This week’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” took a slight break from Larry’s search to cast his new TV show to pair Larry with… a KKK member and Woody Harrelson.
The fourth episode of Season 11 opens with Larry (Larry David) and Jeff (Jeff Garlin) watching an Oscar acceptance speech from Woody Harrelson in which he advocates for “interspecies equality” and decries the process used to extract milk from cows using machines (Note: No, Harrelson has not yet won an Oscar despite being nominated three times). Larry and Jeff scoff at Harrelson’s self-important speech, with Larry offering a preview of how he’d accept an Oscar: “I’d like to thank the Academy. Don’t allow babies on planes. Good night.”
Larry and Jeff were watching the video because Harrelson is now in the running to play Uncle Mo in the Young Larry show that is in development at Hulu, paving the way for a guest star appearance from Harrelson later in the episode.
In Jeff and Susie’s living room, Susie is showing off a banner she embroidered for the temple football team and wants to introduce Larry to their “hip” rabbi, who she says is a big golfer. She suggests Jeff take the rabbi golfing with him, to which Jeff reluctantly agrees but then immediately ropes Larry into the game. “That’s a four-hour favor, and five if you include lunch.” Larry makes a big point that he’s doing Susie a favor, to which she agrees. She owes him one (uh-oh).
On the golf course, Larry loses a bet with the rabbi (with whom he is not getting along), and thus must now agree to attend temple.
When Larry returns home, he catches Leon (J.B. Smoove) acting strange, only to discover Leon was eating watermelon. Leon admits he’s embarrassed to eat watermelon in front of white people, despite the fact that it’s his favorite fruit. Larry attempts to put Leon at ease and proposes bringing watermelon home for the two of them to eat together.
Woody Harrelson then comes over to talk about Larry’s TV show, but when Larry offers Woody cream in his coffee, Woody gets offended. “Do you know what that does, Larry? The cycle of violence that creates that cream?” Larry tries to save face by lying and saying he owns a farm and a cow himself, from which he gets the cream humanely. “I’m a cream-shamer,” he tells Woody. He even says his cow is named Jessie. “I have never loved an animal the way I love this cow,” Larry lies. Of course, Woody then says he wants to meet Jessie, and Larry has no choice but to say yes. They plan to meet up Saturday, when Larry will introduce Woody to his non-existent cow.
Larry then goes to the optometrist Heidi, who is also Freddy’s girlfriend — and this sequence gives us a cameo from “The Big Bang Theory” and “The Flight Attendant” actress Kaley Cuoco as Heidi (who actually proves to be a swell fit for “Curb” — she was funny!). After the vision test, Larry sees Heidi spill a piece of Pirate’s Booty on the ground on her way out, but she refuses to pick it up and keeps walking. Larry, of course, is appalled.
With his eyes dilated, Larry begins walking back home and runs into a man carrying a KKK robe (played by Marc Menchaca), spilling coffee all over it. Larry suggests the man wear a sheet instead, but he bristles at the suggestion. So Larry, a man who believes in a code of conduct, offers to have the man’s robe cleaned and gives him his phone number to get the robe back. “You have my word you will have this robe for your hate rallies in Santa Fe and Tucson,” Larry promises the literal racist.
Larry then takes the robe to be cleaned at a dry cleaners run by a Jewish man, who is of course deeply offended. Larry tries to explain it’s not his robe, but it’s his responsibility to clean it because he made the man spill coffee on the robe. The cleaner tries to refuse, but Larry suggests they turn the other cheek, lest they be just as hateful as these hate groups. Reluctantly, the cleaner agrees to clean the robe.
Making good on the bet, Larry attends temple with Funkhouser. The rabbi’s sermon focuses on the hate group that’s been protesting – the same one for which Larry is having a robe cleaned. But the conversation then turns to more serious issues as Larry complains to Freddy that Heidi dropped Pirate’s Booty on the floor and didn’t pick it up when he was at the optometrist’s office. Freddy is dismayed. After temple is over, the rabbi gifts Larry his shofar.
