It is still unclear where the outlandish, amusing fatwa story line introduced in the season 9 premiere will wind up down the very twisty, backtracking road that is Curb Your Enthusiasm. But Sunday’s episode of Larry David’s misanthropic comedy offered up a pleasurable pitstop by featuring a most unexpected guest. Who, in hindsight, should have been wholly expected.
In the first two episodes of the season, Larry — writer of Fatwa! The Musical, and frightened target of a fatwa from the Ayatollah in Iran — has been aliasing as Buck Dancer (complete with long gray hair and a mustache), who holds a particular obsession with tongs not being the right retrieving utensil for a cookie arrangement, Pepperidge Farm or otherwise. In episode 3, Larry reached a new nadir — and his breaking point — as his friends canceled golf games and ditched his poker night/text chain because they did not want to be associated with this walking death threat. But then he realized that there was a man who could truly understand his plight: the subject of his musical, Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses. The highlight of the entertaining if uneven episode proved to be David’s meet-up with Rushdie — a man with an actual fatwa still hanging over him.
Salman (not pronounced Salmon, emphasis on second syllable) shined as Larry’s fawta guru by extolling the benefits of the fatwa (getting out of obligations, the sex, a.k.a. “the best sex there is”), and encouraging Larry to lose the disguise and start picking up unattainable women who were attracted to his dangerous predicament. Oh, and he also pitched Larry on having Hugh Jackman play him in the musical instead of Jason Alexander. (His time with Larry — the fatwa boys, out on the town! — felt like so much illicit fun, it would have been nice to spend more time drilling down on the fatwa-benefits gold than the kitchen-disturbance investigation that bookended the episode.)
Enter Elizabeth Banks as a highly off-kilter, self-obsessed version of herself. She scored first by constantly comparing the death of her cat, Mr. Noodle, to Susie’s little sister going missing, and then by delivering a dreadful performance of an alibi after Larry accidentally damaged a cop car belonging to an officer (Damon Wayans Jr.) who had ticketed Larry for beeping at him. (Larry lost the appeal, partially for “yoo-hooing” for a judge, but also for an an overwrought and unsuccessful monologue about the donkey and his “stolid, slack-jawed gaze.”) There were plenty of stand-out lines that bear repeating, so before Swat breaks our back and folds us like a human wallet, let’s have the court stenographer read back the evidence that was presented in “A Disturbance in the Kitchen.”
10. “We went across the street to buy some lemonade from these Girl Scouts. One of the Girl Scouts was Asian… It’s good to be specific when you’re lying. It’s the cornerstone of a good lie.” — Larry to Elizabeth, rehearsing their alibi
9. “I’ll watch that video, and you can watch a video of Mr. Noodle chasing a string. It is the cutest thing you ever saw!” — Elizabeth to Susie, who was trying to get her to watch a video of Katie dancing, after Elizabeth had already told her: “I heard about your little sister. That’s terrible. I lost a cat once, so I know how you’re feeling.”
8. “It’s not salmon?” — Larry to Salman about the pronunciation of his name
7. “Why are you above the beep?…. No one’s above the beep! No one!” — Larry to the police officer he just honked at
6. “I can’t handle three in the front, it’s too much. It’s overload. I’ll move Katie back two places. I’m going to move your Cubs hat to the front.” – Larry on trying to juggle the priorities of a missing kid, his missing pair of sunglasses, and Jeff’s missing Cubs hat in his brain
5. “There’s some partial truth to that. It’s an illness for sure. I don’t why I have it but I, I definitely do.” — Larry to Susie, after she accused Larry and Jeff of having no compassion and care for another human being
4. “They don’t have no colors. They’re white. There’s no f—ing color.” — Leon to Larry, who said that his friends had shown their true colors by abandoning him out of fatwa fear.
3. “Be a man, stop this, and fatwa sex will follow: the best sex there is.” — Salman to Larry, encouraging him to lose the disguise
2. “It’s not exactly you. It’s the fatwa wrapped around you, like kind of sexy pixie dust.” — Salman to Larry
1. “Mmm, yeah, the f—-it philosophy. It’s a tough one. I tried it with orthotics. It didn’t really work very well.” — Larry to Salman after he said this of the fatwa: “It’s there, but f— it.”
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