It took Louis C.K. all of one second into his Season 3 premiere "Something Is Wrong" to mention jerking off, one of the comedian's favorite topics of conversation. But he talked about it from a "getting older" perspective—as in, how wanking it as an older man differs from spanking it as a 22-year-old Puerto Rican track star. It's his way of talking about his permanent state of adolescence, how behaviors don't get different as you get older, they just get more difficult. Ending relationships, recapturing glory days, finding your dick. It's all tougher post-40.
"Something Is Wrong" wasn't as funny as past installments of of FX's cutting-edge, art-house, nuanced, delightfully deliberate Louie (update: the episode was funnier the second time around), but it had all the other hallmarks that set this series apart from the rest of television. It's real situational comedy, where the situation is often funnier than any punchline. I've always felt that the proper way to watch Louie is A) without commercials (thank you, screener DVDs!), because the show is immune to standard TV pacing, and B) by really putting yourself in Louie's shoes, because just as he does in his stand-up, Louis C.K. does such a fantastic job putting his perspective on camera. This is empathy humor at its best.
The tone of the episode seemed to focus mostly on Louie being stuck in a state of post-divorce adolescence-recapturing. The scene in the restaurant with April, his current not-quite-girlfriend-more-like-plaything, was incredible. Here's Louie eating a plate, not a bowl, of ice cream, sitting opposite a woman who correctly thinks he wants to break up with her. She carries the conversation (we've all been there, right fellas?) all the way through to a discussion of breaking up while Louie does his best impression of a beanbag chair, not quite giving in completely but certainly not resisting that much. It's probably the same way his 17-year-old self would have broken up with a girlfriend. And when she gives him the opportunity to break up with her via his preferred method of indifference, he still comes off as a spineless schlub. I loved her line, "Here, why don't you eat this salad when you're done with your ice cream?" But it was Louie's victory because he can tell himself it wasn't his fault because he didn't do anything. This is apathy humor at its best.
Free from the shackles of April and ready to take on the world, Louie made the obviously stupid decision to buy a motorcycle on a whim and the results were predictably tragic for a man who thought he'd taken out a new lease on life but forgot that life really enjoys taking all sizes of dumps on him. Louie wiped out, mostly on his own volition after being emasculated by hot-shot motorcyclists, and slid a few dozen feet to the base of a parked truck. He can't even crash cool. This is injury humor at its best.
But when April returned to his place (just to pick up her laptop) and noticed his limp, Louie took the opportunity to inflate his accident into a more manly shaped incident and said he got hit by a truck. He immediately regressed into a pampered baby once April offered to help him out, and we saw Louie come full circle. He tried out the two-wheeled mid-life crisis solution, wound up in a hospital, and realized that life is easier when it comes to him. Or in this case, knocks on his door because it forgot its laptop. But frustrated April threw her arms up in the air when Louie suggested they get back together and left. This is pathetic humor at its best.
Louie Season 3 began with a reminder of who Louie is. In the coming weeks we'll see how Louie responds to his foray into temporary manhood, and if what Louis C.K. told us yesterday is any indication, for once, Louie won't take things lying down. At least not until he's finished his plate of ice cream.