“New Jersey/Airport.”

FX

Louie’s second season has been a dark experiment. It managed to turn the simple premise of a one-man show with a standup comic at its center into something far greater. The darkness, drama and perceptiveness packed into a 30-minute FX comedy scripted, directed and led by one man  has made Louie the greatest creative overachiever in American television history. The first season gave Louis CK an opportunity to begin laying the foundation of his fucked philosophy–the second season cemented it. AV Club Editor Keith Phipps proposed that the second season was “one of the great seasons” in television history. It’s not an overstatement.

“New Jersey/Airport” fittingly concludes with a story of painfully unrequited love that initially appeared in one of the season’s strongest episodes. The episode begins with Louie running into Steven Wright after a successful set. Wright tells Louie that he should use the momentum from his standup set to “get some tail.” He’s married, so Louie choosing to go home immediately after the set is a waste, Wright says. The plea for vicariously sexual satisfaction is a bit unnerving coming from Wright, whose stage persona is the polar opposite of sex.  Louie wanders around aimlessly looking for a potential sex partner with little luck. He walks out of the club, where he’s confronted by a woman who says she loved his show. She also says she was waiting “because I want to show you my pussy.” It’s a desire she repeats numerous times in their short time together. The entire exchange is a bit dreamlike, which would partially explain the actor’s robotic, odd delivery of each line.

The pair get to her house, where it’s revealed that she’s a married woman hoping to “share” Louie with her older husband. The dreaminess continues in an utterly absurd exchange where Louie politely asks to leave the surprise ménage à trois and the husband angrily tells Louie to leave. It’s not a scene that has any foot in reality. The scene feels more like a rejected Curb Your Enthusiasm episode. Louie calls Chris Rock to ask for help, which results in anger from Rock’s off-screen wife. Rock, who has worked with Louis CK since the 1990s, lectures Louie about the direction of his life. “This is 30-year-old shit, not 40-year old shit,” he tells Louie. The scene is punctuated when Rock’s angry wife calls Louie his “fat friend.” It’s a weak story in comparison to some of the excellent second season episodes.

The stronger part of the episode comes in the final eight minutes, when Louie and Pamela arrive at the airport. Pamela is going to Paris to see her ex-husband, who has recently reconnected with their son. She’s decided to try to make the relationship work. Louie admits that all of his hopes for love are pinned on Pamela, who has repeatedly told Louie that she does not feel the same way. She tells Louie to move on. Louie tells her that he thinks they’re supposed to be together. Pamela laughs and asks why Louie keeps making her “say mean things” to him. The dynamic between Louie and Pamela is an odd one in pop culture. Unrequited love is certainly well-worn territory, but Louie still has hope that it will work out. If we do see unrequited love where one person carries false hope, it’s typically played for laughs. However, this unrequited love isn’t particularly funny. It’s a broken man seeking a fulfillment he’ll never have from a person he may never see again.

Louie transitions from expressing his feeling that love between he and Pamela is a cosmic inevitability into a pragmatic lecture about the moral shortcomings of her ex-husband. She deserves better, he tells her. She acknowledges that her husband is a piece of shit, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be with Louie. It’s an important distinction–she doesn’t know she loves her ex-husband, but she knows she doesn’t love Louie. Louie genuinely doesn’t believe her. “I have a hard time believing that I feel this way and there is nothing coming back,” Louie tells her in a heartbreaking moment. It’s a ridiculous sentiment, but one that cuts to the heart of what unrequited love is all about. We believe that if we feel something deep enough, the object of our love can’t help but share those same feelings. He firmly believes that the universe wouldn’t allow him to have these deep feelings for no reason. We believe that too. The way we talk about love is influenced heavily by our sense that the universe loves us and seeks to make us happy. Louie, if anything, has taught us that the universe has no order. There’s no happiness waiting for us. The fact that Louie doesn’t recognize this fact with Pamela only magnifies his pain.

Pamela laughs at Louie’s notion that she is somehow unaware of her romantic love for him, but Louie rejects her pleas for him to move on. He would rather wait for her. She leaves when Louie begins to tear up. Louie doesn’t stop staring at her as she walks away. The season ends with a besotted Louie misunderstanding Pamela’s request for him to “wave to me” as a request to “wait for me.” We see a triumphant Louie march out of the airport with a wrong-headed notion that the universe has smiled on him. It’s a sweet moment but it’s also one of the most crushing. Louie has gone through this series with an understanding that life is a debilitating series of disappointments. He wants to believe that things are about to change. But they’re not. He’s doomed. This time, he just doesn’t know it.