(It goes without saying that there’s spoiler below, right?)
In my post last week, I discussed how I thought Horace and Pete was improvised and how it was a one-off. After watching episode two, it would appear that I was wrong on both counts (though, I was correct that it’s being filmed the week that it’s released). I enjoyed this second episode (I will continue with the convention of calling something that has an intermission an episode) more than the first. It just felt lighter. It seemed like Louis CK took his foot off of the gas of the drama mobile a little bit – but just a little bit – to let the characters breathe. We also find CK returning to his wheelhouse – weird sex fantasies. While it is still full of frustrating exposition, this episode showed hints of creativity and pulled me a bit further into this world.
There’s some familiar CK humor like when Horace postulates that heaven is a place where you get to drink lemonade out of vaginas. And I really liked the slice of life conversation between Uncle Pete, Kurt (Metzger), and Leon (Steven Wright) about using Bambi to cry during the Holocaust and using the Holocaust to cry during Bambi. Horace’s explanation to the young guy that his beer is $4.50 and not $3.00 like the barfly next to him because of a douche tax and then the kid saying, “acceptable” and getting out his wallet was really great.
The narrative of this show is opening up a bit. We saw two people on a bad Tinder date. It wasn’t funny and it wasn’t sad but I enjoyed the quick peek into the lives of people who have no connection to these characters and are coming to this bar for the first and probably the last time.
I’m also really starting to love Alan Alda’s Uncle Pete. He’s just a bad person, bitter and mean, but seeing him hold court talking about young Horace in little league was amazing. His “bring your daughter some elephant food,” joke seemed unnecessary at first, having already done the fat daughter joke in the first episode, but, frankly, it’s kind of accurate. Have you ever known an old prick? That’s how their jokes are. They’re unnecessarily cruel and kind of don’t make sense.
And there was subtle allusion to younger Pete’s mental illness! Subtlety, can you believe it? Pete said, “back in junior before all the shit hit the fan,” and then didn’t elaborate with extended exposition. And Uncle Pete lamented Pete being on varsity baseball as a freshman, getting straight A’s, having a girlfriend, and then just trailed off.
But, fear not, there was still some over the top drama for you.
Horace’s sister Sylvia shows up early in the epsidoe to deliver the news to Horace, while Pete naps on the couch, that she has breast cancer. So, the sale of the bar is not only her rejection of the family tradition, she also needs the money for cancer treatments.
Horace meets his daughter in the park, as part of his continual effort to mend their relationship. It’s still unclear to me how it was broken, though. Was it Horace’s absenteeism? Would that cause her to not speak to him for three years and make her want to puke at the thought of him? What else could it be? Because it seems the cruelty gene has skipped his generation. And when will we see this suffering brother?
This conversation reveals something about Sylvia. She told Horace she wasn’t telling her narcissistic children about her cancer but Alice says that her daughter Brenda has been supporting her through it. Is Sylvia lying? Trying to manipulate Horace into selling the bar?
And we may have backed off of the physical side of Pete’s mental illness but we aren’t done yet. We see a pretty young woman walk in the bar. This woman, Tricia, knew Pete from the hospital. She has an explosive outburst and, there you have it, she has Tourette’s Syndrome. (This is actually a pet peeve of mine. I’ve known two people in my life with Tourette’s. Both had mild symptoms, neither one barked or spat racial epithets.)
I enjoyed this episode for bending its reality slightly.
We got to step into Horace’s mind to see one of his sex fantasies with, of all people, Marsha, his father’s last girlfriend. Marsha, in reality was downstairs in the bar on a date with a married man but, in Horace’s mind, she was sitting on the couch with him telling him she wears a bikini under her clothes. When she talks about how dirty sex is, that’s when Horace says, “I just came.”
It wasn’t until I watched the episode again that I realized that it also opens on a sex fantasy featuring Marsha. She sneaks into Horace’s bedroom while he’s asleep to inform him that she used to sleep here, as did his father and his mother. It was just odd. I was thinking maybe Jessica Lange has some residual creepy energy from all of the seasons of American Horror Story. But then when Horace leaves his bedroom and Pete enters with coffee, Marsha is nowhere to be found. It was in Horace’s mind.
The show ends with Horace seeing her at the bar and saying, “Hey Marsha.” I’m still not sold on this show and can’t figure out if it’s a comedy or a drama or a dramedy, but that was really funny.