Season 5, Episode 5 – “Untitled”
Air date: May 7 (10:30pm e/p)
Who would’ve predicted that Louie would venture into horror? By now, audiences are probably familiar with Louie’s frequent use of absurdity and surrealism, but “Untitled” taps into that complacency to deliver a few scares rather than the usual bafflement. It makes perfect sense in retrospect–from the show’s predilection for playing with expectations to Louie’s countless modern fears and anxieties, the material is ripe for a horror take.
The episode starts off simply enough, with the sorts of mundane trials and tribulations Louie normally contends with. Louie takes Jane to the doctor, where she describes a “weird thing” in her head. She goes into an elaborate and somewhat fantastical description that includes phrases like “sweating on the inside of her head” and “seeing that everything is just electrons”. It’s pretty disconcerting for a parent to hear, and speaks to the episode’s exploration of the strange and often inexplicable things within our minds, but it just sounds like mild dehydration to the doctor.
I’ve really enjoyed the depiction of Jane and Lily’s growth and development.over the seasons. It’s nuanced and subtle, and doesn’t rely on the heavy-handed lessons and group hugs shown in more traditional family sitcoms. Rather, their growth has been gradual and almost imperceptible–the doctor speaks only to Jane and all but ignores Louie, while Louie finds himself confronted with his own ignorance of his daughter’s health. Later on, he’s surprised to learn that Jane doesn’t have many friends at school and is shocked when Lily reveals that they watched A Clockwork Orange at the sleepover. His general bafflement is that of a parent who’s being gradually outpaced by his daughters’ development into full-fledged individuals.
Louie ends up suffering from a series of bizarre nightmares that prevents him from sleeping. It’s not apparent at first, and the only warning we receive is Louie’s exasperated “oh no” after a knock on the door that opens up to only darkness. Dream sequences aren’t unusual for a show like Louie, but I don’t think anyone was ready for a greased up bogeyman with beady eyes to come leaping out of the darkness. Louie is haunted by these nightmares as he loses sleep and lines between reality and dreams start to blur. His attempts to seek help or find a cause prove futile, and the dreams only get more bizarre–that damned bogeyman also keeps showing up, and it’s horrible every time.
It’s hard to tell how much of the rest of the episode is real or part of Louie’s dream. The show’s signature surrealism is put to great effect here; there are fun little moments of ambiguity where the weirdness on display could still fit comfortably within the show’s wheelhouse without being a dream. Eventually, Louie remembers back to the day the dreams started, and to Barbara, the recently divorced mother of Lily’s friend. The dreams appear to be the result of his guilt over not helping her and awkwardly leaving after she breaks down in tears. He returns to help her with various household tasks, such as moving her fish tank and fixing the sink, and is ultimately able to sleep peacefully again.
We all have weird things in our head. It’s hard to know where they came from, what they mean, or how to fix them. As far as Louie goes, maybe it’s a manifestation of some personal anxiety, or perhaps all you need is a glass of water. Either way, I know where my next nightmare is coming from: that terrifying bogeyman leaping out of the darkness.
- Jon Glaser guest stars as a joke-stealing comic, channeling some of that great “Councilman Jamm” sliminess. I miss Parks and Rec.
- When Barbara breaks down, Louie doesn’t feel comfortable trying to console her–he reaches to put a blanket around her shoulders, but ends up just draping it over her completely.
- The song that plays at the end of of the episode is great, and it too seemed completely innocuous until the bizarre lyrics catches your attention.