Louie was never going to end up the next David Letterman.
Well, I don't want to say never, because "Louie" has rarely proceeded in the expected directions, and if Louis C.K. wanted to turn his FX series into some lo-fi variation on "The Larry Sanders Show" with him as the host next season, I have no doubt the results would be interesting as all hell. But "Late Show Part 3," which aired last night and wrapped up a three-episode arc, showed that it was the journey, not the destination that was important to the show. While Louie got a harsh showbiz lesson at the end (and not one imparted to him by David Lynch's Jack Dall), he took it feeling all the stronger for having pushed himself through the process.
That wonderful scene outside the Ed Sullivan Theater (from which our hero has been permanently barred) in which Louie, rather than slinking away to lick his wounds and dwell in self-pity, yelled out to an indifferent street at night that "I did it!," was an encapsulation of what C.K.'s show does best, the deeply human joy it can find for its protagonist in unexpected places. He's not the guy who gets given the gig of a lifetime, he's the guy who gets used as a pawn in Letterman's contract negotiations to show the star that the network's serious about replacing him even when they're not. But he could have done that job, and one of the great relevations of this episodes is that he probably would have done it pretty well.
Louie wasn't someone already perfectly suited to the job -- as his daughter puts it, with the frank insensitivity of a child, when he says he needs to lose weight, "If they want a skinny person, why don't they just get someone skinny? Why do you have to change?" But he's someone who was able to up his game to become suited for it, and to shape that job so that it was more right for him. "Louie" has always painted its main character as someone struggling with ambivalence, with allowing things to remain as they are even when they're not ideal, like the relationship with Gaby Hoffmann in the first episode of the season in which she ends up breaking up with herself on his behalf because he won't step up.