Louie's Season 3 Finale: Finding It, Half a World Away

Louie S03E13: "New Year's Eve"

Hidden beneath the globe-trotting, excellent Season 3 finale of Louie, "New Year's Eve," there was a dark message about loneliness that became an uplifting promise of hope. For anyone, even a middle-aged man abandoned by his family during the holidays. "New Year's Eve" continued Louie's winning streak from the final episode of the three-part "Late Night" saga, but happiness is often befuddled and obscured by the tragic obstacles it takes to get there.

Things started off at the most joyous of times: Christmas morning with the kids, Jane and Lily. They were unwrapping their parents like hyenas, loving everything painstakingly put together by Louie but throwing all their appreciation toward an imaginary fatso named Santa Claus while we saw flashbacks of Louie braving bloodthirsty holiday crowds and repairing a doll that had its eyes sucked back into its head (yeah, he peed on the doll's head). That's classic Louie, showing us a man who can't quite get the fatherhood thing right yet always does at the same time, never expecting any appreciation or respect for his troubles. And even though all the credit was going to a myth with a big white beard and slave reindeer, he still leapt at the chance to read the story of Ping the Chinese duck who lives on the Yangtze River with his 42 cousins to his daughters.

Then his ex-wife arrived with her new (husband? boyfriend?) to take the kids "international" for a few glamorous weeks, reminded us all that Louie didn't get the Letterman gig, and the whole family elevatored away, leaving Louie home and very much alone. The verbal exchange as the elevator doors closed was fantastic, silent except for Louie saying, "Okay..." There was nothing else to say.

It became shut-in time for Louie, who refused an offer from sister Debbie to join her family in Mexico and instead dreamed of grown-up versions of his little girls ("We're like probably in our 20s"—so funny) wondering why their daddy was a lonely old man stuffing cookies in his face. In their dream-fake words, "Why didn't he try harder to be less alone?" His awakened state wasn't much kinder in the face of Louie's mounting anxiety of impending solitude, with news reports encouraging those alone to "Go ahead and put that gun in your mouth," so he made the tough decision to join Debbie and her unintentionally hilarious husband.

But life sometimes has a darkly comic way of making things work out and on the bus to the airport he had a chance run-in with psycho Liz (Parker Posey), and there was a brief speck of light that Louie's loneliness would come to an end. But Liz only had enough time to show Louie how happy she was to see him before she suffered a sudden double-barreled nosebleed and collapsed on the bus. Louie accompanied her to the hospital, because that's what one does in that situation, and she was dead within minutes. Her last words belong on the tombstone of the most subversive dead people: "Louie... bye." But Liz hung a question mark on the end of that "bye" like it was a question because really, what the hell was going on and why was it happening to Louie? As he left her room, stunned, the rest of the hospital was blind to the tragedy and celebrated ringing in the New Year, inconveniently timed 10 seconds after Liz expired.

At this point, Louie must've be feeling like he was holding a sickle and wearing a dark hood. Everything close to him goes away. Or divorces him. Or misinterprets his advances. Or turns out crazy. Or dies. He was alone in the airport ready for a flight that he wasn't even excited about traveling to hang out with people he didn't really want to hang out with. The departure/arrivals board called him, and he saw "Mexico City." But he also saw "Beijing," and it was quacking at him a lot louder.

What happened next was so goddamn beautiful I'm not going to do it justice, so I'll just recap what happened. Louie was in China. Actually in China China, not Bowery and Canal St. Chinatown, asking strangers in the street to help him find the Yangtze River. We didn't know whether he was still in Beijing and hundreds of miles away from the Yangtze or whether he took a puddle jumper to Shanghai, but it didn't matter because the communication barrier kept him as far from it as he could be. Language complications landed him in a creek, which was NOT the Yangtze River, but all was not lost.

While randomly walking around the village he somehow ended up in, a woman took him by the arm and invited him in to share a family meal. No one spoke English except Louie, and everyone spoke Chinese except for Louie. But fun was had in that perfectly magical instance that we should always be searching for. Louie recited what they said, much to their enjoyment, and despite all differences, things were great. Louie was no longer alone.

Louie had to go halfway across the world, as far as he could from his roots and his comfort zone, to find someone who wanted to be with him. But he found them. The message is clear: There's hope for everyone, there's someone out there for everyone, but neither is going to find its way into your dark apartment. And you probably don't even need to go all the way to China. Open your mind, simplify your thought process, define yourself, recover from adversity, and explore the unexplored. You never know what you might find.



NOTES

– Some folks are making comparisons between this episode and Season 2's incredible "Duckling," but I'm not going to make them. Yes, there were ducks and foreign countries in both episodes, but the messages were much different. "New Year's Eve" was about being proactive and opening yourself up to chance. "Duckling" was about empathy and appreciating what you have and what's being done for you. Louie is always about the message, not the details.

– Hi, Amy Poehler! But the man who played your husband, Joel Marsh Garland, was funnier than you. Not that Amy really had the material to be funny.

– I'm pretty sure being Louie's cameraman is the best job in the world. Being so close to a genius and traveling to exotic locations and taking pride in your work is where I want to be.

