Larry David isn’t what you would call a bad tipper. He may squabble with individuals in the service industry, even insult or baffle them in the process, but he’s usually quick to rustle up some cash for their troubles. Maybe he genuinely appreciates their assistance. Or, as it becomes increasingly clear in “Never Wait for Seconds!,” perhaps he’d rather wash his hands of the situation, extricating himself from any more involvement with a stranger. Given the abundance of service employees who Larry has run into throughout season nine of Curb Your Enthusiasm, not to mention the instances of him expressing his distaste for being indebted to anyone, it’s not surprising that the series should devote an entire episode to the politics of favors.
Larry doesn’t mind offering a tip to the handyman whose job it is to fix problems inside the Seinfeld creator’s office building, but Cesar (Hemky Madera) rejects the tip, an act that Larry declares “rarer than a man turning down sex.” But this only opens the door for Cesar to ask Larry for a series of favors, including access to the swimming pool at Larry’s country club. The plotline parses out the particulars of indebtedness and intent, and also frames favors as having an onerous domino effect that touches each of this week’s side players, including Marty (Bob Einstein), who, rather than pay Larry back for a brunch bill, agrees to let Cesar use his pool.
There’s also Bridget (Lauren Graham), who asks Larry to curry favor with the prestigious Pemberton Academy on behalf of her son, Eddie (Braxton Herda). Because Marty’s pool is out of commission, Larry asks the higher-ups at Pemberton to open their pool to Cesar’s family. But when the family sullies the pool, Eddie is rejected from Pemberton, leading to Bridget ditching Larry at brunch and to the best line of the night: “Little Cesar befouled the pool?” Altogether, the episode’s exceedingly muddied web of favors is an argument for Larry’s heretofore observed lifestyle: tip generously and stay unbothered.
A more conventional climax is reserved for the ongoing drama surrounding Larry’s fatwa. While at the aforementioned brunch with Marty, Bridget, and Marty’s on-again, off-again squeeze, Marilyn (Elizabeth Perkins), Larry comes to the impassioned defense of a man, Morsi (Navid Negahban), going in for seconds at the buffet. If it’s hard to believe that Larry, who once railed against “chatting and cutting,” would betray his convictions to defend a line cutter, it’s because his out-of-character do-gooding is a matter of convenience: to bring him in contact with a man who happens to be a self-described devout Muslim with ties to southern California’s mufti population.
According to Morsi, Larry “doesn’t deserve to die,” and investigates a number of individuals to get a sense of Larry’s benevolence. The montage features Morsi interacting with, among others: Monina (Kym Whitley), the carpooling prostitute; the wheelchair-bound Denise (Anita Barone); Larry’s orthodox nemesis, Rachel Heinemann (Iris Bahr); and Michael J. Fox. The sequence is the highlight of the episode, not least of which for the way it cheekily harkens back to the testimonials from the much-maligned Seinfeld series finale.
Somehow Larry is up to the muftis’ standards, and the fatwa is lifted; it doesn’t hurt that he slept with a Muslim woman—twice—and refused to follow the tenets of Jewish orthodoxy. Perhaps inevitably, the episode feels like it could stand as the finale for this season of Curb. But with two more episodes left, there’s still time for Larry to re-incur the wrath of the Ayatollah, either at Sammi Greene’s wedding or, if we’re lucky, Fatwa! The Musical. That is, assuming the show is able to get off the ground, and presumably with the help of Lin-Manuel Miranda. But Larry’s insult would have to be significant given that the Ayatollah has a soft spot for both Seinfeld and Hamilton.
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