The best episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm are a complete full circle, meaning that they'll start at the top with a joke (Larry's primal scream of frustration at trying to open the vacuum-sealed packaging), a seemingly unrelated goal (Larry wants to break up with Loretta "Do you know what it's like to have cancer?" Black), and another seemingly unrelated idea (vehicular fellatio, as introduced by Richard Lewis and his new girlfriend), but by the end of the episode we've gone all the way around in such a way that all three have somehow merged and we've ended up exactly where we started—in this case with Larry's primal scream of frustration at trying to free the exacto knife from its vacuum-sealed packaging. Few lines are wasted. Even the throwaway jokes are hilarious. Episodes like these are a thing to behold—worthy of a vacuum-sealed package to preserve the comedy freshness, but of course those packages are a bitch to open.
And so tonight we start out with Larry's Dance Of The Vacuum Sealed Package (one of the funniest Curb scenes in recent memory). But the more pressing issue is: How will Larry get rid of Loretta? When Larry happens to catch an episode of Dr. Phil featuring a doctor who advises her cancer patients to break up with "toxic" significant others, he thinks he's found the answer. Larry quickly secures an appointment for Loretta and her toxic boyfriend, LD. Of course, this being Curb, Larry and Loretta's break-up doesn't happen via the obvious route (Dr. Trundle), but instead via the unexpected one (Loretta witnesses what she thinks is Larry recieving a little vehicular fellatio, and so she breaks up with him).
In reading a lot of the reviews of this season of Curb, I've found that the general consensus seems to be that in trying to dump his recently-cancer-stricken girlfriend, Larry is verging on becoming a thoroughly unlikeable asshole, as opposed to a really funny asshole. After all, dumping a cancer patient is not something you joke about. (Of course, that's why Larry David is joking about it.) But it seems that no one paused to consider that there are good cancer patients, and there are annoying cancer patients, and Loretta falls pretty far into the latter category.
Under normal circumstances, in a normal world, Larry would be a selfish, heartless prick for trying to rid himself of Cancer Loretta—And even in the Curb world, there's no arguing that Larry isn't a selfish prick, although he was a selfish prick long before Loretta. But under normal circumstances, in a normal world, Cancer patient Loretta probably wouldn't constantly use her disease as the ultimate trump card. Loretta isn't completely blameless in their break-up. She wields her cancer as an X-acto knife unencumbered by frustrating packaging, pulling it out at even the slightest provocation to win even the stupidest of arguments. When Larry complains that she called him upstairs just to ask him what channel E! is, she admonishes him, "I am so sorry you had to come all the way upstairs. I'm just sitting up here suffering with cancer." There's only so much of that a normal person can take, let alone a selfish (funny) asshole like Larry.
And Loretta isn't the only person using their cancer diagnosis as an excuse to win the smallest of personal gains. When Larry runs into his old neighbor Weinstock at Dr. Trundle's office and breaks his glasses with an awkward hug, Weinstock tries to get Larry to pay for, excuse me, replace the glasses. When it becomes clear that Larry isn't going to pay for, excuse me, replace the glasses, Weinstock pulls out the cancer card: "You know I have cancer, right? I don't want to argue with you." So Larry immediately concedes to pay Weinstock $219, because, well, you can't argue with cancer.
Elsewhere in the episode, there are blowjobs and "cold sores" and secondhand semen, oh my. The idea of vehicular fellatio in and of itself isn't very funny—honestly it just reminds me of that movie Parenthood—but the car blowjob theme throughout the episode had some very funny moments: Larry's hilariously awkward avoidance of Richard's new girlfriend's mouth, and anything that came into contact with her mouth, at dinner; Larry telling Richard, "Eh, take a bus." After Richard's new girlfriend abandoned him outside of Larry's house; and the sight of Fat Boy and Susie somehow "trapped" in their car on the side of the road after a vehicular fellatio disaster.
But one of the best moments of tonight's bookended-by-primal-screams-of frustration episode was the scene near the end where Larry watches Loretta angrily pack all of the Blacks into a taxi and speed off. Larry is still shocked at his good luck when Leon walks up, and asks what happened. Larry explains, then turns to Leon and says, "So I guess this means you'll be…" And Leon finishes the thought, "Going upstairs and eating this fucking Chinese food. In my fucking room." Leon is here to stay! He and Larry are legos after all.
Stray Observations: (Almost all quotes edition:
—Loretta: "Are there gonna be any black people there?" Larry: "No." Loretta: "Why would I want to go, then?" Larry: "Maybe there'll be some people with cancer there." There is no zing like a cancer zing.
—"Last Tango In Paris? Agggh. aggh. What a piece of crap. Pretension masquerading as art." I am interested in Larry's views on Marlon Brando films, and would like to subscribe to his newsletter.
—"We are lego. We're a fucking lego set right now. We are fucking interlocked together. We fucked her."
—Dr. Trundle: "You are a tiny, little, insecure, juvenile man with the mind of a 12-year-old." Larry: "I think you blew him."