Louis C.K. will never be accused of being too lighthearted. When the subject matter involves embracing the degradation that comes along with aging (particularly in regards to sex), and its attempted alleviation is the awkward trauma of witnessing a would-be attacker's decapitation by truck, there's not much room for hearts and flowers.
The opening of "Bummer/Blueberries” should have set us onto the idea that something dark this way comes, with our protagonist playing an extra antagonistic role in an introspective manner. “When I fuck, I gross myself out,“ he deadpans, comparing his pasty, doughy belly hanging over his counterpart whilst in the act to that of a “fourteen-nippled mother dog.”
That same awkwardly unfortunate vision translates to his home, where Louie is riddled with visibly painful anxiety before calling a drab yuppie named Janice and asking her on a date. The two know each other in a “professional capacity,” and the guy behind her in the bedroom clearly seem like her love interest, but she nevertheless agrees to see a movie with him, because "he could be something at some point. It couldn’t hurt.” Quite the selling point.
The next day on the way to the date, Louie’s minding his own business on a street-corner when a raving homeless man charges toward him, unprovoked. Louie ducks out of the way at the last moment, and the homeless assailant stumbles forward into the street, right in front of an oncoming truck. He's hit directly and crumpled beneath the tires, which smashes his torso, and rips his head clean off. It goes rolling down the street as Louie looks on in horror.
Clearly, Louie has been jarred. He follows through on his plans, but he certainly isn’t in the mood for casual conversation with a reluctant date who's only interested because he's connected in the industry. His morose existentialism disguised as intellectual depth turns her on at first: “It’s just so arrogant the way we live our lives,” he says. “We’re constantly right on the edge of existence and nothing. And we live in total disrespect of that.” Janice, clearly enamored by the depth hidden beneath the chubby bland exterior, leans in for a deep kiss, and afterward, as a reaction to his being so “awesomely honest,” admits she always saw him as a goof, and reveals the only reason she went out with him was to help her career.
He takes the next step of honest, relaying the afternoon’s gory details. Janice does an about-face, questioning Louie’s decision to show up afterward for the date and completely creeped out. Upset, she leaves Louie and heads home. The realistic speed in which sentiment turns to ostracism is jarring, a poignant reminder that it's not the side-splitting moments that make this show so damned good; it's the painfully relatable authenticity of the human condition that Louie conveys onscreen, balanced with his razor-sharp timing, flow of narrative and nonchalant one-liners that keep us coming back.
After a stand-up bit about living in fear of the city, we kick off “Blueberries,” in which Louie drops his kid off at school, only to be propositioned by a fellow parent named Dolores, whose flirting technique is far less flirtatious than outright mechanical.
“I haven’t had sex in a long time,” says a disheveled Delores. “I’m approaching you because you seem safe and discreet.” Louie, dumbfounded, agrees and later shows up to her apartment, expecting a bit of small talk and build-up. But she’s "ready for intercourse," leading him right to the bedroom. She disappears into the bathroom to slip into something more comfortable, and we know better than to expect a French maid outfit when she reappears – but what greets Louie is nowhere within driving range of the same ballpark: Delores emerges wearing a Grandma-style nightgown, as sexless as they come. Her face is scrubbed clean of makeup, her hair up in a scrunchie.
As Louie attempts to rationalize a sexual encounter with what may as well be an extra on "Little House on the Prairie," Delores decides that she needs him to pick up some items at the store (and no, it can't wait): condoms, lubricant, blueberries, and a vaginal infection cream. Deeply uncomfortable, certainly unaroused, Louie sees his chance to bolt – but somehow he lets it pass, perhaps relating to this woman's sad desperate bid to get laid.
The bad gets worse when, in the heat of the deed upon his return, Dolores asks to be spanked while calling Louie “daddy.” Soon she’s sobbing on her bed, as Louie looks on helplessly, before a post-coital casual conversation about his kids’ school plans as if the previous tumult hadn't transpired.
An unrelated stand-up bit closes the episode, with Louie flexing his heckler repellant on a few unruly crowd members sabotaging the intimacy of the moment between entertainer and audience. Ultimately, the heckler-justice moment can serve as a connective device between the two chapters unveiled here, specifically how we set fire to our own best intentions without realizing the problem is largely our own selves.
"Bummer/Blueberries” was certainly a dark episode with few silver linings, tying in the traumatically absurd (headless homeless man) with the painful grit of real-life dysfunction (Louie's blueberry-loving daddy-issues-having sex partner) in a way that's come to define the show as a whole. Contrary to the who-are-these-people situational comedies like "Seinfeld," in which none of the characters could possibly exist in real life and their circumstances are as ludicrous as the personalities themselves, "Louie" provides a sense of disquieting authenticity with a lining of outlandish ridiculousness that often serves as our only buoy of sanity in the darkness of reality.