‘Louie’ Stung By Surreal Nightmares in “Untitled” (TV REVIEW)


“Untitled” begins with an uncharacteristically cuddly joke from Louie about the life of a beekeeper. “Too many bees,” Louie opines. With the ridiculously simple punchline (I shall not spoil it here) washing over the audience, we transition into a doctor’s visit with Louie and Jane. After briefly describing a rash to the doctor, Jane starts to speak in what would be unfairly described by smaller minds as fascinatingly complex psychedelic ephemera — but such is Jane, alone but never lonely.

Jane, as told to Louie as they walk to an apartment to pick up Lily from a sleepover, is fully aware of her solitude but seems resolved to it. “Lily is lucky,” she says. When Louie asks why, Jane replies — without a hint of envy — “She has friends.” After exchanging empty pleasantries with the mother-in-charge at the sleepover, the unnamed woman asks Louie for a favor. There is a pause here, of course; but Louie follows the woman to a room in the back of the apartment as she explains that her partner recently moved out. The bedroom is alive with the rippling blue light of a large fish tank. The woman asks if Louie can move this living, breathing piece of furniture to the living room as it’s keeping her awake at night. When Louie attempts to explain that moving an entire aquarium requires much more effort than a simple grab-and-go, the woman bursts into tears. Louie struggles with a response before grabbing a blanket and covering her back, then her entire face. Before the shot fully transitions, we linger on the woman weeping beneath the blanket.

None of this is extraordinary for a Louie episode. If anything, this episode’s first act is seemingly self-aware of its unremarkable stature. On the way back from the fish tank scenario, Louie falls asleep in the cab and we are immediately pulled into an episode that most certainly earns anti-title, its statement of no purpose, its significant insignificance. Louis C.K. wears his David Lynch proudly here, but he’s also wearing the influence of his debut directorial film Tomorrow Night. Absolute lightness is almost certainly a guise for absolute darkness.

For Louie, when “nothing” is “happening” (two subjective words) — then we as viewers can be sure everything is happening beneath the surface. Louie plunges into a detailed nightmare that contains one of the most unexpectedly disturbing images I have ever seen — not just on this show, but period. Louie awakens and drifts off repeatedly, inching closer to an explanation for his manic dream frequency before plunging further into darkness.

The conclusion is one of absolute genius, a Larry David level of full-circle narrative heightened by Louis C.K.’s ability to lift the mundane to the profound. As I’ve said many times this season, we are witnessing an auteur approach a streak of brilliance that many probably never expected from the comedian’s comedian. Louie reminds us that life often sucks, yes; but that pain is the birthplace of beauty. And thus is the sting of existence.

Too many bees, indeed.

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One Response

  1. A wee bit over the top review. This season of Louie has been good. Much better than last season. However it is not profound. Don’t over think it. That is what Louie himself would probably say.

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