(Photo: John P. Johnson/HBO)

Where Larry’s lack of fucks about most niceties has been harnessed for the benefit of his friends in the past, it’s his persnicketiness that becomes his saving grace in “Never Wait For Seconds!” By coming to a stranger’s defense—over brunch, no less—he sets his own redemption into motion, and also brings the fatwa storyline to its conclusion. Curb Your Enthusiasm mostly sticks the landing here, though things look a bit hairy in the final moments.

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Let’s tackle the B story first, which explores the economy of favors, if you will. Larry’s handyman Cesar declines a tip but ends up pocketing a favor, which is a much more onerous situation for the Seinfeld creator. He’d much rather tip someone for a job well done and be done with it. It’s not unreasonable for him to feel that way, since a tip is, by nature, a little something extra (although obviously, everyone should be paid a living wage so that folks in the service industry no longer have to live or die by the public’s whims). But Cesar believes that, having received a previous offer from Larry, he should still be able to cash in on it in some form. He flips the tip, as Larry puts it.

This parsing or quibbling is the kind of thing that Curb has always done well (here it’s especially reminiscent of “The Soup”). It raises so many questions: Can you really take a rain check on a favor? How much does intent matter, like say, Marty wanting to “live it up” with Larry and Bridget after patching things up with Marilyn, only to have to run out on the Dom Perignon toasts and leave Larry holding the bill, er, bag? Are favors transferable? What is the grace period on returning a favor? And, when the favor goes very wrong—as is the case with Larry’s Pemberton appeal on behalf of Eddie—how angry should your girlfriend get about the “befouling” of the school’s pool sinking her son’s chances of attending? After all, these are all favors or kindnesses—well, mostly. Larry is hoping to get more “gratitude sex” out of the arrangement, not to mention regular relationship sex with Eddie out of the house. But still, you can’t really hold someone accountable when going the extra mile doesn’t quite work out.

(Photo: John P. Johnson)

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Or can you? Bridget seems to think so, and she walks out on Larry in the middle of the brunch redux with Marty and Marilyn (although, it should please Larry to learn that Big Funk did end up paying for a bottle of very expensive Champagne). Much as I liked seeing Lauren Graham, I’m actually relieved to see the “spectrum” storyline laid to rest. Larry questioning the diagnosis this week and pretending to be autistic last week is merely uncomfortable, not funny.

But Larry’s do-gooding does ultimately do him some good, as his passionate defense of a man who did in fact cut in line (sorry, it’s my belief that no one gets seconds until everyone gets firsts) to get some more home fries earns him a special dispensation from several muftis, who appear to be as fond of ketchup as Marilyn. That’s all thanks to Morsi (24 and Homeland alum Navid Negahban), a self-described devout Muslim who investigates Larry’s past in order to determine if the kindness at brunch was a fluke. Morsi considered carrying out the fatwa, but had second thoughts after being on the receiving end of Larry’s help.

What comes next not only casts many of Larry’s misdeeds in a new light, it also essentially inverts the Seinfeld series finale (which some people count among Larry David’s wrongdoings). The witnesses include Michael J. Fox, Rachel Heinemann, Krazee-Eyez Killa, “Denise Handicapped,” and Kim Whitley. They’ve all suffered at Larry’s hands, and they all acquit themselves nicely in relating the events to Morsi, who reaches a different interpretation altogether. This trip down memory lane has a very different outcome than “The Finale”— Morsi comes to view Larry’s offenses as honest mistakes, twisted kindnesses, or just slights against Judaism. Once again, Larry’s selfishness and rudeness save his ass, and David gets to take another crack at closing out his classic sitcom. It’s a win-win.

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Still, the conclusion of “Never Wait For Seconds!” does feel a bit out of place, timing-wise. It would have made more sense midseason or in the finale. As it stands, the only place left for the fatwa story to go is the Fatwa! musical, which can really only move forward with Lin-Manuel Miranda on board (mufti’s orders). Curb isn’t an especially high-stakes show, but the remaining two episodes are in danger of being anticlimactic now that the show has wrapped up its big season arc, not to mention correcting one of David’s previous missteps. But, Jeff is wearing a cowboy hat in the promos for next week’s episode, so really anything can happen.

Stray observations

  • Larry’s idea of a successful albeit short-lived romance: “I see it going, hopefully, one day, to the point where I’ll let her sleep in the guest room.”
  • “Otherwise, I adore this woman.”
  • Two Veep alums in the house tonight: Negahban, and Usman Ally who played Morsi’s driver.
  • Speaking of the rules for favors, can Bridget really complain about her favor being botched because Larry was doing someone else a favor?
  • I could have done without one of the few Latinx families seen on this show portrayed as the kind of people who urinate or defecate in a public-ish pool, to be honest.

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