So remember last week how I defended Larry David and said that his assholery was only a reaction to the extreme assholery of everyone around him? I take it back. This episode proved that Larry can still be King of the Assholes when he wants to be, with little or no provocation.
Case(s) in point: stealing 3 bouquets of flowers from the roadside memorial for Funkhouser's dead mother, just because Funkhouser gave Larry an unusable $50 bill; berating the woman ahead of him in line at Kiehl's for sampling too many perfumes and taking too long; and stealing one of the stolen bouquets back from the school administrator.
The problem with these actions is that they're not really that funny. In fact, these moments were the least funny ones in the episode, in part because Larry was consciously creating easily avoidable awkwardness, instead of accidentally stumbling into it, which is usually the way on Curb Your Enthusiasm. In fact, last night's episode might mark the first time on the show that Larry was an asshole on purpose. He had to know that stealing the flowers from the memorial was wrong and that he would get caught, but he did it anyway. Twice.
Last night's episode also marked another first: the first time that the usually tolerant Jeff became angry at Larry. (You could tell he was really, really mad by the way Jeff Garlin scrunched up his face until he was practically unrecognizable.) And who could blame him? Larry trying to steal back the stolen bouquet has to be one of the stupidest things he's ever attempted. Unfortunately, it wasn't ha-ha-stupid, just why-is-he-doing-that?-stupid.
All in all, this episode felt darker than usual. Still, there were some hilarious moments, though most of them–like when Larry explained his theory of ice cream drip vigilance, and when Larry matter-of-factly asserted that he wasn't Funkhouser's best friend–were throwaway lines. It's those moments (and, of course, the continued existence of Cheryl, whose annoying-ness is ever-present and completely insurmountable) that kept Larry from becoming the most annoying person in the show last night.
--So if Cheryl will only sleep with Larry if he gives her perfume, does that make her cheap, boring, horrible, or all three?
--"Oh! Banana! What could that taste like? Maybe bananas?"
--The "sample-abuse" bit was funny in the ice cream shop, just not so much at Kiehl's–mostly because berating someone at a cosmetics store for sampling too many products is like admonishing someone in a pool for swimming.
--How great was it that, even though the well-being of the kids was mentioned several times in the episode, the only glimpse we got of them was when Larry knocked them over while running up the stairs, carrying a sex bribe?
--Funkhouser: the world's oldest, most irritating orphan.