A series of mishaps is practically guaranteed in any given episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm; what’s less certain is just how uproarious the end result will be. Whole seasons of Curb have functioned like Rube Goldberg machines of misfortune and jokes. When everything comes together just right, waiting for the other shoe to drop for Larry or anyone from his coterie can be a delight. Sometimes it’s just harder to see the forest for the trees, which is how I’ve felt about season 11 in general.
Regardless of what role it plays in advancing the larger story, the season’s penultimate episode “Igor, Gregor, & Timor” is a highly diverting one, thanks in part to Bill Hader spoiling us with three kooky characters who may or may not be brothers, but are most definitely “shplendid.” To paraphrase a different Hader character, tonight’s episode had everything: crowd-pleasing guest stars, multiple Seinfeld references and ridiculous schemes, a not insignificant amount of Susie Essman, Tracey Ullman uttering the phrase “unhooded the clitoris,” Larry railing about our “crumbling institutions,” i.e., his loss of trust in the concierge.
“Igor, Gregor, & Timor” starts off strong with a look at domestic life for Larry, Leon, and Irma. The city councilwoman has had no trouble making herself at home—there’s something she has in common with Larry—and is already throwing her weight around with Leon, chastising him for not properly sorting the recycling and trash. But neither this frisson of tension nor his “dick depreciation” is enough to put Larry off from his mission. He’s closer than ever to getting the fence ordinance repealed; he’s gotten into Irma’s head enough that she proposes repealing the law as if it’s her own idea.
But, as with most political dealings, there’s a quid pro quo: Irma wants Larry to spring for vaginal rejuvenation surgery, so she can wear white pants without worrying about leakage. (Really, how else to cheer at the basketball games they attend as a couple?) Tracey Ullman giddily conveys Irma’s excitement, exclaiming about “fufu surgery” and singing “designa vagina” as she exits the kitchen. Irma’s lasciviousness has been a welcome development—for Curb, that is, not for Larry—as she’s proven to be anything but a stuffy local politician. Ullman’s gameness has been a shot in the arm for the season as it enters its final stretch, and I can’t wait to see how Irma’s story ends next week.
It’s no surprise that Bill Hader matches Ullman’s energy, slipping into three distinct versions of the same “nondescript Eastern European accent,” and inadvertently (at first, anyway) running afoul of Jeff and Larry. Hader first appears as Igor, the proprietor of Prospr (pronounced “Pros-por,” apparently), where Jeff has found the perfect “I’m sorry for cheating on you” gift for his wife: a knockoff version of the very expensive animal-print vase that Susie’s had her eye on for a while.
This is hardly the time for Jeff to skimp—I yelled as much out loud when I was watching tonight’s episode before writing it in all caps in my notes. There’s a Spanish expression: “lo barato sale caro,” which effectively translates to “buying cheap will cost you.” This proves true in “Igor, Gregor, & Timor,” but it’s Larry who foots the bill. He also learns that the sincerity of a gesture is sometimes determined by the person on the receiving end (c’mon, there was no way Jeff was going to pass up the offer.)
At least Hader’s characters only get more unhinged as the episode unfolds: Igor’s “shplendid” leads to Gregor’s unnerving giggle which gives way to Timor eating some of Larry’s underwhelming goulash. The story peaks when Larry has to go on an apology tour in order to buy the knockoff vase, assuring Timor that his goulash is great and trying to play off his mocking impression of Igor. But, because he can’t help himself, Larry gets in one last dig, jokingly wondering to Gregor if he and his not-brothers (triplets?) will ever drop the ruse.
There’s no real resolution on that end, but there are more deals, as Larry and Susie agree to help each other once again. She’ll pretend she’s had vaginal rejuvenation surgery to allay Irma’s fears, and he’ll “convince” Jeff to buy her that very expensive vase. At first, this works out great for Larry, because he doesn’t technically have to do anything since the vase is already on Jeff’s radar. But after he manages to break both the knockoff and the genuine article due to some sudden braking—first, when he spots the injured cyclist strutting around in his sweater, and later, when he tries to flee from the guy who made a terrible Twitter account which was turned into a terrible show—Larry is out $20,000. He was much more willing to pay for Irma’s vaginal rejuvenation, especially once he realized the six to eight weeks of healing would take sex off the table.
Irma changes her mind after seeing, in her words, Susie’s “melted cave” of a vagina*, so by the end of “Igor, Gregor, & Timor,” all Larry has to show for his efforts is expensive pottery shards. Even Larry’s good deed isn’t much of a reward, as the injured cyclist (Johnny McKeown as Ben) he helped keeps his sweater, which causes Larry to destroy the first vase. Larry says it’s one of the few times he’s done something unequivocally good, and he’s right—he even manages not to really brag about it to any of his friends.
“Igor, Gregor, & Timor” brings all its threads together, including Larry’s good Samaritan actions, and may even have justified the worldview he shared a couple weeks back, when he said he cares about people in general and dislikes them individually. Maybe Larry was joking then, but tonight, he saw someone in trouble and reacted. He probably helped saved Ben’s life, and yet, Ben couldn’t be bothered to return Larry’s sweater. Hell, he lied about it. (Larry’s wardrobe provokes some strong reactions from people.) Ben turned out to be a jerk, but he still deserved to be helped—and it’s not like Larry knew he’d be saying goodbye to his sweater. Curb’s put Larry’s beliefs to the test before; we’ve seen it happen repeatedly this season, though that’s not really the focus of the penultimate episode. Instead, we get a zippy installment boasting some of the best guest-starring turns on the show, and a great lead up to the finale.
- Larry and Susie quibble over “vayze” and “vahz,” but I have always pronounced it “vace.”
- “He’s got a lot of energy but he’s kind of delusional.”—Irma’s assessment of Leon: accurate?
- Igor knows all about that “Sheinfeld shyndication” money, but “a plastic bottle’s journey from Milan to Minsk” is my favorite Seinfeld reference of the night.
- It bears repeating: $10,000 isn’t really that high a price to pay to prevent an expensive divorce.
- I’m surprised by the Oxford comma here, given what happened the last time there were this many names in an episode title.
- I’m still trying to figure out if Susie actually dropped trou in front of Irma or if she just looked up pictures of rejuvenated vaginas and sent them to her. Given that she asks for the surgery in the episode’s final moments… yeah, I still don’t know.
- Fun fact: There is a word in Inuktitut, at least, for “I’m sorry.”
- I’m sure you’ve read about Jeff Garlin’s departure from The Goldbergs (first reported on by Maureen Ryan, the Midwest’s finest) which had some people wondering if he’ll be invited back for more Curb. So far, there’s been no word from anyone involved with the show.
- The Igor guise prompted me to look up “Bill Hader in a beard,” and... it’s good.
- Next week, Susie and Larry will enter into another agreement, and Larry prepares to cut ties with Marcus (Marques Ray).