Most of the episodes in Louie's third season so far have been longer stories drawn out over an entire episode or two—magnum opuses by Louie standards, or large bits easily cobbled together through continuity or theme. I'm not an expert on the series, but to me that represents a bit of evolution for Louie because Louis C.K. does such a great job with little details in the span of half an hour.
Last night's episode of Louie, "Ikea/Piano Lesson," was a throwback to the Louie of old, when vignettes ruled the world. I don't think the three distinct stories in "Ikea/Piano Lesson" were connected by anything except awkwardness and Louie, but I'll take a shot and say this episode was all about the perils of kindness.
In the opening bit, Louie ran into Delores (the crier from Season 2's "Bummer/Blueberries") and got trapped into going with her to the most horrible place on Earth: IKEA. Seriously, have you ever been to an IKEA? They specifically design those retail junkyards to confuse you into manic purchases through disorientation, Swedish punctuation, and eau de meatballs. My record for remaining in the maze of Ivars and Boksels and Stockholms without it triggering a panic attack is about 45 seconds. That place is THE WORST.
Anyway. Louie went to the Swedish Torture House with the most F'd up woman in the series (partially because she promised him a hummer), and obviously they got into an argument over a rug and she collapsed onto a kiddie bed and cried. Louie should have avoided the situation altogether, but the guy is just too nice or spineless, depending on which way you look at it, to say no. And even after the disaster at IKEA, Louie had a near-touching moment when he gave her advice on the chairs she bought. Blowjob or not, I would have left her weeping in the children's bedroom section. Though amusing, especially the bit about the rugs, this whole skit felt like recycled material as it was really just spending more time with Delores and her daddy issues.
Next up, Louie took some piano lessons, but before he could play the opening to "Axel F," his old f---buddy Maria called up to tell him he had crustaceans in his crotch. Cut to Louie in the shower screaming, cut to Louie in the pharmacy sheepishly asking for lice shampoo. But for once, the public shaming wasn't on Louie as an older woman concerned about her antibiotics was forced into openly discussing the consistency of her stool with the rest of the store. The old grandma-talks-about-her-poop joke! Honestly, I expect more from this show, but I still giggled. Remember, this is the same series that famously ended a medical emergency with a giant fart, although the timing and set-up of that bit was masterfully planned.
Finally, the most Louie-feeling of the sketches involved Louie catching up with an old friend with the help of guest-star Sarah Silverman. Comedian Marc Maron and Louie had a falling out a decade ago, and when Louie recalled what it was about (which was never stated because it wasn't actually important to the story), he realized he was at fault and found himself overcome with I'm-the-asshole syndrome. Silverman encouraged him to get back in touch and apologize, which he did, in person. The problem? Louie had done the exact same thing five years ago and didn't remember, so his effort to apologize for being an asshole made him even more of an asshole. Again, it was Louie's good intentions that got him further into trouble. But this time, he really was the asshole. Like, a TOTAL 100-percent A-grade five-star asshole.
With its talk of blowjobs in exchange for help with IKEA, old lady crap and pubic lice, and flashbacks to the 1980s (OMG look at that hair), "Ikea/Piano Lesson" went more for belly laughs than the astute observation of human behavior we've seen in previous episodes. I like my Louie to stay in my thoughts through the next morning, (as "Miami," "Daddy's Girlfriend Part 2," and "Telling Jokes/Set Up" all did), but "Ikea/Piano Lesson" pretty much faded as soon as it was over. It was funny, but not remarkable.
– The funniest part of the episode for me was the other couple watching Louie and Delores and saying, "Let's not let that happen to us..."
– The Sarah Silverman cameo was pretty great because she totally made fun of herself and her shtick. "'I was so cute and I didn't know better!' It was a lot of those kind of jokes. 'Did I say something, I didn't even know I said something!"
– Here's a Louie deleted scene that's been making the rounds recently featuring a different Jane. Louie's last line is priceless.