Like Cosmo Kramer before him, Leon Black (J.B. Smoove) has little direction or skill, yet he’s usually in cushy circumstances. Even when he does slip up, the blowback is minimal, if it exists at all. More often than not, things work out in Leon’s favor, which may be why people are inclined to listen to him, even though he spent an inordinate amount of time this season trying to find a woman named Mary Ferguson to take on a trip to Asia. Where Larry is dogged by bad luck, Leon is buoyed by serendipity—and it usually leads to some of the funniest moments on Curb.
Larry’s always been willing to take a chance on Leon, though that probably says more about the former than the latter. But in “What Have I Done?,” the eighth episode of Curb season 11, Leon’s sphere of influence extends beyond Larry’s home. His latest business venture with Larry sees him acting as a “House Husband”—basically, a male authority figure—for everyone from Cheryl to Cassie (Lisa Arch). Their trust in Leon is rewarded with property damage, but at least Susie stumbles upon proof of Jeff’s latest affair in the process.
But let’s back up a bit. As the promo teased last week, Tracey Ullman returns as Irma Kostroski, a singularly unappealing city councilwoman who may nonetheless be the answer to Larry’s fencing and blackmail problems. Irma may be a more age-appropriate pick for Larry, but even Susie is openly baffled by his “attraction” to her. Of course, we (and Jeff) know old Lar is playing the long game, wooing Irma in order to convince her to repeal the ordinance about the fence. He may have figured out the courting part—dinner dates, breakfast and Gas-X for the morning after—but Larry couldn’t possibly guess just how much of an investment this whole enterprise will turn out to be.
We have seen Larry go to great lengths for spite, so his desire to be free from the fence ordinance and Maria Sofia’s (Keyla Monterroso Mejia) terrible acting will surely keep him motivated through the penultimate episode next week. As far as some of this season’s arcs go, the Larry-Irma “relationship” is solid; being this intentionally off-putting isn’t much of a lift for Ullman, but she finds a way to make Irma a uniquely grotesque creation. I’m a little surprised Larry didn’t remark—to Leon or Jeff—on how much more personable Irma’s daughter Deidre (Crashing’s Madeline Wise) is than her mom. Maybe he was too annoyed by her appreciation for Little Women. (For the record, Little Women is great in all its forms.)
“What Have I Done?” moves briskly, providing some updates on Young Larry (Asa, naturally, is no longer playing the lead) and introducing new wrinkles for several of the main characters. Jeff’s shown so little restraint or shame this year, flitting from one affair to another—and there’s no telling who he hooked up with between his fling with the dental hygienist and Carly (Liz Carey), assistant to Jake Blum (Elon Gold). It was only a matter of time before Susie caught on; she gets the last word in tonight’s episode, but her revenge has probably just begun. Here’s hoping that means Susie Essman will play a bigger role in the remaining episodes. She’s been well utilized this season, particularly in “The Watermelon.” But, as always, I want to see more.
Before the pipes burst in her closet—thanks to Leon, who pooh-poohed the plumber’s assessment, along with those of Cheryl’s tree guy and mechanic—Susie had already caught a whiff of Jeff’s renewed infidelities. Jeff’s attempts to inure Susie to the smell of lilac-scented body wash fail spectacularly, thanks to Larry’s decision to give some of the same body wash to Irma. This leads to one of the night’s big confrontations, which is seemingly captured for posterity by the videographer (Mike Castle, another Brews Brothers alum) at Deidre and Scott’s vow renewal, where Larry’s taken “make yourself at home” much too seriously.
Larry running amok in Deidre and Scott’s home—flossing in the dining room? Really??—and Leon’s short-lived business venture provided some of tonight’s funniest moments. But overall, “What Have I Done?” mostly serves to line up the final dominos for their inevitable fall in the season 11 finale. After that abysmal table read in “Irma Kostroski,” Larry’s really feeling the pressure to get rid of Maria Sofia—Ted goes so far as to drop by Larry’s house, despite having mostly kept his distance of late. Irma’s now shacking up with Larry, a situation that’s bound to already be untenable at the start of next week’s episode. And yet, the teaser mostly shows Larry trying to have a conversation with Susie. When it comes to Jeff’s adultery, is this really the last straw for her?
- First of all, I’d like to thank Jarrod Jones for filling in last week. Perhaps I’ll send him some wasabi peas as a token of appreciation.
- As far as eighth episodes go, “What Have I Done?” didn’t sing the way “Elizabeth, Margaret And Larry” or “Never Wait For Seconds!” did, but at least it had another Larry-Leon business idea.
- When Larry joked that he couldn’t eat octopus after “seeing that movie,” I immediately thought of Aquaman, but the answer is probably My Octopus Teacher.
- If the description for the videographer character in the casting notes was “a Zach Woods-type,” then Allison Jones nailed it once again.
- Curb is really pushing a post-COVID reality, given Larry’s furor over the “gap” in the line at the store. I still do my best to keep more than a couple feet of distance at the store.
- I think Winona Ryder will always be my favorite Jo March, but Saoirse Ronan is fantastic in Greta Gerwig’s Little Women.
- After being put off by Jake’s frequent attempts to bond over their Jewishness, Larry does the same thing to Samuel Tennenbaum. Seems like it’s part and parcel with Larry and Leon’s discussion in the kitchen about in-group behaviors, but I’d appreciate hearing from any of Larry’s “fellow Tribesmen” about this recurring motif. ETA: To clarify, I’m looking for insight/feedback on how the show has handled this storyline.