Louie: In the Woods
June 10, 2014 8:32 AM - Season 4, Episode 11 - Subscribe

Louie remembers an episode from his youth that has sudden relevance in his adult life.

Louie catches Lilly smoking marijuana. In flashbacks, a thirteen-year-old Louie and his friends discover marijuana.
posted by Mothlight (19 comments total)
I didn't get to watch the entire episode, but as I left it, a ruthless bully and two shy nerds were mellowed out by space prog and weed science which is exactly the kind of disney ending I look for.
posted by SharkParty at 9:16 AM on June 10, 2014

This episode reinforced the idea that privilege is the theme of this season. It shows how Louie has been privileged (obviously) all his life, and how it's allowed him to mostly get away with his shit from an early age. In context this interview with Louis C.K. from a couple of years ago is pretty interesting. It confirms that "In the Woods" is at least semi-autobiographical; Louis notes he was doing a wide variety of drugs and "always in trouble" in his pre-high school years.

I do wonder what the FX network bosses thought when he dropped this season in their laps. Not a ton of laffs, especially after the first few episodes. Good thing he has creative autonomy, because what he's doing right now seems to be pretty unprecedented in TV land, even compared to the distinctive looseness of the first three seasons.
posted by Mothlight at 9:40 AM on June 10, 2014

Wow, I didn't see this episode about being about privilege at all. It seemed to me about how parental absence fucks you up, big time.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:13 AM on June 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

I liked watching adolescent Louie. It's interesting that he's unrecognizable to adult Louie. He's closer to 20 year old Louie from a few episodes ago. Unlike Woody Allen whose child versions always end up being miniature versions of himself, young Louie is this unformed person still developing with no real opinions about the world. It's all trial by error. It would be interesting if we ever get to see how young Louie embarks into comedy.
posted by cazoo at 11:16 AM on June 10, 2014

Well, that too. But I guess I saw Louie's reputation as a "good kid," not to mention a white kid, as key to those mooted grand larceny charges just sort of sliding off his back — especially when we see the other kid, the one with an already established bad reputation as a bully and ne'er-do-well, hauled off in handcuffs right before Louie gets off the hook. He gets away with it because 1) his teacher stands up for him based solely on his reputation as a good kid and willingness to help out in class and 2) the school administration is too lazy to pursue the case. But maybe I read to much into it vis a vis what might have happened if an (unseen) African-American schoolmate had stolen $3,000 worth of equipment from the lab and traded it for drugs. It's not made explicit.
posted by Mothlight at 11:25 AM on June 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I dunno. It definitely doesn't seem to be about racial privilege, to me. And the kid who gets out of this whole thing wholly unscathed is the one whose parents care enough (and have enough money, sure) to send him to private school. I thought Young Louie's speech to his father--fuck you, you weren't around a month ago to care about me--was a pretty transparent cry for help. And ugh, when that man walks away. So sad.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:33 PM on June 10, 2014 [4 favorites]

Louie, you got me. Real human tears generated.
posted by The Gooch at 1:49 PM on June 10, 2014

That was incredible TV, really courageous stuff to break from a comedy show formula. I thought my TiVo was broken when it said a single Louie episode was 1hr and 34min long - and I couldn't believe he basically made an entire film out of one episode and I watched it, riveted to the end.

Jeremy Renner was amazing. The woman playing his mom was pretty great too. That science teacher looked every one of my all time favorite science teachers and it was heartbreaking when Louie had to admit guilt to him.

I did a similar thing a few years ago, I apologized for being a dick as a teen to my favorite high school art teacher, admitted to some graffitti he never knew I did at school (which was an unsolved mystery during my time there), but my old teacher gave me a weird form letter absolving me of guilt and saying he hoped things were better for me. I figured as an art teacher he must get a lot of confused weird wayward kids that grow up to be normal adults that write him back 20 years later, and probably has that form letter ready to drop when he hears from a kid he no longer remembers.

Anyway, man, I bet there are many Emmy awards for Louie come next year.
posted by mathowie at 2:20 PM on June 10, 2014 [8 favorites]

Oof. This show.

If I had a 12-year-old and caught her smoking pot, I wonder whether it would be a good idea to have her watch these episodes.
posted by painquale at 6:11 PM on June 10, 2014

I just don't know what to make of this one. I wound up fast-forwarding through a lot of it. I'm still trying to process what the final scene between Young Louie and the teacher and how that informs Adult Louie's conversation with his daughter.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:23 PM on June 10, 2014

I kind of read it as the continuing story of Louie being a shiftless, consequence-averse sad sack.

