By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist July 27, 2012 at 10:20AM
When you meet someone in a romantic capacity, it's easy to build up a picture of what you'd like them to be and simply convince yourself that that's all they are. It's only really possible to get a real relationship under way when you stop engaging with the fantasy version of a person and start coming to terms with the reality, with their flaws and all. And that's essentially what happens in "Daddy's Girlfriend: Part 2," this week's strong episode of "Louie." Last week, the title character, under self-inflicted pressure to find a girlfriend, managed, against the odds, to woo an intriguing bookshop employee played by character actress fave Parker Posey. She seemed almost perfect, and into him, and by episode's end, he'd managed to secure a date, arranging to meet her after work that night.
And, after a brief stand-up prologue (not the show's finest, it should be said), that's where we pick up. And from the off, it's clear that Posey isn't quite as perfect as Louie might hope: she gets the name of a colleague wrong, and then, after walking into a hip, crowded bar, is refused service by the bartender when ordering two Jagers who says "not after last time." From Posey's face -- a really terrific bit of acting -- it's immediately clear that she doesn't even remember what the bartender's talking about. Her subsequent announcement to an oblivious Louie as they leave, "I don't need to have a drink," is more for herself than anything else. It's simply a brilliant piece of writing, which immediately draws a picture of what kind of person she is.
It's also clear that she's an over-sharer who claims to be honest, but that may not necessarily hold up. She starts off on a nice note, saying to Louie, "You're fat. And I have no tits," but then tells a story about surviving carcinoma as a child. You buy it at first, but as the story goes on (a recovery that took only a month) it becomes increasingly suspicious. And after she tries to tell Louie straight-faced (claiming afterwards that it was a joke) that her name is Tape Recorder, you really start to wonder.
The pair wander through the night, Louie tramping around after her spontaneous whimsies, be it emotionally blackmailing him into trying on a dress in a thrift store (which does earn him a kiss), to buying pills and getting a hotel room for a homeless man -- which included the episode's finest scene, as the vagrant shifted from seeming totally crazy to sad and self-aware at Posey's questioning.
The episode ends with another dare, as Posey drags Louie up a long flight of stairs to see the city from the rooftop, exhausting him. Up there, he freaks out because she's so close to the edge of the building, but she tells him that the only way she'd fall was if she jumped, and she won't jump because she's "having too good of a time." And then all of a sudden, in another great moment from Posey (a guest Emmy nod next year would be well deserved), her mood shifts severely, and she suddenly becomes flat and tired. She finally tells Louie her name -- Liz -- and the two head home.
Essentially, the whole episode is C.K.'s riff on the Manic Pixie Dream Girl archetype, with Posey certainly putting the emphasis on Manic. But the psychological realism of the writing and the performance, plus that final moment, transcends that archetype, really digging deep into the trope while making it feel beyond a simple parody too. It was certainly a satisfying conclusion to last week's part one, and if not the funniest episode of late, was another terrific entry into a season that's yet to put a major foot wrong. [B+]
Bits & Pieces
- Having said it wasn't the funniest episode to date, there were some good moments. Louie's response, when asked if the lengthy climb was worth it to see the view, of "Not really" certainly elicited a guffaw from us.
- So is this the last we've seen of Liz? Despite the obvious downsides, Louie still seems a little enthralled with her. Or was her sudden depressive swing a dealbreaker?
- A curious coincidence that the episode aired the same week as the release of "Ruby Sparks," another deconstruction of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. For why that's worth checking out, read our review here.