Can we even call this a season finale? It's hard to label the double-bill "Pamela, Part 2" and "Pamela, Part 3" as such due to the odd way that Louie's fourth season was structured. A pair of extended arcs, a 90-minute episode, and a few standalone installments made Season 4 an unusual one even for a show that regularly defies convention. Not that it matters, because Louie doesn't care what attributes we associate with finales. (There were no explosions? OMG!)
The two "Pamela" episodes that wrapped up Season 4 didn't try to leave us with something deep, like the trip to China that helped Louie find his place in the world at the end of Season 3. Instead, the focus was on Louie's adventures in a new relationship—specifically, the latest chapter in his somewhat on-and-off-again thing with Pamela (Pamela Adlon).
The courtship played out honestly in every sense, showing off both the sweet and ugly aspects of young—or mid-40s—love. Louie was abnormally aggressive for a schlub who usually recedes into walls, pestering Pamela until her armor cracked just enough that he could get underneath it. After Louie's scary sexual advances in "Pamela, Part 1" you couldn't blame her for being wary of him; he was uncomfortably assertive, to the point where he physically accosted her and prevented her from leaving his apartment until she let him kiss her. Maybe the fallout from the "Elevator" arc sent Louie into a crazed fit of ME WANT SEX NOW to prove that he still can get it, or maybe he saw Pamela—a woman who'd previously said she wanted to be with him—as his last chance at having a meaningful romantic relationship. Either way, this is not the Louie we've grown accustomed to.
I was totally creeped out by Louie's actions in "Pamela, Part 1," but like some others, I opted to reserve judgment until after the arc had run its course. And now that it's over, we know that nothing really happened because of it. That's pretty disappointing. I'm not going to play watchdog and write 5,000-word thinkpieces on what constitutes rape on television, a common practice on the internet these days; what's concerning to me is that it was Louie—lovable Louie!—who acted this way. It just seemed way out of character for him, and made me root for Pamela to stay the heck away from his grabby hands. What made him behave like that? Did it have any consequences beyond inspiring critical ire?
On the flip side of Louie's over-eagerness and near-psychotic need for coupling, Pamela was distant and emotionally absent, resorting to shock humor to avoid talking about anything even remotely serious. Maybe she just wanted to have fun, maybe she was feeling stung by Louie rejecting her earlier, maybe she just wanted to make sure she had one hand on her rape whistle.
Regardless, it was clear that their individual attitudes toward courtship didn't mesh. Louie was apparently in a rush to call her his girlfriend, while Pamela just wanted to have a good time. But at times it seemed like they were perfect for each other, each one receptive to the other's needs, or both of them sharing the joy of laughing at a piece of art that was dog poop in a bag. These two episodes didn't romanticize romance, and I think that was the point. Two people can overlap and have a fling, and it can be just as interesting as two people who would travel the globe to find each other because they were meant to make out in the rain (or whatever it is that people who are actually in love do).
Despite the high points—the meteor shower, the final bath tub moment—I don't think Louie and Pamela are meant for each other, nor am I confident that their relationship will live to see next month. These final two episodes of the season were merely a reminder that finding that special someone is an alternating series of rainbows and trap doors, and that the only way to make a relationship truly work is through compromise and the occasional exchange of crotch pics.
Louie has done better story arcs, and it's done better season finales, but there was something endearingly sweet about watching these two, who are probably better off as friends, give a relationship a go.
– After all the uproar over Louie's actions in "Pamela, Part 1," the issue was barely addressed in "Part 2" and "Part 3." Pamela mentioned the incident on the phone when Louie called to ask her out, and that was about it. And she still went out with him after he behaved that way!
– I don't think I really like this pushy, aggressive version of Louie. It's interesting that he only acts this way around Pamela, a woman who previously tried to be romantic with him after rejecting him when he tried to be romantic with her. It's like he thinks she still owes him a relationship because she wanted one before. Expectations—whether valid or otherwise—were a big theme of this arc.
– The art show scene was great; for a second there I thought Louie might be making a statement on art by showcasing all that ridiculous art as part of his own show, which is also a form of art.
What'd you think of the "Pamela" arc? What about Louie's fourth season as a whole?
AIRED ON 6/16/2014
Season 4 : Episode 14