He'd already gotten off completely scot free. The principal gave him a pass. The psychologist (?) said he was cool. The drug dealer didn't kill him. His mom was smiling again. His bully friend committed some bigger crimes that overshadowed his own. He was moving on to a new school anyway so he'd never really have to see any of these people again. He had gotten through his little ordeal smelling like a rose through basically no real investment of his own.

Whether or not Louie was actually innocent, the fact that his innocence was at least plausible was pretty crucial and allowed that teacher to say some things that probably needed to be said with his head held high... That little confession basically ruins that useful and worthwhile illusion while gaining absolutely nothing except an additional dose of consequence-free closure for Louie along with a phony sense of doing "man shit".
posted by SharkParty at 6:58 AM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

That was fantastic. Also surreal because Louie's talked about stealing scales before, so it felt even more explicitly personal than other episodes.
posted by frenetic at 10:20 AM on June 11, 2014

What I kinda got from it was that you get this whole story of how it fucked up his life around that same age, so the obvious thing is for him to go off and tell his daughter all about it. Instead, by thinking back over the experience he realizes that what maybe would have helped him back then was just to have a parent care about him the way his teacher did. He realized all the yelling and threatening didn't work. Being in trouble didn't work. He was numbing his feelings, what he needed was a life in which it wasn't necessary to numb feelings. So he realizes that's what he has to give his daughter.

The last scene was so unexpected and perfect it just made me burst out in tears. I didn't see it coming, as the minutes went by I was wondering how he was going to fit the talk with Lilly into like, a minute. Wow. The entire dynamic with the parents thing hit so uncomfortably close to home and felt so true. I thought the way he handled it was perfect... Although I think the story of what's really going on with his daughters is far from done. I can't wait to see what's coming in the next few episodes.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 7:54 PM on June 11, 2014 [4 favorites]

Also, I noticed that the counselor at the end is the same actor who plays the neighbor who gets Louie WAY TOO HIGH in a previous season. Nice.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 7:57 PM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

So impressed by the performances of those kids. Louie has a real knack for bringing out the truth from child actors. It rang true to my own 80s growing up drug experience.
posted by Dag Maggot at 11:35 PM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

I saw Louie's confession as his punishment--he has to push away the one person who consistently acts like a loving parental figure. That kind of thing is brutal for a kid. Hell, it's pretty hard for most adults, too. And even though his mother is mostly nice enough, that's some terrible, abusive shit to say to a thirteen-year-old kid, that you don't want to live with them because they're boring. Parents don't get to be parents only when things are nice, you know?

Which is, I think, what Louie was doing for his daughter: showing that he'll be present no matter what. It's what most teenagers need, even if those teenagers are acting like total twerps.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:08 AM on June 12, 2014 [4 favorites]

I found it a little sad when Louie got derailed from his interest in that girl at the dance to go smoke weed. Not exactly a mature choice (but then again you wouldn't expect it from a teenaged kid).

Throughout this whole season there's been a theme of how Louie deals with the women in his life: his children, his ex, his current sexual relationships. Some dealings go well, with him taking on an adult, caring role - c.f. him bailing out his ex and kids in the hurricane especially since the ex's current partner was AWOL. Some, not so well. Sounds like this episode falls into the former category.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 8:56 AM on June 13, 2014

I thought this episode was interesting because it's basically a Very Special Episode from the 70s, with everything in the flashbacks wrapped up nice and neat, no major consequences. It was a total cliche, but also, as always, its own thing.

CK is a moralist. He wants to know what distinguishes good people from bad people. Young Louie is his harshest critic - well, maybe after his parents. Everybody else recognizes that he is inherently a good person, that stealing some scales and doing drugs is not the signs of an amoral person, just a kid who made some mistakes.
posted by one_bean at 12:41 PM on July 20, 2014

I thought about this episode for a week after I watched it. I am still thinking about it. I have never watched such affecting "comedy" before. It broke my heart.

He stole the scales to win the approval of the drug dealer, not realizing it would lose him the approval of the science teacher, probably not knowing they were both stand-ins for the approval of his absentee father. So he just makes sure his daughter knows he's there for her. That was lovely.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:35 PM on May 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

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