This is the beginning of this season’s two-part finale. Unlike some of Louie’s previous finales that featured major events like Louie finally getting together with Pamela or extreme madness like Parker Posey dying and Louie flying off to China, “The Road” (at least the first part of it) is content to be lightly funny and depressing.
It’s probably the most formless episode of the season (yes, I’d argue even the dream episode, “Untitled,” eventually revealed itself to have more of an internal storytelling logic than this one) and that makes it feel closer to pre-season-four Louie. It’s a slice-of-life episode covering the depressing, awkward, and off-kilter events that take place when Louie goes on tour. It’s not my preferred kind of Louie episode (I’m somewhat of a slave to structure), but it’s a decent change of pace for the show to return to this sort of thing in a season that’s been a little more organized than one might expect from the series.
“The Road” features very little in the way of roads and is actually largely set in such beautiful locales as a crappy Cincinnati hotel and the Atlanta airport. It’s overall more awkward than funny but Louie does awkward extremely well so that’s not a complaint. I’ve traveled a fair amount and I empathize with having to face the sterile, boring horror of airports and shitty hotels with windows overlooking parking lots. It’s already easy to feel alone and adrift when in transit and some places are just inherently depressing on top of that.
Louie also has to deal with the awkwardness of having to become unavoidably acquainted with people, like his driver in Cincinnati, Mike (Devin Ratray). Mike seems like a nice enough guy, but Louie has been touring for so long that there’s no joy in briefly getting to know people like him. Of course, Louie doesn’t want to be a dick to the guy so he tries to indulge Mike for a little bit, but he just doesn’t have the energy. In the end, he shoots down Mike’s overt hints of wanting to hang out and get to know Louie while he’s in town, which causes the poor schlub to cry. It makes for one of those awful social situations where Louie is hardly in the wrong but he still ends up coming off unavoidably like, well, a dick.
The rest of “The Road” is a hodgepodge of happenings. A random guy comes to Louie’s hotel room looking for someone named Roger. “He’s dead,” says Louie in exasperation. Louie tries to help a girl who’s been separated from her mom at the airport, but she just runs off when he’s not looking. He forgets his bag on the airport tram and then tries to get it back, but fails to. However, a really helpful security guard does his best to help Louie out and gets him to his plane on time, which serves as a nice reminder that there are moments of kindness to be found in the midst of the tragedy that is travel (and, well, life).
“The Road” is a gentle episode that does a good job of highlighting the mundanity of what one might think is a super-fun-all-time profession. I doubt the second part is going to throw any major curveballs and will just be a continuation of Louie’s tour and all the little things that happen (or don’t) on it. But, then again, I could be wrong. This is Louie after all.