Louie 5×08 ‘On the Road: Part 2’: A closed loop

Louie 5x08 Cover

And so Season 5 of Louie doesn’t necessarily end with a hopeful beat, but it doesn’t end with a purely negative one either.  Instead, “On the Road” culminates with a series of shots of trees, of other cars driving down the road.  It’s about “the road”, but it’s about more than that.  Louis C.K. wants to tell us more about himself, about the way that the road operates as a comedian, about the way that other comedians interact with each other, but within that very specific context there’s a broader metaphor in operation.  Louis C.K. wants to tell us about life in general, about the way that being on the road is akin to moving through life.

Louie 5x08-2

Source: FX

Because, when we think of life, we think of it as a journey, as a way of going from Point A to Point B, but Louie’s journey on the show is more a sporadic movement from place to place.  It’s more circuitous than anything else.  He leaves New York City, travels around the country, going from city to city, and ends up right back where he started.  And that’s how our lives operate.  We go through life, establishing a routine.  Things happen to us, our routine changes, and then we settle into another routine.  We always end up where we started.  The real question is: When we inevitably end up where we started, what have we learned?  How have we changed?

Louie 5x08-3

Source: FX

The road is an adventure for Louie.  Just look at all of the things that happen to him.  He meets a couple who want him to dress up in civil war clothing to take a picture with them.  He meets Kenny, who, after they get into a fight, drinks a fifth of Jack with him and dies from blood loss after attempting an upper decker in the toilet and hitting his head on the sink.  Most of the people he meets he dislikes upon first seeing them, but eventually comes around on those who he spends more time with.  Just look at the way he interacts with the women in the civil war tent.  He pushed away Kenny at the beginning of the episode, and he tries to push them away as well, rejecting their request for a picture.  It’s only when they really push for a connection with him that he returns the favor.  Disengaging with people is Louie’s defense mechanism that guards from him getting hurt, but when he does engage with people, he can usually find a fragment of their humanity to cling on to.

Louie 5x08-4

Source: FX

Louie’s relationship with Kenny is really the centerpiece of the episode here.  When he first meets Louie, we see him through Louie’s eyes.  He wants to drink whiskey in the morning, he comes off as abrasive and simplistic, his comedy is derivative and childish, and he harshly imitates Louie while onstage.  It’s easy to write him off as just this ridiculous jerk who doesn’t care about the people around him, and it’s easy to do so when we see him like Louie does, as somebody lesser than him.  Because, when Kenny begins to explain himself, when he says that he offered Louie food, drinks, an invitation to party, then its Louie that comes across as an asshole.  Kenny is trying to bond in his own way, and even though that’s not necessarily a way that is conducive to the way that Louie lives his life, even though he’s not necessarily open to Louie’s point of view, it’s still an attempt at connection.  And it makes Louie, who rips into him for being a hack, a pathetic comedian who cashes in on childish fart jokes, look like a jerk.

Louie 5x08-1

Source: FX

Because they do have common ground to share.  They both like fart jokes.  And it seems like a ridiculous thing to bond over, but as comedians, they are able to find common ground in what they find humorous.  And then Kenny dies.  Kenny’s death is certainly absurd, but it serves to function like the absurdity that we find in Louie.  It goes to show that life is never predictable, that we never entirely know where our actions are going to take us.  And so when Louie returns home to Jane, he’s not exhausted.  He’s not heartbroken.  He’s just spent more time on the road, and he’s experienced new things along the way.

Ultimately, Season 5 is just as excellent at Season 4, and the vignette storytelling works even better than it did in previous seasons.  With that in mind, “On The Road” may be one of the best stories that Louie has ever told.  It’s not too long, not too short, but more than that, it really examines the way that we live our lives and the way that we connect to or disconnect from people as we move through the world.  Because our lives aren’t just “journeys”.  They’re aimlessly wandering around, doing new things, screwing up constantly, bonding with others, arguing with others, feeling happy, feeling miserable.  And when we end up where we started, we need to understand that we’ve learned something.  Because that’s what makes the journey worth anything at all.

So what did you think of Season 5 of Louie?  Are you crossing your fingers for a Season 6?  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.

Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.