Larry and Leon go to the grocery store, where Larry makes a public display of how it’s OK for Leon, a Black man, to buy watermelon. Larry asks another Black man in line if he likes watermelon too, to which the man at first reluctantly and then jubilantly agrees. Larry offers to buy the man a watermelon, and proclaims that he’s going to buy some gefilte fish for himself, stereotypes be damned.
When Larry returns to the cleaners to pick up the KKK robe, the owner says the robe has been lost. Larry pushes, but the man maintains the robe is gone. Larry then goes to the Klansman to tell him the robe is lost, and he asks Larry how he’s going to fix this. Larry then suggests Susie, a seamstress, could create him a new robe because she owes him a favor. Larry touts Susie’s sewing skills, adding, “You’ll get invited to the Grand Wizard’s house for dinner.” But in return, Larry sees the man has a cow, and now Larry asks a favor.
Larry returns to Suzie’s house, butters her up, and then lays on his favor ask. He eases her into it, not outright saying it’s a KKK robe. “It’s kind of a robe. Like a sheet-y kind of thing.” When he finally tells her exactly what kind of robe it is, she at first flat out refuses. But Larry presses, noting that he did her a favor and it’s only fair she return it. Surprisingly, she agrees.
Saturday comes, and Larry takes Woody to meet “his cow” Jessie – which is actually this Klansman’s cow. And while the interaction for the most part goes swimmingly, on Woody’s way out he drops a grape on the man’s porch and decides not to pick it up. The Klansman angrily tells him to pick it up, and much to Woody’s surprise Larry agrees with him. When the Klansman goes to retrieve a gun, Woody says he’s not doing Larry’s show after all, and as he’s running away he yells, “Teddy was right about you, Larry” in reference to Ted Danson. (Danson appeared briefly in last week’s episode, but it appears we may be building to yet another confrontation between these two series-long frenemies.)
Meanwhile, Freddy and Heidi are having lunch when Freddy confronts her about the “Pirate’s Booty incident.” Heidi demands to know who told him this story, and after first denying the incident happened, she angrily admits she dropped the Pirate’s Booty but it “wasn’t a big deal.” The confrontation leads to a breakup between the two during which Freddy reveals it was Larry who told him about her dropping the Pirate’s Booty.
Larry returns to the eye doctor, only for Heidi to yell at him for telling Freddy about her dropping the Pirate’s Booty on the floor. In an angry fit, she pushes the eye equipment into Larry’s face, giving him two black eyes. His impaired vision results in a traffic incident with a Black woman, whose name turns out to be Mary Ferguson — meaning Leon has a new companion to travel with him to Asia. But when Larry brings Mary to his house to meet Leon, she walks in on him eating watermelon with the other Black man from the grocery store earlier. She abruptly leaves, and Larry asks Leon, “Who told you to have a watermelon orgy?” “You did, Larry,” Leon correctly answers.
The Klansman shows up to the rally in the outfit Susie made for him, only to discover there’s a Star of David embroidered on the back. His fellow Klansmen proceed to beat him up.
Afterwards, he tracks down Larry at his house and threatens to beat him up. Larry grabs the shofar that the rabbi gave him as a gift and blows it into the sky. The Klansman then runs for the hills, as this week’s punchline puts a nice bow on this episode’s religious themes.
This episode felt a bit more cohesive than the past few, and while not quite as searing or buttoned-up as the iconic Season 8 episode “Palestinian Chicken,” I’ll confess it was nice taking a break from the storyline involving Larry’s streaming show. This season-long arc has yet to connect as strongly as some past season-long arcs, and although it’s unfair to compare it to “Seinfeld,” it’s impossible not to think about the incredible Season 7 storyline that saw Larry putting together the “Seinfeld” reunion.
And yet, as is true of most “Curb” episodes, this week’s installment was still prettaaay, prettaaay, pretty good.