What kind of bookstore is Louie frequenting that’s so filled with increasingly out-there responses to the manic pixie dream girl? In “Looking for Liz/Lilly Changes,” last night’s “Louie,” Louis C.K.’s character finds himself dreaming of Liz, the vibrant, unstable woman he went on a date with a few episodes ago, and whose number, we learn, he never got. But when he goes by her place of work, she’s quit, and in her place is an even weirder and more aggressively impulsive boho chick played by another major indie leading lady, Chloë Sevigny. (If Louie keeps this up, the next time he goes into that shop he’s going to end up robbing a bank with Tilda Swinton or something.)
Sevigny’s character has a kind of thwarted girl detective vibe to her — she has an amusing scene in which she tries to stroll surreptitiously through the store to the back to look up Liz’s number in the records only to immediately be called out and scolded by her boss. And her eagerness on helping Louie track down Liz builds from quirky to crazy over their afternoon together, as she insists on going with him to the building in which he dropped Liz off at the end of their date, and then utterly fails to sweet-talk her way inside to find a woman she’s never met.
Louie’s non-date with Sevigny’s character (does she ever get a name?) serves as an unenchanted counterpoint to his magic, unsettling night out with Liz — she even meets him outside when she gets off, but all in the harsh light of day. Like Posey’s character, this new girl is willing and able to push Louie into situations he wouldn’t normally allow himself, but nothing goes right here, from their unsuccessful search for Liz to Sevigny’s apparently getting so excited by the adventure that she masturbates out in the open in a coffee shop while a mortified Louie tries to keep her quiet.
And then, of course, she says she’s married and that he shouldn’t come around again, as if they’d had a mutually enjoyable quickie. But even as she punctures the bubble of Louie’s memory of his night with Liz, Sevigny gives some good if oddly phrased encouragement, in line with the show’s own portrayal of its main character as fundamentally passive — “You’re tested in life, you know? Things just aren’t put in front of you for the taking. You have to go through something to get what you want! You can’t just drift through life and hope that love is just going to flow into you like plankton into a whale’s fucking mouth!”
If there’s any common theme in this mixed bag of an episode, it’s how mysterious women are to Louie and, quite probably, to C.K. in many ways as well. The bewildering encounter of the first half is matched against a similarly off-balance drama with his own daughter Lilly (Hadley Delany) in the second, as he finds her getting taunted by some classmates, is unable to cheer her up and then thinks she’s run away. While the younger Jane (Ursula Parker) is still a sweet, malleable child, puberty’s on the horizon for the ten-year-old Lilly, and she’s starting to show flickers of moodiness, secret-keeping and other adolescent qualities. The female gender, in the show, is an often incomprehensible thing to the main character (a quality that’s usually reflected back as his own failing), and this saga of thinking Lilly’s gone missing starts to seem like it’s representing less a parenting fear about keeping one’s kids safe and more a terror of teenagerdom to come, of both of Louie’s daughters eventually becoming grown women he may not understand.