'Louie' Saves Guest Star Michael Rapaport's Unstable Cop From Himself
The newest episode of Louie was a cautionary tale about the dangers of following through on that vague promise to hang out with acquaintances you run into on the street. In "Cop Story," Louie crosses paths with guest star Michael Rapaport as Lenny, an NYPD patrolman who once dated Louie's sister. Their first interaction is bizarrely aggressive and distressing, and things just get worse from there. I wouldn't call this episode "ha-ha" funny, but if the horrifying fragility of the human condition and the idea of emotionally volatile cops raging about New York City do it for you, then you must have loved it. (I kind of loved it.)
As is so often the plot on this show, this episode finds Louie being pulled into yet another unprecedented situation with a fellow human. As he walks down the street, Lenny projects insults from his patrol car before catching up with his old "friend" and basically demanding that they hang out. One of Louie's defining traits is his inability to fully assert himself, even when his entire being is internally protesting whatever it is he's going to go ahead and do. He doesn't even really know Lenny, yet Lenny greets him like they've got inside jokes. That over-familiarity should be red flag enough. But Louie lets himself be carried away again, and it's entirely his own fault. I don't throw out pleasantries like "We should really get together!" or "Coffee next week?" with no intention of following through because I'm cruel. It's because there is simply is not enough time in the day to go deep into every person who orbits my life. (When would I catch up on Jane the Virgin?) And that's OK.
Lenny suggests a Knicks game, intimating that he has tickets. After greeting Louie at his apartment by jokingly pointing his gun in his face, he fails to sneak them into the game and is dressed down by another officer. Now would be the ideal time for Louie to make his escape, but of course he doesn't. Save yourself, Louie!
Instead, the two would-be pals go to a bar where Lenny proceeds to tell Louie how his sister ruined his life when she broke up with him; expresses confusion that he's in the same sad, single boat as the man next to him, even though he considers himself much more attractive; and otherwise ignores his drinking buddy completely. Finally, Louie decides he's had enough abuse for the evening and breaks the news to Lenny: the reason why Lenny is alone is simple and clear. He's a terrible person to be around. That's when Lenny realizes that his service weapon is missing, and the worst boys' night out ever becomes a treasure hunt for a loaded gun.
Louie isn't wrong when he pegs Lenny as a wholly unlikable guy. But there's also a suggestion that it's his isolation that's heightened his most off-putting qualities. Louie's sister dumped him, sure... but she also dated him in the first place. So I assume he was once at least less obnoxious than he is now. Lenny's loneliness has turned him into something of a monster. While I wouldn't want to hang out with him, I kind of feel for his desperate attempt to make a connection. Any connection.
And he gets it, in a weird way. Louie leaves Lenny falling apart in his apartment to go out and find the gun. And, let's be real, he does it mostly because he's terrified of what further disaster might occur with that weapon out in the world. But when he brings it back, Lenny has such an emotional reaction. He's like a child. And I realized — this the first time in a very long time that anyone has done anything for him. As harrowing an episode as "Cop Story" is, I left it feeling like Louie might actually have saved Lenny. Sort of by accident, but guess what? It still counts.
Images: KC Bailey/FX; Giphy (2)