After a sojourn into the scary world of mAaAAaaAArijuaannnaaaa last week, we’re back on track with Pamela (played by the always awesome Pamela Adlon). It’s delivered pretty straightforwardly, at least as straightforwardly as things can get with a weirdo like Pamela. Louie asks her out (“Maybe I could take you out?” “Take me out of what? My comfort zone?”), they go on a date, and—what the crap?—it goes really well.
I can’t say I expected this. For one thing, I’ve become accustomed to tragedy with Louie. I mean, Jesus Christ, remember how things were left off one season ago with the sudden death of Liz (Parker Posey)? But also, there was that whole “attempted rape” thing that went down in “Pamela Part 1,” which ended with Louie pretty much forcing a kiss onto Pamela’s face. So it was less than clear where things might go from there.
Because of that episode, the way Louie and Pamela’s relationship progresses here is really going to rub some people the wrong way. The rapey stuff is not really addressed, and there are even two brief moments where Louie seems to be getting a little forceful again that made me wonder if the show was going down that road once more. But no, Louie is effectively his sweet, schlubby self in “Pamela Part 2,” so it’s up to you to determine how you feel about these characters in the wake of the revelation that they both seem unfazed by that previous conflict and have moved on.
My view on it is that Pamela has never truly been fearful of the idea of Louie as an aggressor. This was essentially proven by how, in the first part, she quickly fell back into insulting him after fighting him off. I’m not going to deny that the scene itself still made me uncomfortable at first (and I think C.K. meant for it to be), but as for how it affected the characters and their relationship—well, they don’t seem too bothered by it. At this point, the issue is going to be whether this makes you dislike these characters or (to go to another tier of judgment) the real Louis C.K. and Pamela Adlon (who, as a producer on the show, has significant script input) for writing these characters in this way.
Personally, I’m pretty much on board here because the dynamic between Pamela and Louie is, to put it simply, weird as fuck. Even though she does like Louie, Pamela continues to have a lot of difficulty with intimacy. Expressing real feelings freaks her out and, while that kind of behavior isn’t too atypical as far as humanity goes (I hate feelings too!), the way she reacts to Louie’s attempts at doing normal relationship stuff is kind of childish, off-putting, and even creepy.
But this makes her a really fascinating character. Hanging around with Pamela seems like it would be quite a goddamn rollercoaster, and this episode (and the finale after it) does a brilliant job of making us feel what Louie feels. Trying to get to know and get close to Pamela seems extremely freaking frustrating. The times she doesn’t want to explain her behavior, so instead says something flippant or just walks away, are completely obnoxious and make you really want her to just say what she’s feeling (something she’s obviously against).
However, on the same token, this is what also makes her hilarious and those scenes where Louie and Pamela are having a good time together, saying awful things to each other about Jews and shitting into mouths, communicate extremely well how these two really do complement each other. They crack each other up (“Wow, your head is so bald”) and it’s infectious watching them. It’s also the reason having Pamela around is a bit nerve-wracking because she’s loud and offensive, and might embarrass you in a public place.
Her cold and immature behavior makes those moments where she actually ends up doing stuff that demonstrates she likes Louie liberating and triumphant. Pamela making out with Louie under the stars has been a long time coming and, yeah, it was a big, surprising deal. And then, shockingly, they even sleep together! But being with Pamela means that, after a night of romance, the next morning you have to endure her turning your kids against you and mocking your body in detail.
Ultimately, Pamela and Louie are a weird fucking couple, and this is a weird fucking episode as a result. From the surreal art show in the opening up to the creepy culmination of their date night in which they establish intimacy through a sort of childish approach of sending each other picture texts of their genitalia, having Pamela around sets me on edge. She makes me feel awkward and at times annoyed. But she also makes me laugh.
“Pamela Part 2” was about being on a date with Pamela and it did a pretty good job of conveying such an experience.