

Louie 4x13-3

Source: FX

This was around the time I had met my girlfriend (who I have now been with for over three and a half years).  After talking through some of these things with her (which was far more difficult than you think), I decided to stay in school.  And, even though I still suffered from some extreme anxiety and depression, now I’ve made it through with my bachelor’s and my teaching certificate.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that things are easy now.  Life never eases up unless you let it.  But sometimes you need somebody else exposing your faults to you in a way that forces you to deal with them.  Because it’s nearly impossible to change when you’re stuck in the same old situation with the same old people.  You need somebody to push you into unfamiliar territory, somebody that wants to hold your hand even when you lash out at your discomfort.

The reason I’m going on this long digression is because, after a season dealing with lost connections and a world so big and menacing that it breaks down everybody within it, Louie ends on a hopeful note.  It’s not as surprising as I thought it would be, as the season had fixated on connection as a recurring theme, even when it usually discussed disconnect between people.  But, when the season ended with Louie and Pamela in the bathtub together, talking about their first kiss, it felt earned.  It felt like two people had come together in a way where they helped the other to face themselves.  It felt real.  When they went on their date together to that bizarre art gallery, they were able to connect on a level that Louie hasn’t been able to with other people.

Louie 4x13-4

Source: FX

That real feeling, in the audience’s eyes, comes from humanizing both characters and treating them as equals within the episode.  While “Pamela Part 1” came after the Elevator arc and thus dug deeper into the notion of “disconnection”, these last two parts focus more intently on who these two people are within relationships.  Pamela isn’t presented as the kind of girlfriend that Louie initially wants.  He wants somebody who is there to help him, to make him feel better about himself.  But that’s a bandage, a way to forget about what makes you damaged.  Instead of being that, Pamela is confrontational and assertive.  She, after being sexually assaulted by Louie, confronts him in a different way than he expected.  After going out on a date, where Louie attempts to intimidate her into staying over, she turns the tables and takes control of the relationship’s exposure to intimacy.  This is done by Pamela having them take turns taking pictures of themselves and sending it to the other.  Pamela is afraid of intimacy and needs that technological buffer, while Louie wants it on a superficial level in order to forget his troubles.

Louie 4x13-2

Source: FX

Pamela’s character is one of the shining facets of this finale.  Instead of being the one to make the sad-sack feel better, she wants to shed him of his self-victimizing ways.  After Pamela watches Louie do a set (which is another step she takes towards really knowing him), she watches as Marc Maron, who just got a show of his own, berates Louie for not being happier for him.  And while the speech Maron gives positions us to be sympathetic for him, Louie’s demeanor does the same.  Of course he’s the bad friend.  Of course he needs to be a better person.  It’s easier to be mad at yourself than realize that your friends are awful.  But Pamela reminds him that he’s not a bad person, that maybe those who rail against you are at fault for their own feelings.  It her who continually pushes him forward, from telling him how things are to throwing away old furniture she knows is garbage.  Sure, it’s a rather obvious metaphor, but it takes somebody else forcibly throwing away our garbage to rid it from our lives.

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Source: FX

And that leads us to the end of the season, where Louie and Pamela come to a crossroads regarding their different desires concerning intimacy.  When Pamela responds to Louie’s “I love you” with little more than a shrug, Louie rails at her for not being the girl he wants her to be.  And while he’s a jerk for wanting her to put her problems aside for him, she realizes that she has to push herself to be more intimate in order to be in a real relationship.  So, when Pamela has Louie get in the bathtub with her at the end of the episode, when she has that conversation about first kisses, it’s not a pitch perfect moment.  She’s still a little sarcastic; he’s still acting like a sad-sack.  But their conversation about first kisses is a step in the right direction.  It’s a conversation that reveals their personal damage, but it’s one that realizes that it’s old news.  It doesn’t matter anymore.  All that matters is the possibility, right now, to engage in something real with another person.  And, even though our personal damage will be with us forever, we can always make progress towards living with it in a way that doesn’t consume us.

This season of Louie has been phenomenal, mostly because of the audacity Louis C.K. has exhibited in making the season more dramatic and the way he’s tried to create different types of stories (from 12 minute vignettes to hour and a half long episodic movies).  Even when those stories have been somewhat convoluted (which hasn’t been often), the way that Louis C.K. has bared his soul in the stories overcomes any minor problems in the writing.  Season 4 of Louie has been a journey through what it means to look for connection in a world so broken by our failures, and how finding true connection is immensely rewarding when we’re finally able to find somebody to both push us into the unknown and hold our hand throughout our personal journeys.  So, thanks for following my commentary throughout the season, and I hope you’ll tune back in next season to see what Louis C.K. has for us next.

So what did you think of the season finale?  Are you excited to see what Louis C.K. does next in Season 5 (when it is inevitably announced that Louie is coming back)?  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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