Louie: “In the Woods” Season 4 Episodes 11 and 12 Review

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If there was any doubt in your mind, surely this episode TV indie movie secured Louie as the best show on television right now.

It seems that in Season 4, Louis CK also wanted to make a movie and not just the typical 13 episodes. In the Woods starts with Louie catching his older daughter Lilly smoking a joint with her friends from school. He screams and yells and drags her around town before he can figure out how to handle the situation.

Now it’s time for a trip down memory lane. Louie is in the 8th grade, he’s picked on by the class bully, and has a crush on his science teacher’s daughter with huge glasses. Devin Druid was the young actor playing our lead, and he did an outstanding job showing us a younger Louie and just being a dweeby kid.

During a school dance, Louie and his geeky friend smoke pot for the first time. They even manage to make friends with the school bully in the process, as these things go when you’re in middle school. It would appear that In the Woods is Louis CK’s stab at independent cinema. But this still has the Louie brand, meaning that the awkward kid isn’t going to get everything he wants in the end.

No, this is a film about the mistakes you make that force you to grow up in about five seconds. Young Louie gets further in the high stakes of the middle school marijuana world. His dealer, played vibrantly by Jeremy Renner (yes, that Jeremy Renner), seemingly becomes his drive: how can he get more weed?

So Louie steals his favorite teacher’s scales, because all these kinds of stories need the teacher that understands the kid more than his parents do (however, Louie brilliantly twists this dynamic, but we’ll get to that later). He sells the scales to his dealer for six ounces of pot. The school seems to figure it out, but they have no proof to pin it on Louie.

But Louie’s problems don’t end there. In one of the most powerful scenes of the night, Louie’s mother (a harrowing turn from Amy Landecker) screams at him, telling him she doesn’t care about him anymore. What’s startling about this scene is that you keep waiting for her to stop and hug her son, and she never does. You believe that she hates him. There’s a lot of hate in the room, but most movies take it away to give us some comfort. Louis CK trust his audience enough to believe that a mother can say all these things to her son and still come back loving him later on. Just another example of Louie doing things that the rest of television isn’t comfortable with.

Now Louie has to grow up. He tries to get the scales back, but his dealer has already sold them. Renner seamlessly flipped the switch and became terrifying as he threatened Louie.

In another startling scene, Louie admits to his teacher that he stole the scales. Again, there’s no relief for the audience. His teacher just turns his back to him and Louie walks out of the house.

We come back to the present, where Lilly asks her father if he’s going to give her some big speech now. Louie just tells her that she’s an adult now and that he’s there for her. Louie has this foresight for what his daughter is about to go through, and that gives him the patience he needs to deal with her now. What a fascinating way to end this story.

In the Woods can hardly be referred to as an episode of Louie, being more of a TV movie. The dramatic beats were hit perfectly. The acting was top-notch all around. There’s just nothing on TV quite like we just watched. I have to thank FX for allowing Louis CK to do such an unconventional episode. He is a true artist being allowed to stretch his wings in a medium that almost never allows such freedom. It makes Louie one of a kind. And the best thing on TV right now. Grade: A

Side note: you probably noticed the dedication to Phil Hoffman at the end credits. Apparently, the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman was meant to appear in this episode but passed away before filming. I believe he was meant to play the teacher, as the character’s last name was Hoffman. It was a touching dedication and I wish we could have seen this film with Hoffman in the role.

By Matt Dougherty

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