Louie: There's Always a Catch

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Louie S03E05: "Daddy's Girlfriend Part 2"

There's always a catch! If you ask her out and she says no, it's because you're too ugly and fat. If you ask her out and she says yes, it's because she's crazy. Louie got a "yes" last week from a cute bookstore employee played by Parker Posey, and we saw the fruits of that proposal play out in tonight's episode, "Daddy's Girlfriend Part 2."

At the end of "Daddy's Girlfriend Part 1," things were looking up for Louie. His fumbling request for a date with out-of-his-league Tape Recorder (her name is Liz, but her ridiculous joke of saying her name was Tape Recorder is crazier so I'll stick with that) made it onto his life highlight reel, and a night out on the town with a beautiful, smart, funny woman was just around the corner.

But that would be too easy of a victory for Louie, a man who gets into good situations so he can screw them up solely for the purpose of entertaining us. "Daddy's Girlfriend Part 2" actually did something interesting that Louie rarely does. When Tape Recorder went to order drinks at the bar and got negged due to the fact that she's probably an out-of-control raging alcoholic, there was a red flag raised to us, the audience, but not to Louie because he was off to the side. Louie puts its hero in almost every single scene, allowing us to see the action through his eyes, but this time we had a leg up on what was going down and all we could do was scream at the TV, "Oh shit, Louie. Bail! Bail! Bail! Get to the extraction point!" It would set up the rest of the episode with a sense of impending doom, something we anticipated because we got a peek into Tape Recorder's troubled life. To Louie, he was just on a date with a hot girl, and the thrill of the situation overshadowed the potential problems.

What transpired after that was tragic bipolar behavior by Tape Recorder as she led Louie by the hand through New York City on a series of crazy-person adventures. They ate giant herrings from a deli, she TMI'd with regard to her near-death experiences during her teenage years, Louie put on a dress in a vintage store after Tape Recorder ordered him to, she made Louie put a homeless guy in a hotel for the night, and there may have been some breaking and entering at the end there. There's a fine line between quirky and mentally ill, and for much of the episode we saw both. And while we were on the "she's mentally ill" side, encouraging Louie to come on over and keep us company, Louie was straddling the line, unable to resist this unusual woman who convinced herself that "she was having too good of a time."

Seconds after she uttered that line (great speech, by the way), her slumbering dark side surfaced and her face sunk. Tape Recorder's life is a mixture of highs so high that she needs to experience everything the world has to offer in order to suppress the darkness and lows so low that they cause her to retreat so far within herself that she disappears. It was frightening, concerning, and depressing, but it was also an honest look at bipolar behavior and how much it can dominate a person's life. This was recapped in the episode's end bumper, when we were close-up in black-and-white on Tape Recorder's ebullient face, all smiles and giggles, before it vacated the frame completely to make way for the blank expression of a severely depressed individual. But it concluded with brief flashes, in color, of Tape Recorder in happier times, a reminder that this person so full of life and joy was still in there... somewhere.

Posey deserves everything that's shiny for her brilliant, flawless performance as Tape Recorder, and her ability to bring all facets of bipolar behavior—the joyful magnetism, the frightening outbursts, and the haunting absence—to the screen in just 22 minutes. It's one of the best appearances of the year, and this episode wouldn't have been as moving if it weren't for Posey's brave feat. We came out of the episode stunned and silenced, reminded that life isn't the same for everyone.



NOTES

– I wonder if this storyline will be continue at all (the show is famous for giving the finger to continuity). From the descriptions of the next few episodes, it doesn't appear that it will.

– What made this episode so affecting was how it was able to respectfully capture the joy that Tape Recorder was able to bring to Louie, but also the times when she pushed him away. She made him try new things, some with great results and some not. And while there was no single thing she did that was entirely off-putting; it was the accumulation of them that was disturbing. And ultimately, Louie was merely a fun distraction for her, a way to avoid dealing with her own personal issues.

– This was another "non-comedy" episode of Louie, but these kinds of episodes are turning out to be the series' best.


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

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