Curb Your Enthusiasm Recap: The Pickle Gambit

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Photo: HBO
Curb Your Enthusiasm

Curb Your Enthusiasm

The Pickle Gambit Season 9 Episode 2
Editor's Rating 4 stars

Leon meant it when he said black people always prefer brown over white, even when it comes to pickle-gambit aliases inspired by old-timey baseball players. “My name is Chappie Johnson, and I can’t open this damn pickle jar,” Leon laments as he diverts hotel-lobby loungers’ attention so Larry can sneak through and seek out his prostitute friend Paula (Bianca Kajlich of Undateable), in the hopes that she’ll successfully masturbate Marty Funkhouser’s nephew Kenny to completion. Makes perfect sense, no?

Let’s walk this back. Jeff and Leon finally compel their pal to get out of his sweats, check out of the Grand Marina, and get back to living. After all, Jeff assures him that the FBI is bullish on Larry’s chances of surviving the Ayatollah’s fatwa unscathed. This being L.D., he can’t even make it to the elevator without encountering and platonically Pretty Woman–ing Paula by encouraging her to “put the tits away” and seduce more gentlemanly callers. Turns out Larry’s unsolicited career advice only works on solicitous professionals, and she later beams of being a happier and more whole lady of the evening. Hence, her willingness to serve as Kenny Funkhouser’s “ejaculator,” if we’re to borrow a phrase from Uncle Marty, thus making Kenny less liable to violently berate the help.

It should be noted that none of this would even be an issue if Leon, Marty, Larry, and Kenny — who is apparently Stanford’s next great pitching ace in waiting, despite Larry sizing him up as someone who “can’t lift a chess piece” — hadn’t fought over opening a pickle-jar lid like Cro-Magnon morons. (Or, to speak in David-ian parlance, nincompoops.) Shame is, the pickle gambit would have worked without any kind of hitch were it not for a pair of concerns: Larry running afoul of the Grand Marina desk manager (Community’s Jim Rash) one too many times over the nuances of using tongs over fingers to extract individual cookies from complimentary snack trays; and entrusting Leon to hire fatwa security in the form of stone-fruit-foregoing bodyguard Swat (Dean Sharpe), who mistakes Kenny and Paula’s wailing for a Muslim siege, culminating in a silent-film-worthy goose chase in full view of the Iranian consul (David Diane) whom Larry was schmoozing with over Skype. Fatwa, back on.

On the upside, Larry still got to go for another round in the sack with Shara from Al-Abbas (welcome back, Anne Bedian!), who connected him with the consul to begin with. (Shara, as it turns out, had been “a plotter” in her day, not that Larry objects.) A redux of their hate-speechified coitus from “Palestinian Chicken” was a nice nod to what is arguably Curb’s signature episode, even if it didn’t have quite the same shock value as its predecessor.

Nor was it a surprise to anyone but Larry that Ted Danson might make the moves on Cheryl. Larry’s attempt at quid pro quo, while a funny callback to his season-one friend crush on Mary Steenburgen, ends predictably in humiliating rejection. “Not really her type, physically,” Larry confirms, allowing Ted to bask in the smug superiority his Curb alter ego has become legendary for. But it turns out Mary has long harbored curiosity about the balder sex. It’s just that she was already taken — by a dead-on Larry David doppelgänger (Max Bogner). Besides, had she gotten a look at incognito Larry in his fatwa-avoidant, nuttily professorial wig and mustache, she may well have been repelled. Or, if she were Ted and Cheryl, slipped right past him at the hotel bar without a glint of recognition.

At least Larry can breathe easy. Although his cloak of anonymity may not shield him from a clerical death sentence, it did at least prevent his ex-wife and her new beau from catching him in the act of negotiating sexual favors on behalf a high-school senior. If only Kenny could have gone left.

Apart From All That

• Larry never struck me as a Stella Artois man.

• Larry dispensing hooker-wardrobe advice while disguised like an idiot is comedy gold.

• Incidentally, buck dancing is akin to clog dancing.

• Larry was right about un-tucking then, and he’s right now.

• The Tao of Leon: “I’m always expecting somebody. If they show the fuck up, they show the fuck up.”`

• Larry furiously gesturing for Ted to back up while calling Mary might have been as funny as Funkhouser’s graphic masturbation rant.

• Iran invented the tong no more than a chef at the Drake Hotel first ideated the Cobb salad.

• More Tao of Leon: “You might as well put the floor on the table.”

• The premiere episode was shaky, but like Larry’s fatwa, Curb is truly back.

Curb Your Enthusiasm Recap: The Pickle Gambit