As I mentioned in “Pamela Part 2,” prior seasons of Louie have conditioned me to anticipate tragedy, the third season leaving off with probably the show’s darkest episode. Well, maybe Louis C.K. felt he needed to balance that sadness out, because the finale of Season 4, “Pamela Part 3,” is about as upbeat as this show gets.
It doesn’t start that way. In fact, the opening, in which Pamela gets rid of all of Louie’s furniture while he’s out because she thinks it all sucks, feels like it’s setting up their relationship’s implosion. But instead, he just accepts that if you’re in a relationship with Pamela, she might just sell all your shit one day. Plus, the blow is softened by the fact that he gets to have sex with her in the middle of his bare floor and, even though she claims she isn’t going to, she does go shopping with him for new stuff.
It also seems like it’s maybe going to be a big deal that Pamela comes to see Louie’s act but doesn’t laugh, but that gets brushed aside as well. The episode then does that weird thing Louie often does of giving time to another character in what’s essentially a non-sequitur. In this case, it’s Marc Maron talking about how his TV show is getting picked up and then he gets pissed at Louie for not being happy for him and for being a bad friend in general.
The scene probably goes on longer than it needs to, but it leads nicely into Pamela actually being supportive of Louie and giving him a pep talk about how nobody’s special and how he could get a TV show too if he wants one. This is great because, as with the previous episode, those moments Pamela actually says something genuine after all the bullshit she spouts, feel like rewards. And her pep talk is hardly sappy; though positive, it’s still abrasive and feels very much like something that her character could be capable of delivering. (The scene is also packed full of meta-irony seeing how, in real life, Louis C.K. is far more successful than Marc Maron and though they’ve both got TV shows, last I checked Maron kind of sucked.)
The final scenes of “Pamela Part 3” force Pamela to be as sincere as I think she can get. This means the payoff to the Season 2 offer she made (and then quickly rescinded) to Louie of taking a bath with her, and it comes with so much more of Louis C.K.’s naked body than I ever hoped to witness. It all teeters on the edge of being cheesy, but I think it ultimately works, because Pamela is as against emotions as I am. I also like Louie’s sad story about how his first kiss came from a popular girl being dared by her friends to kiss him, but he came away from it feeling good: “I mean, I wish they’d dared her to suck my dick.”
I really didn’t expect that Louie and Pamela would end up together and that it would actually appear as though things are going to be rosy and all right. I honestly wonder if this is going to be the end of the series. After all, answering the question opened up in Season 2 of whether Louie and Pamela would ever actually get together (specifically in a bathtub) feels like the closing out of a major, if not the major, series’ narrative.
I also don’t know that I want to know how this relationship goes. Surely, we can’t just have multiple episodes about everything being a-okay, and while I do think Louie and Pamela work, she also seems like a difficult person to stay with. She seems to be super-into encouraging Louie’s kids to act like assholes to him (and in general), which doesn’t really paint her as a very good influence, even if the kids do like her for it. And having her meet “normal” people like Louie’s ex-wife ends in awkward disaster. However, it’s awesome to see Pamela react like someone who exists outside of the show by voicing the question nobody else does: how is it that Louie’s white, white kids have a black mother? (The show finally calling attention to its own oddness in this way is something else that also makes this feel like it’s maybe taking a final bow).
Furthermore, Louie and Pamela were already married once on his short-lived HBO sitcom, Lucky Louie. We can’t very well go retreading that ground again, can we? Hey, maybe Louie was the prequel to that show all along! It all adds up (no it doesn’t)!
But to return to the here and now, it was nice to see things actually turn out nicely. It’s definitely weird how all this happiness was instigated by Louie attempting to force himself on Pamela and it’s sad and strange the way Amia (who he, like, just broke up with) seems to have been so completely forgotten. Still, I do feel like Louie and Pamela are two weirdoes that fit together in a highly irregular fashion. And I like how Pamela being back in Louie re-injects some of the humor it seemed to have all but forgotten, while not sacrificing the drama and sweetness of this series.
All things considered, if this is the end, it doesn’t feel like the wrong way to go out.