After a return to the usual opening credits sequence, the episode opens with a bird’s eye view shot of Louie’s face as he’s sleeping with gradually increasing quick shots of Liz, the manic pixie dream girl played by Parker Posey in “Daddy’s Girlfriend” Parts 1 and 2. The way these shots were intercut into that of Louie sleeping were quite indicative of Liz herself – abrasive yet ultimately an intoxicatingly warm source of intrigue and wonder, as illustrated by the warm colors and lighting she was shown in until the light’s searing brightness jolts Louie awake. Having known the title of this episode for some time, I’ve been very excited to see how CK intended to revisit the character he so skillfully depicted a few episodes earlier. As I mentioned in my review of “Daddy’s Girlfriend Part 2”, I did not expect to actually see the character again (dream sequences notwithstanding), but I am pleased to see CK follow up on that monumentally great episode despite being underwhelmed by the segment.
Louie first attempts to track Liz down by visiting the bookshop where she works. There he learns that Liz quit that job and meets her literal and figurative replacement. Liz 2 (as I’ll refer to her from here on out, played very well by Chloe Sevigny) is an interesting way to revisit Liz. By pairing Louie yet again with another hipsterishly cute woman who is also an impulsive and romantic if not unhinged extrovert, CK clearly creates a foil, or in this case a surrogate, for Liz. Now in my aforementioned review dealing with Liz as a manifestation of the manic pixie dream girl archetype, I discussed how CK must feel about this particular type of person, but in revisiting it with another character in a smaller and less impressive vignette, he’s answered the question he begged (“Will Louie see Liz again?”) by merely restating his sentiment expressed the first time around as if he were a hostile witness who repeats himself to answer a follow up question. We learn how Louie really feels about Liz, something that couldn’t be derived from “Daddy’s Girlfriend Part 2” as Liz pretty much monopolized the entire episode (as was the point, it being a character study), that, “She changed the way [Louie] feels about everything in one night,” – basically what falling in love feels like. Other than that though, we don’t get much else. Thankfully, CK has proven he is a master of doing much with little, especially dialogue.
Considering the segment ends with Liz 2 confessing to Louie that she’s married and asking him to never return to her bookshop after forcing Louie’s hand under her skirt until she orgasms, I’m tempted to say that CK has painted an unflattering portrait of the MPDG. However, Liz 2, like Liz, isn’t just a pushy and irresponsible sociopath, she’s a romantic who helped Louie realize that his and Liz’s moment has passed, that he can’t force it to exist again, that to do so would be missing the point of their first and probably only date – to live in the moment. She fulfills the defining MPDG characteristic – helping a brooding artist learn something about life or love – by teaching Louie that, “Love isn’t going to just fall in your lap like plankton into a whale’s fucking mouth.” Though ultimately neither Liz nor her replacement is really the right partner for Louie right now, it’s important to recognize those traits about both of them which Louie finds alluring and attractive, even admirable, and those which are clearly flaws to be worked on.
The title of the second segment, “Lilly Changes”, led me to believe it would be centered around Louie coming to a genuine realization that his daughters will inevitably grow up and the time at which his oldest, Lilly, will begin to enter that first half of adolescence infamous for those going through it being such delightfully cooperative individuals as they are, is just around the corner. Though this was accurate, I was pleasantly surprised by the manner in which the story was told. As opposed to Lilly suddenly wanting to wear make-up or inappropriate clothing, or getting caught with cigarettes or alcohol, like every other show that attempts this kind of story, Louie instead sees his daughter react to the peer pressure and bullying of her female classmates aggressively trying to see if she’ll admit to being “a nerd”.
At first Lilly is visibly upset, refusing to talk to her dad even after he takes her and Jane on a carousel ride and offers them ice cream. At home, after Lilly’s yelled that she, “[doesn’t] want to be cheered up!” and that she, “always [does her] homework!” Louie retreats to the bathroom for a cigarette and some downtime. Clearly he’s confounded as to handle his daughter, normally a very polite and thoughtful girl, being difficult and hostile, most likely because he is so fearful that she may be about to take a hard road down a difficult path. Once he emerges, Jane is quietly drawing and informs Louie that Lilly, who’s ten years old, left their apartment and “went out”. In New York. City. Honestly I’m surprised Louie’s head didn’t actually explode. What follows is the frantic search you’d expect in this situation and it’s done well of course, but it’s pretty run of the mill until the final scene where we see Louie cradling Jane while four police officers stand next to Louie as they ask him questions. It’s here where Lilly reappears wrapped in a big blanket and her headphones carrying a book and a glass of milk. Turns out Jane only thought Lilly had gone out and was actually reading in her closet like she does on occasion. Ultimately Lilly apologizes for yelling at her dad all on her own and Louie is too embarrassed and relieved to do anything other than tell her it’s alright.
The episode ends with a very funny bit of stand-up in which CK mocks his own parental ambition saying that, “If you can’t do it perfect then just don’t,” before giving an example of how his high standards can drop in an instance, such as when usually he won’t even turn on the ignition if his daughters haven’t fastened their seat belts, but when in a taxi he’ll allow his daughters to be hurled through space because he refuses to dig in to the cushions looking for a seat belt as he’s afraid of the “Egyptian hepatitis in the cab driven by an exhausted man from another country in which kids die all day and it’s boring.” The moral being that even though it’s impossible to be perfect for your kids, it’s important to try, at least within reason, a sentiment I hope to be able to live up to one day.
By the way, I loved a bunch of little moments throughout the episode, such as the lazy bass solo when Louie makes his way to Liz’s bookshop, Liz 2 pulling a Marla Singer crossing the street, Louie’s, “Jesus Christ” on her return trip, his expression when making eye contact with the waiter after Liz 2 leaves the coffee shop, the hyper-reality of the teacher in the girls’ school gym endlessly repeating that she needs help getting fifteen chairs on the fifth floor due to budget cuts, Louie being online while sitting pants-less on the toilet, the frantic jazz playing during his search for Lilly, and Jane yelling for her sister in Slovenian, something she just picked up from a friend at school.