Louie "Late Show (Part 3)" Review: Chewed Up and Spit Out, But Still Standing

Louie S02E12: "Late Night (Part 3)"

When I'm asked what FX's Louie is about, my response usually goes something along these lines: "It's about this middle-aged comedian who gets in awkward situations and generally comes out on the wrong end of his misadventures." As those of you who watch the show know, Louie is a well-intentioned, tough-luck kind of guy who keeps digging through the shovelfuls of crap that are heaped upon him. He's got a winning percentage roughly in the same neighborhood as the Pittsburgh Pirates (pre-Andrew McCutcheon). But in last night's exhilarating and outstanding episode, "The Late Show (Part 3)," Louie won the big one.

Life's victories are all relative, and while Louie didn't usurp David Letterman and get the job as the new host of Late Show, he won an even longer running match that he's been battling all his life. Whether he's hanging out in Miami, confronting his ex-wife, or going on a parade of tragic dates, Louie has been struggling to climb Confidence Mountain and, quite literally in the last two parts of this "Late Night" saga, he's generally been life's punching bag.

It's not clear whether Louie even wanted the Late Show job in the first place. His ex wanted him to have the job. His agent wanted him to have the job. The guy who manages his retirement portfolio wanted him to have the job. Louie wavered not just because it would mean a buttload of work, but because he looked into the eyes of his precious daughters and saw what he'd be missing with this new "success." We love Louie because we know he knows the difference between right and wrong, and because he recognizes the important things in life.

The real war hiding behind the goal we saw—Louie getting the Late Show job—was the one between the insecure Louie of old and the self-assured Louie who needed to punch his way out. Ultimately, Louie's drive to win the job came not from the promises of money and supermodel girlfriends and a mansion in Westchester County, but from proving himself to his detractors, the weasels in show business ("Seinfeld!" (said to the tune of "Newman!"))... and as a nice side effect, to himself.

And it's that last bit that became the most satisfying scene of Louie to date. Chewed up and spit out by a system that used him as a negotiating ploy, Louie didn't go home and cry. He walked right over the Ed Sullivan Theater and stood up straight, his chest puffed out and swelling with pride, his arms raised above his head because fuck you, David Letterman. And everything was glued together by the simplest of productions and incredible music that crescendoed to Rocky-theme proportions. When no one, not even himself, thought he could do it, Louie went and killed it. In this case, "it" wasn't winning the Late Show job, but this "it" meant a lot more to Louie and to us.

Are we at a turning point in the life of Louie and Louie? Maybe, maybe not. But this week, as the show's final credits rolled, Louie wasn't a punching bag. As of now, he's still fighting. And it's a beautiful thing to watch.



NOTES

– I loved the turn of Jack Dahl (David Lynch) from rickety old CBS exec to wise sage, the Mr. Miyagi of late-night. He ended up being exactly the mentor Louie needed.

– Jack: "Tune in every night folks, it's the crying cleaning lady show!"

– Louie: "You know what your problem is? You're just a pencil penis parade."

– What kind of powerful man is Louis C.K. in the comedy industry? He got Jay Leno, Chris Rock, and Jerry Seinfeld to all agree to play two-faced scheming asshole versions of themselves with essentially zero parody.

– Yes, we'd all watch a late-night talk show hosted by Louis C.K.

– Most importantly, this episode just made me feel really good. One of the best episodes of the series, right up there with "Miami" and "Duckling," but uniquely its own.


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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As strong an episode as this was, my only problem with it was the transformation reflects a TV version of a real person who has already long since conquered that journey not through montages and a single fight where he went the distance, but through talent and hard work and scruples and respect of his peers - the real Louie got a ton of names for this trio of episodes, not giving more credit to Garry Marshall and David Lynch would be a crime, while the TV version of Louie is somehow more spineless and a failure until he goes the distance. It just felt to me like a transformation from a somewhat successful guy who obviously believes in himself enough to do the stuff he's done in the past to a somewhat successful guy who now believes in himself enough to punch a bag and jog a mile.

