“Back” is full of small pleasures: Louie’s conversation with his crass super (“Hey, what’s up comedian, I got a joke for you!” “It’s not gonna be another racist one, is it?”), his abusive back-and-forth with Todd Barry, the off-hand byplay between the women at the adult toy store (“I don’t have anything to do with all those cock rings!”), his scene with a pitch-perfect Charles Grodin (I could watch Grodin eat grumpily for hours), and the unspoken way that he just pushes away the guy who’s pushing into him during the scene with Barry. Also worth mentioning is that, though there’s no defined A-leads-to-B-leads-to-C story arc, the way the back massager reconnects to the earlier vibrator quest is an effective use of a call-back to tie up a meandering narrative.
He does something similar in the second episode, “Model,” and they used to do that kind of thing all the time on Seinfeld, which is why Jerry Seinfeld’s appearance here seems particularly appropriate. What’s particularly delightful about Seinfeld’s cameo is how he plays himself as a total asshole—tossing Louie the benefit gig in clear desperation, presuming his friend’s knowledge about arrival and dress, giving him shade when he gets there (“Oh, God, Louie, what the…”), and then totally throwing him under the bus when he predictably tanks, announcing the name of the charity that he kept withholding, making fun of the jacket that he made Louie wear.
His bombing at the benefit is painful, but the one voice in the darkness laughs hysterically—a little detail that first seems merely a nice touch, but then takes over the narrative. Out in the ornate courtyard, he meets the source of that laugh, and takes his time putting a face to it: Yvonne Stahovski from Chuck, a goddess who drives him away in her sportscar, takes him to her beach house, and seduces him. He is totally thrown, and she seems to enjoys it—until the episode takes a really dark turn.
“She didn’t know that you were violently ticklish.” Victor Garber is just plain wonderful in “Model”’s key scene, laying out its ultimate outcome: that a one-night stand has put our hero into lifelong debt. It’s a direction we certainly don’t see coming, any more than the incident that causes it, but that’s how the story goes on Louie; some episodes (like “Back”) don’t have a story at all, while those that do (like “Model”) are wildly unpredictable and borderline surreal. Not that we’ll ever hear about those $5K-per-month payments again anyway; Louie is a show that lives in the moment, and he certainly won’t resist a juicy pay-off for something as boring as long-term continuity. Each episode is its own, unique thing, and then he moves on. Or, as his super puts it, “Why do you gotta clutter it up? I mean, aren’t you a comedian?”