Louie has always made great use of music, but in this episode in particular, it stood out as being absolutely necessary and perfectly incorporated.

Louie has been renewed for a fourth season, and I expect it to continue for as long as Louis C.K. wants to make it.

– Thanks for listening to me ramble about my weird Louie opinions all season! Barring any steamroller accidents or my participation in space program that I don't know about, I'll be back for Season 4.


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

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Boy, I normally would be on board with all of the praise. Louie is typically great, singularly unique, and it is beyond me how Louis has his basically running the show from every angle. This one hit me as off though. Firstly, Liz going like that seemed a poor way to end one of the very few subplots to run across multiple episodes and I think the only positive, hopeful one. I normally love how anti-show this show is and there is a real tragic beauty to finally finding her again only for her to to die, but the way it went down made the whole thing seem trivial and incongruent. Seems there were about a hundred better ways to end that subplot. Also, in my book, Louie just wondering off before her body was cold and unconcerned with medical staff Identifying her or finding her family moved him from hopeless boob as per usual to jerk. It amped up Louie's reaction to the homeless man loosing his head (where it's debatable whether just happening to see a stranger die and then going on a date is appropriate) to a definitely not ok reaction for any decent person. Secondly, the whole show seemed to be about finding community and how great it is that finds it in such an unexpected place. This would be fine except he already had family being really generous and inviting whom he eschewed. Pissing on your family for an adventure is flippant and again jerkish and sucks the meaning out incidentally finding some nice Asian people with whom you can share some superficial laughs about not being able to communicate. This is literally the only episode I have had a complaint about and it's curious to me that everyone going on loving it just the same. The parts are good or great but they don't balance and are contradictory like the intention, structure and awareness that makes this show great broken down on this episode. Is it just me who sees this episode as a significant deviation?


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Anyone else saw how old Louie looked a lot like George Carlin, I know Louie CK loved George Carlin and was inspired by him, the only reason i started watching Louie was that i watch Louie CK talk about how George Carlin affected him.

Makes sense to wanna look like him when you get old.

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Bravo to Louie for his weird, hilarious, dark, poignant, uncompromising vision, and cheers to FX for continuing to let him do it HIS WAY! There's no other show like Louie.
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This show is boring, not funny and why people think it's amazing is beyond me. Love his stand-up, but this show sucks!! Lucky Louie was soooo much better.
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And then people comment on why Revolution is so good...be bored, and leave the truly incredible and thought provoking material to the rest of us. :-P
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"... Jane and Lily. They were unwrapping their parents like hyenas..."



I guess I missed this scene. :-)



Great, great show! And definitely one of the best Louie episodes.



I wonder what the chinese people were talking about.
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Louis argued that we throw around words like hilarious and amazing too often, but in this case it certainly applies. I was, actually, AMAZED by the episode. Insanely beautiful. And dark at the same time.



I mean come on... After the frustration that was wrapping presents (the doll scenes count as HILARIOUS) and then the family leaving he saw a ray of light for 5 seconds and then she collapsed and later died... And to add to the pain, it happened on New Year with everybody celebrating. Brutal..
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The scene with the doll.... I couldn't stop laughing!!!



And the duck thing. I don't think the episodes are comparable, but what's up Louis and the ducks?? No other animals exist!
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I think my whole building heard me laughing at that freaking doll scene. On the one side I was also feeling bad for poor Louie, but still couldn't stop myself laughing. Misery has never seemed so real and still entertaining :D



Ducks are cute, keep them coming.
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Ok, its time to re-classify this as not a comedy show but a show about a stand up comic and his life.

Its ok, but not great, just ok! And at times, like in this one, a bit moronic!

But Louie is very likeable.
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No, it's definitely a comedy. It's certainly not a conventional comedy, but that's part of what makes it so incredibly funny. The scene with Louie trying to repair the doll's eyes would have been horrible on a standard network comedy with a laugh track, or even without. Louie is genius. Period.
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Doll scene = funny. News in bed = funny. Brother-in-law = funny. Chinese dinner scene = vaguely hopeful. Everything else = dark to morbid.

Lots of dark shows and movies have humorous moments in them. The stand up has gone away in the episodes. I think the classification is debatable at this point. The last few episodes have felt more like "The Decedents" than "Little Miss Sunshine."
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I am probably going to need the weekend to recover from this episode. SO good.
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It struck a powerful chord with me. Louie knew EXACTLY where to end it, and was confident enough it its viewership to understand that the message would be received without holding our hands. Truly brilliant in its subtly.
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This was, by far, my most favorite episode of Louie ever. And that's saying a LOT. I can't wait to see what's in store for season four...
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BTW. Please an emmy nomination next year for the little girl that plays louie's daughter. She is awesome and so talented.
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I must admit that I was high at the time, but the scene with the doll was the funniest thing I've seen in years. It just kept going worse and worse ... it made me cry.



Great season for Louie...A little bit dark sometimes but it's ok.
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I wasn't high and it was hilarious.
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Couldn't have said it any better, Tim. Great episode. I love how this show can connect with you on a personal level in just about every episode. Looking forward to season 4.
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