That said, it still felt triumphant and entertaining and fairly real, other than the criticism above (it's the overly mealy Louie the rest of this season had been presenting which I guess felt false). Louie's process getting into those last minutes before the "bout" made my day.
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After the depressing downward spiral that was the last episode, I an really happy by the way this story turned out. FINALLY, Louis gave himself a break! 'Bout freaking time, you self-hating ginger!

And Surette's right - what kind of pull does C.K, have to invite his friends to literally the douchiest version of themselves on his show, yet they all seems cool about it and accept his guest spots? Seriously, either people LOVE this guy... and he has some major dirt on all of them.

So happy about the "pencil dicks parade" - until that point, I was convince that Louis completely lost his mojo.

Overall, this was a very difficult arc to enjoy for me - the more I watched our hero struggling, the more depressed I was feeling for him. It was a great ending indeed for this storyline, but boy... no more repeatedly kicking Louis in the balls for awhile, around?

Seriously hope "New Tear's Eve" closes the season with a mighty bang.
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I think the only reason people like this show is because the critics tell them to. Don't get me wrong, I love Louis C.K.'s stand-up act, but this show is horrible!! It's boring, slow and the polar opposite of funny.

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That's not true. I found Louis CK stand up on YouTube while browsing through tons of stand up. Then saw him in "Talking Funny" (watched because of Chris Rock), then IMDb'ed Louis and found the show.



Nobody even told me about him, I seeked him out. And the word of mouth created by me got some of my friends to discover Louis as well, and I don't think I'm a critic :)
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I find his humor the opposite of boring and slow. The "bag of dicks" jokes towards the beginning of Shameless was hilarious as he thinks his way through the idea behind an insult.
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I gave this show a shot because critics told me to. That's all critics can do. Make you take that initial leap of faith. But sticking with the show was entirely my choice. Because I actually ended up loving it.
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I watched "Louie" way before TV.com made any review on it... and I will watch it way after anyone else can tired of it.



Taste are taste; yours are as valid as mine. But please don't come here saying that most of us watch this show just because some unknown person told us to.



We watched it because we love it. You don't? Fine. Let"s leave it at that...
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What an awesome suite of episodes with a great musical score setting the mood every time.

Like you said, Louie finally emerged the enlarged by hard work instead of beaten.



It reminds me the earlier books of Chuck Palahniuk (the guy that wrote Fight Club), where the main protagonist always ended dead or in a hopeless situation until the book Choke where finally the cicle was broken.



Great stuff.
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Already got Jack Dahl's Three Rules of Show Business tattooed on my fore arm: "1) Look the audience in the eye and speak from the heart, 2) You have to go away to come back, and 3) If anyone ever tells you to keep a secret, that secret is a lie"
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love this show. louie taping himself made me laugh really hard.

seinfeld got old.
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Yeah, Jerry's older... but admit it: his haircut is WAY BETTER than back in the day!
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Good god this was an amazing show! The 123 be funny part was hilariously uncomfortable in an awesome way not in an "the office lets make Micheal pathetic and sad" kind of way.
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kinda sad letterman didnt make an appearance in the end, hehe
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Nobody could have thought to end the episode like that. As a win. Louie is worth 20 fucking million!!! Loved it.



And yeah, he got those comedians to plat asshole version of themselves -- he also got awesome Susan Sarandon to go on as a guest on his trial and hear that she was the very first in his spank bank. Lovely.
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Phenomenal episode, definitely the best episode so far. And pretty much yeah, I really wanted to scream out Fuck You to Letterman, because seriously, fuck Letterman. That said, it was funny, heartbreaking, touching, everything amazing that a show should be.
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No comedy show like Louie can make me laugh, experience heartbreak, and say Fuck You to Letterman in a single viewing!! I will find that Emmy judge who did not nominate Louie for Best Comedy series...one day!!
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Great conclusion to a great three parter. The ending, and the conversation with Seinfeld where some of the best things I've seen on TV this year.



The only thing that could have made it better was a tiny Letterman appearance at the end.
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such an awesome episode, i was clapping when he said "fuck you, letterman!"
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Clapping? Seriously?
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out of laughter, i needed to explain a little more
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