Louie Review: Looking For Liz/Lily Changes
A Review of Louie, Season 3 Episode 9, “Looking for Liz / Lily Changes”
Let’s talk for a minute about continuity in this Louie review. I brought this up a week or so ago, but this season has been unique among Louie seasons largely for its use of continuity. Whereas in the previous two seasons, almost nothing carried over between episodes to my memory Louie’s brother and Pamela had been the only two recurring characters up until now this season has been slowly building the world of the show with returning characters as well as recurring elements and call backs. So far this season, we’ve been introduced repeatedly to Louie’s ex-wife, had Louie’s motorcycle pop up a number of times, met the notaries Never, seen Sarah Silverman in a couple of episodes, been reminded of the friendly gay couple who live across the hall and, perhaps most significantly, met Liz.
If this season is about Louie trying to find someone to share his life with, it’s pretty clear that he thinks that person is going to be Liz. This week’s first segment “Looking for Liz” finds C.K. returning to the bookstore where he first met Liz in an attempt to rekindle whatever weird, unhealthy spark of a relationship he thought he’d seen during their last and apparently only date. Though he’s quickly told by the bookstore’s manager that Liz no longer works there, her replacement quickly takes an unsettlingly high level of interest in Louie’s attempt to reconciliation.
Twice Liz’s replacement attempts to locate Liz for Louie and twice she is shut down, the first time by her irritated boss as she goes through the store computer and the second time by a doorman after she makes a barely passable attempt to bluff her way into Liz’s apartment. As Louie and the bookstore girl make their way through town together, it becomes increasingly obvious that there’s something unhinged about the women. She’s too intense, too invested in Louie finding “the one that got away.” When Louie tells her that he won’t be continuing his search for Liz, the woman reacts by screaming at him, demanding that he not give up and then promptly slipping her hand underneath the table and getting herself off. All of this, mind you, is in public, where such acts are frequently frowned upon. After she loudly finishes, she tells Louie that she is married and instructs him not to come by the bookstore looking for her.
In “Daddy’s Girlfriend Part 2” which this episode serves as a quasi-sequel to, we see Louie go through a similar set of steps with Liz. In that episode however, Louie was ridiculously attracted to his date’s aggressively quirky behavior whereas in this week’s outing he seems to recognize the bookstore employee’s near-psychotic behavior for what it is. In spite of this notable comparison however, I really wasn’t feeling this segment. It felt like a weird retread of a path the show has already gone down and continues the weird trend this season of Louie interacting with mentally unhinged women.
The next segment is thankfully far more successful. “Lily Changes” opens with Louie picking up his daughters from school, only to find Lily apparently being harassed by a group of her peers. When he asks her about it, she only broods, clearly not wanting to talk about it. He spends the rest of the afternoon attempting to cheer her up first with a carousel ride and then with ice cream before hiding to bathroom to defecate, surf the internet, smoke and most importantly, avoid his moody daughter. When he comes out of the bathroom however, he finds Lily gone. After being informed by his other daughter Jane that Lily “left the apartment” he appropriately panics, looks for her and eventually calls the police. Just as he’s about to call his ex-wife to tell her what’s happened, Lily emerges from the closet where she apparently goes to read and be alone.
What’s so great about this segment is how wonderfully well-observed it is. From the teacher begging Louie for help to Louie flipping off an uncommunicative Lily to Jane apparently being taught a foreign language almost every moment in the segment feels absurdly specific enough to have been plucked from real life. That ability to mine profundity from the mundane always been Louie’s best quality, and it’s great to see it on display in the second half of tonight’s episode, even if the first half was a little too over the top for my tastes.
If I’d have to make a guess, I’d say that Liz is bound to pop up again, if only because the season had been laid out in such a way so as to be pointing towards some kind of resolution there. Ultimately though, this is Louie and making any kind of prediction regarding future episodes is a pointless exercise in futility. For all we know, next week’s episode will take place in Antarctica and be entirely in Spanish.
- Louie, on the existential meaninglessness of life: “I’ve been having trouble sleeping, as we all should. I dunno. You don’t live that long. It doesn’t matter.”
- The gay couple who watched Louie’s kids in “Pregnant” return, this time unable to watch Jane and apparently in the middle of a relationship spat.
- “It doesn’t have to be stalking. Just go there and find things out.”
- Louie flipping off Lily as she stormed off in front of him was a great little detail. How many times has Louie flipped off his daughters when they’re not looking at him?
By Chris Vanjonack