Curb Your Enthusiasm S09E07 Recap: 'Namaste'

Some people say that the secret ingredient for a good episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm is that Larry always needs to have at least an equal to his prickishness. He can never be the biggest asshole in the room, because the whole point of Larry David is that society made him how he is; Larry is the everyman who isn't afraid to voice the concerns we all have as people, no matter how trivial they may be, but in order for him to need to exist, people have to first commit slights against society. Personally, I think the formula is a little more complex than that. It's not just that Larry has to be the lesser of assholes of assholes, there also needs to be a balance of asshole behaviour. Sometimes Larry needs to be right, sometimes he needs to be wrong, sometimes he needs the people around him to do bad things as well. When you get a show as good as Curb, its defining trait should never be that easy to decipher, and Curb is a rich tapestry of people being pricks to each other.

In that respect, "Namaste" felt somewhat like a course correction for that formula. It's an episode that felt a little chaotic and all over the place, that maybe had a little trouble identifying who exactly is the culprit and who is the martyr. I'm not sure if that's necessarily a bad thing, but on the surface, my initial conclusion is that it's Larry who was Curb's "prick of the week", so to speak. In most of the scenarios Larry manufactures for the show this week, Larry seems to be the one at fault. He antagonizes a yoga teacher for really no reason, he gets into a fender bender, he makes an unnecessary racial comment, he insults an Uber driver, and then a bus driver, he even makes fun of a child with Asperger's. And in a coup de grace of offensive behaviour that even made me a little uncomfortable, he feigns being on the spectrum in order to get out of a sticky situation.

Even for Larry, that's a whirlwind of a week. There are few episodes where we can identify such a sheer amount of social faux pas. But I'll remind you that the question isn't if Larry is the biggest asshole, but whether or not his assholery is matched or justified. One could argue that the yoga teacher didn't need to be so stuck up for what's ostensibly a workout class, or that the Uber driver's low passenger rating didn't have anything to do with Larry as a passenger but based on a personal confrontation (compared to the heating repairman later on, who handles Larry's inquisitive nature much better). Or, for example, take Leon, who's objectively in the wrong for most of the episode, or the guy whose car Larry hits, objectively an asshole in every sense of the word.

"Namaste" is a messy episode that maybe goes a little too far in certain regards, but it's an episode I appreciate for complicating the so-called formula. Larry, an unreasonable prick, comes across many other unreasonable pricks in a battle to see who can come out the meanest. It may not make for the best episode of TV, even of a show like Curb, but it's definitely ambitious, and for that, it gets 7.5 scumshacks out of 10.

Notes & Quotes:

  • One of the major plots in this episode is Larry starting to date Susie's friend, played by Lauren Graham. She has a precociously mean kid who she says has Asperger's (whom Larry hates but eventually uses as a cover for his behaviour). It actually seems like it's going well between them and that she might be back for future episodes. We'll see how Larry manages to screw this up.
  • As mentioned, the Asperger's thing made me a little uncomfortable. I don't know if that's my 2017 "wokeness" coming out, as it seems to have for a lot of people watching this new version of Curb, or if it was just a half-baked idea. I'm going to guess the latter, since it's not like Larry hasn't tackled taboo subject matter like that in the past to better success. For example, in the Michael J. Fox episode, Larry makes fun around Parkinson's, but Fox's presence saved the episode from making fun of the disease itself. This episode doesn't have a worthy representative of Asperger's to do the same.
  • Another great set of guest stars this week: Lauren Graham (who, as mentioned, seems like she might come back), Ron Funches, Alison Becker, Adam Ray, Will Sasso, and Mark Evan Jackson (who is absolutely perfect as an unrelenting, spineless prick).
  • Larry tackles the issue of the day:
    • Saying "Namaste", which I guess falls under the purview of participating in group activities./li>
    • The Golden Rule (again).
    • Sounding black (or Jewish).
    • Uber ratings.
    • Credit for leaving a note.
    • Upstairs access to a friend's house.
    • Hot yoga/hot fucking.
    • Asperger's as an excuse for being a prick.
    • The sent of fuck.
    • Taking the bus.
    • The average beauty of Romanian women.
  • Larry: "I don’t participate in group activities."
  • Yoga Teacher: "Are you familiar with etiquette?"
  • Susie/Larry: "Not only is she a beautiful woman, more important... inner beauty." "That I’m not so into."
  • Car guy: "Look Larry, you seem like a complete garbage person, how are you gonna pay for this, asshole?"
  • Larry: "All I’m asking for is Haskell access."
  • Leon: "I’m still gonna nama-stick it in her."
  • Jeff: "So air conditioning is going to the concentration camp?"
  • Will Sasso: "I did not send a child to a concentration camp."
  • Larry: "This bus is a very cold unforgiving place. I don’t like it one bit."
  • Bus driver/Larry: "If I see you on my bus again, Imma fuck you up." "...Okay."