“Fuck you, L-Vid!” At least that’s one assumed spelling of Elizabeth Banks’s nickname for Larry. It could also be Elvid, or L.Vid, à la J. Lo. Kind of like how Salman, as in Rushdie, might roll off some people’s tongues if it were the phonetically similar fish, while the author himself insists there’s accent is on the “a.” But since when does Larry quibble? It’s not as if he’s the type of guy to litigate semantics with restaurant managers, chefs, and beat cops while obscured behind a wig and mustache that make him look like an understudy in a play based on Albert Einstein’s life.
“A Disturbance in the Kitchen” never does reveal what keeps Larry and Jeff waiting for their food at the trendy Estate restaurant in Santa Monica, a real location that’s now destined/doomed to a future of tourist patrons asking if there’s any unrest among those preparing their meal. And it turns out the cagey restaurant manager (Rich Fulcher) nearly saves Larry’s hide while detaining Officer Jenkins (Damon Wayans Jr.) with his artfully evasive patter. In the end, however, Larry is caught red-handed as the man responsible for vandalizing Officer Jenkins’s car, thanks to Elizabeth Banks’s less-than-Elizabethan face-plant of a performance orating their alibi, down to an unmerited closing bow.
This isn’t Larry’s first run-in with that particular patrolman. He’d already been to court in protest of a minor (though costly) traffic violation, specifically honking too aggressively while waiting for Officer Jenkins to move through a green light. “No one’s above the beep!” Larry bellows, a foreshadowing of his grandstanding before an unsympathetic Judge Ranheim. In what Elizabeth may have recognized as a truly Shakespearean delivery, Larry manages to malign the common jackass for its “stolid, slack-jawed gaze,” liken himself to Jackie Robinson and Rosa Parks, and finally run afoul of the judge by “yoo-hoo”-ing him to order.
In fairness, fault for this entire sequence of events can be laid at the feet of either or both Ted Danson or Salman Rushdie. If Ted’s stupid Tesla didn’t have such a sensitive honking mechanism, Officer Jenkins might have let Larry off with a warning (though Ted gets his comeuppance later, perhaps learning that he should always lead with Sam Malone before John Becker). And if Rushdie hadn’t had Larry swooning with fantasies of “fatwa sex” and the “fatwa boys” staring down danger at every opportunity and turning Greater Los Angeles on its head, he might have reconsidered wooing Elizabeth to begin with, let alone sacrificing life and limb (okay, limb) to recover Jeff’s Cubs hat from the roof.
But then, Larry could have heeded the chef’s advice to mind his business and beg off ludicrous analogies likening family crises to an inexplicably prolonged lunch. He also should have heard the judge’s words to “take your un-sucked candy and get back to your desk” as a subtle suggestion to be a bit less brazen. And when Susie comments on him being “back to normal” sans disguise, only to note, “I like the other look better,” it just as easily could be construed as a metaphor for retreating back into the timid modesty of his post-fatwa lifestyle. That is, if Susie were less prone to overstating the talents of not only her own daughter (“You think Sammi was talented at this age?” Susie poses rhetorically. “No, I don’t,” L-Vid counters), but also a wayward teenager they’ve taken in who has already run away.
That last story thread, unlike the restaurant manager’s neatly bookended reverberations, is a bit of a loose end. Ditto for Larry’s continued hectoring of Swat, who creates a mild kitchen disturbance of his own in Larry’s house and nearly flares up with rage when Larry mumbles a derisive aside to Leon. Katie (Eryn Pablico), Susie’s Big Brothers Big Sisters little sis, is sure to stick around and torment Larry in some fashion. And this probably isn’t the last we’ve seen or heard of Swat’s sensitivity to people talking under their breaths. For now, with Elizabeth no longer in the picture and his buddies hiding from their fatwa’d pal, Larry is left to an increasingly familiar scene: he and Leon, sipping on Stellas, wondering when they’ll live the life of Riley.
Apart From All That
• Not watching Katie’s dance recital is, apparently, on a par with skipping Susie’s house tours.
• “I didn’t think there was any condition that they’d be attracted to me,” Larry tells Salman bemusedly while processing “fatwa sex.”
• Turns out a fatwa is an even better social excuse than Larry’s mother dying.
• At times this season, Larry has seemed more senile than self-righteous? Good thing? Bad thing?
• Fun fact: The actress playing Elizabeth’s friend at Estate is Lucy Walsh, daughter of the Eagles’ Joe Walsh. Or at least it’s a fact.