John S: It seems like every episode of Louie, even the mostly poignant ones like this week’s, has one moment that is just brilliantly funny. In “Subway/Pamela” it was Louie’s throwaway line suggesting that Pamela’s lack of anal sex was likely due to global warming. That line made me laugh hard in an episode that was, overall, quite sad. First, there were the two subway scenes, which were more about the absurdity of the New York City subway than its hilarity. The juxtaposition of the homeless guy bathing with the classical violinist (I must admit I haven’t seen many violinists in tuxedoes on the subway, but that’s just me) seemed a little overt for me. On the other hand, everyone’s reactions to the gross puddle of brown water on the subway seat was certainly familiar, and Louie’s imagined heroism at cleaning it perfectly fit in with C.K.’s worldview. But the crux of the episode was Louie’s relationship with Pamela. Other than Louie’s daughters, Pamela is the most frequently occurring character on the show, and their relationship is certainly the most nuanced and unusual. The actors are so comfortable with one another (midway through this episode I started to wonder if C.K. is actually in love with Pamela Adlon), and their banter is so natural that I enjoy almost all their scenes together, and Louie’s declaration of love was legitimately touching. Though I was kind of let down by the ending, which seemed a little too predictable, there was plenty to like about this episode–even if you didn’t laugh as hard as I did at the global warming line.
Josh: The first two scenes of “Subway/Pamela” showed C.K. at his most artsy. C.K.’s cinematography was excellent in both scenes, with the camera angle choices highlighting the seemingly flawless violinist’s obliviousness to the bathing homeless man and also serving to emphasize the fixation—on any number of things—that occurs in New York subway cars. I also liked the delayed intro, as it made the episode flow better, separating the opening scenes from the Pamela scenes, and then the closing stand-up bit comfortably followed after the closing credit. Like John, I found Louie’s love declaration to Pamela touching; Louie is neither an intellectual nor a poet, but he has a knack for conveying complex feelings and thoughts that are often difficult to verbalize in concrete terms. Sometimes it’s not easy to empathize with Louie’s sentiments or worldview, but here it was not too difficult. Adlon’s acting in that scene—seeing her go through the process of being moved yet realizing she would need to once again tell Louie that his love in unrequited—was one of the best parts of the episode. Louie continues to be one of the most creative, interesting, and honest shows on television. Those qualities, in fact, generally stand our more to me than the show’s humor, although I did also get a kick out of the global warming line, although I’m sure John laughed a bit harder than me.